We kept you waiting longer than we anticipated, but when looking at the list below and when launching Notebooks 5 for the first time, we hope you understand that this is in fact a major update.

We gave Notebooks a more modern appearance and tried to make its usage more intuitive. So at first, things may look a little different, as certain buttons and functions have been rearranged, but on the whole, Notebooks should now be much easier and more fun to use.

The major topics are the new interface and support for formatted documents, but we also polished and improved the rest of Notebooks. We added many smaller features requested by our users, but if you still don’t find your personal favorite, please don’t worry, our list is still quite extensive.

By the way, Notebooks for iPhone and Notebooks for iPad are now both version 5.0

New Interface

  • More modern, more intuitive, less clutter; many things may look new, everything is still available, but in more obvious places
  • “Light”, “dark” or “classic layout” options
  • More logical grouping of actions for books and documents
  • Process multiple items: delete, move, combine, compress… (iOS 5)


  • New type Rich Text Document (which is HTML)
  • Select document styles, paragraph format, insert embedded images, lists etc.
  • Apply text styles, font color or highlight phrases
  • Convert Markdown documents to editable HTML
  • Set default document type in settings (“Plain Text” or “Rich Text”)


  • Define your own set of Extra Keyboard Keys
  • Much improved handling of large text documents (400.000 characters and more)
  • Option to set word count, character count or nothing at all
  • Option to hide note when changing book (iPad)
  • Option not to display an info bar (by default, info shows for 2 seconds and hides automatically)

PDF Conversion

  • Convert any document Notebooks can display
  • Optionally protect generated PDF documents with a password

Sketches (iPad only)

  • Portrait or landscape orientation (default is device’s orientation)
  • Rotate sketches (and images)
  • “Palm protection” ignores multiple touches
  • Option to use current paper pattern as background


  • Creates an audio file in current book and displays a record button in book’s toolbar; use that button to start/stop/pause (Tap to pause, tap&hold to stop or pause)
  • Copy a voice memo’s link and paste it into a formatted document for an embedded voice note; this allows you to listen to the recording and write at the same time


  • Set default Inbox
  • Extract tasks from a note at a custom marker
  • Option to Hide Done Tasks


  • Use multiple words or phrases to narrow the search results (Notebooks looks for documents that contain ALL words and phrases)
  • To search for a specific phrase, put it in quotes (like “Notebooks for iPhone”)
  • Cancel button stops search
  • Search is diacritic insensitive (Ü=u, e=è etc.)
  • Highlight search hits in Office, iWork and RTF documents, too


  • Plain text: tap once to make text editable (no multiple taps anymore!)
  • Combined Markdown documents: tap once to switch to plain text view (iOS5)
  • While editing, swipe left or right to hide keyboard
  • Single tap with two fingers switches to fullscreen mode and back.
    On the iPad, this gesture displays PDF documents in an advanced view with thumbnails.
  • Touch and hold a list entry to open its info window


  • Upload document immediately after editing (much faster than before and allows editing of other notes during sync)
  • New “move and delete” procedure during sync (takes a bit longer but is much more reliable)
  • When book is empty on DB but not in NB, give user the option to upload or delete documents
  • Let user solve most conflicts immediately (instead of sync report)
  • Option to solve conflicts automatically
  • Option to ignore “.dot” files
  • Improved sync reports, which now generally appear at the top level
  • No more “Cocoa Error 4” (we do hope so!)

WebDAV Sync

  • Detect empty folder on server and give user the option to upload all documents from NB
  • Option to ignore “.dot” files
  • Correctly report user agent

WiFi Sharing

  • Set custom port number (default 8080)
  • Correctly report creation date to the WebDAV client


  • Optimized layout of imported HTMLs and web archives for improved readability
  • Option to create an editable HTML copy from webarchive
  • Change file extension of documents (in Info)
  • Improved print quality
  • Many new options in “Setting”
Notebooks 5 released

43 thoughts on “Notebooks 5 released

  • May 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    GREAT job Alfons. Massive update and it was worth the wait. Unfortunately there seems to be a problem.

    (ipad3 iOS 5.1)

    If I added an image in the previous version I could tap that image to see it full size, then simply pinch (I think) to return to the note.

    Now when I add an image and tap it, it simply shows the “thumbnail” version in its own screen. Swiping left and right simply cycles through the images I’ve added to the note and I can’t get back to the note without going through the tree again.

    Also, the double tap full screen gesture seems a bit troublesome. It only works occasionally.

