Using OO as a Dashboard

I’m posting this because I thought it might be useful to someone.

I routinely have a number of projects I’m working on, and during the day I find myself switching among various apps for each project.

I may open the Finder to look at a project’s folder, or consult the draft document I’ve been working on in OmniOutliner … or I might open up DevonThink where I keep that project’s research, or back to OmniOutliner where I process culls from the research … or even Apple Notes, where I keep a kind of daily log. It’s a lot of back and forth among apps, and then navigating inside each app to get to the right place, or Smart Group, or file, or database.

So I created a Dashboard in an OO document.

Under each project are links I’ve created in Hook to the specific files. One click gets me where I want to go. I keep the Dashboard open on the side of my desktop, and it’s made it a LOT easier to navigate among all the different aspects of the projects I need to juggle throughout the day.

One more reason I’m grateful to OmniGroup.


Thanks–great idea.

Do you know if there’s a shortcut to avoid the extra click on “Open With Finder” once you click on the link in OmniOutliner?

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For the one link I made that would have required extra steps - opening Apple Notes filtered by a certain Tag - I created a Keyboard Maestro macro, saved it as a Trigger File, and then used Hook to create a link to that Trigger File.

That’s the link I pasted into the Dashboard.

The final step was right-clicking on the link, choosing Edit Link, and creating a simple name (like Notes or Folder) instead of the longer file name Hook creates by default.

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If you are familiar with scripting, OmniAutomation API has URL class. If you manage to find the URL object corresponding to that link, you can then use open() method of URL class to open it.

Thanks. I’ve also subsequently figured out that a double-click instead of a single click does the trick. (Don’t know why I hadn’t tried this previously. :) )

If you have any experience with Logseq; OO vs Logseq? Why OO vs Logseq? Thank you!

OmniOutliner has long been an integral part of my workflows, so it’s familiar as well as powerful and adaptable. Logseq looks quite nice - as do Notion and Roam - but until OO stops doing what I need, I’ll stick with it.

That said, the “dashboard” concept would certainly work well with Logseq as well as any number of other apps.

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Agreed. OmniOutliner has the advantage of many years of work put into it by a company that knows what they’re doing. I’ve regularly tried other outliner-based apps–all of them have either been missing features or haven’t been stable enough. And some of them have been discontinued after a few years, orphaning their users. It would take some major feature advantages to get me to consider changing from OmniOutliner.


Just realized I hadn’t answered the core part of your question: “Why OO vs Logseq?”

For me, the most important advantage is Columns. The ability to add data or values to an item’s column, and then to be able to sort or filter the outline based on the data in the column is key for me.

Also: OO’s robust formatting options, and the ability to format by item level … the ability to add Notes to any item, and control when they’re visible and how … and, quite honestly, the fact that OO is not Markdown-based.

I use OO in a wide variety of ways, and I love being able to keep several OO outlines open at the same time as separate tabs in one discrete window, rather than having multiple windows - one for each of the things I’m working on - crowding the desktop.

Plus, as fssbob has stated, the software is mature and stable. I’ve tested Logseq, Roam, Notion, Craft, and others, and while I find them interesting and thoughtfully designed, I haven’t found one with the feature sets I need, or that serve my workflows better than OO.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.


Hi Rob: Thank you for the detailed explanation, it is greatly appreciated.

I have another question? What apps do you use for tasks, projects & your daily notes? Thank you again!

For daily notes, I used to use Evernote, but it got clunky and no longer is indexed by Spotlight (which was a dealbreaker for me), so I switched to Apple Notes. Notes has tags, syncs everywhere, works just fine. It’s not perfect, but it’s more than good enough and creates as little friction for me as possible.

One of the things I liked about Evernote that Apple Notes does: when I do a search - basically, filtering all my notes to show me just those with a certain Tag or search string - I get a list of appropriate files that show the Created Date as well as the title of the note. I find that very helpful in scanning the results, and surprisingly, a lot of other note-taking apps don’t do that. (Everybody has one particular thing that they fixate on in how they use or evaluate and app, and for whatever reason, that’s one for me.)

For organizing research and projects, I use DevonThink Pro. It’s fantastic. Finder on steroids. And more. Also rock-solid.

All of my research - books, magazine, websites, docs, photos, etc - go into DevonThink, which turns them into searchable PDFs, and uses its own AI to make connections among them. Items are stored in their native formats, so if DT disappeared tomorrow, everything in it would be effortlessly retrievable. It has great tools for annotating, and adding metadata … you can replicate a document into multiple folders (basically links that look like the original doc) … and you can index files on your hard drive so it looks like they’re in DT, but they’re still on your hard drive and you didn’t have to eat up hard drive space by copying them into DT. There are lots more reasons why I love DT - including a highly responsive development team and an active, helpful userbase - but these are just a sampling.

As for Tasks, long ago I actually used to use OmniOutliner. It worked very well, but when OmniFocus came out I switched to that. OmniFocus is an extremely well made app - powerful, reliable and feature-rich. But … I found myself liking it, but never loving it. I respected it more than I enjoyed it. Something about the interface … it always felt cluttered to me. It seemed to me that it looked more complicated that it needed to. When Things (by Cultured Code) came along, I tried that and found that I did really love it. It’s elegant, and - for me - a much more pleasing environment in which to organize my tasks.

I recognize that there are people whose workflows and use needs require OmniFocus, and I totally get it. For them, there’s nothing better. But I find that Things does everything I need, in a style I prefer, and I’m happier using it.

Two other apps that I can’t live without: Keyboard Maestro, to create macros that I use all the time - and Hook, to create links. My OmniOutlines are full of Hook links, making the outlines even more useful and efficient for me.

Hope this helps.