Export + Edit + Import = Mass Replace?

I need to do a mass replace of some text in a large outline. It isn’t practical to do manually. Dynalist’s search-and-replace feature is still a Trello-only proposal. I’m thinking I might accomplish this via export-to-OPML, use a text editor, and import-from-OPML.

If the outline has only Markdown text (i.e. no images), am I going to lose anything, or can I expect export+import to be high fidelity?

Yeah, you can do that, as long as the text you’re trying to replace is not something that can be found in the OPML formatting, such as “opml”, “text”, “color”. It should be easy to tell by looking at the matches.

Also, because you replace, try re-importing the original file first to make sure you don’t have any Unicode characters that would make the OPML file invalid. You can check here: https://www.xmlvalidation.com/

I’d like to know if this way of exporting and importing is capable of mantain bold and italics in the end. In my experience, I loose the bold and italics when making a simple copy + paste from a text editor like MS Word.

Yes they will be maintained because they are markdown.

Hi there, Erica!
I’m sorry for bringing this old thread back.
I don’t have any idea of how to paste content from MS Word into Dynalist preserving bold and italics. I don’t understand how markdown or formatted text works, but I’m willing to do a workaroud in order to maintain the formatting of the pasted text. Do you have any idea about how I could accomplish this?
Thank’s in advance,
PS: There’s a thread at Bugs which concerns this topic: When copying text from another bullet point, the formatting is lost in some instances

You can use the “Search and replace” option in the item menu now. It’s only available in the web app for now.


Thank’s for the prompt reply, Erica!
That option is not avaliable for me, and I guess this is beacause I’m not a pro yet; I’m expecting to become one soon. Anyway, I still don’t see how the “Search and Replace” option could preserve the formatting of a content copied from MS Word. Am I missing some steps? Sorry for my ignorance about that.

The OP was trying to replace some text inside Dynalist, and MS Word was the workaround. I assumed you wanted to accomplish the same thing. With this feature you can do everything inside Dynalist, so there’s no need to involve MS Word. It’s another story if your content currently lives in MS Word.

And no, it’s not a Pro feature. How are you accessing Dynalist? I mentioned it’s only available in the web version right now, i.e. you need to use a browser to access Dynalist. It’s not on the desktop app or mobile app yet.

Oh, Erica, sorry… My mistake. I’ve mixed up things.
Yes, the problem is that my content currently lives in MS Word. Actually, I often have to move content between Dynalist, where I draft a lot, and MS Word, which is the place where I edit and polish the material, put footnotes etc. Sometimes I need to pick some content from a MS Word document and re-draft it at Dynalist — and that’s my bottle neck, because I lost all the italics and bold if I simply copy and paste.
It would be great if I could working inside Dynalist during all the writing phases, but I need some resources like footnotes, justify paragraphs etc. Dynalist is not mean to be a text editor, and this is perfectly fine. Given that, I have to keep moving content between Dynalist an a properly text editor. Currently I just use MS Word — maybe all of the above would be easier if I could use some programming language, LaTeX, Pandoc… but now I don’t know to handle any of these; it looks like something to learn in the near future.
Sorry for the long message. Please let me know if some workaround occurs to you.
PS: I’m accessing Dynalist with Google Chrome. The search and replace feature is not appearing for me; I’ll try to logout and then login again.

You can use the “Search and replace” option in the item menu now. It’s only available in the web app for now.

:open_mouth: when did that come in?

A few days ago, haven’t officially announced it (it’s due for the November update).

Feel free to give it a try though!


Sure will. That’s great news. Thanks for implementing this!

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Loving it already. Apart from the obvious word processing benefits, it opens up all sorts of possibilities in tag management. Also, like that it works on dates and markdown as well. A keyboard shortcut option would be nice - Ctrl + h is the standard in text editors for search and replace.

Cool, thanks a lot for the feedback and the suggestion on shortcut!

We might want to make it optional though. Ctrl+H opens history on Chrome at least, I’m not sure how important that is to most people.

That’s true. Forgot about that. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:. Configurable shortcut with no default maybe?

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Let’s see if posting a poll can help clarify this. Thanks for the suggestion!

Hi, Erica. I did re-login and now the search and replace feature appears to me. Thank’s!
As I understood, this feature can’t address my issue with copy from MS Word and paste to Dynalist preserving italics and bold. Sorry for insisting on this point, but is there some workaround I could do in order to maintain the formatting?

We can look into this specific issue but I doubt we would perfectly support copying from and pasting to Office. Copy-paste could be partially MS Word’s issue and partially Dynalist’s issue, and since we have zero control over how MS Word acts, and how there are like 20 versions of MS Word still being used, perfect support might only exist in the ideals.

Therefore, word of caution, even after we fix this issue, there might be other formattings there do not work. Like images, tables, you name it. I’m saying this because the workflow you’re using is unconventional and might lead to frustration down the road. Maybe you can look into the outline mode in MS Word, or consider only exporting to Word when you’re absolutely done with it in Dynalist.

If this is your only pain point though, I’ll file a bug and see if we can get it fixed. Would appreciate it if you could post a separate bug report for it, since this has gotten irrelevant to the original post at this point (and it was a Help post, not a bug report). That way we can track it better. Thanks!

Not to be pedantic, you don’t need control over MS Word because the source program for a copy/paste and the destination program generally do not talk with one another. Whether Mac or Windows or Linux, the paste operation interacts with the clipboard, not the sending app.

You’d use JavaScript code resembling:

pastedText = e.clipboardData.getData(‘text/html’);

You’re almost certainly doing something like this now, but you’re retrieving the plain text from the clipboard. The trick is that you’d have to retrieve the “rich text” content, and you’d have to convert from HTML to the Markdown subset which Dynalist supports.

It is certainly possible, but it would be non-trivial to implement.

Another possibility, to meet Thiago_Doria’s need, assuming they’re on Windows, would be for them to write an Autohotkey script to paste rich text as Markdown. (If on a Mac, AppleScript could do similar.) Or they could write an Autohotkey script to convert the clipboard from rich text to markdown, and then just paste the converted clipboard with Control-V.

Oooh! Oooh! Here we go. Here’s something Thiago_Doria can use today!

  • Copy the Word content to the clipboard.
  • Visit Paste to Markdown
  • Paste the clipboard to that page
  • The page then displays it as Markdown.
  • Copy the Markdown to the clipboard
  • Paste the clipboard into Dynalist.

This would work with any rich text source, whether Word, or LibreOffice, or content from a web page. Unfortunately, Markdown is not entirely standardized. It looks like that web page uses single asterisks to wrap italic text, where Dynalist uses double-underscore. (The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from! :wink: )

For a quick-and-dirty, perhaps someone at Dynalist might clone Paste to Markdown and alter it to use Dynalist’s dialect of Markdown.

Thanks for the comment! Happy to see something Thiago_Doria can use today.

I’m a developer so I think I know what I’m talking about. We’re retrieving OPML, HTML, and plain text from the clipboard. We’ll use the OPML content if it’s available, if not we’ll use HTML, and if everything else fails we use plain text. To see that, you can try copying a link from Word and observe it gets properly pasted as a Markdown link.

Sorry for the misunderstanding. I didn’t mean we need control over MS Word in order to fix this bug. I was saying that we have no control over what cr*p MS Word puts in the clipboard.

If you want to see what kind of thing MS Word puts in the clipboard for fun, try this:

  1. Copy a bunch of bullet points from Dynalist to Word, preferable bullets with some formatting;
  2. In Word, select all and copy;
  3. Go to Clipboard Test and paste;
  4. Marvel at the amount of information they manage to put in the clipboard.

Thanks again for the solution!