Why we disabled expand all by double clicking on the page title and logo


You may have noticed that you can no longer double click on the WorkFlowy logo or the title of the zoomed item to expand all. I’m sure this is frustrating to a lot of people, and I wanted to explain why we did it and what our plans are in relation to expand all.

But first, let it be noted that you can still expand all the items for a given bullet by double clicking the expand button, and when editing the zoomed item, you can control/command+up/down to expand or collapse everything in the list one level at a time. So you may still be able to meet your expand and collapse needs.

But onward to the reasons and our plans

Expanding all can lock up your WorkFlowy

Right now, expanding all on a large section of your WorkFlowy can lead to serious performance issues that make WorkFlowy unusable and require manual intervention by us. Fixing these performance issues is a priority of ours for the next quarter, and then people will be able to expand all without any issues, and we hope they will do so with abandon.

This is the main reason we disabled these two common mechanisms of expanding all. They were leading to people being essentially locked out of their accounts.

Accidental double clicks on the zoomed item

There was an additional reason for disabling the double click on the zoomed item, though. A lot of people double click to select words. The zoomed item title is editable text, so people double click it all the time to select text, and instead it expands all. If it is a large section, it expands all and locks their account up, because they now have way to much stuff expanded. Adding an unintended side-effect, especially a potentially debilitating one, to a common text editing action seems like a bad idea, so we’re correcting it. Yes, it took a long time. Yes, maybe you were used to it and want it back. We are sorry for any annoyance this causes.

The Plan

Expanding all is important and useful, and we will bring it back. Here’s the plan:

  1. Fix the performance issues with expand all, so that WorkFlowy is super speedy regardless of how much stuff you have expanded.
  2. Bring back expand all, most likely in a much more explicit fashion (like, with labelled buttons rather than magically double clicking in certain places).

There you have it.

Sorry for any trouble this causes people until we fix the performance issues of expand all.


Workflowy replaces your notebooks, stickies and bloated apps with a simple, smooth digital notebook that makes it easy to get organized and be productive.

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26 Responses

  1. Hi Jesse,

    I understand why you took that decision.

    However, the problem is that when i double-click on the expand button (+), it expand the entire bullet but it seem impossible to collapse all the bullets inside at the same time.

    The result : if I have a very large and complex bullet, and I accidentally double click on expand button (+), i can take up to 3-4 minutes just to collapse all the smaller bullets inside to make it cleaner…

    I suggest that we could double click on the expand button so we could also collapse all the smaller bullets inside the larger one. It would save us time and energy.

    I hope you can find a solution with your team!

    (sorry for my bad english, french canadian user here! 😛 )

    PS : we love WF

    1. You can double-click the collapse (-) button to collapse all bullets inside at the same time… you just wont see the result until you single-click expand again.

  2. Listen, if it’s not working, I understand the need to take it down so you can fix it.

    But it’s a real pisser. Expand all was a major part of how I used Workflowy and not having it around is an honest handicap. So I hope you get the problems fixed quickly. I’m a little concerned that there are tons of things that have been “in development” for a long time and they never get resolved and I hope this doesn’t turn into one. I love Workflowy and I’m not going to leave it over this one little thing. But I don’t want to fall out of love with a great product over a bunch of “little things” that all add up to a frustrating user experience.

    1. Yeah, I understand the concerns! It is frustrating, and we will bring it back. I’m actually working on the change required to do that right now.

  3. It is still very much possible to place your cursor in a zoomed-in list title and Ctrl+Space to expand/ collapse all.

    The last time I checked — which was a minute ago — there are also two methods to fully expand/ collapse any children list(s) (which you haven’t zoomed into):

    1. Place your cursor in any list and Ctrl+DoubleSpace
    2. Double click on the “+” to expand all…. and conversely double click on the “-” to collapse all.

  4. appreciate the temporary workaround..but ctrl-space doesnt work on the mac…it brings up keyboard options

    1. Have you tried Command+Space instead? It seems to be working for other Mac users (checked in the Slack group). This has been around since forever… so it doesn’t feel like a workaround to me. Enjoy!

  5. I sadly cannot use workflowy without being able to expand all when workflowy decides to close all the nodes. For now, i’ll have to move to google docs – so far i don’t like it but it’s all expanded and available for me to see once I’ve copied it over.

    1. @kenguie,

      Ctrl for Windows
      Command for Mac

      Ctrl/Command+Space should open/ close one child list deep… just as you said. It should expand/ collapse all lists fully if you’re using this keyboard shortcut with your cursor in a *zoomed-in list title*.

      If you’re wanting to expand/ collapse any children lists fully you can use Ctrl/Command+DoubleSpace (Hit the space bar twice) or double click on the “+”/ “-“.

      If you want to incrementally expand/ collapse all lists one level at a time, you can place your cursor in your *zoomed-in* list title and hit Ctrl+Up/Down respectively.

      Once you’ve got the correct keyboard shortcut, you’ll be a happy camper.

  6. Not it. Sorry. Not the work around I Needed. Not zoomed in, I need all my nodes expanded as if I hit the workflowy logo twice. It’s such an important feature. Can’t live without it. Thanks anyway.

  7. Disappointed by this.
    At any rate, on the Mac after much experiment (directions were poor), just double click on the + to expand all the items in that list. And, then make the list show on its own page.
    Collapsing all doesn’t work – still have to use one level at a time.

    In short, terrible user experience.

    1. After double-clicking on an item, it expands the children in place. But, if I then click on the solid dot to “zoom in” on the list, then there is no way to collapse the list without going back to the “parent.”

    2. Overall, though, I’d like to emphasize that Workflowy is an outstanding product. I just wish this change of the Expand/Collapse All was introduced to users in a better way.
      I like the proposed changes so that there are less of the “hidden” commands and look forward to the new version.
      thanks for a great product!

  8. Hi, Jesse. From a technical perspective, I understand why you and your team took this measure– it’s a good call, and a prudent step. However, I think you might be missing the mark on communication. Users who rely heavily on Workflowy everyday to manage their personal and professional lives need to know they can depend on it. If Workflowy’s UI/UX is changed abruptly by adding and/or removing/disabling features, then Workflowy might seem less reliable and dependable to some. This could be fixed with a bit of pro-active communication to users, especially subscribers. Perhaps an email could be sent out in advance of these changes, explaining what is about to occur and why? I don’t speak for every user, but for what one person’s opinion is worth I feel as though I’ve been blindsided by the recent changes and it has affected my workflow adversely. I still believe in Workflowy, the Workflowy team, and you, though and look forward to continued development. You have created a tremendously useful product and service and my hat is off to you for that.

    1. Hi Jesse – Just to add my two cents to Tom’s point about communication… I was training a colleague in the use of Workflowy and we wasted some minutes troubleshooting why this feature did not work first on his system, then on mine.

      I suggest if you make a similar change, to avoid confusion in the short-term, your app keeps listening for the specific UI event (in this case, user’s double-click of the page title) and when it happens, then notify the user directly via pop-up that the feature has been disabled, perhaps with a link to the blog. Otherwise, as Tom points out, it looks like Workflowy is less reliable/dependable.

    1. We are working right now on fixing the underlying issue that makes the app slow when you have a lot expanded. Hopefully it will be fixed in a couple weeks.

  9. Wow, I never knew you could double-click the + next to an item or that you could use Cmd-up/down to open all items of a certain level. That’s amazing! I was disappointed you took away the ability to double-click the page title, but I also ran into the problem of double-clicking just to select text, so I understand and agree with removing that. But seriously, now that I know about the above alternate ways to expand/collapse-all, I’m quite happy!

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