Notebooks on a Mac

Getting Started with Notebooks for Mac

Set Notebooks’ Home Folder

When you first launch Notebooks for Mac, you are asked to set a Home folder, which is the folder where Notebooks stores its documents. You can select any folder on your hard drive, and you are not required to select a new or empty one. It is also okay to pick a folder which already contains documents. You are free to change that folder at any time in Notebooks’ preferences without compromising your documents and data. This allows you to have multiple sets of Notebooks documents and switch between them. – So you could, for example, keep confidential documents on an encrypted disk image, other documents in your Document folder, and switch between these sets on demand.

A few remarks about how Notebooks handles your documents and folders:

  • Notebooks stores your documents as files and books as folders on your hard drive, but it does not import them into any type of database. This means that your documents are always accessible from Finder, and there is no need to worry about import or export.
  • Items you delete from Notebooks are deleted from your hard drive as well (in fact, they are moved to the Trash).

Use Notebooks with Dropbox

If you use Notebooks on an iPad or iPhone and sync its contents to Dropbox, it is very easy to pick up and work on the same documents with Notebooks for Mac.

  • Download and install the Dropbox client for Mac (a free download available from the Dropbox website). This application automatically and continuously synchronizes the contents of your Dropbox (and with it the documents you sync from Notebooks on an iPad or iPhone) with a folder on your Mac. Please make sure to use the same Dropbox account on your Mac, iPad and iPhone.
  • In Notebooks for Mac, open preferences and change the “Notebooks Home” folder by selecting the Dropbox folder which you use for syncing the contents of Notebooks on your iPad or iPhone. By default, this folder is Dropbox/Notebooks, located in your user home.

With these steps, Notebooks for Mac is set up to present your books and documents from your Dropbox sync folder and save all changes and additions to that folder. The Dropbox client on your Mac then syncs these documents to Dropbox, from where they find their way into Notebooks on your iPad or iPhone. – Currently, this is the most convenient and seamless connection between Notebooks on your iOS device and your Mac.

Notebooks and WebDAV Servers

If you use a WebDAV service to sync your documents from Notebooks on an iPad or iPhone and want to work on that set of documents from Notebooks on your Mac, all you need to do is mount that server in Finder and point Notebooks to that folder. You should be aware, though, that Notebooks reads and writes directly to and from that server, which may negatively impact performance. So you might consider using a separate application to synchronize the contents of the WebDAV server with a local folder on your Mac and select that local folder as Notebooks’ home folder. Cyberduck is just one example of an application that can to that.

A special case is the WebDAV server that is running on your Mac. There usually is no need to mount that, because you can access its directory like a local folder.

Notebooks for Mac vs. Notebooks for iOS

Notebooks for Mac does not yet offer the whole set of functionality of its iOS counterparts, but it is a solid platform for creating and editing documents, organizing them in nested structures, collecting all kinds of files, managing tasks and task lists, and – if you want – synchronizing that all between multiple devices.

You can create documents as plain text or formatted documents (HTML), and you can always convert between them. The conversion from plain text to formatted text uses Markdown.

Notebooks displays many other document types like iWork, MS Office, PDF, RTF, webarchives, images and more, but it does not edit them.

Many of the more advanced features of Notebooks on iOS will be added to Notebooks for Mac over the next couple of updates.


We do not list all options and menu entries in detail here, as we hope that most of them are self explanatory. Just check the menus and the context menus of the tree view and the documents (right click or ctrl-click, or tap the gearwheel icon in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen). They provide access to all functionality that is currently available. It it also worth taking a look at the options and settings in Notebooks’ preferences.

Feature Highlights

  • Create and Process Documents
    • Create Formatted documents (HTML) and use WYSIWYG editing to produce beautifully formatted texts with font styles, colors, lists, embedded images etc.
    • Assign document styles (CSS) to your formatted documents.
    • Create Plain Text notes if you do not want to care about styles and format. You can always convert them to a formatted document later.
    • Use Markdown tags in plain text documents and convert them to formatted document later. You can also tell Notebooks to convert those Markdown documents on the fly and assign a custom document style.
    • Type your notes and texts, no matter how long they are. If you want, Notebooks counts words or characters for you.
    • Freely assign fonts, colors and backdrops (paper types) to your documents (backdrops are available for plain text only. Notebooks provides a convenient set of colors and paper types, but you are free to define and add your own.
  • Import Documents
    • Import text, HTML, RTF, PDF, MS Office, Apple iWork documents, pictures, websites, web archives, audio files and videos.
    • Quickly create new documents from the contents of the Pasteboard. This makes Notebooks your Clipboard Manager.
    • Grab web pages directly from Safari (you need the Notebooks Bookmarklet for that, it is available in the download area of our website).
  • Task Management
    • Create, organize and manage your Task Lists.
    • Create nested task lists if you want.
    • Assign due dates to tasks.
    • Maintain your reference library of documents that support you with your task management.
  • Organization and Structure
    • Store and organize notes in nested books.
    • Freely move, rename and restructure your notes and books.
    • Sort notes by title, modification, creation date.
    • Find your notes with full text search (plain text, HTML, iWork, Office, RTF and web archives).
    • Use Notebooks’ custom links (URLs) to reference notes or books within Notebooks and across applications.

You find more hints about Notebooks for Mac in our tips section.