    Other than these minor problems it’s a solid update. Tons of features and well worth the price!

    • May 10, 2012 at 8:18 am

      The only real change we made here is that Notebooks no longer zooms images beyond 100%. Could this be the reason why they appear as thumbnails?

      (Pinch to return to the note was not available in previous versions, either, but that is a nice idea 😉

      The full screen gestures should work well as long as you did not start editing. Once you bring up the keyboard (and hide it again), the iOS “captures” the two finger tap and overrides Notebooks. We’ll have to see how we can improve that.

    • May 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm

      Ebsy, to see the seperate picture in a larger size you have to got to settings, write and edit, and set picture size to ‘original’ instead of ‘medium’. But unfortunately that doesn’t work with pictures which are already embedded, only when you add new pictures.

  • May 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Notebooks has become one of the most useful and complete apps everyone should install on their iPad and use it on an everyday basis. The interface is much more beautiful now and (though it crashed twice while I was fiddling with it for the new features), it works neatly and the redesign made it much cleaner, logical, and more fun to use than before.

    Thanks for your tremendous effort. I can see the translation onto Spanish has also improved, and so far, I have found it perfect 🙂

    So congratulations for a very good work.

  • May 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm


    This is update is unbelievable, and exactly what I’ve been waiting for. The highlights for me are the rich text editing and the amazing sync capabilities. I’m now creating beautiful notes that sync automatically (and almost in real time) between iPad, iPhone, and my Mac.

    I’ve tested almost every Notes application available for iOS, and for my needs, this is absolutely the best!


  • May 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks! You just ended my late night search for the best note writing tool! Looking forward to the release of the desk top version. Great Job!

  • May 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    The update looks great!

    I am not sure if this is the appropriate place to report an issue. Unless I haven’t found a place to change the default, it appears that the ink color for a sketch defaults to white so that when you initially try to write something (using sketch for handwritten notes) nothing shows up because it is white on white. I changed the color to black and added some notes, left the sketch and came back to find the ink color back to white.

    It would be great if you could create multipage sketches – I like to take meeting notes with handwriting versus typed text.

  • May 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Thank you for this fantastic update. Just one question. I have been using custom colors for all my documents (blue background and white text) but the new version shows the as a ruled paper background and white text, which is impossible to read. I can change the background of each document, but I wonder if there is a global setting I am missing. Thank you.

    • May 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      Jose, there is a global setting. If you go into settings, write and edit, use custom colors – switch to on, which will display paper types and colors – you should be able to figure it out from there.

      • May 9, 2012 at 10:45 pm

        Ned, thank you for the hint. The global setting didn’t carry to all my folders, but I just discovered that if you tap and hold a folder icon you can change the settings for all the documents within. Thank you.

        • May 10, 2012 at 12:20 am

          Jose, I have the same problem. I know it has my old formatting (I can see it correctly under Process), but it insisted on setting a background image on my old docs.

          • May 10, 2012 at 8:28 am

            First off, it is great to see how you help each other, thanks for that!

            Font settings, background colors and patterns (and a few other attributes) can be set at several levels:

            – globally in NB’s settings
            – as default for that book and everything in the book in a book’s info
            – locally in a document’s info

            Local settings override the global settings, which may explain why the changes in settings do not carry over to all books.

            Does that explain what happens, and more importantly, does that help restore the intended colors?

  • May 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Great work! One of my favourite apps!

  • May 10, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Love this update. Am happy to work through some quirks and re-learning. Well worth it.

    And thanks for the “large document” support… now I can do some combined doc work.

    Which now makes me crave an ePub -> Send To iBooks option 🙂

  • May 10, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Add PDF search, highlighting, and annotation and you have the PERFECT business tool! 🙂

  • May 10, 2012 at 7:48 am

    your last updates and version seems perfect !!! thanks for that … pls try to include also tables in editor , it will be so useful for us.

  • May 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    How does one use “sketching”? It’s mentioned in the descriptions of features added, but I can not see how to use it.

    • May 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Sketches are available on the iPad only, and they are a document type of their own. From the “+” menu in a book, select “New Sketch” instead of plain or rich text…

      • May 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm

        Only has two (2) options, Plain or Rich text. Is there some feature not turned on that I can not find?

        • May 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm

          Cancel – I found it!

  • May 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Since I have updated Notebooks, the look of nearly all of my notes has changed: there are new automatic indentions at the beginning of every paragraph except for the first one.

