Forum feedback: Backlinks and Info Column

I still believe - as I argued in the past - a four columns layout should be avoided if possible. Would I work on a mac with a 24" or 27" display I probably wouldn’t care. But on my 13" Mac book air four columns definitely don’t work. Maybe the ui trick used by ulysses app could be considered where the left bar and the notes list overlap the editor and closes automatically when a fourth column on the right is open. Here I posted a video more than one year ago:

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In Ulysses on iPad the 4th panel (info, toc, etc) does only open with editor alone, so once you open sheet list and 3rd panel (groups), the fourth panel closes automatically. So it never displays 4 panels at a time.

In other words, while using the 4th panel, only the two panels: editor and 4th (info panel) are displayed.

Bear and Panda could use a similar approach, both on Mac and iPad, with the option to pin the 4th panel or have it as popup and auto-close (as today).

Should make everyone happy, what do you all think? @trix180


Actually in the meantime I like the approach of the devs to create something different with panda. So the problem with the 4 columns wouldn’t exist at all and furthermore would open new possibilities. In bear however that might work. At least I don’t see trouble with a ulysses-like solution. But that doesn’t necessarily mean other won’t too

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Please position backlinks to the bottom of the note and add a search/sort/filter feature there. That would make Bear perfect for me.


+1 for having the backlinks at the bottom of notes. As far as I’m concerned, Craft Docs did it beautifully (and Bear did better in essentially everything else :P)


I’m quite perplexed by these suggestions. Placing the backlinks at the bottom of a note actually makes them more difficult to access since one must always scroll to the bottom. Considering that monitors typically have more horizontal space, stacking items vertically seems counterintuitive from a UI/UX perspective.

I would greatly appreciate it if someone could elaborate on how they effectively utilize backlinks at the bottom of their notes.


I agree that the sidebar is more intuitive.
As notes get longer, it is essential to see the TOC and Backlinks (incoming and outgoing links) in the sidebar.
It allows me to seamlessly navigate through the note, expand on ideas related to this note, or find reference notes easily.

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I’m always using of the Table Of Contents to navigate my long notes. I often work with multiple notes at once, each with their own Table Of Contents visible, for example:

Any design that used a 4th column would have to work for notes that are open in their own windows too. It’s a difficult design problem for sure!


I am a Craft user too, and I have to say that Craft’s backlinks at the bottom of the note, drives me nuts.

@matteo please do not move them. Or if you do, provide an option to keep them where they are!

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I must say that in the context of text based editors like bear or obsidian the proper way to implement backlinks is inside a sidepanel. As far as I know, obsidians feature to place backlinks also at the bottom of a note was added afterwards on user request. I really don’t see a benefit to scroll down to the end of the page just to see the backlinks.

In outline based editors like roam research (they invented backlinks) backlinks are applied to a totally different extent and therefore offer a bigger set of features: you can watch the backlinks in the context of its outline structure; you can filter the list of backlinks by wikilinks and tags; a tag itself is nothing than a own note that doesn’t have any text; you can jump from one notes backlinks to the backlinks of another note (see here an illustration: ). In that context of short notes or even empty notes it makes sense or is even a necessity to place them at bottom. But in bear I would regard that as ugly.

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My comment of two days ago was to speed up the process of having at the very least backlinks continuously available to us regardless of discussions and feelings of where they should be, at the side, the bottom, in the air, under the table… :laughing: I assume, but nobody has commented if I’m right, that doing something like I mentioned could be implemented fast, much faster than deciding on the best possible solution.

FWIW, backlinks at the bottom are utter nonsense from a GUI point of view. That will only work if you consistently and always write very short notes, like in the single-idea-per-note thing from zettelkasten. Not everyone, however, is using Bear as a digital replacement of a zettelkasten system and for those of us who are writing notes longer than a paragraph or two, or are using Bear frequently to localise web pages with research or journalistic articles having backlinks on the side is the only way to go.

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It makes sense to resize the info panel resizable even if it isn’t torn off.

Actually the torn offed info panel is permanently open apart from relaunches of the app. The main flaw I see is that a torn off info panel provokes the misunderstanding that it shows also the content of a note which is opened in its own window. Such a note however has its own info panel. Tearing off several info panels is ui-wise also not ideal as you can end up with confusion which panel belongs to which note

Actually, it’s not. The palette when torn off does not reappear on relaunching the app. Here’s a screen capture of that on my machine, which, admittedly, is old (mid-2017 iMac) but should behave like newer ones in this respect, IMMHO.

Your confusion argument is flawed in that, when I open notes in their window, I can open a palette for each note and end up with as many palettes as there are notes, and that’s just as confusing…

Having backlinks at the bottom of a note allows me to read them as they were part of the note itself, and having the full paragraph visible (and editable) allows me to work on multiple notes at the same time, making swift edits where it’s needed whilst keeping the note I’m working on as a point of focus.

Let’s say that I have a note about Gestalt Psychology. Then I’d find it rather convenient to see the concept as it’s used inside of other notes so that I can better contextualise what Gestalt Psychology truly is. “But oh! Now that I better understand the concept I see that I need to edit it in this other note - done”.

If I want to ignore the backlinks, then they’re just at the bottom. Maybe they can be hidden / unhidden.

Yes, I’ll have to scroll if I want to find them, but at the same time, it’s very unlikely that I’ll read in depth from a tiny window to the top right, and when doing so, wouldn’t it be more convenient to scroll and focus on the backlinks only when I’m reading them?

My two cents!

It is certainly to a large extent a question of subjective preference. But I myself would always prefer the pop-up to backlinks at the bottom of a note. This may be because I still haven’t realized how backlinks at the bottom are an advantage over a display where backlinks are visible next to the note. I have noticed your scenario. But actually you just mention for what purpose you are using backlinks. :wink:

Whilst I liked having the backlinks at the bottom of the note when I used Craft, having them in the side panel doesn’t bother me. Based on how Bear works and looks, I think having the links at the bottom makes for needless clutter.

I personally don’t like any artefacts being around the main writing space so I love having everything cleared away into the info panel.


I can see that a lot of people prefer having a “blank paper” to write on, without any unnecessary UI clutter. That makes sense! After all, my use case was mostly about PKM (Personal Knowledge Management). Either way, I think that for those people that use backlinks (which are there), having to open up the backlinks toggle and manually drag and position the backlinks panel to the side is not optimal.

To further elaborate:

  • Perhaps a side panel, as some have suggested, could be an idea. Crazy proposal: what if we had the backlinks panel we have now, but it was resizable (horizontally and vertically) and saved where we last placed it relative to the window?

Fit’s law makes the bottom of the note work quite well, you just scroll quickly and they’re where you stop scrolling.

It’s also already where I generally put metadata (e.g. tags) already since putting it up top interferes with the note preview (uses up characters).

I agree that I sometimes just want an empty document and that can be achieved by hiding/toggling backlinks via a keyboard shortcut.


When I think about best location of backlinks, I could stand the current info panel (in case if it would be resizable and more permanent (= better connected with standalone windows), but what I would appreciate more is to have an INDICATOR that current visible note HAS any backlink at all (or better - exact number of how many) even if this info pane is closed, e.g. number visible next to history navigation/styles (bold-italics-underline) buttons. Because this is crucial information for me, telling me that I should/could open info pane with backlinks and look at them.