Notebooks for Mac 2.1 introduces a variety of new features and a huge number of improvements and corrections. We originally planned to release this version a few weeks earlier, but I think the reasons for the delay are obvious…

Thank you all for your continued support, and take care everyone.

New in Notebooks for Mac 2.1

Notebooks gibt es jetzt auch auf Deutsch

Extract Tasks from Documents

Define a prefix to mark a line of text as a task and tell Notebooks to extract those tasks from your document. This feature has been part of Notebooks/iOS for a while already. Here is how it works:

  • Set your preferred Task Marker in preferences. That can be an arbitrary character or phrase; you can even use “– [ ]“, which is the checklist marker for Markdown documents.
  • Use any of the menu actions (File menu and Context Menus) or the keyboard shortcut ⇧⌘x to tell Notebooks to extract tasks from the current document. Notebooks/Mac does not do that automatically, because it does not know when you are done editing a document.
  • You can set a Default Inbox in preferences where Notebooks can store extracted tasks (or imported documents).
  • When you toggle a task that has been extracted from a document, Notebooks adjusts the corresponding text in the original document. So you always see the state of your tasks in the original document as well.

Share Items from Other Apps

Notebooks is part of the Share… menu, which is available system wide. Select text, images, text combined with images, files or other items and import them into Notebooks.

  • In the Share dialog, you can add an optional title and description before sending items to Notebooks.
  • You can select the book where Notebooks should store imported items. (Tip: Make sure to open Notebooks once to allow it to share its list of books with the Share Extension.)

By the way: Notebooks also adds a few entries to the Services menu. You can use that to create new documents from selected text (plain text or formatted, optionally stored in the Default Inbox), and one service allows you to append the selected text to the document which currently has the cursor focus in Notebooks. This can be convenient for collecting research material.

Plain Text and Markdown

  • Use the ⌘L keyboard shortcut to insert the Markdown checklist code “- [ ]“.
  • Tab now correctly indents lists on second level.
  • Fix a UI glitch when highlighting the last line of text.
  • The line number for the last line of text appears at the correct position.

Formatted Documents

  • Newly created formatted documents automatically display the first line as Title.
  • The Edit Link action more reliably retrieves URLs from selected text or from the pasteboard and accepts more URL types.
  • Embedded images immediately update after they have been modified (avoid caching).
  • Text alignment assigned to paragraphs remains in place when saving the document.
  • TABs remain in place when saving documents.
  • Use ⌘-return to end editing and display the toolbar. Press ⌘-return again to switch to source code view.
  • Improved highlight colors ensure that the text remains visible in light and dark mode. This does not change existing highlights, though.


  • New Duplicate as LaTeX menu action to convert the Markdown document to LaTeX.
  • The default converter now accepts <TOC> and {{TOC}} as markers to insert a Table of Contents.
  • When using Make every newline a linebreak, Notebooks now correctly handles various types of line breaks (/r and /r/n).
  • If the document’s title corresponds to the first line of text and the first line has no format assigned, it automatically displays as H1 (#).
  • When toggling a checkbox and you have the same todo in the list more than once, Notebooks tries to toggle the correct occurrence of the task.
  • With Click to edit Markdown, Notebooks tries to identify the clicked position more carefully.

Wiki Links and Links in General

When trying to open a link’s target document and a document with the exact name does not exist, Notebooks applies smarter logic to find an alternative. Here is an example:

Given the link “notebooks://Projects/Documents/Note”, Notebooks now tries to resolve the link in this sequence:

  1. Look for a document “Note” in the book “Projects ⟩ Documents”
  2. Search for “Note” with any extension, like txt, md, jpg etc.
  3. Scan for any filename containing “note”
  4. Peek into editable documents and pick the first one which contains “note”
  5. Ask the user to create the document, provided the original link had an extension of txt, html or md.

This strategy provides pretty much freedom and flexibility when creating references across Notebooks.

Documents – Misc Improvements

  • Task icons are displayed in the document header and can be toggled.
  • Long press the task icon to set or change the due date. (You can also long press the icon in the document list).
  • New option to disable autosave while typing. Notebooks still automatically saves when you select a different document or leave the app.
  • New from Pasteboard accepts images and URLs if possible.
  • New action Copy as Plain Text for PDF documents.
  • When displaying external documents, the separate window now shows a title, which makes it easy to move that document into Notebooks (just drag and drop the title’s icon).
  • Include Lexend font.

Document Themes

  • Basic Theme
    • Display images with a max-height of 90% of the window’s height.
  • Minimalist Theme
    • Use Notebooks color for links to increase readability on dark theme.
  • Default Theme
    • Indent the first level of an ordered list to make sure that numbers are not truncated in PDF and print.
    • Correctly display bulleted lists which are nested in numbered lists.
    • Enforce line break for pre-formatted text to keep it from running too far.
  • Scientific Theme
    • Ensure correct numbering of chapters and sub-chapters.
    • Correctly configure MathJax support.

Document List

The document list’s header has been redesigned for better usability:

  • A click on the book’s title displays a popup menu which allows you to navigate through Notebooks’ hierarchy. This is especially convenient with the outline hidden.
  • An additional ••• button provides access to actions for the current book.
  • The Swipe left to Delete gesture is no longer available for books, because it was too easy to accidentally delete whole books.
  • Preview text is available for PDF documents, too.
  • The preview of Markdown documents no longer displays Markdown code.
  • Set the color label for documents or books from the context menu.
  • Using refreshed and more friendly color labels.


  • Clicking the empty space below tree selects the top level, as expected.
  • Show (+) icon when holding down the option key during drag.
  • Show Due Tasks smart book with correct smart book icon.
  • Improved label colors.


Notebooks’ combined filter and search, available from the document list’s footer, has received a few updates as well.

  • New options to search title only, contents only, or title and contents.
  • Search results are now sorted by title rather than by path.
  • Filter the list of search results.

To recap: as you start typing in that field, Notebooks filters the titles of the currently displayed list of documents. When you type return, you start a Spotlight search by title, by content, or both. But hold on: you can then even filter the list of search results by title, which allows you to search the contents of documents for one term, and filter the title by another.

Misc Changes and Improvements

  • If the selected Notebooks Home is not reachable on launch, user can select a new home.
  • In case the volume hosting the selected Notebooks Home is ejected while Notebooks is running, an alert appears, allowing the user to close the app. If the volume is mounted again, the alert disappears and the user can continue to work.
  • With Notebooks running with all windows closed, clicking the dock icon opens the document browser. If all windows are minimized in the Dock, they are opened.
  • Option to keep window width unchanged when hiding/showing outline and document list (document gets more space), or shrink the window and keep the document’s width unchanged.
  • A new option allows you to override the system appearance and select light or dark (View > Appearance).
  • Import from Evernote makes sure that embedded items like PDF documents open when clicked.

In addition to these changes, Notebooks 2.1 contains numerous small fixes and enhancements.

Notebooks for Mac 2.1 is available from this website and from the Mac App Store. Users of the non-Mac App Store version of Notebooks for Mac 2 can also use the automatic update option.

Notebooks for Mac 2.1