Features I wish Notion had

Note: I wrote this post in July 2018 and never shared it - whilst many of the points are still relevant over two years later, a couple have been resolved, and I decided to post this for completeness.

Notion is an app that I want to do well. I've been using it for the past 6 months, and I'm wholeheartedly using it to replace a lot of other tools I currently use (Trello, Github Kanban, Markdown editors like Typora, and tabular software like Excel and Google Sheets). It's maybe 60% of the way there, but I feel there are small changes that would radically improve it.

The Important Stuff

Dark Mode [edit: they've added this now]

Vertical dividers

I find the horizontal ones very useful for delineating different sections of my pages. The fact that you can already order stuff vertically with columns means is good - this would just be the icing on the cake.

API Access

A no-brainer for extensibility.

Always-offline capabilities on the app [edit: Improved, but the mobile apps are still frustratingly slow.]

This is a killer feature, and one of the reasons I've never been able to leave OmniFocus. I like to review my day when getting the tube to and from work, and only being able to open new pages between stops renders this process entirely useless. Caching the text blocks would go a long way towards fixing this.

Shortcut for quick note taking, like OmniFocus

This is another thing that OmniFocus gets right. The ability to have a thought, type a keyboard shortcut (like Omnifocus's ctrl-alt-space) and have a modal where you can quickly take a note would be incredibly useful.

The Less Important Stuff

Template replication buttons system-wide, across different pages [edit: they've also added this too]

This would be fantastic for really customising Notion. To give one of my use cases here, for example, I want a template for every scientific paper I'm reading with tickboxes I can fill about my understanding, and paragraphs for me to make summaries of the methods and results. Currently I have to manually copy my existing template to each new kanban block I create, which is tedious to the point of infeasibility when importing a database of nearly 1000 papers.


Kanban Board Improvements

Shortcut for creating new items on Kanban Board

This would literally be a single keyboard shortcut to implement. At this point, I have moved away from Trello entirely, but having a keyboard shortcut, or even a /+" " command like the rest of Notion seems so obvious. Having to switch back to the mouse every time I want to create features feels like a slowdown. It would also be cool to make tickboxes tickable without having to opening block in kanban board view, and to have body highlighting for kanban blocks.


Improvements for Note Taking

Apple Pencil support

Fairly self-explanatory, and probably unlikely given that the iOS app is just a wrapper around their API, but a native rebuild with proper support could easily replace Notability for me if implemented.

Citations as first-class citizens

Embedding of Paperpile/Zotero citations, for example, is something I expect is much more feasible if Notion open up their API. This may be too much of an ask, but just better PDF integration in general would go a long way.

Linkage with Notability for note taking

The way I envision my endgame paper reading workflow going is having papers sorted in a high-level "Unread" category, with individual subcategories within this subdividing papers by field. The papers that I'm reading go into a mid-way "reading" kanban column, and when put into the "Read" column, auto-transfer into a high-level "Read" category, returning to their individual subcategories again.


I really love the vision that Notion has, and want this to be the app I can standardise on to organise my life. Being built around a JS-based stack has both benefits and drawbacks - the multi-platform functionality is a big plus, but I really miss the responsiveness and system integration of a native app on iOS or Android that something like Omnifocus gives me. As the company grows and the software develops further, an architectural rebuild isn't outside the realms of possibility.