Feature Request: Small but impactful improvement to the tag system

Hello everyone :wave:,

I would like to propose a small change to Bear that would, in my opinion, massively improve the usability of Bear for navigating large trees of nested tags.

Current Behaviour
If you select a top-level tag, all notes from this tag and all subtags are shown in the notes panel. This makes it nearly impossible to differentiate between the top-level notes and the notes in sub-levels.

Tag selected

All notes of the tag and its subtags visible

At the moment, the only way to view the notes of the top-level tag in isolation (without showing the notes from the sub-levels) is by using the search bar.


This is extremely inconvenient when you want to browse your notes by navigating using the tags on the left sidebar. You basically have to change the search query constantly if you want to see all the notes of a specific tag- or subtag-level.

Proposed Behaviour
I believe that switching between both methods of navigation is an essential feature that would also make the tag-system feel a lot more like real folders.
The current behaviour could be massively improved by a small addition to the application that would not require much development time. In fact, I strongly believe that this could be achieved in a matter of days.

Option 1: Additional Option in the View menu
The easiest (and probably cleanest) solution could be implemented with just two simple changes:

  1. Add an additional toggle option to the ‘View’ menu of Bear.
  2. Depending on the value of the toggle, use the already existing search algorithm to display either all notes of the tag (including subtags) or just the selected tag’s notes.

Optional: You could also introduce another keyboard shortcut to make this feature accessible to all of the keyboard wizards out there :mage:.

Option 2: Additional Toggle Button
Alternatively, you could make a small addition to the UI of Bear. By adding a toggle to the UI, you could easily switch between both display modes.
This toggle could be placed next to the search bar or either at the top or the bottom of the left sidebar. A similar toggle could also be introduced to the mobile version of the application.

Searchbar: Folder Toggle (Off)

Searchbar: Folder Toggle (On)
Sidebar: Toggle

Please let me know what you think :blush:


Option 2 looks quite nice. Basically what Mail app do with unread mails on the left bottom corner.

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There is another way which i consider more elegant because no switching is necessary: the grouping of the notes list by tags in second pane. Here a screenshot of another app with that feature:

Apart from that no switching is required here you would have even more advantages:

  • in the note list all notes are grouped not only by the first level tag but also by all subtags

  • the separators in the note list could act as ui element, f.e. right click and meaningful commands: “select all”, “go to tag” and so on.

If such a button should act like in mail app then it would make more sense if its menu would hold filters like “untagged”, “today”, “to do” and so on. What i like about the filter menu in mail app is the possibility of multiple selection


You are right, this would be another great way to improve the navigation with nested tags! :smiling_face:

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If this get’s implemented it’s important that this stays as an option. I’m currently depending on how Bear’s nested tag systems works (with notes tags with a sub tag automatically tagged by the parent tag). In fact, it’s one of the reasons I choose Bear over other notes apps.

But I suppose an option is something that could make it work for everyone. :slight_smile:

Also: if this makes tags work more like folders for those who want that yet retains the simplicity of Bear only having organizing structure that sounds like a good thing to me as well.