Used for half a day

I used the beta for a few hours yesterday and today and these are my initial impressions. I still feel like from a pure writing app it’s the fastest and smoothest out there. It still needs some love to allow me to stay in it 100% of the time (can’t wait for backlinks!!!) versus having to jump out to Logseq (my current Second Brain).

BIU Button

  • Initial response to BIU button on top right bringing a slide up pane from the bottom feels off. Seems like the pane should drop down from below the BIU button with the option of locking it there, or potentially dragging it where the user wants to keep it if they’re using it a lot (write the note first, then going back and add all the Markdown all at once).
  • Having to move the eyes from top right to bottom doesn’t flow well, especially on larger monitors.
    • Either move the pane to the top to the left of the BIU button or move the BIU button to the bottom right and have the pane slide out on from the left of it.
    • Make the pane lockable and movable like the Table of Contents.
    • Or just leave it open along the dead space on the top of the note.


  • Testing out the footnote option. This is a little jarring as well. Maybe if there was a way to create a floating pane versus just jumping to the bottom to make the workflow better. Being able to click on the footnote number to move back up is cool, but once again it feels a little jarring on the eyes. Having the text be in the middle of the screen after clicking the footnote number would be better since I’m assuming most people keep their cursor somewhere in the middle of the screen when typing versus in the very top line or very bottom line. Can Bear remember where on the screen the footnote was when I created it so when I click to go back it goes there to create the best workflow for my eyes?
  • Outliner form would be amazing. It’s already instinctively happening in the Table of Contents pane but it’s not happening on screen. Creating a smaller H under an H1 could automatically indent and create an outline form for the user. The way it is right now, I had no idea “Folding” was part of “Editor” in your “how to” note because visually it all just blends together for me.

Table of Contents

  • Inside the table of contents, it would be helpful to show what type of H each line is to make it easier to add a new sub-header without having to go to the previous one, click on the icon to the left to see which H it is. Or at the very least, have a number of some kind floating somewhere showing which header type it is. But adding outline format seems like a much simpler option. But by outline format, I’m not necessarily advocating for Logseq lines which can sometimes feel a little obtrusive. But just a subtle indentation would be a great visual cue.

Default Tab (and other key) Options

  • I’m not sure if it’s a bug or not, but the first time I pressed TAB while creating a note, it defaulted to creating a bulleted list, which is what I wanted.
  • The second I did it after creating the text first, putting the cursor in front of the first letter of the first word of the paragraph, it wrapped the entire paragraph in a computer code box
  • When I tried to start a new bullet list without any text there, it also created a code box by default.
  • Letting the user set a default for TAB would be great: listing a few options or letting the user pick from every single option.

Default Cursor Position

  • Some people prefer their cursor to remain in one place, some people prefer it to constantly be moving all over the screen. Why not allow users to choose their preference and then choose their preferred location of the cursor if they want it in one spot at all time?

Focus Mode

  • This would be great to have.
    • Sentence mode, line mode, and paragraph mode.

H Mouse Hover

  • Hovering the mouse over the icon to the left of a header title doesn’t do anything, a user has to physically click on it to show the H list.
  • Why not have an H appear and the number of the title next to the H when the mouse hovers over it. This will save the time of having to move the cursor to that line and then moving it back in case the user just wants to know where in the H order they are.

Deadspace Above Note

  • This would be a great place to put the note search app to allow users to quickly move to a new note without having to open the two panes to the left and search that way.
    • Or have the search icon and when the user taps it, the notes pane automatically opens up on the left.
  • Could also put the BIU pane there as well.
  • Or maybe the title of the app like Obsidian does.

Pane Toggle

  • I prefer a pane toggle like in the previous iteration instead of having to remember keyboard commands. Is that coming back in 2.0?

Pinning Tags

  • Dear god thank you for finally fixing this. Having to name our tags 0xxx, 1xxx, and 2xxx to get them to be at the top was a nightmare in terms of readability.

Keep up the great work!!!


I had the same response to the BIU button but quickly got over it by using CMD+Shift+Y. That said, I feel it should slide up below the cursor for more intuitive viewing, especially on larger screens.

I guess if you write in Markdown the pane doesn’t matter so much and it would probably not be used since Markdown is all about typing the formatting as you write, as opposed to adding it after.

The footnote syntax is from Markdown Extra. Footnote references should jump to the footnote definitions. I think that’s the accepted convention. But having the option to turn on reference tooltips would help, but if the reference is long the tooltip will probably look weird.

I guess my main frustration with the Bear community is the endless amount of people telling other people how they should write. The point of forums is to share what’s working for you, not telling others “they’re doing it wrong”, which is the quickest ways for apps to lose customers.

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Perhaps I should’ve shared more of the reasoning behind my reply to not come across as telling you how you should write.

I love Bear as a writing app but had my share of frustration using it for PKM. That got me to try out Logseq and Obsidian. Logseq stuck whereas Obsidian has too much fluff.

Logseq works great as a second brain, but I soon faced a problem where there was no way I could edit a 180k word document in Logseq. It kept refreshing me back to the top of the page. I’m not sure if it is a bug or if it was how Logseq displays the Markdown file.