    Is it possible to get rid of these (in some cases very annoying) indentions without having to add a totally new document style, or do I really have to make a new theme and then change the style in every single note (even if I change the default of the document style in ‘settings’, and the style in all documents is set to ‘auto’, the style of each existing document changes only when I change the style manually)?
    Apart from this, I like the ‘Default Theme’, an when I add a new theme, the headings look very different from the original ‘Default Theme’ (very large and bold), and there’s no way to look at the settings of the original ‘Default Theme’.

    • May 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      I was afraid that the changes we made to the default theme would not please everyone, it was a difficult decision… but that is why we implemented the option to add your own styles 😉

      To avoid the indented paragraphs there are two options:

      Use “Default” as paragraph style instead of “Paragraph” (from the pulldown menu with title, subtitle etc.). I do not know if this is ideal for existing documents, but it is worth mentioning for new documents.

      The other option is using our styles as a starting point. They are available from the download area.

      To avoid the indented paragraphs, just remove the “p + p” section.

  • May 10, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    I’m sure this is my problem but I previously was able to move docs from dropbox to Notebooks by opening in Dropbox and selecting “Open In” Notebooks. It is no longer an option. Am I missing something?

    • May 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      You seem to have too many apps installed that can open that document type; the iOS automatically limits the list to a certain number.

      All you can do is remove a few apps until NB appears on the list.

  • May 11, 2012 at 10:37 am

    There are two other things that don’t work as good as before the update:

    It’s no more possible to zoom pictures and notes, except for PDF-documents.

    The new function ‘tap once to make text editable’ can make problems: You first have to lock the write protection if you’d like to tap on a link in a document, otherwise it’s more difficult to open it without accidentally changing to the text editor. But even if the protection is locked, and you follow a link to a website and then want to tap on a link on this website, the text editor of the (actually locked) note could open accidentally instead of the linked page.

    • May 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      You are correct, HTML documents no longer zoom; instead we tried to optimize their size and display for the respective screen. – If insert images into your own documents, just tap them and they open as separate document.

      Links in HTML documents are a bit specific in the context of the iOS’ default gesture handling, but if you touch and hold the link for a moment it will open.

      • May 12, 2012 at 7:39 am

        Thanks for your reply.

        Nevertheless, opening a picture in a seperate window doesn’t make any sense anymore, because many pictures are much smaller in the seperate window than in the document itself. Even if you choose to import pictures in original size, the original pictures must be very very large. Especially if there is written text on a picture, it can be difficult to be able to read it.
        The only solution at the moment ist to open a picture in the seperate window, and from there open it in another app…

  • May 12, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Hi Alfons,

    this is a great update, thank you very much!

    I have one serious issue though: when I return to Notebooks from another app or the home screen, the books list disappears. All that is left are the smart books “recent documents” and “key words”, and a blank open document on the right side of the screen. When tapping the title bar (‘Notebooks’), the books selector appears, but selecting a book only brings me back to the two aforementioned smart books. Selecting one of them again loops me back to these smart books. In other words, I am completely stuck, I have to kill the Notebooks app every time in order to access it again normally.

    I am on iPad 3 with iOS 5.1

    Please help!

    Best regards,


    • May 14, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Hi Ralf,

      this is a strange behavior which I currently cannot quite explain…

      – Have you tried restarting the iPad? Does that improve anything?
      – Do you have protection enabled? Are these books protected?

      I hope we find out what is wrong!

      • May 14, 2012 at 10:07 am

        Hi Alfons,

        Your hint with protection put me on the right track :

        The root book (‘Notebooks’) still had a password set. Even though protection was disabled in the prefs, Notebooks apparently went into protected mode when switching apps (also when switching on the iPad after an auto-switch-off).

        I did the following steps:
        – activated protection in the preferences
        – switched off password protection for the ‘Notebooks’ book
        – switched off protection in the prefs

        It now works like a charm – thank you so much !

        Best regards,


  • May 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Looks like it’s time to add a Forum to the site!

    Really enjoying the new release.

    I need to report / confirm behavior concerning PROTECTED books…

    If I protect a book on, say, my iPad, it is impossible to have it show up on my iPhone after synching with Dropbox. To see the “protected” books on the other device, I have to UN-protect the book on the original device.

    This forces a choice between defeating either synch or protection. 🙁

    Of course, the information, it turns out, is readily available on the Mac version — with no Protection at all, AND also via the Dropbox app on all devices with NO “protection.” So I’m not really understanding the value of the feature.

