How to define my own "Other" list style?

Hello all – new here, just purchased DT3, just signed up for the Forums – first post. I’m migrating from OneNote, BTW.

I have done a lot of web search and forum search and reading of manual, but haven’t found a solution to my question — sorry if I missed it.

The DT3.7.2 manual says (p. 37, col. 1): [EDIT: This is wrt Rich Text, in case that’s useful]

Lists: Make the current paragraph a list
(indented and with a bullet or numbered)
by choosing the desired list style from the
Lists pop-up menu. Choose Other to define
your own list style.

My question is: How do I find the “Other” option so as to define my own list styles? This is what I see in the Lists pop-up menu, and I am having trouble finding “Other”:

Thanks in advance for any help/information!

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I searched high and low for this too. But I can’t see it either. Would also like to know, please… :slight_smile: .

@mksBelper – thanks for looking for this – much appreciated!

Welcome, @dayknito!

I’m relatively new to DT (about ten weeks) and still finding my way around what I have to say - with over 40 years using software on a variety of platforms - is one of the most ‘accomplished’ products I have ever used.

I haven’t so far used DT for text files as you are doing. I still have a pretty full schedule of areas of the program to investigate and understand. But I did notice that the menu for lists when creating a text file in DT appears to be the same as it is for Apple’s own TextEdit app itself.

I am almost embarrassed to admit that I have yet to discover whether, in fact, DT is actually piggybacking on TextEdit.

If that’s the case, then it might explain things a little because TextEdit version 1.1.6 also seems to lack the ‘Other’ option that we’re seeking.

Pushing the boat out even further, I am in the process of moving away from TextEdit (in favor of Obsidian, as a matter of fact) because - amongst other reasons - the former appears to have got even more buggy with Big Sur: under certain circumstances, adding a new item (especially a ‘second level’/‘indented’ one) causes everything in the document to become a list item; if I delete backwards from body text (‘below’) up across a heading TextEdit will crash 100% of the time - I’m guessing because of some residual text or formatting in between which it can’t cope with.

So now right out at sea - since I didn’t notice this behaviour before I got my new iMac Pro with macOS 11 at the end of last year - I am speculating whether TextEdit has been ‘updated’ such that it (also) now lacks functionality such as user-defined lists which the DT documentation has yet to catch top with.

I am ready to withdraw this speculation and slink away red-faced if (when?) a more knowledgable user corrects my assumptions about the relationship between DT and TextEdit, though :slight_smile: .

We aren’t piggybacking on TextEdit. However, we use the same text engine as TextEdit, a framework supplied by Apple.

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Thanks, Jim. Yes. Correction/clarification appreciated.

So that explains it, doesn’t it.

The TextEdit framework will have changed - and the ability to define a list style of your own by selecting ‘Other’ withdrawn by Apple.

@mksBelper – thanks for this thought. I certainly wouldn’t have thought of this possibility, as I have virtually no experience with TextEdit (I use either Word or, preferably, LaTeX).

@BLUEFROG – thanks for this. With my unfamiliarity with TextEdit (and of course, DT), I’m afraid I didn’t follow whether this has implications for why an “Other” option isn’t showing.
Come to think of it, I guess I don’t really need to know/understand why an “Other” option isn’t showing :slight_smile: . I just need to know whether this is a current option, and if so, how to get at it. (And if it’s not an actual option, then does that merely mean that it was once an option and the manual hasn’t yet caight up with the change…?) TIA for your input.

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I believe - subject to Jim’s confirmation - that we have an answer.

I used to use TextEdit for almost all my notes (BBEdit for coding, Pages for DTP etc); but the constant instability (of this latest version) means I have to rethink that. If you don’t get such crashes, you’ll be OK, I’m sure. But it might be wise to keep in the back of your mind that there are sturdier options. Good luck!

Actually, it should still be available in DEVONthink but I am out to dinner so I can’t post more in-depth at the moment.

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Bon appetit!

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OK, I figured out how to introduce my own bullets. WRT the screenshot above:

  1. Copy the desired bullet symbol (from some external source that shows the symbol)
  2. Paste into the Prefix and/or Suffix fields
  3. Set the middle field to “None”

Then, DT will show the new bullets as options. And I am able to use them as bullets, including nested ones.

HOWEVER – they start disappearing from the dropdown of options after a few usages of bulleting, and after a restart of DT they are entirely gone.

Would anyone (such as @BLUEFROG or @cgrunenberg ) be able and kindly willing to offer guidance on how to make these “stick” in DT? Thanks in advance.