I put the same document in Bear and it was so smooth. That got me thinking about how I could try to use Bear as my second brain, especially given that backlinks are coming soon. So I started implementing the Logseq approach to taking notes in Bear.

That actually well enough, but what about embeds, or ?

I stumbled upon the Bear team reminding users that Bear is a Markdown Notes app and they want to make the best app for writing in Markdown. That made me take a step back to reconsider my approach and perspective, and try to judge the app based on this rather than comparing it with other note-taking or PKM apps.

The thoughts in my previous reply stems from looking at Bear as a Markdown writing app.

This is my takeaway thus far. I was a drawn to respond because I shared some of your initial impressions but later adjusted my expectations and figured I’d share my shift in perspective.

Gotcha, my bad then.

I don’t write in Markdown, I just write and then go back and format it after the fact. Trying to format as I go is like trying to write in Obsidian, there’s just too many things to get caught up on: should this be indented? Should this be a new H1 or an H3? Should I bold this? Underline that?

I don’t bother with any of that while writing, I just get everything out. So having a pane I can detach and quickly glance at while spending an hour formatting my note after the fact is really helpful because I don’t use that formatting in the act. I don’t memorize all the formatting or shortcuts, because I don’t want to memorize it because if I do I catch myself stopping along the way formatting and pulling myself out of the moment as a writer.

There’s three types of writers: New to Markdown (needs the full pane in view at all times to get used to writing in Markdown), familiar with Markdown but doesn’t remember all the formatting (so needs the pane to remind oneself of how to format), and the Markdown pro that doesn’t need the pane (remembers everything).

If Bear focuses solely on the last, it’s cutting itself of from 2/3 of the market of users that want to use the app but is getting hamstrung by the devs for no clear reason. Being able to show the pane (or not) and detach it seems like a no brainer to let every writer write how they want to write.

The reason why Things doesn’t have more users is because they prescribe how to use Things and refuse to develop beyond that, no matter how often their users beg for small adjustments to workflow.

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First of all, I’d like to say that we are trying to build something that fills the gap between markdown and not markdown savvy users. This is one of the concepts of Bear 1 and remains in Bear 2.

We received some complaints about where the style menu appears and how helpful it is. We eventually re-consider its position.

I understand what you are suggesting about footnotes but I’m not sure we can have it working that way. We’ll take it into consideration your suggestion anyway.

We never considered having the TOC work for outlining the note. It’s an interesting idea but I’m pretty sure this is not what people expect when collapsing the outliner.

The info panel and TOC will receive some restyling at some point but I don’t know if the h1/6 will fits but I’ll check.

Eventually, this is an option we’ll have not in the short period. For the focus mode, we don’t have real plans at the moment.

We don’t like having UI appearing on mouse hover in the editor because it usually pops up when you don’t need it and it’s not an option on iOS.

We are considering this space for the note title atm.

No, it’s not coming back.

Thanks for your feedback.

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So how are new people going to know the commands to properly format Markdown in Bear?

We can have a separate helper panel for markdown syntax or work on the style bar tooltips

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Thanks for clarifying that!

The trend in other apps and platform I’ve used seems to be using slash commands. I’m not sure if it’s something feasible or practical for Bear though.

At some point - i think - it can become quite confusing to have endless means to set the formatting of a text: markdown, style bar, hot keys, main menu and then the slash popup menu. Furthermore i see a tendency to hide markdown almost completely (craft f.e.) which is not a good idea. Actually markdown is an easy markup language that cannot overwhelm. It may attack some peoples mindset that are used rich text bars but this is where the style bar comes into play which i also use for adding files. There is a basic set of markdown tags: headings, bold, italic, marking, quotes, lists, underline and strikethrough. It is almost no effort to learn them. And once learned you will appreciate how it facilitates your writing. And as a markdown app bear should encourage people to use markdown


This was mentioned elsewhere on the board too. It was proposed for tables (and the rest). Seems overkill with markdown and keyboard shortcuts available

I’m missing a “Clear format” command, both as shortcut and in the format menu. It’s often useful on webclips or after pasting from other apps.

Any thoughts on this?

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Interesting, I can understand how a tool for removing any markdown markers in a selection can be useful but it’s not something I usually see in rich/MD text editors and I don’t think we have received requests in that sense. Have you seen this specific tool in some other app?

Well, I can do without it, but have gotten used to the Clear Markup ⌘L in Ulysses:

Please put it on the back-burner – I should resist feature requests until after 2.0 release :sunglasses:

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Upnote and iA Writer can both clear formatting.

As long as you don’t expect implemetation at 2.0 release i see no reason to resist :smiley: :wink:

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Yeah, I can imagine it becoming confusing. I’ve seen friends who are new to Markdown taking to slash commands in WordPress and Notion, but come to think of it those are block-based and hence the slash commands make more sense.

Markdown is very intuitive and easy to pick up. I come from writing Markdown in plain text editors. Having the visual feedback and hotkeys makes me appreciate a well-made Markdown app like Bear.

I’ve had the same experience. Logseq is very good as a messy web of daily thoughts and information, but for long documents, it’s much more enjoyable and functional in Bear (especially with the outline now)

When I need that, I usually use Copy as Plain Text, or its equivalent.