Confused New User

I discovered Hook yesterday on a TaskPaper forum. I am excited about what I should be able to do using Hook. Unfortunately, it is not making sense as to how to get started with Hook.

I tried opening the Hook window, and dragging a file onto the window. I thought from the introduction video that this was one way to gather files. However, no dragged file will drop into the Hook window.

Then, after reading more in the Hook “how to” documentation, I tried opening a document I wanted to attach, then selecting copy as Link.

This gave me a new document in the application I was in, with the same title, and saved as a new (blank) document. Now clicking the correct file name in Hook, only opens the new blank file.

So now I have two questions, how to I start gathering files I want to hook together and, how to I get rid of the one file with the same file name that points to a blank file? I don’t see any delete or unhook menu in the contextual menu in hook.

And, when I say Hook window, I mean the main Hook window that comes up with the shift-option-spacebar. There is also a drop target menu that came down only once when I first clicked the menubar icon. But that was a one time occurrence. Now when I click on the menubar icon, all I get is the same window I get with shift-option-spacebar.

Hook looks like a great program, but I am at a loss as to how to start making use of Hook.

What am I missing there? Grateful for any help on this.


1 Like

Welcome to the Hook productivity forum, @levelbest.

if you’d like to use drag and drop, then the trick is to drag and drop on Hook’s menu bar icon, per:

I think you are referring to the “Link to New” command, not “Copy as Link”..

“Link to New” links the current item to a new item that Hook creates. (The content of the new item is based on a configurable template, which starts empty.)

yes. (with “Link to New”).

With Hook you don’t need to gather new files. It doesn’t add a new burden for creating or searching for items. (thus the slogan “File less. Search less. Access.”)

There are many “use cases” (applications) of Hook described here: . An example is linking web pages to other items (web pages, notes etc)

Some examples:

  • if a user were to submit a bug report to us on this forum, I would create a new bug report in our
    issue tracking system, and link the forum post to the bug report, so that I can quickly navigate back and forth between the two.
  • If I want to take notes about an issue, I would link the issue report page to a new text document.
  • If I want to write a long response in some web form (such as Discourse), I might link the page to a new text document, write the draft there in my fav text editor, copy it here.

many other applications.

This page describes how Hook can help with your writing: Write Better – Hook.

With Hook, you can easily link supporting documents to your draft, and to each other! Just drag and drop the items onto the menubar icon, and they’re linked together. Or use the Hook window to link them to your draft.

You can then immediately navigate between your draft and supporting materials.

just select the link and then type the back space key. See All Commands & Shortcuts – Hook (which are also available from the Gear menu.
The status bar in the Hook window provides some tips about what you can do. Its content changes as you select different items.

again, I think you may have accidentally used the “Link to New” command. That file is simply a file in Finder. Delete it as you would any Finder file. (Hook also lets you create files in database apps, like OmniFocus, Things, and Notes, which are not exposed as files per se. In that case you just use the apps in question to edit/delete them.)

You can configure what happens when you click the menu bar icon by using the Gear menu / Preferences in either the Hook popup window or the menu bar icon. The General Preferences are described here: General Tab – Hook.

Hook supplies the missing links that allow you to connect files, web pages, and many other resources together.

We greatly appreciate your questions. We’re planning updates to the Hook website to make it easier for everyone to understand Hook. We are also adding new features to Hook itself which will, in addition to extending Hook’s functionality, make onboarding easier. Questions like yours help us understand what we need to better explain.

Thanks. I see a little better how Hook works. I became so frustrated that I created a Keyboard Maestro macro and dragged all the files I want to open onto a single macro.

What still confuses me is how Hook is saying that the document that is open can be saved as a link, and then a second document can be open and the first documents link can be pasted in. The problem with this that I am still confused about is that, I thought that once I had done this to a couple of documents, opening any one of the linked documents would show me all the the linked documents. But it doesn’t. Linking seems specific rather than shared by a group of linked documents.

In my work flow, I use TaskPaper to work on the rough draft of an idea. Then I might use Curio to generate some mind maps to help me to understand my organizational structure. Then when the basic written outline in TaskPaper is finished, I move it over to a Scrivener document. TaskPaper is plain text and will not allow me to insert any graphics. Much of what I have been working on has graphics and while TaskPaper makes great use of a .less file (similar to a .css file), TaskPaper won’t allow highlighting of any specific word. That is something I can do with Scrivener, pay attention to visual cues in my writing. And finally, when the project is ready for a final draft, I move the project into a Nisus file. Nisus is my word processor of choice. In Nisus I can use formatting and create page numbering, a Table of Contents, etc.

When I am looking at Hook, I am looking at a way to collect all the stages of a project, the TaskPaper rough draft, the Scrivener second draft, and the Nisus final draft. Of course if Hook works as I believe it does, I would love to collect web pages, PDF pages with research and PDF outputs of the project that I have sent to others for review and edits.

