FoldingText Blog Posts

Hi All,

We need your help with something :blush:

We’re going to start writing a series of blog posts about the features of FoldingText. Since we’re doing this, I had another idea: FoldingText is a complex piece of software that allows the writers that use it a lot of power and freedom.

While making FoldingText, we can only imagine the kind of things that it’s being used for. We’d love it if you could share any anecdotes and stories of how you’re using it and the kind of problems it solves for you. Even a single line would be much appreciated :heart:

Looking forward to hearing from you!


One of the biggest ways I use FoldingText is in writing tutorials. In most word processors, it is almost impossible to get an accurate word count when programming is intermingled among the text. With Folding Text, all code blocks I can easily “fold” away. I have an Alfred script that gets the text that is not “folded”, passes it through a TextCleaner routine to remove things that are not words, and counts the words accurately using the “wc” command line tool. This is only possible through the program-ability of FoldingText!

As part of my New Year’s resolutions I’m trying to simplify how I work. TaskPaper was a game-changer for me in terms of productivity and now I’m road-testing FoldingText for ways it could help me get work done. I like to think of work in fairly loosely defined terms as:

  • Tasks
  • Notes
  • Documents
  • Records
  • Tickets
  • Reminders
  • Schedules
  • Archive

There is some overlap e.g. some records are entries in a database and some are documents (stored in a folder or a document manager e.g. DevonThink).

I think FT could make a fantastic Ticket manager (by tickets I mean an incident log or customer service system). It has the right amount of flexibility for quickly adding emails, linking to files and recording information on any actions required/ calculations etc. I work as a service provider in a University and most proprietary systems aren’t really designed for the type of work we do.

In TP I use a single file synced with Dropbox which makes things simple for quick entry and search- I export completed tasks to DayOne to add a bit of a safety net. I separate the tasks into Projects: but really these are just areas of responsibility rather than discreet projects.

I like to use FT as a Ticket (i.e. project) manager for various activities (for me it would ideally be a database with access to each project in a sidebar or some other mechanism - I’m thinking nvALT). I’m using a single large file but despite the excellent search and focus tools it would be nice to have discreet sheets as in something like Ulysses (maybe I’m using it wrong :wink: ).

Anyway, good to see that this great app is being actively developed! A shout-out to the community who develop the scripts and plugins as well

I use FT mainly for writing — letter, reports, proposals, anything that’s more than a short note (I use NValt for reference notes). I also use FT as a tool for planning things that are clearly linear, or for things I have a fair idea how to tackle already and just need to order my thoughts. For more complex planning especially for things that don’t have an obvious order to them, I tend to use iMindMap initially, and then once I have a sequence of events, I move to FT or OmniFocus to order the steps and record their execution.

The main advantages of FT for me are: (1) the clean uncluttered interface; and (2) the ability to hide (fold away) bits of the document that are not relevant at that time. The word-count feature is also useful. Essentially FT is my thinking space. If my writing is destined for others to see, normally the text then gets transferred to Pages or InDesign for formatting.

I would use FT as my task manager but for one feature it lacks and that is the ability to warn me of an upcoming deadline. I’ve thought to write a script, or some UNIX tools, to parse an FT document and email me a daily report, but I can’t justify putting in the time to get it working whilst OmniFocus does a good enough job (even if I don’t use half the features of OmniFocus, crave something much simpler, and would prefer a text-based system to guard against redundancy).

Other than some way of creating an alert for coming due-tasks, the feature I’d most like to see would be some way of viewing images in amongst the text. I mainly write about images, so actually having them viewable in the document would be very convenient.

If you were to consider supporting images, the way I would suggest is simply to use some sort of hyperlink consisting of a section header with and appropriate suffix (e.g. “.image”) immediately followed by the path to the image file, something like:


The image itself would therefore not be stored in the FT file, which would remain purely plain-text. But the FT app would display the image, at say some default width and height and centrally justified, immediately below the path (rather like the answer appears in a “.calc” section). Images sections would be foldable. Something pretty basic.

Hope my meanderings are of some help.

