Extra Keyboard Keys

Notebooks provides an optional row of extra keyboard keys attached to the top of the on-screen keyboard. These customizable keys (or rather sets of keys) make editing much more efficient and comfortable by providing quick access to keys that are otherwise difficult to reach, and by adding functionality that is missing on iOS devices. Here are a few examples of what these keyboard keys can look like:

As it is difficult to find a set of keys that is convenient and helpful for all users in all situations, Notebooks allows you to customize those keys and define multiple sets; to switch between these sets, a simple swipe gesture is enough.

Define Your Own Extra Keys

To set up or change the keyboard keys, open Notebooks’ Settings > Write & Edit > Select Keys.

To add a set of keys, just tap the Add new Set button and select one of the provided templates. These templates are suggestions that you can use as a starting point for further personalization.

To change a set’s keys, follow these steps:

  • Select a set from the list; Notebooks displays a column of all keys defined for the set.
  • Tap the key you want to change and enter the character or special code it should represent. You are not limited to a single character, you can add a whole phrase, too (although it may appear truncated on the key).
  • To create an empty space on the row of extra keys, just leave one or more keys empty.
  • When done, tap Save in the top right corner.

To reorder the sets, tap the Edit button in the top right corner and rearrange or delete your sets.

Special Characters and Keys

Notebooks supports several keys that don’t just add a specific character but provide advanced functionality.

Matched Punctuation Marks (…)

If you want to insert parentheses, brackets, quotes or other punctuation marks that are used in matched pairs, you can combine them in a single extra key to enter both marks with a single tap. Just define them like “(…)”, for example, and Notebooks will either put the opening and closing mark around the selected text or around the current cursor position. You are free to define your own marks, too, so a key like “</…>” is a valid HTML closing tag.

Cursor Keys

Notebooks supports a few special keys for cursor movement. As it is hard to enter those keys with the built in keyboard, it is probably best to just copy and paste them from one of the presets.

Insert a TAB character at the current position. When creating a bulleted or numbered list, this character indents the list by one level. Touch and hold to outdent the list.
Move the cursor one character to the left. Touch and hold to move a word to the left.
Move the cursor one character to the right. Touch and hold to move a word to the right.
Undo. Touch and hold for a menu with undo and redo, so you can get both functions from a single button.

For key like undo, redo and others, Notebooks displays a more intuitive icon when presenting the key on the keyboard. The characters or shortcuts here are mainly used as a simple way to set up the keys.

More (•••)

This key presents a menu of additional items to insert: images, links, timestamps or the current GPS location. To place it on a different key, just type three bullets.

Markdown Formatting Keys

If you like Markdown, you probably appreciate the following set of extra keys.

Increase or reset the Markdown heading level for the current line, independent of the current cursor position. Tap and hold that button to reset heading. (It is not necessary to put the cursor at the beginning of a line to change heading level.
Inserts the Markdown code for bold
Inserts the Markdown code for italic
Inserts the HTML code for underlined
Inserts the Markdown code for struck through

Keys that use opening and closing tags (like bold, italic, etc) enclose selected text with these tags; when no text is selected, the opening and closing tags are placed around the current cursor position.

Convenience Keys for Adding Context Tags

When using Notebooks’ option to automatically extract and assign context tags from typed text, it can be a challenge to remember which tags are already in use and how they were spelled: was it @wip or @WIP, or even #workInProgress? These two keys help you out:

Tap and hold the button for a list of context tags starting with @ that are in use in Notebooks. Select the desired tag from the list to inset it at the current position.
Same as above, but this button lists the tags starting with #.

A simple tap on these keys inserts the corresponding character.

Advanced Editing Function Keys

If you write a lot using the on-screen keyboard of your iPad or iPhone, you know how hard it can be to select a word or phrase in order to delete it; placing the cursor at the right position to backspace a few characters can be equally challenging, especially in a moving environment – although Notebooks’ cursor keys already facilitate that. The following shortcut keys make editing and deleting text in Notebooks a joy.

Forward Delete: [DEL]
Removes the character after the cursor.
Tap and hold the button to delete the rest of the current line (this is what ctrl-k does on macOS).
The key appears as reversed backspace.
Advanced Forward Delete [§]
Allows you to delete words, sentences or whole paragraphs with a single tap, depending on the character preceding the cursor.
To be specific: Notebooks inspects the character preceding the cursor and deletes the text after the cursor, up to the same character. A few examples will make that clearer:
  • If the character immediately preceding the cursor is a space (“ “), tapping [§] deletes the text up to (including) the next space, so it deletes a word.
  • If the preceding character is a period (“.”), tapping [§] deletes a sentence.
  • If the preceding character is a newline (return), you delete a whole paragraph.
  • The same works with any character.
(The character § is hard to find on the iOS keyboard: just look for &, tap and hold it and wait or the pop up to appear).
Advanced Forward Delete – Variations [¶] [.] [,] [!] [?] etc
These keys allow you to delete the rest of a sentence, paragraph, etc.
In detail: These keys insert the given character at the current position, and at the same time delete the text up to and including that same given character. Again, a few examples will help:
  • [.] Inserts a period, and deletes the text up to and including the next period. So this allows you to delete the “rest of a sentence”.
  • [¶] Inserts a newline and deletes up to and including the next newline. So you delete the rest of a paragraph.

You can define keys with any character that makes sense for your use case.

Connective Delete [=]
This key looks at the two characters preceding the cursor, and then deletes up to and including the same two characters. An example:
The original text goes like: “The bar is dirty, you can almost smell the crushed pretzels on the floor.”
You want to turn it into: “The floor was a mess.”
So you just type f[=] to get: The f[=]bar is dirty, you can almost smell the crushed pretzels on the floor
and continue with “was a mess”.
This is a pretty sophisticated option, and it may be enlightening to know that it was suggested by a professional translator.
Text Transformation [AbC]
Provides the text transformation options Capitalize, Make upper case and Make lower case for the selected text. If no text is selected, Notebooks applies the transformation to the word under the cursor.

If you use any of Notebooks’ sync options, your sets of extra keys are synchronized as well. Due to the different number of keys on iPad and iPhone, Notebooks synchronizes different sets for each type of device.