Remove the viewer-only mode in the desktop app?

A discussion came up on Reddit regarding the various editors and the confusion around them:

One issue that came up is that we currently have an option to set the editor to "viewer-only" mode. In that mode, you can't edit the note. What I'm wondering is whether that mode is actually needed?

Today it's almost viable to use the Markdown editor only thanks to formatting support (bold, bigger font for headers, etc.) and plugins like Rich Markdown. We also have the split view when necessary. Because of this I'm considering remove that viewer-only mode. What do you think? Would that make sense? Do you ever use that mode?

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When I saw this I actually checked that the person posting was THE Laurent not A Laurent :slight_smile:

Personally I only use the Markdown editor and the toggle editor button is set to "Viewer / Spilt view". I keep Joplin in viewer only (read only) mode unless I wish to edit. For those of you old enough to remember, Joplin in viewer only, for me, is like having a WinHelp file I can easily edit. I can copy text from my notes safe in the knowledge that nothing will get changed as I cannot accidentally move text / images if I accidentally release the mouse whilst highlighting. It also means that for I do not have to edit out any Markdown code as I would if I copied directly from a Markdown editor. Rich markdown on its own is not an option as although it bolds text and things, it doesn't render tables.

Only using split mode is no good as even though it would enable me to see rendered tables and notes using my custom css, I will be forced to have two copies of the note open all the time even if I do not wish to edit.

Rich-text (WYSIWYG) is not an option as the editor is not flexible enough. I would lose Footnotes, TOC, Deflist, Abbreviation Syntax, Multimarkdown, which I use, as well as Audio / Video / PDF viewer and Markdown Emoji which I do not at this time.

Not trying to be all dramatic or anything but if the Viewer only mode is removed Joplin ceases to be as relevant to me. I'd probably be forced to use it for a while in dual-pane mode. I'd probably look to some kind of markdown-based self-hosted wiki as I have yet to find a WYSIWYG editor that does not cause as many problems as it solves.

To me, having the viewer only option is a prime reason for using Joplin. Sure, change the default view to something else but please do not remove it.


I use this mode a lot, especially with the persistent layout plugin to always display certain notes in read only mode and only open them in the editor when needed.

Examples for readonly notes for me is all my note-overview notes, recipes, bills, ...


I use the view mode all the time for reading notes, and toggle between it and the markdown editor when creating or editing notes. While the markdown editor with plugins is useable for reading, I don't find it as comfortable to read. That the view mode is read only is also important to me, so I don't make accidental changes. A thumbs up for keeping the view mode :+1:


Sounds like the real issue is that the UI for switching modes is somewhat non-intuitive. For instance both buttons (MD/RichText switch and editor/viewer/editor+viewer switch) have the same tooltip: Toggle editors


I think it is a bit confusing when the button is switching between three similar modes, and the main problem is users can't identify the difference between three modes in their first impression when they clicked the button.

Some better choice might be:

(A) Separate the button into two:

  • Markdown Viewer On/Off button - That suppose the Markdown editor is always here but optional to turn on the viewer panel or not.
  • Readonly mode On/Off button - That supposed to avoid editing, protect from mistaken edit, and to be readonly. (But this should be also works on the rich text editor too.)


(B) Popup a hint when every time switching to a specific mode.


(C) Completely remove the readonly mode.(I'm not recommend, I think it is still useful in some terms)


+1 for keeping the viewing option. There are a lot of use cases where one only needs to simply view a note.

I think it could help diffuse some confusion if there was a keyboard shortcut to switch between the markdown and WYSIWYG editor, similar to how cmd + L switches between the different markdown modes (my apologies if this exists, but I could not locate it).

I would keep it but maybe we need to:

  • Change the default Layout button sequence from (what I think is default of) Editor/Viewer/Split View to just Editor/Split View.

  • I agree that the UI is a bit confusing, I think the Markdown viewing modes & the rich text editor toggle should somehow be integrated into a single control.

I've hidden the wysiwyg mode button and the split button. Simply removing it from the layout under view. Split is too small a panel for me. I use the editor mode and the viewer mode only. I do use the Rich Markdown plugin. Viewer is cleaner. It is LOTS better if I'm looking at one of the many pages I've clipped from the web. For me, editor mode is most important. Viewer mode 2nd most important. Both split and wysiwyg irrelevant.

I'd hate to lose Wysiwyg because I'd like to recommend Joplin to people who'd use it.

I agree with others, that the answer is probably in a better UI, not removing options.

I do hide panes sometimes, but mostly I work in Joplin with all 3 panes working. I go between folders many times each day and each folder has multiple items. I use Joplin on half of a screen and something else on the other half pretty much all day long.


I only use split view.
But I think the view-only mode should not be removed.

Like others, except on two machines where I use the split view, on my other computers/devices, the default is the view only.

My main interaction mode is to consult my notes, and the view only provide that, and protect from accidental edits. Having to take a conscious action to edit a note is actually useful.

I understand this might not be the way everyone use the application, but whatever the decision, this usage shoulnd't be left aside.


FWIW I agree with everyone who has posted in favour of the View mode.

I use it in exactly the same way as @dpoulton suggests and for more or less exactly the same reasons.

Can we just pretend this suggestion never happened?


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I am also in favor of simplifying the desktop GUI.
One good idea would be to adopt the editor/viewer toggle from the mobile app.
So just use the orange icon, that's intuitive and familiar for users.

At the top of the menu can then simply remain a toggle MD / non-MD.

Thank you for discussing the suggestion from the Reddit comment in an open manner here. Very kind.

I use the read-only mode a lot. I don't understand why it should be removed. If it is for the sake of clarity, I think you could add visible labels that say, for example: MD Editor, MD Viewer, Rich Editor. This would make it easy to see which mode you are in at any given time. In my opinion, if something is removed it should be the rich editor, because it has many limitations and sometimes alters the text written in MD. Joplin is a MD note software and I think it is not necessary to have a second (and problematic) WYSWYG editor.

I don't really use the view-only mode, but @dpoulton makes a very good case for it. I've been relying on Rich Markdown, but I miss out nice stuff like tables and ToCs because I don't want to see that fugly Markdown. Maybe I'll try his method.

If Joplin presents itself as confusing, it's a messaging and UX issue. Icon-only buttons aren't great at either -- as was found out recently with the new note/task buttons. This feels like the same sort of issue and one that can be fixed by updating the UI rather than taking options away.

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Exactly my way of usage, esp. with the persistent layout; please do not remove the viewer-only-option. If you absolutely must remove something, I would rather lose the WYSIWYG.

I really like how this is done in Intellij. They have a toolbar in the right top corner of the markdown area with an Iconbutton for all three options: "Editor only", "Editor and Preview", "Preview only". The toolbar is also only visible when the cursor in positioned inside the markdown area.


Please work closely with the Note Overview plugin before you remove read-only mode. Right now this is the only way that the Note Overview plugin works and I rely on that heavily.

Details - If Note Overview runs while in the rich text editor, it deletes the entire metadata for the overview. I now never use the rich text editor for that reason.

Details: Note overview - #284 by Maire

Likewise with the Embed Search plugin

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I mainly use MD et view-only mode. So, please, keep it.
Why dont you set an option ... one button to switch between the 4 modes (MD, view-only, split WYSIWYG) and as an option we could choose which mode we want in the rotation.

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