OmniOutliner: Outlining with automation and more

OmniOutliner: Outlining with automation and more

OmniOutliner is an outlining app by The Omni Group. As the name suggests, it is closely related to the task management suite OmniFocus, which you probably know if you are into productivity apps (Otherwise, I have another review on that app too!).

However, OmniOutliner is for some reason much less known.

This is a pity, as OmniFocus historically actually sprouted out of OmniOutliner Pro as a third party addon for GTD. Putting history aside, OmniOutliner is an excellent tool for outlining tool for macOS and iOS.

Outlines are indented lists of bullet points, a way to structure and brainstorm new project ideas, take notes in a meeting, or structure your documents.

In this article, I’ll take a look at OmniOutliner and discuss how it can beat Markdown outlines or mind mapping.

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Creating OmniFocus projects from templates and calendar events

Today I want to showcase one of my most favorite automation workflows I am regularly using on my iPad.

When preparing regular events or projects in your task management, it might often be helpful to create templates for frequently occurring tasks.

For example, if you need to prepare some materials for every group meeting, why not have a preset or a mock-project from which you can copy-paste an instance every time you need it. This way, you won’t forget some small task which might be forgettable yet essential.

In this article I’ll go over the process to create templates for new OmniFocus projects, and how to connect it to calendar events for more conveniently creating new projects based on new calendar entries in one click.

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Exporting Markdown from OmniOutliner

Both for my day job as a researcher, as well as for this website, I often prepare papers and articles by first writing an outline. In an outline, it is easy to structure articles, re-arrange sections or subsections.

One of my favorite apps in the past has been OmniOutliner. It can export documents to text, XML, word, and others. Unfortunately, it is missing an exporter to Markdown. Luckily, there is OmniJS, the automation scripting language developed by OmniGroup.

In the following, I will showcase one way to use OmniJS, by creating a Markdown-like document from an outline, and exporting it to another app. The scripts works on both iOS and macOS.

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Elegant and simple brainstorming with MindNode

Elegant and simple brainstorming with MindNode

Updated (September 14, 2020): The review got updated to MindNode 7.3.1.

Brainstorming is ubiquitous in project management, research, and entrepreneurship. Often, it is done on white boards or alike, but with the digital world there come digital options.

MindNode 7 is the new product cycle of MindNode, a digital mind-mapping tool for iOS and Mac. That makes it a great utility for working over larger distances, where you can’t sit in the same room together and use a white board.

Mindmaps can be exchanged as files, like PDFs, images, or proprietary mind mapping formats. There is also web-sharing to send people a semi-interactive link to your mind maps. Therefore, your collaboration partners do not even need the app.

All-in-all, mind mapping as a brainstorming tool makes an elegant yet simple step from analog to digital.

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A close look at the task management beast OmniFocus 3

A close look at the task management beast OmniFocus 3

OmniFocus entered its third release cycle with the release of OmniFocus 3 for iOS.

The app became one of the most prominent task management suites on the Apple ecosystem. It is an often recommended solution for to-do, especially if investing in Getting Things Done workflows.

However, it also comes with a relatively high price and a learning curve. Is OmniFocus worth the effort, and can the solution help you with your productivity needs? I’ll go through all the features in detail and let you decide what you think about them.

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Notebooks with audio recording and OCR in Notability

Notebooks with audio recording and OCR in Notability

When going digitally with your paperless workflows and the Apple Pencil, the need for a great note-taking tool comes pretty soon. The Pencil is a great piece of hardware, but its built-in iPad apps feel pretty lacking.

Notability comes with more features: The note-taking app optimized for the Apple Pencil can work with loose pages of notes, lecture slides, books, and virtually anything convertible to the PDF format. Your annotation will get indexed and are searchable through handwriting recognition (so-called OCR.)

It also features some rather unique audio recording tools, which allow you to record a meeting while taking notes on it. Later, you can watch the note-taking process as a video while listening to the recording.

I take a look at this app, to see how it compares to other applications when comparing things like the look-and-feel of handwriting, and more.

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My thoughts on OmniFocus 2 versus 3

My thoughts on OmniFocus 2 versus 3

And there it comes, a new major release for OmniFocus: The task management suite which is available since 2008 gets into its third release cycle. The predecessor is award winning and one of the most recommended productivity suites for the Apple ecosystem. So, what’s it all about?

I have been a regular user of OmniFocus for many years (since OF1 days,) so I’ve seen many iterations and new feature upgrades. The version 3 comes with many new features and an updated look-and-feel.

I have been testing the new version since the beginning of closed beta and discuss some thoughts on how OmniFocus 3 improves over 2.

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Get nagging reminders and timers with Due App

Get nagging reminders and timers with Due App

There is an important document to hand in, so you create a reminder for it. Unfortunately, it pops up once, while you do something different, and there is goes. Next, it is already to late, as it got forgotten or buried below other notifications.

Due is an app which tries to solve this and similar issues. Despite its generic and hard-to-Google name, it tries to find its own niche. It focuses solely on ways to literally remind you: With nagging repeating reminders every few minutes, customization for alerts, and more.

I take a look at this app to see in which niche it fits and why you should consider dropping your money on it.

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Make handwritten notes with text search in GoodNotes 4

Make handwritten notes with text search in GoodNotes 4

When digitally taking handwritten notes, it is easy to lose track of notebooks and documents. Stuff can simply get lost in large digital archives, and are hard to be tracked. Unlike typed documents, most applications won’t allow for indexing handwritten documents.

GoodNotes 4 comes to rescue. With a great text detection engine which even supports handwritten input, it can make all handwritten notes searchable. Even better: Exported documents have this information attached, so things can be filed away into other applications with peace of mind. This makes GoodNotes a great solution for taking handwritten notes in a paperless environment.

I take a look at this app and analyze how it can compete to other applications, how it is implemented and if it is worth your money.

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Annotate PDFs and notes at once in Flexcil

Annotate PDFs and notes at once in Flexcil

Flexcil is an underdog in the group of annotation apps for the iPad. While rather new, it comes with some novel approach and fresh wind.

Everybody knows this situation: You work with a PDF, like literature or lecture slides, but then, you also want to take a couple of notes on the side in a notebook. Ideally, everything in digital. But, when having a PDF annotation app and another app for digital note-taking side-by-side, the multi-tasking capabilities of an iPad soon hit their limits.

Using Flexcil, you can work on multiple documents at once with an overlay interface. It supports dragging elements from your PDF to a notebook, and taking valuable notes in a scratchbook while still looking at the slides or book; all without leaving the app or using multi-tasking.

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