Have you ever sent a Workflowy item into the great beyond only to later wish you could somehow recover it?
Well now you can with our trash can feature! You can now browse previously deleted items and choose to either restore them to their former glory or delete them permanently.
You no longer have to worry about accidentally deleting something important like top secret three-letter agency notes or grandma’s pecan pie recipe, you can always recover it if you need to.
How do I use it
The trash can feature can be accessed from the menu bar under the “Trash” option.
Clicking this brings up a window that allows you to browse the most recently deleted items and a small preview of their content if any.
From here you can choose to either restore an item or permanently delete it.
You can also choose to load more items if the item you want to restore was deleted further back in time.
Please note that it may take a moment or two for our servers to take the items out of cryogenic storage and reanimate them. For large items it can take a bit longer than that but they will eventually show up.
After you permanently delete an item there is no way for us to restore it, so be sure you really want to delete something before you do it 🔥
Update: We’ve added an “Empty trash” button
The “Empty trash” feature will be released next Tuesday, December 7th 2021.
To use it, scroll down to the bottom of your trash and you’ll see a little, “Empty trash” button. Click it, and it will go through and permanently delete everything in your trash.
Tue, Nov 30, 2021
🤯 Hate this feature? Think we’re idiots who don’t care about our users? Read this.
This is Jesse, the founder/CEO of Workflowy.
We’ve seen a lot of pretty brutal comments on this post along the lines of, “WHY THE @%*$ DID YOU BUILD THIS?!?” and “You don’t don’t care about your users, or listen to them!” This truly hurts to hear. I care deeply about our users, and try to listen. I can also understand why you feel that way, particularly if you’ve been around a long time.
I’m responsible for choosing what we work on. I’ll explain a little what we’re doing here and why I chose to build the Trash feature.
Why did you build a $@%ing trash feature?
I built the trash feature to free up my time, and to help the Workflowy users in the most pain. The users suffering most in Workflowy land are those who accidentally delete some mission critical data. I have a policy that our employees do not access user data. Therefore, I took it upon myself to restore accidentally deleted nodes for people manually. This took up some of my time, stressed me out, and made people wait a long time before getting data back. Thus, to free up my time, and fix one of the worst experiences someone can have in Workflowy, I prioritized this.
Why isn’t the @#$%ing trash feature perfect?
The comments are split between hating that we spent any time building a trash feature and complaining that we didn’t spend more time making it perfect. I was trying to just get it done, get something out there that could help people restore their stuff. I was aiming for “good enough to be useful”.
How do you prioritize features? Why do you ignore your users?
Broadly, I think about three categories of product improvements: stuff people want, strategic stuff, and stuff that moves toward my vision. For now, let me talk now “stuff people want”.
We care what people want. We have been working diligently through user requests over the past year. We have taken multiple surveys to understand what people’s top priorities are, and we have started to build the things people are asking for.
The top two requests were images/files and color formatting. Both are now built and released. Look at this list of top user requests from our forum, and see how many of them are complete. It’s a lot. We are committed to making the improvements you want, polishing Workflowy, and expanding what it can do. Now, I know we haven’t done enough for everyone or moved as quickly as we’d like, but we’re trying.
I’m genuinely sorry that we’ve frustrated so many people. Hopefully one day we’ll get to the point where you feel only delight and joy when you think about Workflowy.
Please don’t let the critical comments get to you, Jesse! Workflowy is an awesome app. I now have my 9-year-old using Workflowy for his schoolwork, and he loves it too. Even though I’ve never commented before or voted on features, the ones you’ve added recently were my top wishes and vastly increased my use and enjoyment of Workflowy:
The only reason I don’t feel complete delight and joy when thinking of Workflowy is fear that an app so important to me might someday disappear, like my favorite ToDo outliner app once did (LifeBalance for PalmOS).
If you feel obligated to help users recover deleted data, then implementing trash to empower them to do it themselves was obviously a no-brainer as your top priority.
