This process was tested/illustrated in Tinderbox v6.6.5 on OS 10.12.3.

The method is documented in a new blank file, and using Outline view so as to give better visibility as to what gets added.

Make a note to receive the imported text

In this step we use a new, blank document, with Outline view selected. Add a new note. The name isn't important but here is called 'Source text'.

Paste in the text to split into notes

Select the note's $Text space (right pane) and paste in the text from the clipboard.

Copy the bullet marker

In the note, select an copy the character(s) marking each bullet. Here it appears to be two characters: a bullet symbol and a Tab. Copy these to the clipboard.

Call the Explode process

Select the note in the view (left) pane, as Explode cannot be called with focus in the text pane. Then either

  • Use Note menu, Explode…


  • Use keyboard shortcut [Cmd]+[Opt]+E


The Explode pop-over dialog

This is the default as seen in first use. If you use Explode, Tinderbox will remember some of the settings, such as the delimiter choice, until the app is closed. The next app session will always revert to the default.

The Explode pop-over dialog

Configuring Explode - The Delimiter

The full range of possible settings are described in aTbRef's article on Explode. We can see from the text input the cursor that the invisible tab character has got pasted in as well as the visible bullet.

These delimiter character are not needed in the actual Tinderbox note, so leave the 'Delete delimiter' box ticked.

Configuring Explode - The Delimiter

Configuring Explode - Note Title

In this example, the bullets are short amounts of text, so the default option of 'First Sentence' should suffice. If you've text such as technical/code writing that might contain terminating punctuation, 'First Paragraph' may be a better choice. The latter will take as the title all the exploded segment of text up to the first line break (if any). In this demo any of the three choices would have the same effect.

Configuring Explode - Note Title

Configuring Explode - Note Text

The first option uses the spit section of text without the text used as the title (here, this is selected). The second option results in a note with only a title and no text.

Configuring Explode - Note Text

Configuring Explode - Check The Example Output

The example area shows the the result of the first exploded item. The title is in bold, and the text (none in this case) is in normal weight text.

The first note doesn't look like a bullet from the input. This is because there is some imported text before the first instance of the delimiter, so Tinderbox makes a note with that data (don't worry you can delete this afterwards).

Notice the control at the bottom of the example panel and the count.  If there are three bullets, this first note plus three more looks like the correct total. but it makes sense to check.  Click the little up/down arrow control to see the second note previewed…

Configuring Explode - Check The Example Output

Configuring Explode - Check The Example Output & Explode

Good. As hoped, the next item is the first bullet. You can preview the other notes but there is no real need.

Click the Explode button. The result is instant in a small document. If there were hundreds of items the process may take a few seconds - just let the process complete, at which point the dialog will close itself.

Configuring Explode - Check The Example Output & Explode

The Results

Note: here, all the created content folders have expanded manually for clarity (though this doesn't happen by default).

  1. A new child container is added called 'exploded notes', containing all the freshly exploded notes. The container has $ChildCount preset as a key attribute. This can be useful if doing a big explode or if troubleshooting a delimiter string that is being misinterpreted (tip: if you can use a simple yet still unique delimiter, do so!). Each time you do a fresh explode a new 'exploded notes' container is created. this avoids a fresh test overwriting earlier results and makes it easy for an agent to watch multiple input areas for new content. Although the Explode is (deliberately) manually configured/invoked, what happens thereafter can be more automated.
  2. There are as expected 4 new output notes.  These are normal notes and can now be edit/moved to a better location.
  3. Explode adds a new prototype note and in doing so adds a root level 'Prototypes' container to the document (unless it is there already). The new prototype is applied to any 'exploded notes' containers. This makes it much easier to set actions to add on newly exploded notes, even if only to apply a prototype to them all.

Tidying Up

It is a good idea to do a little tidying up after the process. Explode can explode large amount of text in the source note which is no longer needed (tip: until you are confident check the exploded notes before deleting the source text—especially if the source outside Tinderbox cannot easily be re-created.

Here the extra first note has been deleted and the three bullet points, now independent notes, have been put in a new container 'Reading Notes'. In a real working document, likely the home for the exploded content would already exist.

Having processed the new notes you can delete the input note and its child 'exploded notes' container, as shown here. As a new explode will create a new child container, there is no convenience in retaining the Source note (and its now-empty child container). As so often, there's no one right way - choose the finish up as best suits your workflow.


This has shown how Tinderbox's Explode feature can be used to import and split text into multiple notes based on a variable delimiter. Although there may appear to be lots of steps, that is only for explanation purposes. Once familiar with the settings it is the work of seconds to achieve quite nuanced spits to notes that would otherwise be time consuming to do by hand.