Remove the viewer-only mode in the desktop app?

Hi laurent,

My conclusion: I think the viewer-only mode should stay, because it is a useful and important feature for many users, including myself. However, I also understand that some users may find it confusing or unnecessary, and that it may have some drawbacks for the development and maintenance of Joplin. Therefore, I have created an overview of the question, the modes, the pros and cons of removing the viewer-only mode, and some possible solutions. I hope this can help you and other users to have a better understanding of the issue and to make an informed decision.

Viewer-only mode in Joplin


Should the viewer-only mode be removed in Joplin, a note-taking software that supports Markdown and rich text?


  • Viewer-only mode: shows notes without editing options or Markdown code. It is useful for reading, copying text, and avoiding accidental changes.
  • Markdown editor: shows notes with editing options and Markdown code. It is useful for editing notes using Markdown syntax and plugins.
  • Rich text editor: shows notes with editing options and rich text formatting. It is useful for editing notes using a familiar word processor interface.
  • Split view: shows notes with both the editor and the viewer. It is useful for editing and previewing notes at the same time.
  • Users can press Ctrl+L to toggle between Markdown editor, split view, and viewer-only mode.

Pros and cons of removing the viewer-only mode

Pros Cons
Simplifying the user interface and reducing confusion Losing a feature that many users rely on and appreciate
Making Joplin more consistent with other Markdown editors Making Joplin less flexible and customizable for different use cases and preferences
Encouraging users to learn and use Markdown Disrupting users' workflows and habits
Reducing the maintenance burden and the potential bugs Reducing the accessibility and the usability for some users
Increasing the risk of accidental changes or errors in notes

Possible solutions

  1. Keeping the viewer-only mode as an optional plugin or setting
  • Allows users who like it to keep using it, while others can disable or uninstall it.
  • Makes Joplin more modular and extensible, allowing users to customize their experience.
  1. Improving the user interface and the documentation to make the modes more clear and intuitive
  • Helps users understand the difference between the modes and how to switch between them easily.
  • Reduces confusion and frustration for new or existing users.
  1. Adding more features and plugins to enhance the Markdown editor, the rich text editor, and the split view, such as:
  • Image resizing: allows users to adjust the size of images in the editor or the viewer
    • Allows users to control how images are displayed in their notes, making them more readable and appealing.
  • Mode indicator: shows users which mode they are currently using
    • Helps users know which mode they are in at a glance, avoiding confusion or mistakes.
    • Provides feedback and confirmation for users when they change modes, making them more confident and comfortable.
    • For example, one user suggested adding a small icon or a color code to indicate the mode.
  • Mode lock: allows users to lock a mode for a note or a notebook
    • Prevents accidental or unwanted changes to notes or notebooks by locking them in a specific mode.
    • Maintains consistency and coherence in notes or notebooks by ensuring that they use the same mode throughout.
  1. My solution: Keeping the viewer-only mode as it is
  • Recognizes that the viewer-only mode is needed by many users who often have articles saved (web clipper) that they just want to read.
  • Provides a bigger screen for reading without distractions or clutter from editing options or Markdown code.
  • Protects notes from accidental changes that could alter their content or formatting.
  • Respects users' choices and preferences, allowing them to use Joplin in the way that suits them best.

I believe the issue is that the desktop only wysiwig editor sometimes deletes the markdown comments. The plugin also only runs on the desktop. There could be several possible reasons why.

The wysiwyg editor works just fine on my phone if that helps.

@Maire, My workflow here is to toggle between the markdown and view modes (the read-only rendered markdown view) as needed. I haven't ever used the WYSIWYG editor, but I believe it's as you say, that it can change the markdown.

The phone apps don't have any facility for using plugins at present.

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I also use only the Viewer and the markdown editor and switch between them using Ctrl - L.

I was perhaps too jocularly dismissive in my previous post but I honestly don't understand what the fuss is about. There are 2 menu the View menu. One is Toggle Editor Layout - which has the keyboard shortcut Ctrl - L. The one under it is Layout Button Sequence which remembers your choice and then determines what happens when you toggle.

I do not find this at all confusing and the choices mean that almost all possible variations are available. At some times I have experimented with toggling between the Viewer and the Split Layout. Lately I have felt that I prefer to toggle between Viewer / Editor. I changed my preference with one click.

As I said before I find the Viewer very important. There are more times I want to read notes than edit them and the Viewer treats the note like static text and prevents me accidentally editing or deleting. The iPad version has a similar idea with a different triggering mechanism. It too has a view-only mode and a big button that opens an editing screen.

We could perhaps discuss which interface seems most intuitive - while bearing in mind that both offer a read-only mode.

I mostly use an external editor and keep joplin in viewer mode. What would happen if I accidentally modify a note in joplin while external edit is still active?

Many of my notes use the TOC and mermaid markdown. It seems removing the viewer mode would need an editor(s) upgrade to support all the markdowns, or some of the markdowns will need to be dropped, which would be unfortunate.

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no no no
because sometimes would accidentally edit the note when i don't mean to. read-only can protect my note.

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Please no!

This is my default mode, which protects my data from accidental modification.

I'd also be cool if you could tell us the final decision, what you've decided, because that's one of the key options for me, and whether I need to start looking for a solution or alternatives.