Looking for plain text + files solutions for iOS/iPadOS

Over the past few years there are increasing apps that work well with plain text (Obsidian, Drafts, Bear…). However, the most problematic aspect for me in working with plain text is to do with files in a variety of formats that are associated to the plain text. Plain text doesn’t often travel on its own. For example I may need to prepare for a meeting and review a number of files. I can easily make the notes in a plain text app, but the files can be PDF, docx, xlsx, jpg, etc. My experience is that plain text editors don’t really handle this well. Sometimes, even a quick view can be a problem or editing the file and saving it back into it’s plain text editor. You then end up with needing to separate associated files from your notes, which, let’s face it, can be a real pain. You’re in the meeting looking at the notes and can’t find that one stupid file!

In practice this becomes very messy, very fast. Let’s say, I’m in Bear preparing for a meeting. I need to open a docx file that I have saved into Bear. Bear allows me to preview the document which is fine. I now need to make a correction to the file. I now open it in Word and am immediately told it is read only. So I now need to make a copy, but of course cannot store it back in Bear, I now need to select either onedrive, iphone/ipad or Files App. I now have to remember after the meeting that the edited file is now stored in “x”. Imagine multiplying the countless times over countless meetings. What a mess.

I would be interested in how you wise MPU folks handle this dichotomy? Especially solutions that scale well. It would be helpful if the solution works on macOS and iOS/iPadOS.

My own solution at the moment it to store all my files in Devonthink, as it handles the most file formats. It also allows creating links to each file that can be pasted into a plain text app and opened easily. It also allows the editing of files and saving them in-situ. Ironically, this could all be done in Devonthink, but their plain text offering always seems to be behind the curve.

The outcome I’m looking for is to be able to go to a meeting, read my notes, make notes, open associated files and modify them and after the meeting find all is still connected.

A final question is how archive works in such a system? Moving files can break links. Leaving files that are no longer needed can create unecessary clutter as well as use up needed storage space.

This is pushing me further away from iOS/iPadOS and I find myself grabbing my MBP more than my iPad. On my MBP I can open the file in Word from Bear and save it back to Bear. It’s that pesky iOS/ipadOS that’s the problem.

Sorry for the long post!


Notebooks allows for importing of a variety of documents: Drop in Pages, Word, Numbers, Keynote, images, pdfs, etc. These can be dropped in via the Files app to the Notebooks folder in Files. Or you can share it to Notebooks via the share menu.

Then in Notebooks you can tap it to select and preview it. If you want to open it in the original app for editing just tap the share icon in Notebooks and tap open in then choose the app. Opens Pages, Numbers, Word, etc in original app and allows editing and saving to the file in Notebooks. Works perfectly on the iPad. This seems to be what you’re asking for?


Have been looking for similar. Don’t like obsidian and do like everything together in DT, but DTTG is so bad as a text editor. Nice thing about obsidian is you could easily automate for daily notes with shortcuts since plain text. The DTTG folder isn’t accessible for shortcuts so that makes it hard. IA writer seems a bit pricy for a text editor for iOS, but 1writer seems close (but I guess doesn’t support accessing the DT folder on iOS).

Currently I just use the typewriter markdown app to open in place markdown from DTTG which is at least free and better than DTTG.

Would love a good solution as well.


Can you put all the resources in a folder in iCloud or Dropbox and then just put the link in your text file in dropbox in the text file thus making the file easier to find?

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I like searching in one place to find everything. Unfortunately putting things in Dropbox means I search Dropbox and Devonthink. And since I’m usually mobile workflow DTTG doesn’t have indexing, so until the files are synced to a Mac which can then index they won’t be searchable.

The issue is that you are imbedding linked files. Instead you want to link to the original file. This is exactly the sort of thing that a plain text editor is good at. Of course, there are various tools which work similarly, but I’ll use Obsidian as an example. One of Obsidian’s features is that it displays the Markdown document in its rendered form. In other words, links don’t display as plain text, but as actual working hyperlinks (except when you are editing them). Therefore, you can click on them and be taken to the linked document. If the link points to another app, then that other app is opened. You don’t need to deal with imbedded copies with are not editable. Just link to the original document in such a way that it opens in its own app.

Of course, the above depends in the links being formatted correctly. For example, Obsidian can display a PDF file directly. But if you craft a link to the Preview app with the file path to the file included, then it will open in Preview instead. But because you actually edit in raw Markdown (as plain text) you can custom craft that link and are not stuck with whatever convention the editor forces on you. Some people don’t like this verbosity when editing, but it is that verbosity which gives it its power and flexibility to work your way.

If you don’t want to be manually editing links all of the time, there are tools to help with that. As I understand it, that is Hookmark’s primary function (I’ve never used it as I just custom craft my own links). The key is that you link to the original documents which already exists on your filesystem. Then when you click the link, you get the original document in its own editing app. The documents do not even need to be in close proximity to each other. They can be in their original locations. Although, if you want them to be portable from one system to the next, then it is easier if they are all in close proximity.

