Note-taking format / approach for Markdown speed/formatting + Inline images


I’m trying to figure out the best format for mixed media notes.

I want to be able to takes note across DevonThink and Devonthink To Go.

At the highest level what I want is basically markdown with embedded images, managed as a single file.

Something similar to the universal sort of rich text notes you can take in Evernote so that I can upgrade notes over Markdown when I want something with inline pictures or richer formatting.

If I were only on desktop, I could probably manage having images in groups, and then referring to them in “real” markdown files with bang-links so the images resolve. Once I have DT:TG in the mix this is less wieldy.

I’m trying out both formatted notes, and rich text notes to see what is closest to the above. My reactions are below.

How are folks solving for this?

I think this has been discussed here: Plain Text, Rich Text, Formatted Note, or Markdown? – That was a while ago so I figure there may be new tricks.



Mark Down

  • Supports nearly everything I want, but with the extra step of putting the image somewhere and getting it DT link and !-linking it so it inline renders in preview.
  • Basically any time you want something more than chunk or block-level formatting, Markdown becomes the slowest format (e.g., tables, images, complex fonts/colors etc.)

Formatted Notes


  • I like on Desktop because they have just enough formatting that I can mostly get to through keyboard shortcuts.
  • I can set the default font in the DT settings, and start there on all new notes.
  • Formatting in formatted notes seems more responsive to resizing on DT, and DT:TG.


  • Formatted notes seem to capture or develop formatting anomalies. The only way I am able to get rid of the anomalies is to paste text into e.g, BBEdit, and then past back and reformat.
  • Formatted notes don’t support macOS image markup.
  • On DT:TG, the formatted notes look completely different than what I see on DT, which is not really a great. As in fonts, sizes, and line breaks are all different and not nearly as readable.
  • Editing formatted notes on the DT:TG is not nearly as easy as on DT.
  • Can’t set default font/size on DT:TG?

Rich text notes


  • Rich text notes have easier access to tables and other formatting features.
  • Rich text notes embedded images are manageable with macOS markup tools.
  • I can set the default font in the DT settings.


  • Rich text notes can’t be edited in DT:TG
  • Images in rich text notes don’t resize on DT:TG, and are not viewable if they don’t fit your viewport.
  • Can’t set default font/size on DT:TG?
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  • Basically any time you want something more than chunk or block-level formatting, Markdown becomes the slowest format (e.g., tables, images, complex fonts/colors etc.)
  • How are adding images to Markdown slow in DEVONthink? Drag the images from within DEVONthink - even in the same group or a subgroup of the current group - into the Markdown document… done.

  • Tables are slow until you get used to doing it. However, you could potentially use a util like TableFlip to generate the table Markdown.

  • “Complex fonts and colors” ?

In DevonThink it’s faster on desktop. Because it’s easier to do the file management of assembling the images into the right place and dragging them around. In DT:TG it’s a bit trickier to think of the order of operations and such to get images, put them in the right place, and link to them. Just more UX operations.

Good callout on TableFlip, it’s a pretty cool tool!

Complex colors and fonts is all the stuff you can’t do in Markdown. Specifying font faces, sizes and colors. Normally when I’m in Markdown I’m focused on semantics and let the style sheet handle the rendering. Sometimes there’s a desire to do styling in the notes using different fonts and colors “live” while editing.

Many things are faster on a Mac :wink:

Great summary!

The timing of your post is quite amazing as I was doing a deep-dive on this mundane topic just last night. (As I too am exploring the best solution for my own needs, my value to your question will be limited).

Are you planning to share these externally with others? (i.e. is this the reason you want everything, like images, self-contained?).

As you may be aware, a book was very recently published by a user on this forum, which generally themes on applying the slip-box (Zettelkasten) method of note-taking within DT3. The author of the book is active in this forum. See also here.

Something I never considered before right now: could we use a different mobile app for writing/editing notes—and just import/export via DT’s inbox?

My use for notes in general is to link ideas between documents—more or less exactly the method Kourosh wrote about.

You could do it by resorting to HTML, which can safely be embedded in MD: <p style="…"> etc

But maybe you’d be better off with a dedicated Wysiwyg program like Word or Pages of you need this kind of control and functionality? In my opinion, formats like MD, TeX, HTML (nowadays) and the good old *roff dialects are more about semantics and structure, less about representation. That’s why they use a separate formatting technique for the visual aspects: CSS for MD and HTML, macros for TeX and I’ve fortunately forgotten the details of *roff.

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Depends on the writing app. IAwriter works ok using DTTG’s share sheet as does Textastic. No need for inbox gymnastics there. Drafts seems to work but doesn’t propagate changes back to DTTG.


I am using Ulysses when I am writing Markdown on the Desktop. All my DT databases are index folders. Ulysses don’t support images when it is “outside” their own system, but updates come back to the DT via the file system.
I also use Drafts on my iPad to take the notes, but no images, no sync, just send the note too DT. I am using TextExpander for meeting notes templates.

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