A collection of tips and answers to the most frequently asked questions which may be helpful for new and experienced users. If you don’t find the topic you are looking for, you may try Search at the top of the page to turn up many more documents and posts. If that still does not answer your question, feel free to drop us an email or contact us via Twitter.
On an iPad, Notebooks allows you to view two documents side by side. Please do not confuse that with iOS' multitasking view, which runs two apps side by side. In Notebooks you can open, view and edit two documents.
Here is what you do:
- Make sure the iPad is in landscape orientation.
- Open the first document in the right window by tapping its title in the list, just as usual.
- Then navigate to the book containing the second document and tap & hold its title. Notebooks now resizes the left column and opens the second document.
You can open two different documents, but you can also open the same document in both windows. So you can edit the Markdown version in one window and view the formatted changes in the second window. Or you read a PDF in the left frame and take your notes in the right frame. - These are just a few example.
This 2up mode is supported on the iPad in landscape orientation only.
Plain text - by definition - cannot display formatted text or multimedia elements. When you use any of the formatting buttons or try to insert an image into a plain text document, Notebooks adds Markdown code, which may look strange at first. When you switch to the document's formatted version (on iOS, tap the action button an choose Process > Format Document...; on Mac or PC click Formatted View) you see the formatted representation of that document including the correct formatting and multimedia elements. From here you can convert the plain text to a formatted document and continue working on that, but you can just as well stick with the Markdown version of the document.
Formatted documents - in contrast to plain text - use uneven line spacing. A header line, for example, is higher than a line in a regular paragraph. Displaying that uneven text on an evenly ruled background does not look good, so we decided not to show the ruled background for formatted documents at all.
To disable the background pattern in plain text you just need to select a plain white background color instead of the pattern. You can make the change in Notebooks' settings (paper type & colors) as general default, but you can selectively change the background for individual books and documents.
While changing the font of a single word is of course possible (and many apps allow that), we deliberately removed this option in Notebooks for a simple reason: assigning arbitrary styles to elements makes it increasingly difficult to maintain formatted documents. Should you ever decide to switch document style, for example, elements with explicitly assigned styles do not automatically adopt the new style and need to be changed manually, something that becomes increasingly bothersome.
That is why we recommend the use of formats like titles, heading, formatted blocks, bold, italic, or options instead. These automatically adapt to a different style's settings.
Phone numbers, URLs, email addresses, addresses and calendar events can be shown as clickable links in Notebooks' documents. Most of these links are disabled by default to keep the text readable, but you can selectively activate each of them in Notebooks' settings Write&Edit > Clickable Links.
Deleting books or documents from Notebooks (iOS) is final, so there is no action or shortcut to restore them.
However, if you use any of Notebooks' sync options (Dropbox or WebDAV), you can restore the documents from the server; you can also restore from your latest iTunes backup using a so called "iTunes backup extractor" app (many of these are available, most of them free).
Q: I'd like to delete "About Notebooks", "Getting Started" and "What's New ", but the delete function will not remove these documents.
The default document are write protected; to delete them, open their info and turn off write protection. You can then delete them like any other document: you either tap the trash icon to remove the current document, or you swipe across a document's title in the list and select Delete.
You can protect selected documents, hierarchies of books and even the whole contents of Notebooks. If your device supports Touch-ID, you can unlock your documents with your fingerprint. All the details are available from a separate page.
When you use Notebooks in Column View (the default), the list of books and documents is shown in the left frame, the selected document in the right. If you want to view the document full screen you can quickly hide the left column by tapping the document once with two fingers. The document now takes over the whole screen. – To return to normal view, just tap the document again with two fingers.
When working on a document that is shown in full screen mode, you may have the feeling that the lines are a bit too wide for comfortable reading or writing. This is where Notebooks typewriter mode comes in. Once you activate that mode in Notebooks' Write & Edit settings, the document no longer covers the whole screen, but appears with margins that make it much easier to focus on the text. The screenshot below shows an example.
When you start using Notebooks task management options after working with apps that are exclusively focussed on getting things done, you may feel surprised by Notebooks' flexibility: you can turn a regular book into a task list, and all items you add to that book - short notes, multi page documents, photos, PDF documents - show up as tasks. Notebooks does not force you to add details or attributes to your tasks, but you can assign due dates and alert times if you want. Notebooks may even automatically populate task lists for, if you choose. Regular books and task lists can exist anywhere within Notebooks, and you can even keep regular documents in task lists.
