Have you ever wanted to embed content from one Notion page inside another? Well, now you can – that’s exaclty what Notion’s new Synced block allows you to do.
Synced blocks were quietly introduced in an open beta in early June 2021, and have not been officially announced by the Notion team yet. However, everyone currently has access to them.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to use Synced blocks, and give you some ideas for where to use them.
What are Synced Blocks in Notion?
A Synced block is essentially a wrapper that lets you embed content from one Notion page into other pages.
Once done, you’ll be able to see and edit that content from anywhere you’ve pasted the Synced block. If you’ve ever used block embeds in Roam Research, you’ll be familiar with this concept. Essentially, a Synced block created a window from one Notion page back to the original Notion page where it was created.
This means that the content inside the Synced Block is – as the name implies – synced across every page where it exists. If you make a change to it anywhere, that change will instantly show up everywhere else.
Additionally, Synced blocks can be placed inside database templates and template blocks. Whenever you create a page from your template, it’ll create a new copy of that Synced block inside it.
5 Ideas for Using Synced Blocks
Wondering what you can do with Synced blocks? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Embedded notes and research
- Synced checklists, SOPs, and process documents
- Global inbox
- Headers and footers
- Synced navigation and link lists
You can also watch my video to see all of these ideas in action:
Embedded Notes and Research
In Roam Research, it’s easy to embed blocks from other pages into your current page.
This is great if you’re writing an article or doing research. For example, say you take notes from the the books you read (like my notes from Hyperfocus, for example). If you were writing an article about how to focus, you could easily embed a block from your book notes right inside your article research page instead of copying and pasting.
With Synced blocks, you can now do this in Notion. It’s not currently as powerful, since you’ll need to navigate to the page containing the Synced block, copy it, and paste it into your research.
Roam makes this process much easier, since you can just type
/embed block and then search for the block you want. Perhaps we’ll see Notion add this feature soon!
Synced checklists and process documentation
One of Notion’s best use cases is as a company wiki or knowledgebase. Having a central, easily-found home for common processes, SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), and checklists is very useful.
However, you might also want those instructions and checklists to live inside of project templates, or even inside of tasks. By putting that information inside a Synced block, it can live in both places at once.
Using a Synced block, it’s easy to create an inbox that can live on multiple pages. While this has been possible with Linked Databases for quite a while, Synced blocks take the possibilities to a whole new level.
Here, I have a synced Toggle block where I can brain-dump tasks, video ideas, small notes – anything. I can then paste the Synced block into all my task manager views, notebooks, and anywhere else where I might want to access these things I’ve quickly jotted down.
From there, I could easily drag any of these items into the database view to the left in order to auto-apply certain properties, such as a due date or tag.
Imagine putting this global inbox in a meeting notes template – you could easily jot down tasks there during a team meeting, then drag them into their correct places later!
Headers and Footers
You can used Synced blocks to create a single header or footer for multiple pages in a workspace.
As an example, here’s a synced footer in the content planning template I’m building for YouTubers, bloggers, and podcasters:
Synced Navigation and Link Lists
Notions’ sidebar lets you navigate your workspace, but it has limitations. A huge one is that you can’t navigate the contents of a database from the sidebar.
However, you can easily create page links to any page – including pages in databases – on any page in your workspace.
Here’s an idea – create a Synced block containing a toggle. Inside that, add links to pages that you access often. You can then paste this Synced block in any page – or even make it part of a global header on every page of your workspace.
If you’re wondering how I got multiple columns of links inside that toggle block, check out my guide on creating nested columns in Notion.
These are just a few ideas – the uses for Synced Blocks are likely to grow over time.
How to Create Synced Blocks
You can create a Synced Block in Notion in the same ways you’d create any other block:
- Type the
/Command and then start typing “Synced”, or scroll to Advanced Blocks to find it.
- Click the
+button to the left of any block, then find Synced Block in the list of blocks.
You can also “turn” almost any other block into a Synced block. Doing this will simply place a new Synced block around the block (or multiple blocks) you’ve selected.
To learn all about turn blocks into other blocks, check out my Notion Block Basics guide.
Embedding a Synced Block
Once you’ve created a Synced block, you can click the Copy and Sync button, then paste your Synced block anywhere else in your workspace.
As I mentioned above, you can easily paste Synced blocks into database templates and Template blocks, which will cause all instances of your templates to contain that Synced block.
Un-Syncing a Synced Block
Sometimes you’ll want to make changes to a Synced Block’s content in one location without having those changes apply everywhere else.
An example would be placing a Synced Block with a checklist inside a project template. We do this for YouTube videos – our publishing checklist lives in our central company wiki, but is in a Synced Block that also lives inside our video project database template. That way, the checklists’s home is in our centralized wiki (where it’s easy to find), but it can also be found and used within each video project once we’re ready to publish.
However, we want to check off the items on the checklist inside the video project without actually checking them off in the wiki – or on video projects that aren’t yet ready for publishing.
This is where the Unsync feature comes in handy. Click the three-dot menu at the top-right of the Synced Block, then choose Unsync.
Once done, the Synced Block will go away on that page, and the content will remain. It is now independent of the Synced Block, and can be edited without affecting content anywhere else.
Important: Note that Unsyncing the original location of a Synced Block will cause ALL locations of that Synced Block to un-sync. Be very careful doing this!
Synced Block Limitations
Synced Blocks may seem like magic, but they do come with some limitations that are important to know about:
- Permissions matter with Synced blocks. The permissions you have set on the page that contains the original Synced block will determine which users can see/edit the content, even when the Synced block is embedded elsewhere in your workspace.
- Currently, you cannot place a Synced block inside another Synced block.
- As with Toggle blocks and Template blocks, you can’t drag-and-drop block to create multiple columns inside a Synced block. However, there is a workaround – check out my guide on creating nested columns in Notion to see how to do it.
This section is a bit technical, and concerns a Notion feature that Synced blocks has replaced.
If you’re an advanced Notion user, you might have used Notion’s hidden “global block” feature in the past. In truth, there was no actual “global” block – rather, a URL editing technique allowed nearly any block to be embedded elsewhere in a workspace. William Nutt popularized this technique:
Synced Blocks are essentially the result of this trick being turned into an actual feature.
But how do Synced Blocks compare to Global blocks?
First, it’s important to note that Synced Blocks have replaced Global blocks. Since the introduction of Synced Blocks, the global block URL editing trick no longer works. Rather than embedding the block content, pasting a global block URL will just create a normal Page Link.
Fortunately, Synced Blocks are a mostly complete replacement for Global blocks. They’re also much easier to use.
However, there is one major difference between Synced Blocks and Global blocks.
When creating copies of pages that contains a Synced Block, the new Synced Blocks in your page copy will always be synced to the original.
With Global blocks, there was a bit of nuance:
- If the original location of the Global block was outside of the page being duplicated, then the new page would contain the same Global block as the original. This is how Synced Blocks always work.
- However, if the original location of the Global block was inside the page being duplicated, than the new page would contain a new, identical network of Global blocks – completely separate from the original.
Depending on your use case, this difference may present a major advantage or disadvantage. As a template builders (see all my templates here), I find the lack of this distinction to be frustrating – when I duplicate templates in order to create backups, I want the network of Synced Blocks within the backup copy to be separate from the original.
Hopefully this guide has answered all your questions about Synced blocks!
If you want to learn more, check out my free Notion Fundamentals course, explore my Notion templates, or sign up for my Notion Tips email newsletter below. You can also follow me on Twitter @TomFrankly.
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