How many lessons did we receive in school which came to good use as working adults? Typing. Math. Spelling. Complete sentences. And, a old favorite which refuses to die; outlines. Outliners for the Mac have been around since the early days of tiny black and white screens. Why? Outlines work well to reduce the complex to a manageable, organized structure.
Here’s the way to handle an outline in the 21st century. Cloud Outliner.
As an outliner app goes, Cloud Outliner doesn’t blaze many new trails. Click to compress or expand. Indent until the cows come home. Import and export outlines in the standard OPML format. Save as a PDF. Use checkboxes to display and hide outline items. There’s even a fullscreen mode to avoid the distractions on your Mac’s screen. So, what’s the big deal? It’s not so much the outliner as it is where the outline goes, which is nearly everywhere.
Cloud Outliner implies that outline files are saved in the cloud. In this case it’s iCloud, and that means outlines can be opened and edited on a Mac and on an iPhone or iPad.
That’s right. Whatever outline you create on one Apple device can be synchronized, updated, edited on another device.
As standard outline features go, Cloud Outliner is more than competent. It comes with auto numbering, customizable text size, color, and style, a cool multi-selection feature to render rows or change indents, checkboxes, an option to add notes to items, and much more.
Now, get this. Cloud Outliner can sync up with Evernote, too. And, on the iPhone and iPad version, it features support for a wireless keyboard. That means your outline library travels wherever you go, including in your pocket.
The iPhone and iPad version is half the price of the Mac version, though. The only problem I’ve run into is that some outlines have disappeared when using iCloud. I’m not sure if that’s an iCloud issue, or a Cloud Outliner issue, but it has happened (though less frequently recently, which indicates it may be an iCloud problem).
Outlines are very good for brainstorming, tracking complex ideas and projects, and this is one of only a few outline apps that runs Mac, iPhone, and iPad. There’s no Windows Cloud Outliner app, but the sync with Evernote makes it truly cross platform.
Personally, my favorite version is the Cloud Outliner for iPad because it sits comfortably on the lap, there’s enough screen real estate to make using an outline easy enough, and the casual settings is good for brainstorming and organizing, which is what you get with an outline app.
The price tag is about right considering what you get, but for the Mac there’s a free Lite version so you can try out the basics before spending any money.