Today’s my first day with Workflowy, just moved from Todoist. I enjoyed todoist but it kept getting cluttered and quickly became unmanageable. The first day with Workflowy has been great. I love the tree structure, everything is right where it’s supposed to be, very clean and manageable. I am looking forward to many more features but I feel the core product is superior enough that it’s worth the wait. Jesse, you and your team keep up the good work and the people that see how amazing your product is will be here. I’m moving everyone in my company to Workflowy, and that’s saying a lot considering I only have a day with it. We are excited to transition to your platform.
the trash can function saved me a lot of stress today. now I feel safer about cut+paste actions into different platforms, in case it didn’t copy everything. THANK YOU. <3
Makes total sense. A well implemented trash feature is a big boon. I can think of many times in the past where this would have saved me time using WorkFlowy… whether because I had to restore an old backup to recover a single mistakingly-deleted node (then delete almost everything I had just restored!) to simply having to recreate things from scratch.
Now that WorkFlowy’s going to have, as of today, an empty trash feature to permanently delete unwanted data, I’m glad the trash is there. Personally, I find it an excellent idea!
How’s your experience… I tried for 3 hours to empty the trash bin/can — between macosx desktop app and the browser… (nothin worked) all I got was 100-300% high cpu usage for 10-15 minutes in a row with the app being frozen, unusable and nothing happened… I can’t empty the trash… (i know it’s super full) at this moment is just a button… I think I tried 10 times already… Even deleting 1 simple item is taking so much energy, time, cpu… crazy… Cmon 🙁
Has anyone was able to “empty their trash can” ??? *everything*
Hopefully this will work… I know it will…
Weird. You’d think that would be done server side, and, once done, would actually reduce the demand on WorkFlowy’s servers.
However, if it is actually stored and done client-side now (is it?), then one advantage in emptying the trash would be less RAM/CPU usage for WorkFlowy users’ computers and/or mobile devices.
I’ll try it later (since I’m in the middle of working with WorkFlowy) and get back to you to tell my experience.
I used the WorkFlowy desktop app (the .exe installable) to empty the trash and it emptied in less than a minute—I could even see the individual items being deleted scrolling. That was a nice touch!
I’m sure I had very many items to be emptied, but of course I have no idea if you had many more than me.
Sorry your experience wasn’t better, jb300. Hopefully they’ve fixed it from when you tried it and that’s why it worked well for me?
P.S. I seem to remember certain things, like account changes, getting stuck in the mobile app when I tried to do them there, but working well on the web app or desktop app. Maybe try there?
Sorry, I missed that you were trying it on both Mac Desktop and Browser. I used it on Windows Desktop and it worked great for me.
It seems to work fine for me in the Android app too, at least when emptying the trash of a few dozen nodes, which is all I had in my trash after my earlier mass delete.
My comment about needing an empty trash feature, because it’s unreasonable to expect users to delete every item in the trash individually (and not being able to delete old data permanently is a major privacy problem) is, as of the writing of this present comment, the most “liked” under this blog post, despite me adding my comment after most people added theirs.
I am not arguing that a trash feature is a bad feature (not at all)… but without an empty trash feature, it isn’t right.
Can you please add that as soon as possible? Because apparently my desire for this is widely shared (as well as being pretty basic).
@will It’s a good point. I did not expect people to need the ability to permanently delete everything very much, honestly. I figured some specific data would want to be cleared permanently but that deleting everything wouldn’t be a massive need (and many competitors don’t have this feature either).
It will also be a very data intensive and slow process.
My use cases range from, for aesthetic/”OCD-ish” reasons, me not wanting old versions of plans, poems, stories, etc., available once I’ve completed its final, or at least best, version … to I typed in a bit of private info somewhere, and can’t remember where, so want to delete it all to be safe. It could be any other numbers of reasons. Basically, we are all going to have different reasons to delete old data, but the desire to be able to do so seems to be widely shared here!
After all, it’s our data at the end of the day.
P.S. When I get the warning telling me that emptying the trash is permanent, I accept responsibility for it. Most people do, I think, which is why some people like to empty their trash regularly and others like to keep a large, full trash for convenience sake.
Okay, it is added. It’ll be released Tuesday, Dec 7th
Outstanding. I really appreciate this quick decision, which I think is the right one, for those of your users who want this ability. Of course, many will never use it, but it’s right that it’s there. It shows a respect for your users’ desire for privacy and/or just to trim the mental detritus away. On some things, I find it distracting to have a bunch of old versions available once I’ve finalized it.
