New Feature: Select Multiple Lines in Your WorkFlowy Lists

You can now select multiple items in WorkFlowy. This is one of the most exciting features we’ve released in a long time. For new users, it should just feel obvious, it should clearly work this way. For existing users, it should it should be a great relief.

It was quite complicated to implement, but it greatly improves the ease of managing and re-organizing WorkFlowy lists. Further, it is one of the last major barriers to WorkFlowy feeling like a true text editor, which is one of our overriding goals.

There are a bunch of ways to select things:

  1. Click and drag over all the items you want selected
  2. Hold alt (control/command on Mac) and click to select random items
  3. Hold shift and click to select all items between where the cursor is and your second click
  4. Hold shift and use the arrow keys
  5. Hold control/command and press “a” twice to select all visible items (the first “a” selects all the text in the current item)

Once you’ve selected some lines, you can complete, move, delete, cut, copy, indent and paste them.

We’ve tried to copy the behavior of text editors and file systems, the two areas where this type selecting action is most common. Hopefully you find the feature intuitive and useful. We’re certainly enthralled with it.

Update: An important component of this feature that I forgot to mention in the original article is exporting. Once you select some lines, you can copy or cut them, and then paste them to an external program. Much easier than an export dialog.

90 thoughts on “New Feature: Select Multiple Lines in Your WorkFlowy Lists

  1. It’s great to see WorkFlowy being actively developed! 🙂

    And for those users coming here and getting a bit confused why holding Alt key and clicking to select random items doesn’t work, you’re most likely using KDE on Linux. 🙂

    KDE’s default setting uses Alt key as a modifier key for several Window actions like moving any window (by holding Alt and left mouse button). I’ve grown so used to this feature I had no idea it seems to be KDE-only.

    However, you can probably change the modifier key if your keyboard has a Meta key (mine has the “Windows” key, I don’t know about those that don’t have it); just go to System Settings > Window Behavior > Window Behavior (yes, again) > Window Actions and then below “Inner Window, Titlebar & Frame” you’ll find you can change the “Modifier key”.

    It’s not going to be a smooth transiton even if the keys are next to each other – even while writing this and checking the System Settings window to give correct instructions, I pressed Alt key to move the window at least a couple of times. 😉

    But I’ve seen some other apps use the Alt key as well (Inkscape comes to mind), so I’ve got to wean myself off this behavior, better sooner than later…

  2. Thank you! This is a great improvement. I’m using Workflowy more and more.

    Aside from the batch operations already implemented, I’d like to suggest one more: sorting!

  3. A week ago, I was pulling my hair out due to lack of this feature. A few days later, and I couldn’t be more happy! Makes me happy to be a Pro user. Thanks guys!!

  4. As a developer, I can understand how tricky this seemingly simple feature must have been to implement properly. As new Workflowy user, it was one of the obvious lacks in terms of fluid and intuitive editing. SO excited to see these kinds of subtle, important user experience features being addressed. Thank you!!!!

  5. A workflowy limerick:

    My brain used to be a big messy
    But then came along Patel, Jesse
    He created workfowy,
    Now for $5 of doughy,
    I’m on the fast track of successy

    I love multi-select functionality
    It aligns with my simplistic mentality
    I’d give a sizable donation
    If you’d now organize our nation
    Patel for President– an eventuality!

    Thank you for adding this. I am grateful. Since I’m leaving a reply, I’ve thought of a few more things that would make this my one stop shopping for all organization:

    1. The ability to toggle on/off hierarchical display when filtering
    2. Dates and reminders
    3. Horizontal split screen (much like Word allows). Two separate views would allow visual access to different locations in your workflowy page. Items could be dragged OVER the split in the screen, so that you don’t have to continually scan up, then down, then up again. I think copy and paste is a work around. But this would be nice too.

    Cameron

  6. I tried selecting a block of text (from a Workflowy outline) to copy, but using the right click on my PC mouse wouldn’t allow me to copy. What am I missing?

    I’m not a power user, but I have aspirations! This is the best outliner on the net.

    1. Right now right-clicking on selected items works in Chrome and Safari only (had issues getting it to work in other browsers).

    2. I don’t know if there is an option to do it with the mouse, but the keyboard shortcuts should work just fine (ctrl and c to copy, ctrl and p to paste and ctrl and x to cut). That’s for a PC. I’m not sure what the Mac controls are, but I think they are explained in the video.

      1. Thanks, Deborah. I missed your reply because I was looking for an answer on the workflowy blog.

        Both the mouse and keyboard commands work withing workflowy, but I can’t copy from workflowy to Word.

        That’s what I was trying to do.

        Thanks for your reply, because you clarified that I could copy and past within workflowy, and that’s a good thing.

        Thanks again, Hugh 🙂

  7. Just managed to watch the video today, and I am SO excited about this. It’s really one of the few things that was missing. I discovered Workflowy a few weeks ago, and I can honestly say it’s changed my life!

  8. Is workflowy recruiting developers or salespeople? If so I think I would make a great addition to either team. Yours is my favorite tool and I think the possibilities for it to grow are boundless.

  9. Just leaving my comment here as a big thank you for this app. It honestly is one of the few apps that actually works for me, because it is so intuitive. I’m glad that you guys are continually improving it, and please keep up the great work!

    1. Oh yeah, another thing I forgot –> as a feature suggestion, it would be great if you could backup the entirety of your Workflowy lists to a place on the PC of your choice. Just today I wanted to save my stuff to my docs folder but found that I could only copy-paste everything to a document and save that. While it doesn’t take that much effort to do, it’s something that I for one can easily forget to do, and also it would be great if it was a seamless process.

  10. First time user here. Workflowy seemed so simple, I wondered how it could really help me. Then I realized it was simple to use, but not simple underneath. I describe it to my friends as “infinite bullet lists” which really glosses over some features but gets people curious.

    For a while I was re-editing things when I wanted to push one list inside another, I’m glad that keyboard commands and simple tabbing work for this. When I finally put it to use to get some work done, I was pleasantly surprised to see a summary email arrive.

    Looking forward to seeing how it develop and hope to start sharing lists with friends and coworkers.

  11. Thank you so much guys! It’s a pleasure to use products that just WORK, and even more so when the developers implement features that are really useful and make a great product that much easier to work with. Great job guys. Proud to be Workflowy Pro user.
    (I use several other products where the developers seem stuck on implementing whatever “feature” they are excited about, while ignoring things that their users keep asking for! Thank you for NOT being that company!)

  12. Thanks so much! I’ve been anticipating an update with this one’s content ever since I first discovered WorkFlowy, and your work is verrry much appreciated!

  13. #1 feature i was hoping for! Thank you so much! It works great and is so useful! Even more committed to sticking with Workflowy now.

  14. I see that you’ve changed the behavior of the up/down arrow keys when editing an item that spans multiple lines. Awesome!

  15. Copy bug?
    When making multiple selections, I get the “Complete All/Delete All” popup. However, any attempt at copying the text fails. This includes CTRL+C and using the right-click menu (Copy is greyed out).

    I’m using the latest Chrome dev build.

    Any help? I’ve been needing copy/paste for the longest time.

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