Flipping Through Zoomed-in Sibling Lists

Alt+Shift+9/0  (Windows) :: Ctrl+Shift+9/0  (Mac)


Growing pains

Over the last couple of months I’ve received a lot of emails inquiring about two of WorkFlowy’s hidden keyboard shortcuts I wrote about in my book – mainly because there’ve been a couple of teething problems. The Baby teeth were originally Ctrl+9/0 for both Mac and Windows. These apparently conflicted with Mac systems shortcuts and so the baby teeth gave way to the “Permanent” teeth: Ctrl+Shift+9/0. Then on the Windows side, many got a severe toothache, which allowed them to chew only on the left side of their mouth. So Windows users went in for a root canal (and an extraction it turns out), giving us the now few-day old Alt+Shift+9/0. Now we can all sink our teeth into any of our lists and chew through them backwards and forwards.

More information please

The Alt+Shift+9/0 (Windows) and Ctrl+Shift+9/0 (Mac) keyboard shortcuts enable one to flip through any set of sibling lists as if they were pages in a book. You could even create some flip book ASCII animations like my first attempt below:

Here’s the shared list for that simple outline. See if you can get the rocket to take off. If you went ahead and actually tried out these shortcuts then my mission is accomplished. Just like a honey and cream cheese sandwich, you have no idea what you’re missing out on until the day you bite into one.

This brilliant set of shortcuts allow one to jump/ shift from one zoomed-in sibling list directly to another adjacent one without zooming out and then zooming back in. There are tons of use cases for this pair of keyboard shortcuts… and it makes absolute sense when you use them within your own lists. It’s not as much fun seeing it play out in other people’s lists… but I’ll give you a peak at one possibility below. I do a lot of journaling in WorkFlowy. Often I like to flip back and forth between my entries:

Once you get used to these shortcuts, you’ll begin to depend on them and make them a serious part of your workflow. Having gone a period without them, I was actually ready to barter my eye teeth with the tooth fairy to have them back again. Thankfully Mike Turitzin came through just before Christmas with my replacement 2 front teeth.

If you’d like a geekier explanation and some additional use cases (including 7 animated GIF links), you’re welcome to download 2 pages I tore out of my book.

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46 thoughts on “Flipping Through Zoomed-in Sibling Lists

  1. This is fabulous, thank you. I have a “calendar” of dates, events and special days set up for the next 2 years which I share with my freelancers and use to schedule my website’s content. It’s now so quick and easy to flip forward to see what’s coming up or add in new content ideas and requests, and back to see what’s been done and crossed off. And it’s so much fun 🙂

      1. P.S. I’m mainly using the Chrome browser when on a Chromebook, but of course it would be nice if the shortcut also worked in the WorkFlowy Chrome app.

  2. Yay! A solution! Thanks Frank for being so on top of things and responding so promptly to reader requests and questions. And props to Workflowy for creating the new Windows shortcuts! Y’all are just great. 😉

      1. Thanks for confirming on your end Stefano 🙂 It might be different for different systems and versions, etc… and I think with the feedback here in one consolidated place we might put together a more complete picture for Mike and Jesse and get to the bottom of it more easily in the end.
        This is such a brilliant keyboard shortcut/ dynamic, that I thought it needed its own space here on the blog for posterity. And I was hoping for lots of feedback here 🙂

  3. Frank… [xref honey and cream cheese sandwich] 1st & the most important item… you must try a cream cheese and green olive sandwich.. cut (slice) olives (about 1/8 “) and layer butter (lotsa) cream cheese, and olives on your fav bread (crustier the better) Put in toaster oven briefly… (open face is great) better than sex on the beach. Chase with very, very cold gin.