Michael Angelo would apparently take a hammer to statues and rip up paintings if they didn’t meet his standard—for him to put his name on them! lol
I am here to talk in the name of all the “jokers” bellow… (and hope they will reply in the comments too)
That being said… everybody claimed they are pro-long-time-users and love the app… You can’t be a hater or a troll if you like/love using something… We might have way to many high hopes when it comes to Workflowy… and please don’t tell me “it’s just an app” – because it’s not… it’s “THE APP”;
No hate man, good vibes… good vibes only…
Thanks, appreciate it.
Whatever my critiques (intended to be helpful) of specifics from time-to-time may be, I agree with jb300: WorkFlowy is a wonderful app. It is one of my favorite and most important two apps (the other being Calengoo [for Google Calendars, among others], which I used on mobile for years and only just learned there’s an offline-capable desktop version [of course, WorkFlowy has a fine offline-capable desktop version too!]).
However, yes, WorkFlowy is one of my favorite two apps in the world and has been for close to a decade. It keeps on getting better!
I just wonder. As a free user, I used to restore my quota of free nodes by deleting outdated stuff. How will it work with this trash feature?
Hey Oleg, restored items counts as created bullets. So for example if you restore 3 bullets – it doesn’t matter if it’s three separate items or one bullet with two nexted items, the total count will be three bullets.
I believe it means that deleted nodes don’t count toward your total. Only nodes actually active in your WorkFlowy.
It’s nice to have (would be event nicer with ’empty trash’ feature), but was it really that high on user requests lists?
I have to ask – why do You even bother with asking for user feedback if You ignore it when planning next feature releases?
(I still love WF though 🙂 )
Hey Bratosz, in this case it was a feature that is helping cut down on our engineers having to providing restore support.
Instead of saying, ‘sorry too bad’ to users that accidentally deleted important items, we would manually restore them. That was obviously not a great use of our developers time.
With regards to features, we do actually have a giant list of user requested features and estimates of their popularity – so we definitely care. If we haven’t added a feature it’s because it doesn’t currently align with what we’re trying to build. We also try to balance adding features that we think are useful while keeping Workflowy simple and uncluttered. You would be surprised with the number of dedicated Workflowy users that don’t want us to add any new features!
I would also add that 2022 is going to be an interesting time for current and new Workflowy users – we have many more updates planned.
With due respect to Bartosz Grabowski, “empty trash” is a must-have, not just nice-to-have, feature.
You’ve done good initial work on the trash feature, Rodolfo (and/or whomever helped with it at WorkFlowy) and I can see the value in it.
However, I trust you also can see that without an empty trash feature, it’s a real problem for privacy and user convenience: having to delete potentially thousands of old nodes individually to remove that data permanently from one’s account?
Info about how painfull manual restoration was for the team should be the first thing to hitlight when annoucing this feature release 🙂 The reason why it caused so much noise is it was quite hard to understand why have You prioritized this one above others. Jesse’s response removed all the frustration for me and probably many (most?) of others – thank You for that.
I’ve used Workflowy for years, and I’ve tried probably all available clones/alteratives during that time. A lot of them excells
at available functionalities, but You guys manage to keep it unsurpassed in simlicity and ‘unclatterness’. As this is what makes WF trully unique and unleavaable – I understand both Your caution with adding anything to backlog and all the users that would prefer not to mess with something that is so close to perfection 🙂 I, for one, really don’t think workflowy needed colors, but I’ve seen user requests, so I’m not complaining.
For me personally panes aka. two-column view (I use Vivaldi tab stacking for this, but I miss D&D), and API (to automate data flow between applications, especially from Workflowy to calendar) are the only things I’d love too see – when You get there – I’ll join the users wishing You just leave it as it is 🙂
But event without it – ‘the point where I feel only delight and joy when I think about Workflowy’ is already here 🙂
That would rock.
DISCLAIMER : I spend too much time in workflowy, I might be addicted or something… + also + NOT A TROLL : enthusiastically looking forward to any small step work-papa-flowy is taking…
An insult to long-term power users… Workflowy gets the CROWN for the champion of unicorn-farts… It does a lot of cool/things – but none completely right… Here’s some fairy dust :
Anyway… it’s great to have options…
The good thing is the app is getting “BETTER” — right, right, right ?