All of this means that, if I begin using Hook on the first TaskPaper version, I want all the rest of the versions to also be grouped into the same Hook linked set.

So far, the language of copying a link and then, adding a copied link, is confusing me about which document came first. All I am really wanting to do is to build a specific project with all the associated links connected to each item in the set.

I hope this makes some sense? Thanks.

Linking documents using the Hook popup window ( “Link to Copied Address”) or menu bar icon only links those items together. It does not link create links between other documents. However, Hook will soon allow you to navigate from one linked document to the other, browsing the network of links, right in the Hook window. (As it stands, you would use Hook to open the linked document, invoke Hook again, and then see the linked item).

Hook doesn’t currently have a notion of sets of links. However, you can consider a key document as being a hub in your network. And if you want another document to be linked to everything in that hub, then

  1. open the hub and do “Copy All Links”, and
  2. open the other document and do “Link to Copied Address”.

Or simply return to the hub document to navigate around. While this may seem inconvenient, the upside is that you don’t need to manage groups of links.

Many new users want groups or projects of links (some of our original users still do). And we are working on ways to provide something akin to this in a way that is true to Hook’s principles (per its home page); and we do believe that the market will be pleasantly surprised by how Hook will do this. However, the current situation (will will continue to be available) has several benefits, one of which is that you don’t need to think about or manage an extra type of object (“the network”, “the project”, etc.) Hook is meant to be lean; to lower cognitive load; and to make you need to do less work to get more done. You probably already have other notions of projects that you can leverage with Hook.

As an example, I am currently writing a substantial paper in Markdown, call it “Foo.txt”. This paper has links to :

  • my paper’s plan,
  • my paper’s outline,
  • my paper’s “elements” (with info about the thesis, argument, concepts, related work, etc.)
  • the references file (which is a separate doc, which in turn has links to several PDFs)
  • a feedback folder (which has PDFs and links to emails containing co-author and peer review),
  • a scratch pad file ( OmniOutliner),
  • a “tidbits” file which contain ‘random’ notes that I dictate from my phone into 1writer while I am on the go, and which is stored in Dropbox, and edited locally with nvUltra and BBEdit.
  • a PDF output (for when I periodically convert the markdown file to PDF)

(This structure is described in Cognitive Productivity with macOS®: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge and it’s discussed on the Hook website in screencasts and help/benefit pages).

Foo.txt is the hub of my project. However, I do not want all the documents that are linked to documents linked to Foo.txt to be fully meshed. Hook is about rapid, contextually relevant access. If everything in this Foo.txt project were meshed, Hook would present hundreds of files. It suffices that each file linked to Foo.txt is automatically linked back to Foo.txt. If I want to get back to Foo.txt, I can do so using Hook. If I want to randomly access my project, Foo.txt, I use Spotlight or a launcher.

Designating a hub document is your best bet for doing this right now. As I’ve been alluding to on this forum, a number of additional navigation features are in the works that are tailored to Hook’s principles (which in turn reflect our understanding of cognitive principles underlying knowledge work) (e.g., navigating networks of documents in Hook itself.) Moreover, Hook will soon be automatable (we have hit an internal milestone in this respect today as it happens), enabling enthusiasts to create and share tools (e.g., diagrammatic views of Hook networks). But already, one can navigate between documents and clusters of documents. With the basic concept of link, all kinds of networks can be created and navigated.

I see. I am very new to all of this so it is far from me to make any radical suggestions at this point. I can’t tell you how long I have struggled with similar ideas and solutions. For one thing, we don’t all think in the same ways and, I must find solutions that make the most sense to my own brain.

I believe I am understanding that with Hook the idea is as you say to have a single or main document. Then you want to collect as links all other instances of supporting documents such as a keynote presentation, or an outlining program. You also would be able to collect your research all in a single place and always to associate it with just the single document.

At this point I am not criticizing, only trying to understand the idea here. Perhaps in the work flow I have described, I could start with a Nisus draft document and then create the necessary steps to get there such as the TaskPaper draft and the Scrivener draft using Hook? Not yet sure how all this is going to work but, now that I have a better idea, I can play with it a bit further.

One observation I have is that I use HoudahSpot as my main search and saved search tool. This may be irrelevant if Hook can hook files together, but my observation is that with HoudahSpot I can set up an elaborate search using tags, dates, and all sorts of project specific criterion. And, I can save that HoudahSpot template as a stand alone file and place that file in a project folder. This means that whenever I double click on that HoudahSpot template file, HoudahSpot comes to the front with the triggered saved search. Right now I am not seeing anyway to add such a file to Hook as the HoudahSpot template file can’t actually be opened as a file other than opening a saved search as a HoudahSpot search event.

