Please add block-indent function to DevonThink/Notes

Hi, I think a block indent function to the DevonThink editor is very much needed.
I’m a software engineer, and use this stuff for work, and I often need to be able to ident a block of text quickly, and have to tediously do it with tabs.

Like right now I’m trying to indent a struct from a header file to write some notes
to send out and I’m having to tediously indent each line by hand.

Very frustrating.

Oh, and don’t forget the hotkeys besides just the menu function. Typically editors use ^] and ^[ for that.


Control-[ generates ESCAPE on every US keyboard I’ve used.

It has been about 8 or 9 years since I had a need to do block indents of paragraphs in TextEdit or DEVONthink. But I found it was possible in TextEdit by using the ruler to create a block indented paragraph (both left and right indent, if desired). Then the Style of that paragraph could be copied to any other paragraph. At the time, the keyboard shortcut to copy that paragraph Style also worked in DEVONthink.

I suppose that’s still true in the current versions of TextEdit and DEVONthink, but I don’t remember the keyboard commands to copy the margin status of a paragraph and then paste it into another paragraph. That’s probably available from TextEdit’s Help, but I hit one of those “currently unavailable” glitches in trying to access it.

Back when I did some different block indents, I created a document that held the various types and kept it available. Then it was a quick matter to copy/paste the paragraph indents from that “template” to any other text document in DEVONthink.

I believe the keyboard shortcut to copy a style from selected text is Opt-Cmd-C and its counterpart to paste a style to selected text is Opt-Cmd-V.

But, one can set up a keyboard shortcut to apply a style. First you must define your styles. Then, you must bind keyboard shortcuts to the styles. The steps are below. It looks like a lot of work, but the procedure is very straightforward.

Define your styles

In DT’s editor, make sure the Ruler is displayed, and define your style:

  1. Type some text and apply formatting as needed (font, ruler, text modifiers, etc.). Select the text.

  2. Click the Styles drop-down at the left-hand side in the Ruler.

  3. Select Other…

  4. In the property sheet that appears:

  • Click the Document Styles radio button

  • Click the Add to Favorites button

  • Type a name for the style. Make note of the name you use, and any capitalization that you use, such as Block Indent v. Block indent. Select “Include the font” if you want the style to include the font of the selected text. In your case, you want to enable “Include the ruler.”

  • Click Add.

  • Verify that the style appears in the Styles drop-down. If it does not, try these steps again.

Bind keyboard shortcuts to the styles

  1. Open System Preferences.

  2. Select the Keyboard icon, then the Keyboard shortcuts tab.

  3. In the left-hand list, select Application Shortcuts.

  4. Click the + button.

  5. In the property sheet that appears:

  • select Application: All Applications

  • in the Menu Title field, type the exact title of your style

  • tab to the Keyboard shortcut field, and press the desired keys.

  1. Click the Add button.


  • You might have to quit DT and restart it for the shortcut to take effect. If it does not take effect, try logging out and in again, or restarting your computer.

  • Take care when selecting a keystroke so that it does not interfere with one already in use. This can be a bit confounding, as different editors might use different key bindings for any given function.

  • The Menu Title that you enter must match exactly the name of the style, else nothing will happen when you press the shortcut.

  • This shortcut should work in any app that uses Apple’s RTF framework, like TextEdit, Bean, and DT. I believe in all all such apps, the Ruler must be visible for the keystroke to work.

  • To remove a style:

  1. In any editor that uses Apple’s RTF framework, enable the Ruler, click the Styles drop-down, and click Other…

  2. Click the Favorite styles radio button.

  3. Select the style that you want to delete from the drop-down list.

  4. Click the Remove from styles button.

If you have assigned a keystroke to the style, you might want to delete it in System Preferences (navigate in system Preferences as above, select the shortcut, and click the - button).

Those are the shortcuts under TextEdit’s Format > Font submenu:

Format - Font.png
Under the same DEVONthink submenu they’re shortcuts for Copy Font and Paste Font.

I am not a software engineer but me too would like a block-indent function.

Most editors I know use cmd-[ and cmd-] rather than ctrl-[ en ctrl-] as a shortcut for those functions, and I agree with others that using ctrl-[ and ctrl-] isn’t a good idea.

In addition, I should like to point out that in absence of such a function there are easier ways to do a block-indent than tediously using tabs.

Devontechnologies’ free WordService package, for example, provides shift-left and shift-right functions that do the job. You can download it from

Also, for a software engineer it shouldn’t be that difficult to write a Shell / AppleScript / Perl / Python script. Probably, there are sites were you can download such a script.

I’m just revisiting this post finding it via forum-search. I meant cmd-[, cmd-] not ^[ ^]. bbedit, and I Xcode I believe honor cmd-[, cmd-]. I have a feeling setting up styles for rich text documents is not going to be comparable somehow. I’m trying to work up incentive to dive into all of that and hope it’s not leading down the garden path.

Sounds great! Thanks. Will investigate this.

Well, yes, but as a f/t s/w eng, I am constantly deep diving all kinds of issues, developing tools, utilities, scripts, make files, troubleshooting, etc… deep diving every tool of convenience like a text editor for nuances to trick it out with nerdmanship can be trying, particular with bigger fish to fry. Doesn’t make the absence of a built in basic feature any less frustrating though. I do love the product. It’s just that block indent seems so valuable and fundamental - I think it should be part of the product.