That being said, the app feels and looks solid 🙂 even if the changes are “under the hood”
PS : Hopefully soon we will also get “
STRIKE” feature without it’s own special blog post…
I’ve been using WorkFlowy for five years and, overall, I love it. Having said that, I sometimes wonder which features are given priority by your awesome team. For example, it’s almost 2022 and we are still not able to do something as simple as sorting bullets alphabetically. If I take a look at the other 24 comments below this post, I’m not sure whether a trash bin had been such a highly requested feature… I can only quote @Matt here: “There’s so much more for you to do and improve on than this!”
Hi Ruben, we hear you. The trash can feature definitely wasn’t #1 on our list of requested features.
This was done mainly to 1. Give users peace of mind that their information can be recovered in case of accidental deletion and 2. To not have our devs take care of manually helping users restore deleted data.
In other words, it was done to free up more time to do those things we all want to see in Workflowy.
People are drooling at highlighting text, emoji tags and trash cans… C’mon WORKFLOW team, you can do better than this… release the KRAKEN… the real update(s)…
PLEASE more features for research based usage/users :
This is awful without an empty trash feature! You should get rid of it until that is built.
You should also delete all the data you’re holding on to of deleted nodes, at least those that aren’t in the backups we’ve chosen to keep in our account. This is a total privacy disaster.
So, if I someone doesn’t want their old, deleted nodes accessible, they have to spend hundreds of hours individually deleting every one, essentially from the beginning of time?
This is badly thought out. Even 30-years ago free webmail services gave you the ability to empty the trash.
This is going to be so helpful!! Thank you.
I never need this (knock on wood), but nice to know it’s there!
Honestly, there’s so much more for you to do and improve on than this.
They have like 10 employees. Cut them some slack. There are other tools out there as well for inline bullets.
Hey Matt, we agree! That’s actually why we added this feature. Before, when a user accidnetally delete important data – a dev would assist the user manually recover it. So instead of working on improving Workflowy, they were basically part of the support team.
Now, users can restore these items without any help and that frees up more time for us to do necessary and interesting things.
Hope that explains why we added this feature first.
Great feature! Thanks guys!
Cool, I just recently thought why they do not implement the trash – if I accidentally delete something – and then immediately a new function – a trash! Very cool! Thanks!
Unexpected nice thing 🙂
Absolutely necessary. Great !
NOT A RANT
Workflowy beats everything by simplicity… Any other software out there, right now, that’s “HOT” , has a big learning curve… everybody is busy productive, organizing systems… Workflowy is way too intuitive, but I agree it lacks BASIC features and that’s such a shame… Big up to devs for all the small updates in the last 1 years, the app needed them… BUT I have a few problems; I believe that the web app doesn’t have these problems… but given the fact that I’m on the MACOSX app and I work offline most of the time…
I can go on and on with other small issues… but I’ll stop here…
I really love workflowy, it’s simple and intuitive in these crazy times… I wouldn’t change anything at this time… just make it work!!!
ONE THING I might add, as I found myself hitting a wall while using the app… PLEASE more features for research based usage/users :
In 10 months of using the app workflowy helped me a lot… But I have a love-hate relationship… I had so many issues and lost data (in the beginning) it’s crazy… I never in my life sent so many support tickets (to anybody else), but I did it for workflowy because I saw something there… I value simplicity – in an era of complexity, wild wild west, a bloatware road to hell… Workflowy is cool/chill — zen…
Anyway… Sometimes I feel the support team and the devs just don’t care about users… they say they can, but they improve the app as they want, can, wish… based on their usage… That’s how I feel it looks… I challenge anyone to go on the workflowy.zendesk.com page and see how many requests, how many years ago, and what changed from then to now… and also check “their” reply : something like, it’s on the map, we are working, is planned, this year… soon… Besides the BOARDS view, nothing good in the past 2-3 years as I can see… and that’s SAD…
I’m not a troll, I love workflowy, I really do… that’s why I wrote this big review… but something has to change…
I feel stuck with workflowy for the moment… because there’s nothing better at this moment out there… and that’s scary…
Maybe I’m putting too much trust in an app – and that’s dangerous… These days as I can see – most of the companies (all domains) do a big U-turns – and good products go bad…
Support or zendesk, reddit or the telegram group feels like a big joke; I wanted to post on the official page… Workflowy team – GET SERIOUS – NOW OR NEVER…
That’s exactly my feeling about this service as well…
“(…)support team and the devs just don’t care about users… they say they can, but they improve the app as they want, can, wish… based on their usage…”
Everything we see implemented was based on their usage and need, or desire, whatever. If they don’t see a point in having some features, then it’s not implemented.
