The Quest for a Good External Text Editor and Workflow

Devonthink rocks. I have been using it for over a decade and am very happy with version 3.0. I know that even with that amount of use, that I don’t use it to the fullest. What an amazing product!

As a number of threads indicate on here, I join others in the quest to find a good external text editor and workflow. My workaround for ages was to create an RTF file in Devonthink, then ‘Open With’ Microsoft Word. Word is not the best I know, but I already own it and it is familiar. I like the ability to embed photos and graphics. Dead easy.

I have been experimenting to see if I can find something else better, without starting to buy into a full blown second note taking system (i.e. Keepit, Bear, etc.) I am thinking that maybe markup is the way to go, but again I would like to have the occasional graphic, picture, etc. included. I also found Drafts is not bad (and free), but it is one way editing.

Any current suggestions from those who have been or are just joining this quest?


Not sure if it meets your embedding needs, but I use iA Writer. I also keep all my files indexed in DEVONthink, rather than importing them straight into databases.

Of course, it’s markdown, not RTF!



I know a great editor with robust AppleScript support and cross-platform automation capabilities, ability to export in lots of different formats, native versions for MacOS, iOS and even Windows (!), which natively integrates with Dropbox and OneDrive…oh wait…you’re already using it.

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Wow. Thanks…


I really like Typora—it’s very lightweight but with a robust MMD feature set you don’t see outside of more pretentious, feature-bloaty text editors. (If you use MD). Also good is NVUltra, which is in beta and coming out sometime soon (supposedly).


Typora looks like a VERY interesting find. I have also been keeping an eye on NVUltra’s development. Thanks for the leads.

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I have also been looking at iA Writer. Thanks!

OK, this is what I wound up trying as my first stab at it…

  • I made Typora the default app for md files

  • I installed an icon on the toolbar for creating an md file. Whenever I am in a directory I want to create a note, I click it and then give the file a name

  • I click on the toolbar icon for ‘open document in default application’. When I am done editing, I can just click save.

This is a bit more elegant than the way I was doing it previously.

Am interested in any other suggestions out there. I think Typora has some real potential and in general I like open formats like rich text and markdown.

Macdown is pretty good for markdown also. I notice the latest version has drag and drop support for embedded images but haven’t tried this out yet. I think one of the DT team recommended this app previously if I recall (can’t recall where though), and so fare I have found it’s pretty solid.

  • Allow images to be dropped directly into the editor. This will insert the image syntax ![]() with the image’s local path.

Another one that I am testing side by side is Texts. I could see this particularly for those who want to use markup very little and just want a button to press from time to time.

That’s more or less what I do. What I would really like is a keystroke that automatically generates a new text/MD file into the active group, and opens the file into a separate floating window. You used to be able to do this within DT from the Data menu, but now if there’s a way to automatically pop the new text file out into a floating window I haven’t figured out what it is yet.

Agreed… Now that I think I have narrowed this down to two or three editors, I am thinking exploring some automation to see if I can make this work.

Let me know if you have specific questions about its capabilities and I’ll do my best to comment!



The NisusWriter Express version may be enough, but I switched to the NisusWriter Pro version a few years back.

I use NisusWriter Pro primarily to create and export PDF files using a custom template with a wide right margin. I open these PDF files on my iPad Pro 12.9 and annotate. MarginNote, PDF Expert, LiquidText etc.

Another option is TextSoap I keep it open all of the time. It is the first place I enter text before shipping the text off through Service to some other app. I have a custom cleaner that transforms normal paragraph text to sentence text:

sentence 1

sentence 2

sentence 3 [end of original paragraph mark]

sentence 4

This makes text easier to read and annotate with “action steps”

All of the above can be integrated with Keyboard Maestro palettes

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How do you guys use those external editors when using media (images mostly)? Especially considering I am also a heavy ios user :confused:

I don’t use a lot of media… I’m mainly have text documents, so someone else would have to jump in on this one.

The more I use markdown, the more I like it for typing up my notes. Quick, easy, logical and you can format without your hands leaving the keyboard.

Unless I were to find an rich editor that was as fast as input, I can’t imagine using anything else at the moment.

Been there, used mostly relatively dumb markdown notes. The problem i have found with this approach is the lack of images leads me to creating sub-standard notes.
“a picture is worth a thousand words”… embedding an image would clear quite a few notes up nicely.

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I know it’s a subscription, but it’s worth giving Ulysses a look. It is Mac & iOS, does photos, links, etc., markdown. The the dealbreaker for me was that it can incorporate DEVONThink links on both Mac & iOS. I often like to reference things in my DEVONthink database and now I can. It works great.


Worth noting about Typora is that it fully supports MathJax, so you can include math using the academic standard TeX/LaTeX notation. Not all Markdown editors have MathJax support. MacDown does, though Typora has a more convenient UI (for my purposes).