Every Mac user has a word processor stored somewhere, often used, sometimes useful, usually lacking a few key features. TextEdit and Pages are included with every Mac these days, and there are dozens of word processors available from free and simple to distraction free and minimalist to the behemoth Microsoft Word. Nearer the bottom of the app food chain are the apps which blend features from multiple categories to create a unique and rich user experience.
Outlinely falls into the latter category. It’s a mashup that blends an editor with an outliner so the end result is better than the individual components. Use Outlinely to edit text, write notes, create lists, drop in links, and even change fonts; somewhat like TextEdit only easier.
Yet, Outlinely is an outliner, too. That means it has sections, indented sections, and you can collapse or expand sections that work in a typical outliner style.
Outlinely even has colorful themes and a distraction free capability with fullscreen so you can focus on the outline, or focus on the text– and perhaps a combination of the two– to do what you couldn’t with other writing utilities.
The text editor component simple and straightforward but usable immediately because there is zero learning curve. On the geeky side, Outlinely is OPML compliant, which means it reads and writes Outline Processor Markup Language (so you can share with others who may use a different outliner).
Outlines can be export to OPML, of course, but also PDF, Microsoft Word, RT, HTML, plain text, and Markdown. As a word processor, you’ll find more capability in other apps for similar money. Text editors are a dime a dozen; often free. Outlinely blends the two disciplines into a package that’s more than the sum of the parts.
Did I mention the light, dark, and sepia themes?
Use Outlinely to build outlines, yes, but also build lists inside lists. As a good outline client, the app expands to reveal more details, and collapses to hide details from few. It handles notes and links which will open in your browser. It’s also a good text citizen and features font and text formatting (but not too much; it’s not Word). Like a good text editor Outlinely even does text search and replace. The focus mode is a bit disconcerting at first, but it dims the screen and what you’re writing so you can focus on just the text in front of your eyes.
Almost unnoticed is another useful function– the built-in organizational functions. You can manage a library of documents and folders, and keep everything in a single, personally organized location on your Mac. There’s a favorites space, too, so you get easier access to documents you are working on now or use frequently.
Outlinely is drop dead simple yet very usable, and that makes it a valuable app for anyone who uses an outline, creates lists, takes notes which need to be organized. It’s available on the Mac App Store but there’s also a lite version called Outlinely Express and it’s free. Negatives? Not much. The free version is good. The full version has more functions which make it worth the price tag. A full on text editor it’s not, but it does handle Markdown. Go figure. Otherwise, no complaints, and the blending of outlines and text is a big plus.