We are pleased to announce the next major update of Notebooks, which provides a set of interesting new features and improvements: automatic Dropbox sync with background refresh, a full featured PDF reader, Sketches on the iPhone (already available on iPads), support for Touch-ID to unlock Notebooks, a Today widget for due tasks and much more. For all the details, please read on.

Automatic Background Sync with Dropbox

Automatic sync has been much improved in Notebooks 8. It now operates fully automatic, and it is no longer necessary to open a book to trigger a shallow sync of its contents. Instead, Notebooks connects to Dropbox at regular intervals, checks the whole hierarchy of your documents for changes and synchronizes them. We call this delta sync, and it is what Notebooks does when you enable auto sync in settings.

Notebooks even performs these delta syncs while you are working in other apps or when you are not using your iPad or iPhone at all. This is what we call background refresh.

If you prefer to stay in control and decide when to sync your documents, you can turn off automatic sync and still use the pull down to sync gesture in any book to trigger a delta sync. Of course you can still use manual sync from a book’s action menu, too.

To initialize delta sync, just perform a manual sync from Notebooks’ top level (by triggering sync from the action menu). When that sync has finished, delta sync is set up.

For more details, please refer to the Dropbox section and to our handbook.

PDF Reader

Following a frequent user request, Notebooks 8 offers a full featured PDF Reader with annotations, full text search, bookmarks, table of contents, thumbnail view, eBook like swipe options and more. The PDF Reader is offered as an in-app purchase.

Further Additions

  • You can use Touch-ID to unlock Notebooks.
  • The today view (swipe from top of display) can show Notebooks’ due tasks and allows you to manipulate them (iOS 8 only).
  • Sketches are finally available on iPhones, too.
  • We have much improved handling and display of email (.eml) messages.
  • We have also improved handling and display of webarchives.
  • Compressing documents now correctly includes embedded images and plist files.
  • You can set hourly repeat intervals for repeating tasks.
  • Swipe left across an entry in the list of books and documents to reveal Delete, Info and More… options (iOS 8).
  • Option to treat lines starting with “//” as comments. These lines are excluded from word- and character count and are ignored during Markdown conversion (plain text only).

New Keyboard Shortcuts

Shortcut Function
ctrl-˄ / ˅ scroll one page up or down
cmd-alt-V “Paste as Markdown” if pasteboard contains HTML
cmd-L toggle list style in formatted documents
cmd-[ / ] outdent/indent the current line in a list *

* Tab and shift-tab do the same. When multiple lines or paragraphs are selected, all of them are indented or outdented.

Fixes and corrections

  • Refined dark theme
  • Improved alignment of extra keyboard keys on iPhone
  • Reliably save text after using dictation without pressing any key (iOS 8)
  • Improved handling of background patterns/images to establish compatibility with iOS 8 (this breaks compatibility with Notebooks 6, but only when using custom background images or patterns)
  • When opening a protected document from a link and Notebooks is already unlocked, you no longer need to enter the passcode (iOS 8)
  • Avoid corrupted voice memos when device locks down during recording (Locking the device encrypts the file system, and Notebooks can no longer access its own documents. To prevent corruption, Notebooks now gracefully terminates recording when the device is about to be locked.)
  • eBook creation takes better care of special characters in document titles (& and # especially)
  • On iPhone, the delete and info buttons have changed positions to make it harder to accidentally delete items.
  • When deleting items, Notebooks now shows a centered alert sheet and asks for confirmation (this replaces the popup, which could be accidentally tapped)
  • Formatted Markdown documents can now be printed
  • Converting Markdown documents to PDF reliably embed images
  • Refined document themes (you can get the the previous “default theme” from the download area on our website)

Advanced topics

Absolute links to NBResources

You can now reference your own resources in NBResources. This allows you to store scripts (like MathJax or syntax highlighters) in NBResources and use links like src="/NBResources/..." to include them in documents or document styles (the leading slash is important).

In other words: references starting with / are now considered absolute paths starting at Notebooks’ root.

