Notebooks for Mac – Your Desktop Companion

Update April 18, 2014: We’re in in trouble now: Notebooks has been approved and is ready to be released to the App Store, but we just found out (thank you Felix) that Notebooks refuses to launch on Mac OS 10.7 and 10.8 (this is related to sandboxing, a Mac OS security measure). So here we are, knowing that 50% of our potential users would be unable to launch Notebooks if we released it as it is, and the other 50% are eagerly waiting for the release. But the risk of offending our customers is too high, and there is only one chance for an “initial release”. This means that we need to fix this issue and resubmit Notebooks to Apple. If all goes well, it is just a matter of a few days…

Update April 11, 2014: Notebooks for Mac is currently waiting to be reviewed by Apple…

Update April 1, 2014: we are just wrapping up the final release of Notebooks for Mac, so we hope that in a few days from now it will be available on the App Store.

Notebooks for Mac allows you to share files with the mobile versions of Notebooks on the iPad and iPhone, so you can conveniently work on your documents from your desktop, but also on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch when you are on your way. The synchronization between the devices currently supports Dropbox and many WebDAV servers (Dropbox surely is the most convenient option).  
Notebooks for Mac currently is in public beta, which means that you can download and try it out for free. The download package contains a read me file which should help you get started, but we will provide more documentation soon.

If you already use Dropbox to sync Notebooks from your iPhone or iPad you will have a jump start, because NB/Mac is set up to use the Dropbox/Notebooks folder by default.

You are welcome to email your questions or post your comments.

Download Notebooks for Mac 1.0 Beta 15 (Mac OS 10.7 and above)
Download Notebooks for Mac 1.0 Beta 15 (Mac OS 10.6)

When Notebooks beta starts to show an expiration message after a while, you can safely click that away and continue to use Notebooks as usual. Notebooks will tell you when it is really about to expire (about three months later), at which time you might want look for an update.

Notebooks has been reviewed at appstorm and rated 8/10, although it is still in beta. We are pretty proud of that! – The review serves as a nice introduction to Notebooks/Mac for those who are new.

Getting Started

When you first start Notebooks it checks for the presence of the “Dropbox/Notebooks” folder on your system. If you are already syncing your iPhone or iPad versions of Notebooks with Dropbox you have a jump start and Notebooks immediately presents all your books and documents. All changes you make in Notebooks on your computer are saved in that folder, synced back to Dropbox and further to your iPhone or iPad. (As Dropbox maintains a version history of all changes, so even if something should go wrong, there is always an easy way to restore the original documents.)

If that Dropbox folder is not present, Notebooks asks you to select a start directory, which may even be your home directory. You can choose any folder you want.

Notebooks does not import your documents into a database; instead, it displays the contents of the selected start directory and presents folders as books. Notes and documents you create or change in Notebooks are stored in that folder. This means that your documents are always accessible from Finder and never locked into Notebooks.
Items you delete in Notebooks are deleted from your hard drive as well (in fact, they are moved to the Trash).

In case you do not yet have a Dropbox account and want to create one, you can use the following referral link and get a few extra MB of free space:

If you use a WebDAV service for synchronization, all you need to do is mount that server in Finder and point Notebooks to that folder.

You can just as well use Notebooks without the iPhone or iPad counterpart and point it at to your Documents folder, for example. You may discover an interesting Finder replacement.

New in Beta 15

Not too much is new in Beta 15, but we corrected a few minor issues and added a few features as requested by users.


  • Support for TaskPaper’s @done notation (lines starting with “-” are considered todos, adding @done at the end of the line marks todo as completed).


  • Reliably open internal links in Markdown documents.
  • Paste images from clipboard directly into Markdown documents.


  • Compatibility improvements for combined Markdown documents.
  • Detect and correctly handle older Mac text formats.

Known Issues

  • In formatted documents, the options “Import Image” and “Capture Selection from Screen” are non-functional; these are automatically provided by the Mac OS, but the inserted images cannot be used by Notebooks. We are still looking for a way around this.

