Snippets

Since 2.0, Zettlr ships with a comprehensive snippets and templating system. This allows you to define certain chunks of text which you tend to write more often, and also insert dynamic variables. The system itself is based on the TextMate syntax and as such to a certain degree interoperable with snippets which you already possess either for TextMate or other systems which support this syntax, such as VisualStudio Code.

Managing Your Snippets

You can manage your snippets using the assets editor. You can open the assets editor via "Zettlr -> Assets Editor" (macOS) or "File -> Preferences -> Assets Editor" (Windows/Linux). In there you will find a tab for the snippets editor.

To the left, you can find a list of all snippets; initially it will be empty. You can add a new snippet by clicking the "+"-button on the bottom of the list. It will initially be named "snippet-X" (where X is a number). If you select a snippet, the snippets editor will show the contents of the file in the editor and the name in the text field above it.

After you have made changes to the snippet, make sure to click "Save" or press Cmd/Ctrl+S to persist your changes. To rename a snippet, simply type the new name into the name text field above the snippet editor and click the button.

Note that your snippet name can only contain the letters A to Z, numbers, hyphens, and underscores. This is because the snippet name will be used for the autocompletion in the editor. If you type other letters, they will be replaced with a hyphen.

Lastly, the editor supports special syntax highlighting that helps you write your snippets. Variables that are not supported will be marked in red so you immediately see that there might be an error.

Your snippets are actually files which reside in a directory within your application data. Please refer to the installation manual for the precise location of this folder. The snippet files always follow the pattern <name>.tpl.md, where <name> refers to the name you give to the snippets within the GUI. This can be useful for backup or sharing purposes.

Snippet Syntax

The snippets follow the known TextMate syntax which can be easily summarised:

  • $[1-9]: By typing a dollar sign followed by a number, you add a tabstop. After you inserted a snippet, this will allow you to guide your tabs according to the numbers (so repeatedly typing Tab will move through these by number ascending).
  • $0: The zero is a special tabstop. It's not the first tabstop, but actually the last one. If you omit this, the cursor will end up after the inserted snippet, but by placing this somewhere in the text, you can control this behaviour.
  • ${[0-9]:[.]}: By surrounding the tabstop with curly brackets and adding a colon, you can define some text that will be placed by default at this position. As soon as you get to the specified tabstop, this text will be selected. You can either leave it in place by simply pressing Tab again, or easily overwrite it. Example: ${5:Some text} would result in the text "Some text" to be placed at tabstop number five, which will be selected when you get there by pressing Tab.
  • $[A-Z_]: If you use Latin characters instead of numbers, you define a variable that can be replaced when you insert a snippet. Variables consist only of uppercase characters and underscores. If you make a typo, you can spot this because the variable will be coloured red.
  • ${[A-Z_]:[.]}: Just like with tabstops, you can define default text for variables, which will be inserted if the variable cannot be inserted (e.g. the CLIPBOARD variable can be empty if no text is in the clipboard).

Lastly, the available variables are:

  • CURRENT_YEAR: The current year (4 digits)
  • CURRENT_YEAR_SHORT: The abridged current year (2 digits)
  • CURRENT_MONTH: The current month (2 digits)
  • CURRENT_MONTH_NAME: The full name of the month (localised according to your app settings)
  • CURRENT_MONTH_NAME_SHORT: The short month name (localised according to your app settings)
  • CURRENT_DATE: The current day of the month (2 digits)
  • CURRENT_HOUR The current hour (24 hour format; 2 digits)
  • CURRENT_MINUTE: The current minute (2 digits)
  • CURRENT_SECOND The current second (2 digits)
  • CURRENT_SECONDS_UNIX: The current unix timestamp in seconds
  • UUID: A UUID version 4
  • CLIPBOARD: The contents of your clipboard (text only)
  • ZKN_ID: Generate a Zettelkasten ID (according to your pattern)

Working With Your Snippets

After you have created your snippets, you can use them with the known autocomplete syntax. You can activate the snippet autocomplete by typing a colon (:), which will open a list with your available snippets. You can search for a snippet by typing a few characters of its name. Since snippet names cannot contain spaces, the colon is an easy way to activate this: If you do not want to insert a snippet, simply type a space (or any non-alphanumerical character) to close the dropdown again.

After you have selected a snippet, Zettlr will first insert the snippet, then replace all variables according to the syntax described above. Afterwards, it will create text markers that denote the position of all tabstops and activate a temporary new keymap that will re-map two keys: Tab and Esc. Whenever you hit Tab, Zettlr will move to the next tabstop. If you would like to prematurely stop tabbing through these tabstops, you can hit Esc. The keymap will be removed and your Tab and Esc-keys will work normally when either all tabstops have been reached or when you hit Esc.