Update on this, for anyone who cares. Making bulleted lists is a key part of my note-making workflow, and pretty much my main activity in OneNote, intended to be replicated in DT.

At least for now, I’ve given up on trying to get better bulleting in DT via RTF, and have switched to markdown.

@dayknito - certainly Jim and/or Christian will be the ultimate authority here.

In the meantime, may I offer some thoughts:

  1. a rich text file in DT does still allow regular bullets - as does TextEdit; is there something specific about the shape, size, design of the bullets-in-lists that you need? I do understand… I love lists of all kinds :slight_smile: .
  2. the key issue - again for the experts here - remains whether the way in which DT uses the TextEdit framework has also fallen victim to the apparent disappearance of custom bullets/styles in TextEdit itself
  3. your suggestion of moving to markdown is an excellent one, I believe. As I said above, Obsidian is the systeme-du-jour, and probably of the decade - at least for the foreseeable future. Well worth a lookObsidian also integrates well with DEVONthink. It is built on the supposition that (its) users will be attracted to the ideas of linking-your-thinking in the context of Personal Knowledge Management (essentially small bites of information entered and organized in accordance with the way the user wants (because of how they really actually think) and not as the software’s engineering demands); so - Obsidian may perhaps have an underlying philosophy that is at odds with your work… there is LaTex integration.

Good luck!

@mksBelper – thanks so much for taking the troubel to respond!

Sure, I did realize that, and was certainly able to create and work with bulleted lists in RTF.

That’s a good question, and made me think. So I went back to the RTF files in which I was trying bullets, and examined and played with them again.

I can now identify what I don’t like about the experience of working with bulleted, heavily nested lists in RTF – and here of course, is a list – I seem to think in lists :slight_smile:

  • The default ‘-’ that DT/RTF puts in as a bullet is too bland for my tastes – creates insufficient visual distinction (for my tastes) between list items, as well as between different levels of indentation

  • I found that constantly going up to the menu dropdowns to try and add variety to the bullets between levels of indentation was getting exhausting and seriously interrupting my thinking. I hadn’t recognized this element of what was bothering/affecting me, so thanks for making me think.

[I’m coming from OneNote, where once I selected a bullet style from the dropdown, the style was maintained without effort from me, across any number of levels of indentation – and with automatic, helpful, distinguishing variaiton across levels of indentation.]

Continuing to be more comfortable with markdown, after using for a couple of hours…

Thanks again for your help and input!

My pleasure: glad it helps :slight_smile: .

Yes. I hear you. Definitely. If you use (and think in/with :smiley: ) lists, it’s going to be a few seconds and two operations. Completely understand; I must have just got used to it.

Obsidian (and - as you say - other Markdown-based software) will definitely help here. For unnumbered lists you just use the hyphen and for numbered '1. ’ in situ. It becomes automatic after a while. What’s more Obsidian’s multiple level of indentation actually works while TextEdit’s routinely fails. (I feel bad criticising a native Apple app so heavily - I always use the built in (Mail, Photos, Pages, Numbers, Safari etc) when I can.)

It also seems (haven’t looked closely) as though custom bullets in Obsidian is easy :slight_smile: .

Yes. Please forgive me if you already know, but DT 3.7 significantly increased its support for Markdown.

Any time, @dayknito! Good luck.

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Maybe this will be useful How to use RTF lists and styles via Shortcut.


@mksBelper – thanks so much once again.

One question: In my investigations of DT in the last few days, I have frequently seen mention of the use of external editors (e.g., TextEdit for RTF; Obsidian for markdown). I have found myself wondering about why the use of an external editor is worth the tradeoff of added complexity – additional windows to juggle; moving away from an all-in-one software experience. Now, my text editing needs are simple – lists all the way down – so perhaps it’s simply that my use case doesn’t benefit much from an external editor. I suppose I’d have to try it to really know.

But do you have any thoughts on this? (benefits of using an external editor)?

I have only started using DT in the last two days (and markdown of any kind in the last 2 hours!), so DT 3.7 is all I know, and I hadn’t realized that it incorporates substantially greater markdown support. This greater support may well be contributing to my feeling little need for an external editor…

@pete31 – thank you very much for this! I had not come across this in my searches about customization of RTF styles. It’s good to know that shortcuts would probably improve my RTF bulleting experience considerably.

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I understand what you’re saying :slight_smile:

I too am new to DT (a month or so). But I see this question slightly differently. I see DT as a repository for all manner of date and files (from web bookmarks to text to PDFs, images and database files).

