Create Editable Documents


To create a new document in Notebookstap any + button on the interface and choose the desired document type from the menu. The menu offers a selection of document types, where the exact selection depends on the device and the + button you use.

In addition to creating documents this way, you can add documents using a variety of options like drag and drop, sharing from other applications, splitting documents etc. These options are details in a separate chapter.

Default Document Type

If you have a favorite document type and want to bypass the menu when creating new documents, you can set a default document type in Notebooks‘ settings. With a default document type selected, tapping the + button on an iPhone or iPad immediately creates a new document of your default type. Tap and hold the button for the menu. On a Mac, the keyboard shortcut cmd-N creates a new document of your default type.

Default Saving Location

Notebooks saves new documents in the parent book of the currently displayed document, or, if you add a document from the Book View, in the current book. If you opened the current document from a Smart Book, you find an option Add to Inbox to add the new document to your Default Inbox rather than the current document’s parent.

When in doubt as to where a document has ended up, you can look at an item’s info, use the action Open enclosing Book, or examine the contents of the smart book Recently Modified.

The First Line of Text is the Document’s Title 

When you create a new plain text, formatted or Markdown document, the first line of text becomes the document’s title and also its filename. When you change the first line, Notebooks changes the title as well. 
To break the link between first line and title, rename the document from its Info, from the Title Menu (iOS) or the Document List (macOS), making sure that the title differs from the first line. From then on, editing the first line of text no longer adjusts the document’s title. Notebooks provides multiple options to change a document’s title.

On your iPhone or iPad
  • Open the document’s title menu (tap the button right next to the title in the navigation bar) and select Rename…
  • Open the document’s info, enter a new title and type Save.
On your Mac
  • Right-click the document in the document list and choose Rename…
  • Open the document’s info and enter a new title.

To reestablish the link between title and first line, you need to rename the document and make sure that the title matches the first line of text. To simplify this procedure, Notebooks provides a dedicated action Rename to First Line as part of the document’s Action menu (•••).

On an iPad or iPhone, there is an option to create an empty text document and give it a title that is not linked to the first line. You start by creating a new book from the + menu, and tap the book icon in the dialog. The icon changes to that of a text document. Now enter the title of the new document and tap Save.

Illegal Filename Characters

As Notebooks uses the document’s title as filename, the / character is not allowed in the title. So if you use / in the first line of your document, Notebooks replaces it with - in the title.

On systems like Windows, several more characters are considered illegal in file names and might cause troubles during synchronization. Although Notebooks does not prevent you from using those characters, we recommend against using them in titles if you are using any of Notebooks’ sync options. You find more about this in the chapters about Import, Export and Sync.

Windows illegal file name characters: < > : \” / \ | ? *

Live Word- and Character Counter

As you type, a live counter displays the total number of characters and words in the document. With text is selected, the counter displays the number of selected words or characters.

On your Mac

The counter in the bottom right corner of the window displays a colored bullet right next to it. When it is green, Notebooks counts words and characters as you type. In huge documents or on slower devices, this might lead to a slight slowdown, so you can click the green bullet to deactivate the live counter. The bullet turns gray to indicate the state.

On your iPhone or iPad

The counter floats above the text in the top right corner. You can tap the counter to switch between multiple modes (count words only or characters only, show both, show the offset of the cursor, etc.); tap and hold the counter to change its transparency. – You can deactivate the counter in Settings > Write and Edit.

Notebooks Automatically Saves Changes

Whenever you pause typing for a few moments, Notebooks saves your changes, so you never need to care about that. You cannot change this behavior on your iPhone and iPad.

You can keep Notebooks for Mac from saving that frequently in Settings > Editing > General. With Autosave text while editing turned off, Notebooks for Mac still saves your changes when you switch to another document or leave Notebooks. In addition to Notebooks‘ automatic save, you can always use cmd-S to save the current document and create a new document version.

Undo Changes

On your Mac

On your Mac, use the keyboard shortcut cmd-Z or Undo from the Edit menu to revert the latest changes. Each document has its own undo history, so you can switch from one document to another, and when you return to the first, undo and redo still work as expected. This also works for documents opened in separate or multiple windows.

On your iPhone or iPad

On your iPhone or iPad, use Notebooks‘ undo button from the row of extra keyboard keys, or any of the undo gestures or buttons provided by iOS and iPadOS. Undo is available as long as the keyboard is visible, but once you dismiss the keyboard or move to another document, Undo is no longer available for original document. In this case, you can still use Revert to Previous….

Revert to Previous (iPhone and iPad)

On an iPhone or iPad, you can use Revert to Previous… to undo all changes you made during the latest editing session in case you already dismissed the keyboard or switched to another document. Notebooks provides the option to keep both, the current and the previous version of the document.

Create Documents on your iPhone or iPad

Notebooks provides multiple ways for adding documents, and depending on your current context, you may see different options.

Document’s Toolbar

The + button in a document’s toolbar lets you add editable documents which you can start working on right away. Notebooks by default saves new documents to the parent book of the currently displayed document, except if you choose Add to Default Inbox.