Because of the flexibility you may miss the corset of a clear separation into Today, Next, Scheduled etc., but Notebooks covers most of it. When Notebooks contains at least one due task, or if you set Notebooks to look ahead for due tasks, you will find a smart book Due Tasks at Notebooks' top level, which functions like a dashboard:
- At the top level of the Due Tasks book you find your due and overdue tasks. This is very much like the Today section in other apps. In Notebooks, you don't explicitly assign a task to the today section, tasks show up automatically when they reach their set due date.
- You can set Notebooks to look a couple of days ahead and also show tasks that are about to become due. In a way this is like a Scheduled section, because you see tasks with a due date within the next up to seven days.
- Tasks without a due date are obviously set to be done someday, but we don't think they need an extra section.
- The dashboard also provides a Calendar view highlighting the days on which tasks become due. Select a date from the calendar to view the tasks that need to be done on that day. - This can also be compared to the Scheduled section you may know from other apps.
- You can directly access All Task Lists from the dashboard, no matter where in Notebooks the lists are actually stored. Each list shows a badge indicating the number of open and due tasks, you can open the list, view and work on the tasks, change their states etc. This is a convenient shortcut if you want to focus in on your tasks.
- What you may miss is a dedicated Next section, listing the upcoming tasks for various projects. We deliberately skipped that, because we feel that it is more efficient to concentrate on a specific project and decide what to do next, instead of looking at a set of more or less unrelated tasks. But maybe this is just the way we work 😉
- To complement the dashboard view you can a use Notebooks' Context Tags. So if you want a specific group Someday, for example, you create a context and assign that to selected tasks.
We hope that this brief overview can help you get familiar with Notebooks' way of task management. Read more...
So the list of due task correctly shows up in the today widget, Notebooks' icon shows the correct number of due tasks, but no alert is played at the alert time. What is wrong?
First of all, the alert time needs to be in the future, otherwise Notebooks won't play an alert.
Next, you need to assign an alert time to a task; a due date alone does not imply an alert.
Finally, you need to allow Notebooks to play alert sounds. You do that in iOS Settings > Privacy.
To create todo lists you have two options:
- Create a new book and turn on the switch labeled Show as Task List.
- Open a book's info page and turn on the switch labeled Show as Task List.
The behavior of the book remains very much unchanged, except that documents are displayed as tasks. You can still put any type of document onto the list. Task lists are displayed with a modified book icon and show a badge with the number of open and due tasks. Just like books, task lists can be nested. This is a convenient way of breaking projects down into more manageable sub projects. At each level, a list's badge counts the open tasks of all sub projects.
To change a task's state, tap on its icon. You can do that in multiple places:
- in the task list without opening the task itself
- in the list of search results
- in the document's navigation bar, when open and view the task
To quickly mark an open task done, just tap and hold the task icon.
To change a task' due date and reminder,
- open the task's info and set due date, reminder and/or repeat interval.
- in the navigation bar with the task open, touch and hold the icon representing the current state for a quick entry dialog.
In Notebooks, todo lists are books which display their contents as clickable tasks. That implies that each task is its own document, and it is not immediately visible how to manage task list in regular documents. - However, Notebooks is perfectly able handle todo lists that are embedded in documents.
Set up Notebooks to Extract Tasks
- Notebooks offers an Extract Tasks action which automatically detects and extracts tasks from plain text or formatted documents and adds these tasks to a todo list. Each of these extracted tasks is then a separate document in a regular todo list.
- You can define your own task marker, which is a single character or a combination of characters that you use at the beginning of a line in order to mark this line as a task. You could choose "!!" or "*" or any combination you want.
- You can also tell Notebooks to extract these tasks automatically whenever you are done editing a document.
- When you then tick off one of these extracted tasks, Notebooks tries to find the document the task was taken from and changes your task marker to reflect the task's new state.
What may sound a little complicated is actually pretty simple. You type the meeting minutes, for example, add your actions and tasks by preceding them with your task marker; when done editing, Notebooks automatically creates a todo list for you (if you assign a default due date to these tasks, you will find the tasks in your "Due Today" book). Check off the tasks as you complete them, and when you open the meeting minutes document, you immediately see which of the tasks have been completed and which are still pending.
Notebooks uses Discount as markdown engine. Currently there is no option to switch engines, but we do have that on our todo list and are planning to provide at least one alternative.
MathJax is a display engine for complex mathematic formulas. Notebooks supports MathJax in combination with Markdown. To activate MathJax support for your Markdown documents,
just download and install Notebooks' Default Theme with MathJax Support.
