Feature Improvement: RTF Text Editor in DEVONthink

Would it be possible to improve the rich text editor within DT?

The available styling and behavior of the text editor is rudimentary at best. It could easily stand an upgrade such as giving us more options on the toolbar, similar to what other text editors provide. Even the basic online embedded HTML text editors have more features than what we have in DT.

Additionally, the behavior of lists is sorely lacking. I can go more into detail, if required.


DEVONthink uses Apple’s plain and rich text code in OS X. The result is essentially a plain text or rich text document as displayed in TextEdit in the Wrap to Page format (and similar styles, lists, tables, etc.).

It’s very unlikely that DEVONtechnologies would create its own text editor, as that’s not the primary focus of development.

If I need to send someone or print the content of a rich text note in DEVONthink, I usually copy/paste it into a Bean document to add header and footer and perhaps print as PDF, or copy/paste it into a more capable editor such as Pages for final edit/polish.

If you have a preferred Mac text editor, it’s possible to import a blank document created by that app, then export it as a Template. The template document will then be available within DEVONthink’s list of Templates (Data > New > from Template) and can be opened and edited under its parent application. When saved, the edited document will be stored in DEVONthink and displayed there (if possible).

Thanks, Bill.

If the text editor in DT would indeed function the way TextEdit does, I would be totally happy! :slight_smile:

It doesn’t, though. There is some strange behavior that is happening within the DT editor. While we can work with templates and external editors, it makes DT less desirable for collecting and entering text directly in DT.

Just some thoughts.


I definitely feel your frustration. I do most of my writing in DT as a lot of my text is in the form of annotations or references to existing documents. The basic flaw is the lack of development of OS X rtf component but some apps, like Scrivener have hacked the rtf component to add more functionality.

One approach which might make things easier is adding keyboard shortcuts to the styles menu as described in this thread:[url]Script to apply style within RTF *and* Label the RTF].

The other approach I am still going to try, is to use applescript to produce neat multi-level numbered lists which is my particular requirement. I have already had great success in manipulating the text in an rtf document using DT’s applescript ( see here as an example [url]Updating reference links to Bates numbered documents] as well as many other scripts on these forums).

The last approach which might be worth exploring is writing in markdown instead and for which DT has some support (although I wish it had an option to support a markdown engine of one’s own choosing).


It takes quite a bit of effort to develop and keep a text editor current, and without a revenue stream specifically to support that work, and numerous free alternatives, it’s not an attractive investment for most developers. OTOH, as Bill points out, DEVONthink plays well with almost any editor. Personally, I rarely use DEVONthink for document creation, editing and annotation – the built-in features for this are lightweight and no match for external purpose-built PDF or document editors. To keep the DEVONtech developers happy and the core product advancing, I’m OK with this fact.

Bean is great, but also “no longer being actively developed”, according to the developer.