Absolute links to images across Notebooks

Similar to the resources above , it is now possible to reference images by using absolute paths, starting at Notebooks’ root. A path like src="/Project/Images/title.jpg" will always point to the same image, no matter where the referencing document is stored. Again, the leading slash makes the difference.

Notebooks’ document styles

The styles have been tweaked and improved to provide a few new options for Markdown documents:

  • Pandoc style headers
    Notebooks now uses <h1 class="title">, <h2 class="author"> and <h3 class="date"> to format these headers. The classes are defined in all of Notebooks’ default styles, and you can easily adjust them in your own styles.
  • Table of Contents
    • Decide where it should appear in the document simply by adding <TOC> (surrounded by empty lines) at the desired position
    • TOC is not printed and does not appear in converted PDF (defined in the @media print section of the style)

URL Schemes

The schemes for grab (import) and addnote can now optionally add content to a specific book


Updates for Notebooks for Mac and PC featuring the same advanced changes (in addition to a set of other improvements) will follow very soon.

Notebooks 8 for iPad and iPhone

35 thoughts on “Notebooks 8 for iPad and iPhone

  • April 28, 2015 at 3:46 am


    Congratulations – the above is an impressive list of Release notes.
    Looking forward to explore and use all the new features.
    Thanks for making this top quality app!


  • April 28, 2015 at 5:58 am

    Awesome mobile app update. Any plans for desktop version update?

    • April 28, 2015 at 9:29 am

      We are just finalizing Notebooks for Mac/PC 1.2; depending on the flood of emails we receive in response to Notebooks 8, it may be a couple of days or more until we can release it 😉

  • April 28, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Outstanding! Well done, Alfons. Notebooks has always led the way in iOS apps, and this sounds like a truly impressive step – several steps! – forward. Love the built-in PDF viewer/annotator idea.

    I’m downloading at the moment and look forward to trying it out. And to the Mac version, too.

  • April 28, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Hallo Herr Schmid,
    Ich habe die Software gekauft, bin aber nachwievor etwas enttäuscht darüber, dass ich keine Vorschau der Dateien des jeweiligen Ordnerinhaltes als Thumbnails ( vgl. Evernote, devonthink pro) erhalte. Da ich ein visueller Mensch bin, finde ich die Programmoberfläche zu textlastig.
    Kann man da etwas dagegen tun?

    • April 28, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      Hallo Christoph, wir bekommen nur sehr wenige Anfragen nach dieser Art Vorschau, und damit hat sie auf unserer Todo Liste keine sehr hohe Priorität. Ich kann also nichts versprechen, aber wir sehen, was wir machen können…

  • April 28, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    The new URL schemes are just what I’ve been looking for! Thanks so much!!!

  • April 28, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Finally! I can change my “All in one software” from Evernote! I was waiting for this perfect sync!
    Well done!

  • April 29, 2015 at 3:24 am

    I love my Notebooks for Windows. These look like great upgrades for the iOS version. Look forward to seeing them on Windows. You do a great job and I thank you for your attention to detail and quality. Top notch.

    • April 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm


      now that Notebooks 8 has been released, we can focus more on the desktop versions again. An update is due soon…

  • April 29, 2015 at 7:35 am


    thanks for the great release with a bunch of new features. Any plans adding the automatic background sync to webdav? IMHO, my private notes should not be put anywhere else than into my private cloud, like e.g. owncloud.

    Regards, Thomas

    ps: looking forward to the update of Notebooks 4 Mac

    • April 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      Hi Thomas,

      what makes auto sync via WebDAV more difficult is the fact that WebDAV servers cannot quickly report what has changed since the last sync. So Notebooks needs to walk through the server’s hierarchy and detect all changes, which takes time. Performing this check regularly in the background while Notebooks is running is already time critical, but there is no way to accomplish that during a background refresh. – “Versioning WebDAV servers” would help us a lot, but they are not very common. So we are still researching…

      • May 6, 2015 at 10:44 pm

        Hi Alfons,

        thanks for your reply. Perhaps one could get in touch with the owncloud developers, as they support sync-methods which perhaps solve those issues?!

