Your favorite format for notes?

Hey everyone. I apologize in advance for opening this can of worms. At the start of 2020 I switched from Evernote to DEVONthink. I like it! However, I’m having some trouble deciding on which of the document formats I should be using as my “standard”. Each of them seems to have pros and cons that confound me.

I was eager to utilize RTF, until I recognized the issues with iOS and DT2G. Currently, I’m creating most of my notes as Markdown with a custom css, but I realize that I am building a lot of supporting macros to make it work the way I want.

I wonder what the more experienced folk are doing? Thanks!


I personally use Markdown for 90% of my support work.

What “supporting macros” are you building?


I use markdown for most of my notes. I can open it with apps like iAWriter and export it in different file formats (mostly docx and html). So I can use my notes in different documents, even documents that are not supported by DT

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Thank you both! Sounds like I may be on the right track with markdown and I need to “just get used to it”.

Michael makes an excellent point that markdown is probably the most future proof.

“Supporting macros”: I also use Keyboard Maestro, so I’m making things to wrap text in style spans, lay down a template meeting agenda etc. etc.

Hey Blue, I know this is the wrong place to mention it by my “CSS: x-devonthink-item://…” link for some reason cannot style H1. Everything else works fine.

Thanks again!

You’re welcome and yes, plain text is by far the most pervasive format in the world, underlying so much of the tech that we live with daily. It ain’t sexy but it’s brutally fast, and easily parseable and malleable. Add control character driven languages, like Markdown, for presentation, etc. and it’s very versatile.

Hmm… I’m not seeing an issue here.

Does it persist after quitting an relaunching DEVONthink?

Do note, there are times when changes to an external stylesheet don’t always immediately appear in the rendered Markdown. This may be a WebKit issue as we’re not specifically caching the stylesheet. You could try switching to Source then back to Preview to see if it updates.

Markdown is nice but it would be cool to quickly switch the css from one format to another or assign it per document, as plain text has it’s own format for me, and another css style for documentation, and a third for Tibetan translations…

As for RTF, after text RTF is the next candidate that is around when the sun becomes a super-nova. It’s also easy to convert between RTF and plain text in DT3. But for integration into web page publications, pandoc tool use, ebooks and so on, Markdown is the way to go.

assign it per document,

You can do this if you create DEVONthink templates pointing to the particular stylesheets.


A+ Bluefrog, thank you!

Because it worked for you and not for me, your example allowed me to solve the problem.

My stylesheet page—for historical reasons—wrapped the CSS in style tags. My H1 declaration was the first line after the style tag, and I’ve since learned that markdown likes a little space from html.

This had been driving me bonkers, since every other style I’d declared worked fine.

You’re very welcome :slight_smile:

Oh that’s good to know!

I’ll throw my 2 cents in on this one. I recently switched from RTF to MD. I don’t do a lot of writing so I am not fully versed in MD shortcuts, so I use a program called Typora as my default MD editor. It’s pretty cool in that is does MD conversion on the fly as you’re typing so you see what it’s supposed to look like. If you click on something Typora has already converted, it shows you the MD so you can edit it if you like. If you copy/paste from Typora to something else, it pastes as html or RTF, I believe. It’s really great for a novice like me. And it’s free. That’s one of the coolest features. :slight_smile:


Markdown and pdf files make up 90% of the files in my databases. Like Jim @BLUEFROG said, it is brutally fast.

For writing, I use several Keyboard Maestro macros to speed things up and several shortcuts to perform certain actions (create new md file from selection, split file, open a specific text doc, and so on). I also usually have BBedit open and ready for performing searches and modifications in the text. It is also very handy when I need to perform some change in a large quantity of files at the same time.

I won’t go near rtf files if I can help it. (The only exception being omnioutliner documents that use rich text for formatting. It is just so damn useful… )


Typora is also for me the main Markdown editor. There are others that are fancy (on the Mac) but they usually are tied to an internal bundle for storing md files. Typora works across the whole file system. Typora is also cross platform.

To be fair about RTF, in DevonThink RTF is first class citizen with the other formats and with RTF you could do more precise format handling than in Markdown.

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Markdown, I use it whenever I can now. It also makes my writing on DEVONthink 3 and Ulysses pretty similar. I am absolutely thrilled with the notes on DEVONthink 3. I hadn’t expected anything as good. I can do it all from the keyboard like I can with Ulysses and that, to me, is just perfect.

Bernardo. What shortcuts do you put on Keyboard Maestro? I would love to know.

I really would get used to plain text, which is I suppose the main thing. Markdown just brings plain text into a more useful form without any loss of the benefits. It would still be readable if you couldn’t convert it into anything for example… ? It was a bit of a curve for me. But I am glad I made it my basic writing format. I have some issues in part of what I do though where I am locked into a particular app. I am not happy about it but I have zero choice.

@tudoreynon, they are too many and I don’t have a lot of time to explain right now, so I will just share all of them. Take a look and let me know if you have any questions.

Just be careful before experimenting with them.


Thank you so much for your time and trouble Bernardo. I really appreciate it. Let me know if there is anything I can ever do for you. Folk here are so generous with their time. I will load these and try them over the next few weeks.


Thanks to ALL of you for your comments.

@Bernardo_V: props for Keyboard Maestro as well as BBEdit (I’ev found nothing better for regrex manipulations). Would add Bettter Touch Tool (loved it before I got a Mac with a touch bar, so much more now…)

@Bernardo_V: thanks for sharing. I will look later, if I had time to kiil I wouldn’t be on these forums. (Wait…what?)


@fotan et al.: Re: Typora, “And it’s free.” I’m a pretty heavy Typora user myself, and I really like it. But regarding its cost, it’s worth noting that it’s in beta, and when you install or update it, it indicates that the beta version is free. Well, it’s been in beta for probably at least two years, and remains free. But I suspect at some point it will reach v1, and may incur a cost after that point.

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