New in Beta 14


  • The Dark theme is back!
  • On Mavericks, Notebooks shows background patterns again.
  • Added support for the Notebooks Bookmarklet, which allows you to import the current page from your browser into Notebooks (find out more at; Notebooks saves the URL of imported page in its plist.
  • New from Pasteboard takes the contents of the clipboard and creates a new document in the currently selected book.
  • Formatted documents have new options: Insert Link, Remove Link, Edit Link (the last two appear when selecting and right-clicking an existing link).
  • Mac OS text substitutions are enabled in plain text; Notebooks uses your system settings (after changing settings, restarting Notebooks may be required).


  • Notebooks does not show an “empty” editor window any more; in cases when no document is selected, Notebooks displays an empty document which you can immediately use for writing.
  • Improved performance of Markdown syntax highlighting.
  • There is a new option to activate (or turn off) Markdown syntax highlighting .
  • When opening a document from search results, cmd-G jumps to next hit.
  • Improved Spotlight search (speed!)
  • Editing a document’s first line changes its title in the list view as you type (not yet for task lists).
  • Rearranged and optimized menus.
  • New formatting buttons (in formatted documents).
  • When inserting an image that is already stored in Notebooks’ hierarchy, Notebooks now inserts a link to the original instead of copying the image.
  • When using “Insert link” with a link to an image within Notebooks’ hierarchy, Notebooks shows the photo instead of the link.


  • (Hopefully) fixed the issue that cmd-C/V/X/Z/Y require the user to click on the menu before they start working.
  • After clicking a link that navigates away from a formatted document, editing the target document could have overwritten the original document in Notebooks. This does not happen anymore (target documents are not editable)
  • The window of search results now always remains on screen.

Known Issues

  • In formatted documents, the options “Import Image” and “Capture Selection from Screen” are non-functional; these are automatically provided by the Mac OS, but the inserted images cannot be used by Notebooks. We are still looking for a way around this.

New in Beta 12

Interface changes

  • New lighter look & feel
  • There is no “dark” theme anymore
  • New default fonts for tree view and document list
  • White background color for document list
  • Done and cancelled tasks appear on gray background to better differentiate them from open tasks


  • Search results and list of due items show path of documents
  • Smarter Markdown highlighting (using text styles instead of colors)
  • New keyboard shortcuts
    • cmd-up moves up one level (in tree view and document list)
    • cmd-down puts focus on selected book (tree view only)
  • Task lists sort done and cancelled items by date of last change (instead of alphabetically)
  • Drag & drop images into formatted documents
  • Copy/paste images into formatted documents


  • Avoid slowdown when typing in long documents
  • Better handling of documents with unknown text encoding
  • Multiple corrections to Markdown highlighting
  • Images in formatted documents appear correctly after editing HTML source
  • Better and more careful handling of international character sets

Known Issues

  • On Mac OS 10.9 (Mavericks), Notebooks does not display background patterns.
    Are you missing that at all? – Please let us know.

New in Beta 11

For this update we have changed many things under the hood. There may not be too many obvious new features, but we thoroughly reworked the editors for plain text and formatted documents to make them more like what you would expect on a Mac. Working with Notebooks/Mac should be even more fun now.

Separate Release for Mac OS 10.6

Some of the changes we made for this release are no longer compatible with Mac OS versions prior to 10.7. We know we have users who appreciate Notebooks, but have not yet been able to upgrade their hardware and are stuck with Mac OS 10.6. We definitely don’t want to leave them behind and now offer a separate download.
The most obvious disadvantage of this separate release is the lack of support for the Mac native text and web views, so there is limited highlighting, no alignment of lists, no auto correction etc.

Changes to plain text and Markdown editing (most of them are Mac OS 10.7)

  • “Markdown” is now an extra document type (.md) which is always stored as plain text, but presented in HTML
  • You can always switch between the plain text and formatted presentation of a document with cmd-return (this is valid for plain text, Markdown and also for formatted documents, which then present the HTML code)
  • Syntax Highlighting of HTML and Markdown (cannot be deactivated at the moment)
  • Lists are automatically aligned in plain text
  • Keyboard Shortcuts
    • cmd-B to insert Markdown bold
    • cmd-I to insert Markdown italic
    • cmd-K to insert MD struck through
    • cmd-T to insert date/time stamp
    • cmd-D for date stamp
    • cmd-F for find&replace
    • cmd-G to find same phrase again
    • cmd-return to switch between plain text and formatted views
  • There is no extra formatting menu for plain text anymore; you find options to set font and styles from the context menu by clicking directly on the text (right-click or cmd-click)
  • Better support for fonts installed on your Mac (tree view, list and document)
  • Check spelling as you type (Notebooks uses your system default settings here)
  • Search & Replace
  • More “natural” cursor movement, text selection etc

Changes to formatted documents

We now use the Cocoa WebKit, which feels Mac “native”. Documents look better, images render more cleanly, installed fonts are better supported.