        Another two points considering the mac version:
        – in markdown mode using nested lists, it makes a difference where I use for indention: at the beginning of the line a Tab symbol is inserted; using after the list symbol (e.g. ‘*’) 4 spaces are inserted; my setting is to insert 4 spaces.
        – would it be possible to add arrow symbols to navigate between recently used notes?

        Thanks, Thomas

        • May 7, 2015 at 6:32 pm

          Hi Thomas,

          the next update of Notebooks/Mac will handle indent/outdent for lists a bit differently: when a list is detected, Tab and shift-Tab always indent or outdent, no matter where on the line you enter it. This is the new behavior of Notebooks 8 as well.

          A history list for resent items is on our list for Notebooks/Mac; currently you could use the list of recent items, which you reach by clicking the clock icon in a document’s footer.


  • April 30, 2015 at 12:57 am

    Love this update. Notebooks was already indespendible for me. This just makes it all the better. I use Notebooks every day now. It turns my iPad into the laptop replacement I hoped that it would be. Really like the new PDF add-on, too. Congraulations and well done! Keep up the great work!

  • May 1, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Hi. After updating to version 8 the app crashes when I try to select all text. It also crashes when I try to export to e-book format.

    • May 4, 2015 at 9:41 am

      Hi David,

      on which device and with which iOS version does that happen? – Would you mind sending me a crash report? You find them in the iOS settings app under Privacy > Diagnostics&Usage > Diagnostics&Usage Data (on iOS 7 it is General > About > Diagnostics&Usage > Diagnostics&Usage Data). The entries to look for start with “Notebooks…” and can be sent by mail.

      Thank you!

  • May 1, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Hi, does the new pdf option provide the text reflow function, so that I can enlarge the font for easier reading? Thanks

    • May 4, 2015 at 9:42 am

      Hi James,

      no, the PDF Reader does not reflow the text, is shows the documents the way they were designed.


  • May 3, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Hi again Alfons,

    Will Notebooks For Windows also have the pdf upgrade? Specifically, will I be able to search a notebook and it include searching the pdf files?


    • May 4, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Hi Mike,

      the PDF Reader currently is iOS only. Especially with Notebooks for Win we are still looking for a quick way to index the contents of PDF documents, which unfortunately is not too straight forward…

      • May 6, 2015 at 11:45 pm

        Hi there – will the PDF reader be included in the Mac version? I love the addition to the iOS apps and am hoping to be able to sync PDFs between my Mac and iPad/iPhone via Notebooks from now on. Thanks!

        • May 7, 2015 at 6:43 pm

          Hi Ann,

          I am afraid that the PDF reader won’t find its way into Notebooks for Mac very soon; the PDF reader is very iOS specific, and Mac OS is too different… But that should not keep you from syncing your PDFs between Mac and iPad/iPhone already now, and you can always use Preview or maybe even better, Skim (https://skim-app.sourceforge.net)

          • May 9, 2015 at 12:35 pm

            Alfons, regarding syncing PDFs between iOS and OS X, Notebooks on my Mac does sync and show my PDF docs in the documents list. However, all that appears is the title of the PDF document. I cannot open or view the PDF from within the Notebooks app on my Mac. Is this normal/expected behavior?

            • May 11, 2015 at 10:22 am


              Notebooks for Mac is supposed to display the PDF just as Finder does when you select a PDF and then hit the space key (that is Mac OS Quickview). When you try that in Finder, does the PDF look the same?

          • May 13, 2015 at 10:30 am

            Hi Alfons, I tried opening a pdf from within Notebooks using the Quicklook space-bar command but it did not work. When I hit the space bar, nothing happens. However, when I bring up the pdf in Finder I can access it through Quicklook as usual. Is this the expected behavior? I hope not as that would certainly make working with PDFs on Mac quite cumbersome.