I use FoldingText to work on large and complicated documents – currently a novel, but also research papers and other, less daunting things. I switched to it from Scrivener. Scrivener is a bit too cluttered for my taste; I appreciate the simplicity of FoldingText. Most of all, though, I like how FoldingText’s folding function lets me work within the logical structure of a document. It makes for a world of difference compared to the prioritization of page layout in a conventional word processor.

I use FT as a sort of middleware between Taskpaper and Scrivener. My workflow is: (1) I use TP as a sort of taggable “stack,” for collecting ideas, notes, references; because I can filter them, they don’t need to be in any special order. (2) When they’re ready for a more thorough treatment, I flesh them out in multiple FT docs in a single folder. First of all, FT is a nice, responsive, minimal app for writing. The ability to fold is ideal for structuring ideas, obviously. But, less obviously, the simplicity of the file format — plaintext — makes it a snap to do multi-file searches for text or tags using anything from Spotlight to grep. And (3), once the ideas have been developed in FT docs, I transplant them into Scrivener, where I can compile them into much larger documents.

I forgot to mention, the second way I use FoldingText the most is my monthly budget and finance planning with the imath extension I wrote. I have an Alfred workflow for creating each monthly budget and then I can use it to quickly see current bank balance and how the budget it doing. The imath extension saves the results of the math so I can always refer to the answers in other programs.

I can also do “what ifs” by placing changeable item in header sections and hiding the one I want to calculate with, hide and un-hide a different one and re-calculate. Very handy. The built in calc extension does not allow for that.

HI @marcus_phelan,

Did you check out the 2.2 Dev Release? I wonder how the outline view helps with your ticketing flow?


Hi @mutahhir,

This is a really nice addition that allows me to quickly navigate long ticket lists. It makes it very easy to focus on the tasks as opposed to seeing all the information together. I particularly like the option to highlight just the Modes. I will definitely make better use of them as a result.

I like the transparency of the slide over but could it be an option to shove the text to the right instead of sliding over the text? I think it might help in terms of navigation.

Thanks for a useful feature, I’ll be certainly using it :slight_smile:

I just tried out Bear. It’s similar in form to NValt and based on plain text. Interestingly, this app allows images, which are stored as attachments, to be displayed in the body of the text in a very similar way to my suggestion above. Perhaps it’s time for FT to add a similar feature?

That’s a great idea, but I’m not sure if we can do that just yet.

I keep finding more uses for FoldingText that scratch itches in better ways than any other plain text application.

As a training provider the excellent CriticMarkup plugin by complexpoint makes FT perfect for reviewing assignments.

i too am interested in writing longer works with FT and wonder what your experiences have been so far

for background my interests in ideal app are:
library organizational view, preferably on left of same window as current text
capability of having multiple levels of folders for chapters, et cet.
versioning ability, i.e., ability to save chapter 1 version 1 as same, in same file, while working on Chapter 1 version 2 this should not be a problem if easy to move to a folder marked “OLD”
marginal/side notes tied to text- really a nice item
outline view/ability/integration

have played with following:
textmate2 project mode - my favorite so far
emacs/org mode (i currently only write in emacs/aquamacs unless i need rich text, in which case i use Bean 2.4.5). i write in org mode and use pandocs, e.g., for translation to/fro opml from iThoughts
ulysses legacy mode (not interested in newer one)
JersNovelWriter (rigid structure requirements; GREAT marginal notes, integration of outline with text)
GoogleDocs (but have not played a lot with it)
Storyist et al.
TextNut - just downloaded but have not used much yet
Tinderbox (have written 2 novels on it but it is such a kidney stone of a program (i never upgraded past 5.5.4 for personal reasons) for a non-facile coder/programmer like me that i do not want to use it for same again

NOT interested in, for various reasons:
Pages (which i have)

sorry for long note but am hoping to find, one day, an app with features i want, esp desirable (for me) but not essential marginal/side notes.

thanks for any thoughts, comments

not 100% what you mentioned here but I wrote this a long time ago and wanted to point you to it just in case

@carolineartz Many thanks for pointing out your plugin. Works like a dream. Just what I need. If you ever get around to implementing support for percentage widths, that’d be fab. But for now I can just resize the images I want to use.

@carolineartz I haven’t used the Rendered-Images-for-FoldingText plugin for a while, but tried yesterday, and I couldn’t get an image to display within a document. Has something broken? Or, should it still work?