How to use RTF lists and styles via Shortcut

Reading this post from @brookter reminded me of a similar post I’ve read some time ago in the Tinderbox forum. Turned out that post was also by @brookter.

I almost never use RTF records and in Tinderbox I seldom use lists, so RTF list and style usage didn’t affect me, however this time I got curious whether Apple’s RTF Text Engine’s lists and styles could be used via shortcut.

The first results of a search for apple “text engine” list shortcuts didn’t look promising, but the sixth result was a DEVONthink forum thread in which @BLUEFROG posted a link to his 2014 DEVONtechnologies Blog post “Outlining, DEVONstyle”. Bingo!

Personally I wouldn’t assing shortcuts only for DEVONthink but for the whole macOS as it’s probably nice to have them macOS wide available.

In the meantime there’s also a far superior way to assign shortcuts: Houdah Software’s free CustomShortcuts app neatly lists all apps so they are directly accessible. Compare that to macOS’s System Preferences :roll_eyes:. CustomShortcuts also features autocompletion of menu item names which means there’s no chance of typos. However, if you want to assign shortcuts for Apple’s RTF Text Engine’s lists and styles autocompletion won’t work.

Assigning shortcuts for RTF lists


  • Select All Applications
  • Click + at the bottom
  • Paste a list name from the list below
  • Record a shortcut

Using System

  • Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Application Shortcuts
  • Select All Applications
  • Click + at the bottom
  • Paste a list name from the list below
  • Record a shortcut

List names:

1.  2.  3.…
1)  2)  3)…
A.  B.  C.…
a.  b.  c.…
a)  b)  c)…
I.  II.  III.…
i.  ii.  iii.…

Note: New shortcuts won’t work immediately. It’s necessary to activate the list dropdown once, afterwards the shortcut can be used. This has to be repeated in every app you want to use the shortcut in. Also note that the formatting bar has to be visible to use a shortcut, in DEVONthink the menu is Format > Show Formatting Bar.

If you want to assign a shortcut for a list that’s not listed above:

  • use two spaces between each item
  • use an ellipsis at the end of the name, three dots won’t work.

DEVONthink’s RTF lists dropdown:


Tinderbox’s RTF lists dropdown:


TextEdit’s RTF lists dropdown:


Assigning shortcuts for RTF styles

Assigning a shortcut for a custom RTF style works the same way as assigning a list shortcut.

However, you need to use unambiguous names for your styles, i.e. the style name should not be equal to a menu item in any app you wish to use the shortcut in.

A good suggestion for those who want to use the hotkeys in other apps, @pete31

1 Like

Thanks, Pete, this is very helpful.

1 Like

@brookter I have to thank you too. Since I know how to create lists via Shortcut this

is no longer true, I know use them all the time :slight_smile:

1 Like

I would do too, but I use markdown in Tinderbox now — which opens up its own bundle of fun…

1 Like