Alternatively you can add the following lines at the bottom of your favorite document style sheet (right after the
</style> tag) to turn on MathJax support for that style.
You can even add these lines at the top of a Markdown document to enable MathJax for that document.
Notebooks' Markdown converter by default uses typographic quotes and dashes, but there is a switch in Notebooks' settings Write & Edit > Markdown to change that. When turned off, quotes will appear as "xyz" instead of „xyz“.
Notebooks can automatically synchronize with Dropbox, which hugely improves user experience. Here is some background information and a few tips.
- When made active, Notebooks auto sync (we call it delta sync) regularly checks Dropbox for changes and imports them.
- This delta sync looks at the whole Notebooks hierarchy on Dropbox, not just he current book. So even if a change was detected in some nested book, it is synced.
- To initialize delta sync, perform a manual sync from Notebooks' top level.
- Automatic sync takes place when you open Notebooks and when you close it, but also every 60 seconds while you are using it.
- If your device supports background refresh and you have enabled it for Notebooks, auto sync takes place even while your device is sleeping or you are using another app.
- When auto sync is not active, you can use the "pull to sync" gesture (pull down the list of books and documents) to trigger a delta sync.
- Changes you make in Notebooks are exported immediately or during the next delta sync.
- Delta sync tries to not interfere with your work. You can continue creating or editing documents while the sync is taking place, except when you are trying to edit a document that Notebooks is about to sync.
- When you turn off autos sync or don't have an internet connection, Notebooks remembers what you do change and syncs these documents during the next delta sync.
- Protected items are exported only when Notebooks is unlocked, but they are imported even when Notebooks is locked.
- You can selectively disable synchronization for specific books or documents. These items will never be synced.
- If Notebooks reports a timeout during sync, just retry.
We have been continuously testing, evaluating and working on iCloud sync over the past couple of years, but we still don't offer an option to sync Notebooks with iCloud. Although iCloud has much improved, a couple of issues remain and keep us from activating iCloud sync in Notebooks. Here are a few details:
Notebooks needs a certain level of control over timing and sequence of synchronization. We need to make sure that certain files arrive in Notebooks before others, and some documents should not be synced at all. iCloud does not give us any control.
When syncing a huge number of folders and documents, iCloud sync tends to get stuck. This is not specific to Notebooks, it even happens when syncing a larger folder between two Macs via iCloud Drive, for example. This can quickly become a serious issue if you wanted to move a considerable number of documents to Notebooks through iCloud, as you may have to wait for a couple of hours until everything shows up. Moreover, you do not have any feedback about what is going on.
Even when sync has been set up, small changes can cause items to suddenly disappear from Notebooks or iCloud, and show up again a few moments or minutes later. This even happens with Contacts or Calendar, but it is not acceptable with documents or whole sets of documents.
These are the main reasons why we still do not offer sync with iCloud. We are not alone in this situation, as apps like Scrivener cannot use iCloud for similar reasons.
If you are looking for a way to share some of your Notebooks documents with other users, you can achieve that with a shared Dropbox folder and Dropbox sync. Here is what can you do:
- Create and share a Dropbox folder which currently is not in Notebooks' hierarchy (Dropbox does not allow that).
- Then on your computer, create a symbolic link from that shared folder into a folder within Notebooks' hierarchy, as described at http://www.dropboxwiki.com/Sync_Other_Folders.
The shared folder now appears in two locations.
- To Notebooks, this linked folder looks like a regular folder, so it syncs it like a regular folder, in both directions as usual. All changes you make in Notebooks appear in the original shared folder on Dropbox, too, and are available for all invited users.
Important: On a Mac, please make sure that the shared folder is not on iCloud Drive, because that does not play well with Dropbox.
As mentioned in several sections, there is a set of characters that should be avoided in the titles of documents, especially when syncing with Dropbox. While iOS and macOS handle all these characters well, they will cause problems once synced to a Windows computer.
The characters incompatible with Windows are < > : \” / \ | ? *
You can read more about this on the Dropbox website.
If you want to use Notebooks on an iPad, and iPhone and maybe a Mac or a PC as well, it is important to know how synchronize your documents between those devices so you can access them everywhere. Notebooks offers multiple options which are summarized in a dedicated blog entry.
If you use Scrivener 2 for your writing projects, there is an easy and convenient way of syncing your projects with Notebooks. You find all the details at http://www.literatureandlatte.com/blog/?p=157, but here is a summary of what to do:
- set up Dropbox sync in Notebooks
- install the Dropbox client application on your computer, too
- create a book in Notebooks and call it "Scrivener"
- if you have more than one Scrivener project to sync, then you might create a book for each project within this Scrivener book
- synchronize with Dropbox to make sure this structure is created on Dropbox
- in Scrivener, set up "Sync > with external folder" and point it to one of Notebooks' project folders on Dropbox
Scrivener will now place a copy of its documents into this folder on Dropbox, and these documents are imported into Notebooks during Dropbox sync.