    2nd.. now I can use the your “fast paging shortcut” the old way gave me hemorrhoids so I quit…

    ps i am one of frank’s bookies… on my third reading… get a great idea on each reading…

    1. Thanks for the olives tip. let me give you another WF one in exchange:

      If you’re flipping through your lists and get to the end – and you need another adjacent sibling list that doesn’t yet exist, try creating a keyboard shortcut in PhraseExpress or similar, which automates these keystrokes:

      Alt+Left Arrow – to zoom out
      End – to take you to the end of your bullet’s text
      Enter – to create a new bullet
      Alt+Right Arrow – to zoom into your newly created bullet

      Here’s what you can copy into a new PhraseExpress phrase:
      {#ALT {#LEFT}}{#END}{#ENTER}{#ALT {#RIGHT}}

      So basically, you flip to the end of your list of siblings, hit your tailor-made shortcut and you instantly have a newly created sibling list that you’re already zoomed into.

      Actually, this can be done anywhere you want to insert a new sibling list, not only at the end 🙂

      1. Sweet! This has been an irritant but now solved. FWIW I have used a program {typeitin from waveget (also use pasteitin) from same vender.} Don’t remember how much it costs but like your book it is worth way more. Developing a “macro language” for workflowy is fun and productive.

      2. I tried getting this going in autohotkey, but if the text of the bullet wraps onto a second line, I’m not sure that the End command takes you to the end of the text. At least that’s what has been happening to me in Windows. It takes you to the end of the line, but not the end of all the text in the bullet. I’m using Chrome for what it’s worth.

      3. @kingsinger, you’re absolutely right. I guess I had never tested this on a bullet which had longer than one line of text, because usually my list title will be an actual title (date/ title of a chapter, etc)… but I can definitely see the value in wanting to work with paragraphs as list titles. You get to zoom in and shut out everything else. Nice.

        The reason I put together the above steps was because I may not be at the end of a bullet at the time of activating my hotkey… but you can do it at least a few other ways. One would be to make sure your cursor is at the end of your paragraph when you activate your hotkey. You can place it there (it will be in the exact same position when you zoom out)… or you can simulate the “Ctrl+End” keyboard shortcut (if you are dealing only with one zoomed in paragraph at a time. Usually there is more than one way to get to the end result with individual key presses/ shortcut combinations. You want to test those out and then simulate that combination in your AutoHotkey setup. Let me know what solution you find!

      4. rawbytz, I don’t follow: What does ^a{Right} mean? ctrl-alt-Right? If so, that doesn’t work for me.

        My lines aren’t long because I’ve got a paragraph of text after a bullet, there just long because I use WF fo GTD, so many lines include a context tag, a person tag, a project tag, and sometimes a priority tag.

        For example, something like this:

        Respond: #Bob_Client – Fwd: FW: red line version of 2013 Widget Agreement | @Computer-Online | #currentfocus

      5. Thanks rawbytz. I’m a little slow, but I figured it out.

        in auto hotkey this seems to work. I made my hotkey windows key-alt-n

        sleep, 450 ;(wait .45 seconds)

        You’ll note that I had to include a little pause between the first and second SendInputs to allow the outline to backtrack one level. .25 second wasn’t long enough, so I added and extra .2 seconds. You might be able to get away with a shorter pause. I didn’t test values in between.

      6. @kingsinger, awesome that you got my tip working for AHK. Thanks for sharing here! So, is this a big use case of yours (creating a new sibling list and then zooming into it once you’re at the “end of the line”)?

      7. Not sure if it’s a big use case or not. But learning about the 0/9 keyboard shortcuts discussed here got me thinking about it. Often it’s difficult to evaluate the utility of something like this if you don’t dig in and try it out.

        I like keyboard shortcuts and have a bunch that I’ve created in autohotkey on windows and in keyboard maestro on the Mac. I started learning about autohotkey to recreate in windows some stuff I’d created on the mac with keyboard maestro. I keep most of them in a single autohotkey file called textexpansions.

        So when I type “,,tdate” with no quotes, it give today’s date in this format: 2015.12.16.

