That’s my current situation with my Mac. I need an outliner. Guess what? There are like twenty eleven outliners for Mac users. My trial to find an outliner I can use is your gain. Some are easy and affordable. Some, not so much. Others are worthy but require a home tutoring course to understand. I’m of the mind that outlining is a state of mind, a way to organize, a lesson in frustration making.
Outlines For Fun And Profit
My work requires me to take on unusual challenges. Sometimes I sign up before I know what I’m getting into.
This month is devoted to helping a company’s staff create presentations for employees and customers.
Amazingly, my project boss wants outlines for everything. And, there’s no standard other than PowerPoint, which is sort of an outliner.
So, I began to search the Mac app archives for outliners. They’re not a dime dozen. Outlining is an expensive way to organize and manage ideas.
The List Of Outliners I Like
Without further adios, amigo, here’s what made the list of try-before-you-buy, starting with affordable and going all the way to spend inheritance in one click.
mySlips – What a crazy name for an outliner-cum-notepad. mySlips? Really? It’s less an outliner than a note collector, but it collapses like an outliner, and that’s close enough.
mySlips has the easiest of all outliner interface. Simple buttons for Topic, Point, Subpoint, and Note. You can customize the Topic, Point, Subpoint, and Note graphics, the fonts, and more, including graphic, size and color (using the Inspector). It counts words and characters, and doesn’t do anything else other than outlines and notes.
NeO – Up the chain of expense is NeO, an outliner with real features. It imports and exports and it has more windows and options than you ever thought existed.
Drop in graphics, change fonts, split editors, zoom in anywhere with a click, drop in inline comments, clone sections, add bookmarks, even add background colors for highlighting. NeO sets up styles to be used again. For double the money of mySlips, you get quadruple the complexity– this is for hard core outliners who move sections around in their dreams.
Tree – I actually know Mac users who use Tree. It’s a typical, horizontally expanding outliner. Unfortunately, Tree uses little arrows to indicate indents, and I found that disconcerting. The tabs are nice. The Toolbar is self explanatory with cute little color coded options to indent and outdent (is that a word?).
Viewing everything in a Tree document is a click. Tree seems good for basic outlines, plans, organizing thoughts, even complex to-do lists. It does rich text and imports and exports text and OPML (the XML format for outline documents). If you want to avoid bloat and complexity, try Tree.
iLiner – For triple the cost of mySlips, there’s iLiner which is as much outliner as brainstorm organizer. There are three basic levels to iLiner; parent, child, sibling. Drag and drop topics to reorganize.
As you outline, topics can be collapse. The toolbar is a breeze. Indent, indent. Back out, back out. Drop down, move up. Nice. Importing images is easy, too, as is export via RTF, OPML, PDF and more. My fav function is the export to QuickTime’s slide show.
Mori – Alright, this isn’t so much an outliner as it is a notepad that thinks like an outliner. Don’t use Mori for outlines. Use it for organizing information.
You control the organization structure, which, coincidentally, looks like an outline in a Sidebar. Pages hold everything from images to text to movie clips. I found more uses for Mori as a non-outliner.
It’s time for the Big Dawgs.
Notebook – Probably the easiest to use of the complex note taking and outliner apps is the amazingly complex Circus Ponies Notebook. Hmmm. Easy? Complex? What’s wrong with my word picture?
Notebook has a learning curve that goes from finger paints to brain surgery in a 45-degree angle. Setting up a simple outline on a spiral bound page on a Mac screen could not be easier. And it looks so cool. That means you can create an outline and add notes all over the place. There are tabs to find what you created, and everything can be exported in more formats than I have fingers and toes.
The other side of the coin is that Notebook is monstrously complex. Drop in pictures, images, audio, video, schedules, and more. Use it to manage information or manage projects. Create multiple notebooks for everything you can think of. On one hand it’s easy and comfortable. On the other, it’s stunningly complicated and requires a night class at the community college to figure out.
OmniOutliner – At the high end of the high end is OmniOutliner, long the favorite of Mac outliner aficionados. I’m convinced that outliner is not the word to describe Outliner. It does outlines, but it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.
Think outlines, think tasks and projects, think notes, events, anything which requires moveable linear organizational options. The outlines collapse, and they need to because you can put so much into each. Images, audio, movie clips, web links, notes attached to everything, and even a built-in clipping service. This is less an outliner and more of a way to organize your life.
There’s a non-pro version with fewer features and a lower price. And, there’s versions for iPad and iPhone, so this is the end-all, be-all to outline pros who need everything to be organized everywhere, all the time.
I love the simplicity of Mori’s simple folder organization. The outliner in Notebook (the spiral bound notebook with colored tabs mesmerized me for two hours) is to die for. mySlips could not be easier to use. It reminds me of the outliner in AppleWorks.
Do you outline? What do you use and why?