            • May 15, 2015 at 7:42 am

              Hi Jorge, sorry, my previous reply was not clear enough. Hitting the space bar in Notebooks has no effect, because Notebooks should open the PDF automatically. The fact that Finder displays it correctly might indicate something else: could it be that you installed some PDF plug in (like Acrobat Reader)? In that case, Notebooks tries to use the plug in, which might cause problems…

      • May 7, 2015 at 7:48 am

        I have heard that about indexing .pdf text in windows, so I completely understand. Thanks again for the great product!

  • May 4, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Hi Alfons,

    ich stehe dicht davor, mir Notebooks 7 zu kaufen. Nun lese ich, dass Notebooks 8 in den Startlöchern steht. Bekomme ich das Upgrade von der 7er Version automatisch oder sollte ich besser noch ein paar Tage warten?

    Viele Grüße

  • May 4, 2015 at 8:54 am

    …okay, wer lesen kann ist klar im Vorteil. X-D

    Die App “Notebooks 7” ist in der Version 8.0 verfügbar. Ich nehme meine Frage zurück und behaupte das Gegenteil.

    Viele Grüße

  • May 21, 2015 at 8:31 pm


    Shortly after the update, I’ve noticed one small issue on my iPhone (IPhone 5, running the current iOS 8.3): I have a book within a book within a book (3 layers deep). If I’m looking at that 3rd layer, but allow the phone to go to sleep, then open Notebooks again, Notebooks jumps me out of my 3rd layer book all the way to my first layer. I can’t seem to stay in any nested book that I’m using if the phone goes to sleep. This does not happen if I exit Notebooks and then come back to it with the phone remaining active. Is this a setting that I’m missing, or a bug? I love Notebooks, but this is starting to “bug” me.


    • May 22, 2015 at 9:05 am

      Hi Leah,

      there are two reasons why Notebooks opens at the top level instead of the last viewed book or document:

      1) You have set Notebooks to always open at root level; you do that in iOS settings > Notebooks

      2) While Notebooks was asleep, something caused Notebooks to terminate. This may be a background refresh that takes too long, but it may also be related to iOS data encryption. To find out what exactly goes wrong, would you mind taking a look at the crash log section on your iPhone and sending us one or two of the most recent ones? You find them in the Settings app under Privacy > Diagnostics&Usage > Diagnostics&Usage Data. The entries to look for start with “Notebooks…” and can be sent by mail.

      Best regards,

      • May 22, 2015 at 7:44 pm

        Hello Alfons,

        Thank you so much for the information. I have made sure that Notebooks is set to “last visited”, but that doesn’t seem to have solved the issue.

        I have viewed the Diagnostic & Usage Data, and there are no entries for Notebooks/with Notebooks in the name, and nothing dated within the past couple days when I know that I was experiencing the issue. Anything else in the list I should be looking at?

        It’s not that much of a problem; I’m not too often in a third-level book for too long, so even if this keeps happening, I can live with it. Notebooks is a fantastic product. I’ve been using it since my iPhone 3, and that won’t change.


  • June 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I bought my first iPad purely because of the Notebooks app. I upgraded to Notebooks 7 and now 8. I just got prompted to perform a Delta sync with Dropbox- it erased all my files! What do I do? A disaster-fortunately I still kept my old Notebooks app.
    I hope you can help-also what do I do wrong, I may not be the only one.

    • June 22, 2015 at 8:01 am

      Hi Michael,

      I am sorry to hear what happened! – Initializing delta sync performs a Dropbox synchronization from Notebooks’ top level, which is the same procedure we had in Notebooks 7. When Notebooks deletes all of its contents that actually means that it does not see any of its (previously synced) contents on Dropbox anymore and thus assumes you have deleted it. So could it be that you changed or moved your documents and contents from Dropbox?

      If you view your Dropbox content in a browser, do you still see the documents that were removed from Notebooks? If you do, you could simply reset Dropbox sync in Notebooks 8 and try to sync again. That should import all your documents again.

      Maybe we should continue trouble shooting by mail?


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