        I also created an autohotkey script that pops up a date picking calendar and then inserts the date in this format: @d2015-12-16.

        So if you want to use the search hack where you preface due dates with @d and start dates with @s, this makes it a little easier to choose dates out in the future, when you’re not quite sure what day of the week a date is.

        #SingleInstance force
        Gui, Add, MonthCal, vDate
        Gui, Add, Button,Default,OK
        Gui, Show

        FormatTime, TimeString, %Date%, yyyy-MM-dd
        SendInput @d%TimeString%

        I call the above script from a hotstring in my textexpansions file with this line:

        Run “C:\Users\user name\WFDueDateCalendar.ahk” –run Workflowy due Date Calendar

        That being said, I find the lack of date support and reminders to be a huge shortcoming of WF, because my central use case is GTD.

      8. kingsinger, Sorry, I wasn’t getting notifications for this post. Glad to see you got it working!

        I put all my AHK code into one ‘Master’ script, and then break things up with #IfWinActive sections. I find it easier to manage. It’s a user preference thing. I took your code and simplified the syntax… it is identical in function:

        SendMode, Input
        ;I put this at the top so I can use ‘Send’

        #IfWinActive WorkFlowy
        ;I put all my WorkFlowy stuff btwn this and the next #IfWinActive

        sleep, 450

        ;End WorkFlowy. Stuff below here works anywhere.

        Hope that helps!

      9. @bnphilips –
        Generally, home/end takes you to start/end of a line, ctrl switch acting on whole page. Workflowy seems to treat wrapped lines as its own line giving the first case – but entire zoom as page begin/end. Thankfully not when within a note,.. One can already see the problem here. Not to meantion page up/down (usually used with crtl as an alternative to ctrl tab ie switching tabs. in some browsers ctrl shift page can be used to move tabs in its tab order – without switching tabs). Which as far as I can see, switches the caret to invisible and screen to scroll focus. Yes, even within notes..

        That is, you are no longer typing and have to manually select an edit point again. Interestingly, the first page(up or down apparently) seems to activate a ctrl-home like jump. Still no caret of course. No edit scrolling (seen in many a code editor, though usually caret is fixed while screen can scroll) could have been useful but this jump, (obsoleting page position) negates things again.

        So for bullet text (not including notes) navigation in child nodes, there are a few (not as easy until remembered), hardcoded ie platform provided solutions. I use windows ie:

        – ctrl shift home, then left-arrow to place caret at edit point. Suffers from the same discrepancies as using ctrl a to select all, especially when accidentally. Or accidentally hitting backspace one tick of a second after..
        – focus anwhere in sibling/s below (not sure if there is a keyboard shortcut for this?) then tap arrow-up. Caret always repositions itself at next node’s text beginning with every up-arrow. Down works as expected, through text body itself. (ctrl up/down seem unassigned to anything)
        – keep tapping shift up, and right before workflowy switches to batch edit (or during while only the current one is still the only or top item in selection), hit left-arrow. One of the unexpected but very welcome things about this feature is, backspace is not delete!
        – expanding on @frank ctrl end suggestion – ctrl shift end, to select to end of node text. Then follow as in first suggestion (from here) ie down-arrow to focus next node then up-arrow to use workflowy’s auto position of caret.
        – or bar all this, switch to notes instead. I usually have sentence/oneword titles for nodes, perhaps a tag date/action and on the first line of notes, either tags for quick navigation or pipe(|) separated table of contents. This can be for either notes or child nodes.

        So yes while workflowy has some nice extensive features (was looking for the sibling/cousin hotkey today) for zooming and navigating nodes, navigating text bodies themselves seems to be still a niche point of importance. eg

        Previously ctrl or with shift, (to navigate by word) not working was my largest complaint. It is mostly fixed now. ie ctrl shift left works as does ctrl shift up-arrow (select to beginning of line wrap) but ctrl shift up does not increment a line without lifting ctrl to use just shift up instead. Shoutout to my fellow lovers of ctrl selection..! A little aside — workflowy will paste your indents as two space characters, not a tab. which is (usually) a ‘hardset’ of 4spaces. This hardset is also what is used when typing normally (not copypasting) into a node’s note. This can both improve or destroy your notes’ readability.