Because the majority of such applications have their own filetypes and are launched according to the way macOS ‘knows’ about, say, a PDF; and can be instructed to launch, say, either Preview or Acrobat (etc) when double-clicked on, DT can’t handle every conceivable filetype and its associated environment.

Yet DT can store all such files. So it hands the job of working in, say, a Pages file to… Pages.

Because DT makes such an excellent job of seamlessly supporting work in most Mac file formats it may appear to users who come to it (DT) anew as though it ought to provide more of an all-in-one experience than it is designed to, and - I believe - than it really should.

Organising, searching, categorizing and corralling (such) files is DT’s primary job.

I too wrestled with what to Import, Index and leave untouched by DT when I first came to use it.

I spent time thinking and testing. In the end I believe I’ve got it about right.

I’d have thought that your process might benefit from being as follows:

  1. find the best (= most flexible and customizable) text software which supports lists/outlines
  2. compare this with DT’s own evolving Markdown functionality
  3. if ‘external’ software integrates with DT, go all out :slight_smile:
  4. and use DT as the superb organizational tool it is to store your documents in

Just to throw in a wrench/spanner, are you familiar with OmniOutliner

Please do keep coming back here. You’ll get all the support you need, I believe :slight_smile: !

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@mksBelper – thanks for the continued discussion and input.

Sorry if I’m misunderstanding/mischaracterizing, but I interpret your comments as follows:

  1. You are pointing out that the core functionality of DT is file and data management [acting as a database of data items, perhaps…?]. It is explicitly not aimed at document creation.

  2. Now of course there are a lot of different outputs (“documents”) that people might want to generate from the contents of their data: a report of some kind; financial accounting documents; a thesis; a family tree…

  3. While DT can support such activities by keeping the underlying data organized, DT neither can nor should attempt to provide the means for the varying information processing flows that these varying outputs require.

  4. Therefore, the best way for soemone to take advantage of DT’s data management capabilities is by using it in conjunction with the most appropriate tool for the specific output that they want to generate from their data.

Is this reasonably consistent with what you meant?

If so: I have been aware of (1) above as I’ve investigated DT, but hadn’t really thought about how (2)-(4) follow from that. So, this is helpful for me to think through (assuming I’m not completely misunderstanding you).

My use case is primarily to make structured notes. I find that I need these, in order to keep on top of “stuff” [professional notes; notes on my digital work flows; notes on hardware and software setup for various devices that I maintain and manage; notes on personal healthcare information.] I don’t want to keep track of innumerable files with these notes, so I need an interface that puts all of this information into one UI. And I need to be able to continuously sync this information between computers, and with client-side encryption.

I’ve been using OneNote + Dropbox + Boxcryptor to achieve this, for several years (running Parallels on MacOS just to be able to use Windows OneNote, which lets me keep my OneNotes on Dropbox + Boxcryptor). What’s pushing me away from OneNote is the increasing difficulty of maintaining information in an encrypted form, as Microsoft pushes everything to its unencrypted OneDrive. And Parallels + Windows Onenote will probably never work with M1 Macs.

So now, I’m looking to use DT + Dropbox + encrypted sync stores instead. Being aware of (1) above, I’ve been aware that my intended usage of DT is probably a suboptimal utilization of its abilities.

So why DT at all for my use case? Solutions that are probably better suited to my note-taking activity (Curio; Scrivener; OmniOutliner) do not offer the possibility of continuous syncing + encryption. (Curio and Scrivener do let you put their databases in a cloud sync service, which can be encrypted with something like Boxcryptor. But they insist that you should not open the database on a particular device until all syncing is fully complete and until all other devices have closed their databases. Having to wait to use device X until I know for sure that all other devices have synced and closed their databases is a deal-breaker for me).

So that’s what leads me to DT: Zero-knowledge encryption as well as continuous syncing. Plus of course, enough document creation ability to let me make notes, and have them all organized in a UI so that I don’t have to hunt through directories for individual files.

As it gives me those things, I have figured I’ll try to make it work for me, with the hope that it gives me enough creation ability for the kinds of “documents” I want to create. I’ve had the feeling that I may over time find myself using DT in broader ways as well . But from thinking about all of this (thanks to your input), I am beginning to wonder whether even as of right now, I may be doing myself a disservice by not trying one of the hitherto-disdained-by-me “external editors”!

Sorry for the long ramble – I’m sure that’s much more information than anyone wanted – but it was useful at least for me to think through all of that!

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You can create “foreign” file types via templates, see How to create a new document, for some application, within the current Group?

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