  • Check spelling as you type (uses system settings)
  • It is now possible to use plug ins like MathJax
  • Type cmd-return to switch to the document’s HTML source code (this currently is the only way to use the replace function)

Due Items

Currently, the lists of due items is presented in a separate window, similar to the search results. You open them by clicking on the book icon in the bottom left corner of the tree view (leftmost column).
The items can be opened by clicking on them, but their state cannot yet be changed from that list (this is work in progress).


  • A few subtle interface changes
  • Recent Items are now accessible from the document’s toolbar (bottom), too
  • Search now looks for book and document titles, too

Known Issues

  • Notebooks’ new default font (Source Sans Pro) does not display all international characters; so if you are writing for example in Japanese, Greek, Hebrew, please select a different default document font in Notebooks’ preferences. (Sorry we did not notice that earlier)
  • The font selection dialog, tree view and list view don’t always correctly display selected font
  • Converting/copying plain text to Markdown always creates a combined Markdown (.html), there is no option to create a “plain” Markdown document (.md) yet. As a workaround, you can convert a .txt document to .md by changing the file extension in Finder.
  • Search/Replace in formatted documents works differently (so replace, please switch “View HTML Source”)
  • Selecting “New Markdown Document” from the document’s toolbar does nothing…
  • You currently cannot convert a Markdown document to a formatted document directly; as a workaround, first copy the Markdown document as plain text, and then convert the plain text to a formatted document
  • Names and labels are not quite coherent; the same things sometimes have different titles in different contexts.

New in Beta 10 (May 6, 2013)


  • Option to set font and font size for tree and list views
  • Use “Open With…” from Finder to add documents to Notebooks (use alt-cmd to add any document)
  • “Insert Timestamp” from context menu (it is just one format at the moment, more to come)
  • “Copy Link” from context menu
  • When inserting photos, Notebooks by default opens the folder that was used last time
  • Settings: use TAB or four spaces to indent lists
  • Remembers size and number of visible columns between restarts
  • “Native” Fullscreen Mode


  • Markdown conversion now correctly handles closing “#”
  • Titles starting with “_” are not longer ignored
  • Renaming PDF documents in list view works reliably
  • Email and link to website available from Help menu

New in 1.0 Beta 9 (Feb 28, 2013)

  • FIX: deleting multiple selected books no longer accidentally permanently deletes them
  • Lists in plain text: type return on empty line to outdent instead of terminate list
  • Lists in formatted documents: use TAB key to indent, type return on empty line to outdent
  • Keyboard shortcut: cmd-del to delete currently selected (most selected) item(s)
  • Markdown: support for MultiMarkdown definition lists
  • Markdown: new setting in preferences to disable Notebooks convenience method of converting each newline to a line break. When this option is off you need to add two spaces at the end of a line to enforce a line break: This is less convenient, but it is Markdown standard.
  • Search
    • Multiple search terms are now AND combined
    • To search for a phrase, put it in quotes (e.g. “Notebooks for Mac”)
    • When entering search term, hits in current document are immediately highlighted.
    • Type return after entering search term to search current book or all books
    • Toggle the search scope between current book /whole hierarchy
  • Replace
    • Click on loupe icon in the search field to toggle between search and replace in document
  • Formatted Documents: HTML source is now editable
  • Drag & drop images into formatted documents
  • Drag & drop images into plain text (inserts the corresponding Markdown code)
  • Updated style sheets to better support printing
  • Performance improvements

Changes in 1.0 Beta 8

  • Search for documents
  • Toggle the number of visible colums
    • cmd-1 … document only
    • cmd-2 … treeview or list and document (typing cmd-2 repeatedly toggles tree and listview!)
    • cmd-3 … treeview, list and document
  • Improved layout of tree view
  • Alternative icons for default theme

Changes in 1.0 Beta 7.2

  • Fixes crash on startup
  • Performance improvements
  • Interface refinements
  • Recent Items available from the File menu