No doubt that it’s a “classy” product or like someone else here said: “Workflowy is like an artist… there’s no clear roadmap”. But that is not always the most clever solution… Classy, elegant, that’s about the UI/UX but one can have an elegant tool and still keep the simplicity even with lots of features.
Rephrasing what was said, this is also not a rant. I just wish the team could make themselves more clear about what they plan to implement, when (in 2 years, 10 years) and what WF will never have. But it’s hard to do this without a public roadmap or a decent changelog / release notes.
I quibble a bit here and there because I want WorkFlowy, which I use constantly, to be right.
However, I’ve found many of the changes over the last year (especially colors) to be outstanding!
Long-time WorkFlowy user here. Unfortunately, I couldn’t agree more!
This is a great feature, but only appearing in 2021 as a new feature in Workflowy is no surprise to me, I like the simplicity and speed of Workflowy, and the elegant implementation of some features, there are too many note taking software now, but I returned to Workflowy, besides the features, the most important factor is that it is comfortable to use. Workflowy is like an artist, unlike other software, there is no clear Roadmap, because Workflowy wants the most elegant implementation, I will always support Workflowy and look forward to more surprises from Workflowy
Edit Historynot as good as (better than?) a 1990’s
I wish the email-based “Revisions” copy we’re sent daily (we can not specify frequency, to be a true Revision History) was browser-based like the rest of Workflowy, it does not make sense why I am checking for Revisions/Deletions (lacking WF formatting, oh geez) in my Dropbox/Gmail account.
These quaint product updates give the impression the founders want to keep the loved “original” Workflowy as a stable/accessible/fun product, but from your years of blogging you can read the pressure to enable advanced features is palpable. The last few product updates, we’re just adding simple colors and emojis, and you’re a mature YCombinator product now. Sadly, we’re expected to hack CSS/JS (found littered in old blog post instructions, pointing to broken UserScript sites), instead of maturing OPML and Workflowy openly with a confident, transparent roadmap.
Why not promote a “Founder’s Original Vision” version (the one we’re using by default now, which made Workflowy the first-mover/leader, a safe product to keep the same forever, good for $5/month), and begin competing as a product with the rip-offs of Workflowy like RoamResearch/Dynalist audience by having a (separate) “Advanced Version?”.
An Advanced Version, which many of us would gladly pay more than $5/month—for instead of a Trash button hidden in a menu loading a popup dialogue with weird word wrapping you have to idiotically scroll—the emailed Revisions as granular webpages/data would help for professional usage.
Not to mention Dates… It’s awful how this is implemented. Just poorly designed. No pop-up calendar or something that explicits dates is incredibly unuseful.
WorkFlowy is getting more advanced without cluttering the original premise. It has gotten so many improvements over the last year and can easily compete with Roam and Dynalist. You mention small features like trash and colors, but what about backlinks and mirrors? The team is carefully weighing options and implementing them in an agile way. You start with a trash can somewhat hidden, and may end up with something way more advanced. But only if it hits a nerve and feedback shows this feature is worth it to spend more of the limited resources on.
Revision history in addition to easily accessible trash would be useful. Google Docs revision implementation is very nice. One to look forward to, I hope.
1990s trash cans had the ability to empty the trash with a couple clicks. WorkFlowy doesn’t: It could take potentially tens of thousands of clicks.
The way you’re updating this product is… classy.
wow! good feature!
Hey guys, everyone should give Workflowy more votes! 🙂 click on the Heart icon to move it up, it is currently on position 13