That’s one way to use Hook on creative projects (creating documents, presentations, screencasts, etc.), which can take anywhere from an hour or to, to several months.

smaller stuff too: many disjoint networks

But it is also often very handy to use Hook for much smaller tasks. for instance, I use it any time I need to write more than a couple of paragraphs on a web form, such as a Discourse post. That way, I have the full power of a text editor at my disposal. I also use it extensively in my time tracking, as I alluded to here. In that case, I use Hook to get links to stuff I am working on, and I paste those links in my time tracking system. E.g., that is how I will get a formatted link to this post in my progress report for today, so I know exactly how much time I spend on Discourse, on what. And I can quickly access what I was doing at what hour. I export parts of my time tracking for billable work ( CogZest services ).

You can also paste links that you garner from Hook into your tasks (whether you use TaskPaper, Things, OmniFocus, or anything else).

One would not normally need a bird’s eye view of all these things. The links are for contextually accessing information. Compare the web: you don’t need a map of the web. You just need to access a key document (via search tool, or prior links) and then you work your way from there.

back to writing

That is a very helpful way to go. And if you decide you want to start a new draft, you can very easily bring all the links from the original with you. You can do : “Copy All Links” on the original draft, and “Link to Copied Addresses” on the destination draft. If needed, you can delete the links on the original draft (or delete the original draft).


Hook is designed to complement rather than replace search. The “search less” slogan is meant to emphasize that often contextual access is preferable to random access.


A big part of the challenge in describing Hook is that it is very abstract and general. It can be used in many, many ways. It’s essentially at the same level of information management as folders and search. There’s no end to the ways in which one can use folders, search, and links.

This is something that I still do not understand. What does “copy all links” mean? So far I can understand opening each document, telling Hook to copy that link, and then opening your main document (or switching over to it) and putting in that documents, single, link. How do I get a bunch of links as in, copy links, plural?

Once again, when I am working on more than one supporting document, even when they are all linked only to the main document, I cannot switch from on supporting document to another supporting document. I have to first return to the main document every time.

It would be far more convenient and useful if, once the links are entered for a main document, that each supporting document would share all the links. In this way if I went to the outline document, then I wanted to go over to a time logging document, I would have to follow the link back to the main document first - even though I didn’t really need to or want to at that moment.

For Hook to truly be a useful tool I need to not have to think each time I am in the middle of a project where I have to go back to to find the links that I have already put into Hook. The biggest frustration I have is getting lost and having to stop and find pieces of my project while I am trying to work on it. It looks like Hook is a very useful idea leaving me with a Hook menu quickly accessible and a way to attach or “hook” associated files. That is why it would be very helpful if in every linked document I could see all the links associated with that linked document.

The command is presented in the Hook window when Hook is invoked on a resource that has at least one link. (I.e., you have previously applied the “Link to Copied Address” command to it (or to some other resource that you’re linking it to). Suppose you have associated 10 links, L1…L 10 with a document. You can then invoke Hook and issue the “Copy All Links” command. The command is described here: Copy All Links – Hook.

That’s right. There is a level of indirection. However, Hook does allow you to create a mesh of links in one go using either the menu bar icon, per Drag and Drop Linking: Many Items at a Time – Hook, or using “Link to Copied Addresses” described above.

We will introduce a Hook-specific way of achieving this effect.

Hook links are bidirectional, which gets you part of the way there.In the future, Hook will provide a way of exposing more of the network associated with the current resource, and have additional navigation facilities.

I appreciate this. As you designed Hook to make it easier to not have to stop your work focus and to make it easier to quickly go to documents you need while not losing focus on the task at hand, may I offer my perspective? I have a great deal of difficulty shifting tasks in my brain. That is, I can waste hours, and sometimes days, when I have lost track of some information that I need to find. Sadly, it is often something that I had touched fairly recently and can no longer remember what I named the file, where I found it, or where I put it.

Because this is true for me, a solution that builds in a link to a series of documents or web addresses or files would want to be accessible in an instant when Hook is run on any one of them. For example, if I can’t remember how to find a document associated with a project but I can remember that there was such a document, I can at least open another document in the project, and, et voilà, I have all the links for the other documents.

I very much appreciate your idea for Hook that should help my creative process by linking or hooking all the documents together that I am focusing on in a project. Its just that, for me, shifting tasks to finding documents - again, is the biggest frustration and time waister that I have.

I see, so this is a work-around of sorts to the issue I have been raising, yes? When the main document has many links and the associated documents do not have so many links, I can copy all the links in the main document, and place them all in each associated document, one at a time of course. Hopefully this will change at some point with more globally available links within a project as you have as much alluded to already.

Although, I can also see the value this has of taking items from one project that could also be useful in a different project. Thanks for explaining this.