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This doesn’t address the main problem (which is also my problem) which is mobile. On mobile DTTG is the only way I know to have links, and it’s editor sucks. There is no hookmark on mobile.

Notebooks will let you store documents (see my above post for various supported formats) in folders right along side of plain text and markdown. Its text editor is excellent. Allows for easily embedding links to those other documents into your markdown document. Super easy. Also just a one-time purchase, not a subscription. Available on iPhone, iPad and Mac.


Actually, I use links like this all of the time on mobile. The trick is to craft your link correctly (so that it opens the correct app). I will often have Obsidian and another app open in split view on my iPad. In Obsidian I will tap the link and the other app will immediately open that specific link in the other pane. Of course, this can be an issue if the same document would be opened by a different app on each platform. However, in my case, that is not an issue for what I am doing.

And what are you using to link to a pdf in finder? A pdf in Zotero? Etc. as far as I know this isn’t possible, thus using devonthink as the work around for mobile. DTTG has an excellent mobile copy as markdown link function.

I think the issue is not all apps have the link option.

And for my use case I want everything searchable in devonthink anyhow, so really looking for markdown editor that opens in place for DT as above.

On iOS I often compose short text notes in DEVONthink ToGo native editor, but for larger notes or taking notes in a meeting I will use Textastic and save the files in DEVONthink ToGo. Simple.

This sounds verbatim what the goal of textbundles is


Echoing @Denny here. Notebooks will do all you’re looking for. And you can point it to any folder of files (like Obsidian). You can copy a link to a file (long press on file in Notebooks, then copy link), then paste the link into your note (either plain text, markdown or formatted/html). The link will work on iOS/iPadOS. Its mobile editor is pretty good too. Reliable search (will find content inside any file in the folder structure you’ve pointed it to).


I wanted to give them a try.
They provide a “Testversion” for macOS, and I downloaded this 3 days ago, and installed it.
I was busy the other day, and wanted to take a deeper look into the App today, and the App told me, that my Testtime was over, and I could now purchase the App for about 40€, or close it.
It might be a nice app, but an NoteApp that asks a fortune (62€ in total) to buy it, and did not provide a decent test period to see if it might fit, is nothing I take a second look too. I have way too many Apps I bought this way in the past, and figured quickly out, that the App is not fitting my needs after all.

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If you’re interested, I’d contact support about resetting it. It’s supposed to be a 14 day trial and that’s what they show me. (Agreed that 14 days probably isn’t enough either, but at least it lets you take a weekend off!)


THX for the hint, but I deleted it for now.
Maybe I take a look in the future, but I haven’t get a good first impression by this. If they are not able to get their trial period working properly, how could I expect they handle my data that I store within the App differently? :thinking:

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Echoing @Denny and @Darkwing: Notebooks. I have Obsidian and Notebooks pointed at the same set of Dropbox folders and use both apps regularly. I do most of my note-taking in Obsidian, but I flip over to Notebooks when 1) I’m on mobile or 2) when I want to drop a spreadsheet, presentation, or epub into the folder and refer to it while I’m working.

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As a matter of interest, what do you find lacking in DTTG’s markdown editor now (after the recent improvements)?

E.g. It now has support for continuation of ordered and unordered lists, tables (creation of the rows / columns), subscripts, superscripts, highlights, critic markup etc (with appropriate shortcuts with an external keyboard of course) as well as MathJAX, Prism and Mermaid. You can also use your own CSS now.

The only thing I miss from it that iA Writer has is typewriter scrolling, but in some ways, DTTG’s markdown editor is better than the desktop version at the moment.

Of course we all have our preferences and requirements, but if you haven’t looked at the DTTG editor in a while, it might be worth a second look.

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I am actually using DTTG editor full time as primary editor. There are just lots of quality of life issues that other editors do better.

-Want to indent a line, it’s hidden in a menu and not easy to get to.

-Want to make a template note, need to actually copy and duplicate a note or use a 3rd party keyboard.

-Want to add the date quickly, need to type manually or use 3rd party keyboard.

-And while you can use keyboard shortcuts doesn’t help when your on your phone.

Now for me I’m putting up with this for convenience of having everything in DT. Honestly I wish there was ability to do shortcuts to plain text notes in DTTG file folder (it isn’t supported even though DTTG does show up in finder on iOS), or that DTTG could index obsidian folder (this is too fiddly when mostly mobile without an always on mac).

Fair enough, thanks! I mention it because a lot of comments on DTTG and DT3 haven’t taken into account the big improvements they’ve made in markdown handling over the lat couple of years, so if you hadn’t tried it recently… But there isn’t a perfect markdown editor out there, unfortunately, though I suppose people’s uses are so varied that it’s really difficult to do.

BTW, indenting/outdenting a line has a shortcut (cmd-{ / cmd-}. I agree it would be nice to have a template function!

I’ve never really got into using Shortcuts (though I do have the MacStories DT3 shortcuts installed). I do use Drafts to create notes and send them to DTTG sometimes though.

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