When you work on these documents in Notebooks, all your changes are synced back to Dropbox and automatically find their way into Scrivener when you select "sync with external folder" again.
Notebooks offers multiple options to import documents from different sources or apps. Some of them are summarized in an extra blog post.
We have prepared a dedicated migration guide describing the various option for moving your documents from the discontinued Notebooks 6 to the latest, officially supported and maintained version of Notebooks (currently Notebooks 8).
Notebooks allows you to selectively disable Dropbox sync for books or individual documents. You exclude an item from sync by turning off the Sync Dropbox switch in its info.
A possible scenario is when you have a huge collection of documents on Dropbox which you do not want to have in Notebooks on your iPad or iPhone. The best way to achieve that is this:
- Disable automatic Dropbox sync in Notebooks.
- Create a book in the location and with the title of the Dropbox folder you do not want to sync.
- Open the book's info and turn off Sync Dropbox.
- Now you can enable Dropbox sync again.
From now on, manual and automatic Dropbox sync will ignore this book and its contents.
Notebooks' system files (plist files) ensure that all books and documents appear identical on all devices. The files include metadata like selected font and document style, color label, custom sort order, assigned tags and much more. Notebooks never shows them, but when synced to your computer these files show up in Finder or in Windows Explorer.
If you don't want to see these files on your hard drive, and if you do not mind that your books and documents may look different on each device, you can turn off "Sync System Files" in Notebooks' sync settings, and Notebooks will no longer export them. - A few essential files like those for Notebooks' task lists will be exported anyway.
Notebooks for Mac and PC
Notebooks for Mac and Notebooks for PC require separate license files, so yes, you need to purchase the PC version of Notebooks separately.
Q: I moved my notebooks data files from one folder to another folder on my computer, thereby changing the file path. Now when I launch Notebooks it gives me the 'Welcome to Notebooks' intro, but I can't access the data files. How do I get Notebooks to locate/read the data files?
One of Notebooks' preferences is the Home folder, the directory on your computer where Notebooks stores its documents. When you move your documents to a different folder, you just need to change Notebooks' Home, make sure it points to the folder, and your documents will reappear in Notebooks.
Changing Notebooks' Home is non destructive, and you can even use that to switch between different sets of documents on your computer.
An export of your documents is not necessary.
Notebooks stores all its data as regular files and folders inside the Notebooks Home folder, which is a directory on your hard drive (just open Notebooks' preferences to find out which folder is selected as Home). When you view that folder in Finder or Windows Explorer you immediately see all your files. - This is in strong contrast to many other file management applications.
Usually it is sufficient to install Acrobat Reader which, during installation, activates the required Active-X controls to display PDF document in a browser. This is what allows Notebooks to display PDF documents, too. - It may be necessary to log out and log in again to your account in order for the changes to take effect.
The license file and preferences should be migrated automatically if you copy your user data over to the new computer.
- On a Mac, at least make sure to migrate these files and folders:
- On a PC things are less intuitive, because settings are stored in the registry, so the easiest option is to just reinstall the license file. If you don't have that anymore, drop us a line and we will reactivate your download link.
Importing your documents from Apple Notes is not straight forward, unfortunately, but we have put together a guideline describing the necessary steps.
If you still have memos you created on you Palm and want to get them into Notebooks, the following guideline describes all the necessary steps for both Mac and PC.
If you are looking for a way to get your documents out of Evernote and into Notebooks, the following post might be of interest: Notebooks as Evernote Alternative
Circus Ponies Notebooks keeps its documents in a closed environment and in a custom document formats, which makes it difficult to export and reuse the data in other applications. There are a few of options, though:
1) You can export your documents from CPN as a structure of html files. You can then import this structure into Notebooks, and the html documents are still editable.
2) You can export the contents from CPN as PDF; while this keeps all the formatting and attachment, the result won't be editable in Notebooks.
3) The same is true for export as .doc; you can view these documents in Notebooks, but you cannot edit them (although you can edit them in other applications)
In the end, a mixture of these three might yield the best result.
We have been hesitant to post this guide on here because we're not sure how well it acutally works. So if you succeed in migrating your documents to Notebooks, please let us know and we can share your experience here.