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The best Roam Research hidden features.

Roam Research is best known for its core writing, outlining, linking, and embedding features—the tools that let you save ideas and link them in a graph database. But it's also a rather flexible app that includes a number of somewhat hidden features in its /slash menu—and a number of features that are undocumented outside of Twitter.

Here are some of the best:

Pomodoro timer.

Roam Research Pomodoro timer

The newest tiny feature in Roam Research is a pomodoro timer. Type {{POMO}}, then click the start button, and Roam Research will start a 25 minute timer to keep you focused, followed by a 5 minute break. Interestingly, if you delete the timer from that row then re-add it, it'll keep the same time as the original timer—but if you delete the whole row, then add a timer on a new row, you get a new timer.

Plain timer.

Roam Research timer

Or maybe you're already focused and don't need breaks. Just type {{timer}} then start the timer—and hit pause when you're finished working to record the time spent. You can even add the current time for the record if you want to remember when you started working; type /current time to add it as plain text.

Kanban board.

Roam Research Kanban board

Then, if you need to organize ideas, the Roam Research kanban board can be a handy sidekick to an outline. Add {{kanban}} to your document, then underneath it add your columns as the second level of the outline, and the cards as the third level. Drag and drop outline items to reorder the kanban board—or, just drag and drop the kanban board items like you would in Trello.

Word count.

word count in Roam Research

Then when you've written a ton of notes and want to know how much you've written, a quick {{word-count}} will show how many words you've typed. It counts everything nested under the word count, so you might want to add it at the top of a document and nest everything under that (or, embed sections under a word count row for word count inception).

Or menu.

Roam Research or menu

Need to list options and make decisions? Add a menu to your notes with {{or: option1 | option2 | option3}}, replacing option1 with your first menu item, and so on, with as many menu items as you need. Then click the menu to select and save your current choice—or change it up whenever you want.

Table.

Roam Research Table

Another way to organize data in Roam Research is in a table—though it works a bit differently than Roam's kanban boards. Here, type {{table}}, then in the next row nest each header column you want, and then add the 2nd row as another set of nested items, and so on. It keeps each row of the table in one outline set, versus the kanban board which keeps each column's items together.

Calculate stuff.

Roam Research calculate values

Need that table to work a bit more like a spreadsheet? Add {{calc: FORMULA}} to do quick math. Roam will show the calculation, but you can always go back to edit the formula.

Diagram your ideas.

Diagram in Roam Research

Or, you can move ideas around and cluster them however you want in Roam Research's still-basic diagrams. Type {{diagram}}, then add items under that row to turn them into movable, mindmap-style cards that you can drag around and even take full-screen.


You can find more extra features by typing / anywhere in a Roam Research note to open the slash menu. What are your favorite tiny, almost-hidden features in Roam Research?

Mentioned
#Roam Research #Notes #Trello #around #Notion
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qthdh's avatar
a year ago

Whoa, that's impressive! Never knew you could do that.

Man, I'm so torn. I started investing in Notion 8 months ago, going all-in with my content, notes, info, etc... Now I see Roam, and I'm tempted to switch to it. Although there's really one important thing that I find frustrating with Roam: the UI is ugly compared to the elegant design of Notion.

5 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @qthdh )
a year ago

Yup, what @kevinmcmurphy said. In the Roam vs Notion debate here, @itsjackcohen mentioned that Notion’s design is one of the stronger selling points vs Roam, and that “Roam hurts my eyes... and therefore my head.”

Though that may change soon; Roam’s dev on Twitter hinted recently that built-in theme options are coming soon.

1 point
mmuehlenstein's avatar
@mmuehlenstein (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Try the Leyendecker theme by Maggie Appleton, it's beautiful.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @mmuehlenstein )
a year ago

It is! That plus a custom typeface makes all the difference.

1 point
kevinmcmurphy's avatar
@kevinmcmurphy (replying to @qthdh )
a year ago

Notion is more polished, at least for now.

Roam is less structured, but that’s what makes it so powerful.

1 point
spacexplor3r's avatar
a year ago

Great share. Also you’ll be able to choose from different Roam themes soon, according to their twitter. Might be useful to look out for it!

2 points
Ericb31-'s avatar
a year ago

Been on a 10+ year journey with note taking apps and Roam just feels very right

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @Ericb31- )
a year ago

What's your favorite things about Roam so far?

1 point
Ericb31-'s avatar
@Ericb31- (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

I love that it’s sparse and at the same time so powerful. Like an Excel for ideas

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @Ericb31- )
a year ago

Great way to put it!

1 point
Livenadav's avatar
a year ago

1 point
anartam's avatar
a year ago

That’s amazing! Thank you for sharing!

1 point
ericlee's avatar
a year ago

Fantastic!
Thank you.

1 point
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