    1. Synching protected books appears to fail from iOS device to iOS device. BUT
    2. The information isn’t really “protected” anyway.

    I would like TRUE protection of notes and books, such as encryption, but since the info is so easily accessed outside Notebooks, I think this better qualifies as “masked” or inconvenient access, not protected.

    Am I misunderstanding / misrepresenting the situation?

    Anyway, the rest of the app is truly wonderful and I can see using it more and more especially when the Mac version stabilizes and comes into its own. (Please re-think the Trash Can function; misleading behavior now! I have lost documents to it because it is not clear what is actually selected for deletion.)

    Continued success,


    • May 14, 2012 at 9:06 am

      Hello Don,

      protection in Notebooks really is just protection, it is no encryption (https://www.notebooksapp.com/ios/protection/); adding encryption to an app that is sold outside the US is not straight forward, but we have taken the first administrative steps that now allow us to actually encrypt documents. So, in a release or two, things will be better.

      Regarding the sync behavior: the way it is intended (and I just checked that on my devices here) is that protecting a book on the iPad will be protected on the iPhone after sync. This means that in order to see it on the iPhone you need to unlock Notebooks. Isn’t that the case for you, too?

      You’re probably right about the forum 🙂

      • May 14, 2012 at 10:49 am

        Hi Alfons,

        Thanks for your reply. It held the secret! On the iPhone, I did not have Protection enabled… This was the problem.

        The books that were protected on the iPad simply were not visible to me — they did not show up as inaccessible, they just did not show up in the list at all.

        It did not occur to me to check the Protection settings on BOTH devices. 🙂



  • May 14, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Thank you for the amazing update. Using it on my iPad is flawless.

    However, I can not use it on my iPod Touch 2nd gen, running iOS 4.2.1. Crashes every time I try to edit a note.

    Please fix this bug, Notebooks is the one app I use all day, every day!

    • May 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Yes, it seems that some devices on iOS 4 have this issue; it is related to the new “tap once to edit”, which works fine on iOS5. Let me confirm, we did successfully test that on iOS 4 devices before the release, but there seems to be a constellation of device/iOS version that escaped us. – We are putting together a bug fix right now.

      We’re sorry for the trouble!!

      • May 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm

        Thank you Alfonso. This is an app I use even more frequently than a browser, and worth giving you the time to fix the bugs.

        Anks so much!

  • May 15, 2012 at 3:59 am

    Love, love, love Notebooks, and appreciate the update. Pleased to see Voice Memo improved—but find it does not function properly, on the iPhone (iPhone 4, iOS 5.1). The numeric count on the far right side of the playback progress bar, is cut off, and unreadable. And, on the far left end—there is no Play icon to tap. Instead, one has to create the memo, tap it once to open, although it will not Play—and then back out to root tree, and tap again to open a second time. It works properly on the iPad 3, but not on the iPhone 4. Could you help, Alfons?

    • May 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      You are right, we need to look into this; one of the iOS updates interfered with our implementation …

      As a workaround for now, if you press the home button twice and then swipe right you reach the audio controls. When a voice note in playing in NB you can use these to start/stop/pause the playback. Anyway, this is no more than a workaround.

  • May 15, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    I have not been able to use the ‘Send to “The Hit List”‘ feature yet: half of the times nothing happens, and the other half the app crashes, both on the iPad and on the iPhone. To me it would be very useful being able to send tasks to The Hit List, otherwise I will not use tasks in Notebooks, which is a pity.

    • May 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Are you sure that NB crashes? When sending a task to THL, NB needs to close, but THL should open. If you are not sure, take a look at the iPhone’s or iPad’s Diagnostics (you find that is settings) and you will see where the problem is.
      If it is NB, please let us know again.

      • May 24, 2012 at 11:54 am

        Well… I couldn’t tell you whether it closes or crashes. It does not zoom out as the rest of the apps do when they close, Notebooks just abruptly disappears from view, that’s what makes me think it crashed, but could it be it just closing.
        But the fact is that nothing happens in The Hit List. I never saw it opening, and never got any task into it. Nor on my iPad nor on the iPhone.

      • May 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm

        Sorry, I forgot to do what you told me: I have just gone and look under Diagnostics, and there I found a “LastesCrash-Notebooks.plist” from today.
        Shall I send it to you by mail?

        • May 25, 2012 at 10:45 am

          Thank you, I received it and it helps a lot. There is in fact an issue in NB, but we’ll have to investigate that.- Further details follow by mail…

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