        For that matter, I’d love an autoinsert date feature. No more vague recalls of what format of what tag1. Except I might just forget about it (smart datestamps) once it is officially implemented, likely as some obscure hotkey combination. Used to the current system as I am now. Or maybe not. People take more easily to lazier ways after all..

  4. Looks like on Linux it’s ctrl+shift. Works fine in Chrome here.

    Has this been tested on Windows with an alt+shift enabled IME? I don’t have a Windows machine handy right now but I can try it when I get home.

    1. Confirmed it works fine with alt-shift enabled IME – if a button besides alt+shift is pushed before releasing the keys, it doesn’t trigger the IME mode switch.

  5. I thouht I have to install some scripting software or smth… It works like magic. Getting used for it.
    The biggest and most structured part of my WF content is a calendar base ToDo list. So I can flip through dates. Or I can move directly from TODO list to a heavy PROJECTS notes.
    That remembered me smth. It would be nice to have a side formating tool for exported WF documents. Just imagine:
    – the top line becomes a header
    – any lines of of the next level are chapter’s headers and optionaly start from new pages
    – any other levels are indented text
    – all notes are author’s comments.
    And so on. I recall the idea every time I move prepared reports for final tune and printing. Probably, this should be programmed on a word processor’s side.

  6. Hi Oleg, for sure, one great solution you may be looking for can be found with a few simple Markdown formatting rules. You prefix your headings with hashtags according to the size you want and you add either a plus sign, hyphen or asterisk (or a number with a period) to the beginning of each bullet you want to be indented as bulleted or numbered lists. So:

    # Title
    ## Sub heading
    1. Numbered list
    – Bulleted list
    > Block quote

    You just need to export your plain text from WorkFlowy to an online markdown editor.

    This way you have more control than you would if you were to be confined to a set of fixed parameters. IOW, whether zoomed in to a parent list or not, you get to determine what looks like what throughout.

    While you’re at it, I guess you’ll have to switch over to Markdown completely, owing to the fact that you’re most likely going to need to use **bold** and *italic*. (And that’s pretty much the world of Markdown in a nutshell – for most use cases)

    1. Markdown is awesome (and a viewer for Workflowy would be great) but some kind of structured document creation from Workflowy using fixed rules would be great too, especially once we have the ability to show images.

    2. I’ve just played with markdown editors. The main impression is: it works mainly OK. But it makes WF texts less readable. And every editor has it’s own pros and contras. The good news is WF users can insert tables and images finally 🙂

      1. One solution in WorkFlowy to make Markdown highly readable is to actually italicize and bold your text simultaneously. If I want to, say, italicize any text, I hit a Hotkey (Ctrl+Shift+i) that not only italicizes my phrase, but also inserts an asterisk on either side.

        Also, what I do is not only give certain list titles Markdown hashtags so that they come out larger… but I can also see them as larger titles in WorkFlowy simply by underlining them. You see, I use WorkFlowy in my browser together with the Stylish extension… and what I do is “hijack” the underline span to show me a different font face and size for anything I underline. So when I wrote my book in WorkFlowy using Markdown, I was literally seeing exactly the same font families and sizes that I would see in the final publication. The *only* main difference, really, was the presence of hashtags for titles… and asterisks for bold/ italic. There were some other rare cases… but basically what I saw in my WorkFlowy browser app was what came out in the book.

        The interesting (incredible) thing about what I’ve outlined thus far is that you get what no other tool can give you: You simultaneously see exactly what your end user will see with the addition of bare-bones, unobtrusive Markdown formatting. With any other tool you would have to flip between Markdown and Preview. In WorkFlowy, with this setup, you get both simultaneously. It is amazing once you’re actually using it for yourself.