  • Formatted Document
    Creates an empty formatted document (.html) and activates the keyboard, so you can immediately start typing. The first line you type is formatted as Title by default, but you can change this in Settings > Write & Edit > Formatted Documents.
  • Plain Text
    Creates a new plain text document (.txt), and brings up the keyboard.
  • Markdown
    Creates a text document, too, but uses the filename extension .md, which makes sure it is handled like a Markdowndocument, depending on your Markdown settings.
    The type Markdown is available only if activated in Settings > Write & Edit > Markdown – which it is by default.
  • Sketch
    Opens a new, empty PDF document and switches to annotation mode, so you can start scribbling, drawing or painting with the provided tools. The result is a regular .pdf document.
  • Add to Default Inbox
    With a Default Inbox selected, this option creates a new document to your inbox instead of the current document’s parent. Notebooks uses your chosen default document type in this case.

On your iPad you have the option to move the document’s toolbar buttons to the top of the window, in which case you find the + button at the top of the screen also.

Book’s Toolbar

The + button in a book’s toolbar offers a few more options, in addition to the editable items listed above. Smart Books—by their nature—do not allow you to add new items.

  • Photos or Videos
    Allows you to add photos and videos from the built in camera, or select items from your photo library. If you copied an image or PDF document elsewhere, a submenu allows you to add this item from the pasteboard.
    Notebooks needs permission to access camera and photo album.
  • Scans
    You can use the built in camera to take photos of the pages you wish to scan. Notebooks saves the result as PDF. You find a dedicated action for recognize text in the scan’s toolbar menu.
  • Voice Memo
    Starts recording from the built in microphone. Buttons to pause and stop recording are available in the book’s toolbar. Recording continues even as you open and edit other documents.
    Notebooks needs permission to use the microphone.
  • Current Position (GPS)
    If your device supports location services, you can add a new document with your current GPS coordinates, a snapshot of a map, a timestamp and the current address, if available. – This is actually a shortcut for saving the location without creating or opening a document first. You can also add the current position to a document from its ••• extra keyboard key.
    Notebooks needs permission to use location services.
  • Pasteboard
    Whenever you copy text or any other item, iOS saves it to the pasteboard or clipboard. With New from PasteboardNotebooks takes what it finds on the clipboard and saves it in the best possible quality. This can be an image, webarchive, web page, text, or even a GPS location copied from Maps. – With Universal Clipboard enabled, you can copy/paste across devices, too.
  • New Books or Tasklists
    Of course you can add new books from this menu, too. In the provided dialog you can decide whether the new book should appear as tasklist.

Notebooks saves the newly created item in the current book.

Quick Entry from Home Screen

Add a new document from your iPhone’s or iPad’s home screen by tapping and holding the Notebooks icon. From the menu that appears, choose the type of document you want to add. Notebooks stores this Quick Entry in your Default Inboxor, if no inbox is set, at Notebooks‘ top level. This is ideal if you want to jot down a note without thinking about the saving location first.

Create Documents on your Mac

Notebooks for Mac provides + buttons in several places on the interface, but it also offers keyboard shortcuts and menu options for adding new items.

File Menu

The File Menu provides options to add editable and non editable documents to the book which is currently selected. So you first select the book you want to add a document to, then decide which type of document to add. – If you quickly want to add a document without deciding about the saving location first, you can use the shortcut for Quicknote, as detailed below.

The currently selected book is the one that is highlighted in the outline, or presented in the document list. If the selected book is a Smart Book, documents are added to the parent book of the currently displayed document, or your Default Inbox or to the top level of Notebooks.

  • New > Formatted Document
    Creates an empty formatted document (.html). The first line is formatted as Title by default, but you can change this in Settings > Editing > Formatted.
  • New > Plain Text
    Creates a new text document (.txt).
  • New > Markdown
    Creates a text document, too, but the documents receives the filename extension .md, so it may be handled a bit differently, depending on your Markdown settings.
  • Pasteboard
    This action takes what it finds on the clipboard and saves it in the best possible quality. This can be images, webarchives, web pages, text, even a GPS location copied from Maps. – With Universal Clipboard enabled, you can even copy/paste across devices.
  • Quick Note
    Creates a document of your default document type and adds it to your Default Inbox or to Notebooks‘ top level.This allows you to quickly create a new document without deciding on its storage location first. To create a quick note you can also use the keyboard shortcut ⌥⇧⌘N, or right-click Notebooks‘ dock icon.

Of course you also find options to add books and tasklists in this menu.

Main Window’s Toolbar

Clicking the + button in the main window’s toolbar provides a menu with the same options that are available in the File Menu.

When you click the + button in the footer of the current document (no matter whether the document is in the main window or in a separate window), Notebooks opens a menu with options to add editable documents.

  • Formatted Document
  • Plain Text
  • Markdown

The selection is restricted to editable documents, because in the context of a document, you are likely to add another editable document.

Notebooks’ Dock Icon

With Notebooks running in the background, you can right-click its Dock icon and select Quick Note to create a new document without deciding about its saving location first.

Global Shortcut

Notebooks provides Quick Note as a global service, which allows you to assign your own custom keyboard shortcut for creating a new document in Notebooks. You define the shortcut from System Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Services > General > Notebooks: Quick Note.