Outlines are useful for completing writing projects, taking class notes, brainstorming ideas and creating agendas for important meetings. Fellow author Saikat has taken a look at five PC and online tools for creating outlines in the past, but for OS X and iOS users I’d like to recommend Cloud Outliner.
Available for Mac ($9.99) and iPad ($4.99) with free versions for each, Cloud Outliner makes creating outlines quick and easy, rather than a chore or expensive investment. Let’s check out what the app has to offer.
Why Cloud Outliner?
Though it’s quite easy to create an outline in any old word processor, Cloud Outliner is more efficient because it allows you to easily reorder and delete multiple rows and indentations. To add items, you simply need to press the Enter key or double-click on an empty space in the outline editor.
When creating outlines, your thoughts and ideas shouldn’t be interrupted by a cluttered user interface or obscure features and shortcuts in the software. Cloud Outliner keeps the process of outlining simple. The application includes a couple of dozen keyboard shortcuts for frequent commands such as adding a child row, increasing and decreasing indents, checking and unchecking selected rows and so on. Cloud Outliner also automatically saves documents as you type and edit them.
Managing & Exporting Outlines
Instead of having to create and save individual outline files, Cloud Outliner enables you to keep and manage all your outlines in its manager. This is great for maintaining a collection of class notes, or multiple outlines for a long-term project. The manager can also be tucked away when not needed. The only missing part of this feature is that outlines can’t be grouped and organized into folders.
Though Evernote includes an checkbox feature, Cloud Outliner is more versatile for editing outlines. And fortunately, Cloud Outliner outlines can be exported and synced to your Evernote account, though you will need to manually click the sync button in Cloud Outliner to make updates between the two applications.
Cloud Outliner also exports to email, PDF (via File > Print), and OPML—the latter format of which can be exported to supporting writing applications like Scrivener (reviewed here.) (Note: You can’t simply copy and paste outlines from Outliner to another application.)
You can try Cloud Outliner’s free Mac and free iOS versions before deciding to buy. The free version of Cloud Outliner doesn’t allow for syncing with Evernote, between your Mac and iOS devices using iCloud and you can only create a limited number of outlines.
The universal iOS app ($4.99) allows for Evernote and iCloud synchronization, with mobile versions of Cloud Outliner being very similar to the Mac version.
The user interface of the mobile app allows for dragging and reorganizing rows, as well as undoing and redoing the last added items. There are also two to dedicated toolbar buttons to increase and decrease the indentation level of items. Aside from the touch integration, the iOS versions are identical – and half the price!
Some Missing Features
For simple outlining, Cloud Outliner may have all you need. You should be aware that the application doesn’t allow you to attach images or other media files, nor does it include templates and style sheets. You also can’t add dedicated subject headers or footers in outlines. If these limitations don’t bother you, Cloud Outliner is very useful for what it does, and all at an affordable price at $15 for the full set.
Let us know what you think of Cloud Outliner and other features you would like to see added, or whether you use something else for planning your outlines.