        Take a look at this image: https://www.dropbox.com/s/41pgw6f64m10e65/Markdown%20in%20WorkFlowy.png?dl=0

        Ha! You just made me go and see if I could paste images into WorkFlowy. Probably you mean “eventually”.

      2. Translation. “finally” and “eventually” are look the same for me. I guess you’ve got it right.
        “Parallel” formatting in WF makes things easier, right. Thank you.

        Another issue. Markdown editors (dillinger.io for ex.) close HTML tags having an empty line. Empty lines does not export form WF.
        > This is a quote.
        This is a next paragraph.

        dillinger.io combines them into one quote.
        Probably other editors would get it right.

      3. What you’ll want to do if you’re working with bullets (as opposed to writing in notes is to create a paragraph break between bullets by leaving an empty space in a bullet’s note. You can set up a hotkey (I use Ctrl+Shift+Enter) to automate this in one move and get straight onto your next paragraph.

  7. Sadly this does seem to only work with a US/UK keyboard layout (Safari/Mac). An option to set custom shortcuts would be very welcome.

    1. Hi René, does changing the language settings of your keyboard to English work? I have a Brazilian (Portuguese) keyboard layout, but have configured it for English. Just curious.

  8. Hi Frank,

    That’s a great tip. Do you know if it’s possible to arrange top level sibling bullets parallely to each other? Could it be something that can be done through stylish?

    1. Hi @ag, the thing about sibling lists/ bullets is that they are already parallel/ adjacent to one another (at the same level). Do you mean horizontally parallel to one another?… or do you just mean collapsed right next to one another?

      1. I am sorry I should have been clearer. I meant the viewing arrangement of sibling bullets such that they appear in columns next to each other. I think this is something that is possible through css manipulation but I am am very new to CSS and unable to figure it out.

        For instance let’s say that i have a bullet for each week in workflowy. The children bullets are the days of the week from Mon-Sun. I want to be able to zoom into the week bullet and have the day bullets arranged next to each other in columns with their own child bullets listed vertically under each of them. That would make weekly planning so much more easier to visualise and convenient.

      2. That may or may not be possible with CSS in Stylish… which would be way above my head… but my advice to you would be to wrap your head around WorkFlowy’s format as it is and work with what you’ve got. Not as a workaround, but as your go-to format.

        You’ve got to move from visualizing your weeks as you described to vertical outlining format. Once you’ve rewired the way you visualize your weeks, you’ll actually find it preferable. WorkFlowy was not meant to work like Excel with rows and columns, and neither would it be desirable.

        If you must have rows and columns, why not pop a Google Sheets link into a WorkFlowy outline?

      3. Thanks for your response Frank. I actually use workflowy a lot and have been using it for many months now. I use it for all my projects and planning. So, I don’t think my way of thinking about visualising time will change. I do find it missing that I am unable to see everything at a glance, laid out next to each other.

        There are of course other tools I could use and have a link inside workflowy, but as all my data is in workflowy, this would just create an extra step every week of having to transfer things from workflowy to this other program – whatever it maybe.

        A much easier way would be to have that column view. Anyway, I will try to see if it is possible and will post if i find something.

      4. I don’t think you are going to find an elegant CSS-only solution to this. One option (no coding; only needs Chrome) is to open each day in a new tab (middle click on each bullet) and then use the “Tab Resize” extension to convert the tabs into tiled windows in your own custom layout. You can also assign a custom keyboard shortcut. Not perfect, but not horrible either.

  9. It would be super cool if there was a way to flip through filtered sibling lists. So, if I set a filter when I am in the first sibling node and then use the key combination to flip through the other siblings, it would be good if the same filter was applied.

    1. Not a bad idea at all. I could immediately see its usefulness to my own workflow. Rawbytz mentioned that to me some time back… and I would have to wholeheartedly +1 this.

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