What are your favorite uses for OmniOutliner?


I work in sales and I use OO for keeping track of my customers and keeping notes on meetings and calls with them. OO makes it easy to fill in the gaps and scratch out plans for action items.

In my workflow I have a custom template set as the default and one file for each customer. I worked with having one file for all customers but it was 88 MB after one week and a few attached files and screen grabs, and that was going to be unwieldy.

I work with a partner and we store our OO files on a folder which we use Box.com to keep synchronized on both of our laptops. We are new to OO and don’t use a lot of the features we could (like columns, for example). but we have amassed a small wish-list of features:

  • better cloud sync / shareability / simultaneous edit capability
  • checklist should be per line style option / view for checklist items only (see my other post)


I WISH I could have had OO when I was in law school (20+ years ago). I spent countless hours futzing with WordPerfect and Word formatting that would have been better devoted to grappling with the material and drafting the content of the outline. Stick with it, and when you start to practice use those outlines as the basis for your developing knowledge-base. Every time you research a problem, revise your outline. You will be shocked at how helpful it will be.


Hi thank you for your feedback. As far I understand you, you say that you do your outline with OO and then when everything is kind of fixed you put it into word? Or do you always leave your outlines in OO and refer back to it from time to time? thank you!


The kind of outlines I was referring to in my post, I keep in OmniOutliner and only export to PDF if I need to share with someone else. I do, from time to time, migrate certain types of OO outlines out of OO and into Word, Scrivener, or some other text editor. My “knowledge” outlines, like legal outlines, and other topics that I have researched and studied, where I have to go back and access that information and review it periodically stays in OO. It’s very easy to use, and easy to access even on an iPhone.


The Power Mac G5 I purchased while in grad school came with OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle pre-installed. Initially I used neither as Canvas X—the original cross-platform version 10 as opposed to the similarly named Windows version sold today—was my primary tool for any graphics I originated or edited, and I had no need for an outlining application. In my last year of coursework that began to change. OmniGraffle permitted me create and edit diagrams for linear and integer programming assignments in my Optimization course faster than I could in Canvas X. Once I started my career, I found OmniOutliner to be a better tool for wish lists, or any form of list, than Microsoft Excel.

Over the years, my use of OmniOutliner expanded considerably. One good example was the functional testing for a VBA tool that needed to be rebuilt in Microsoft Excel 2013 for a client. I used Omnioutliner to create a hierarchal functionality list for my tester. Using that list, she could go through each function of the software and determine if it was functioning correctly. With the OmniOutliner document, she could focus on the part of the software she was testing, flag functions that did not operate as expected, and add notes.

Once she detected issues, she would send the functional testing document back to me where I could easily see where the bugs were occurring and address them. When bugs were fixed, I could flag the functions as fixed and leave my own comments if necessary before sending the updated document back to her.

In another ongoing project, I have a folder structure for each report where I keep the raw data set (CSV), working data set (a JMP data table), specific subsets of data (JMP data tables), and SVG files for the numerous charts and graphs generated for the report. I also have a consistent naming scheme for all files within the folder structure. For that project I have an OmniOutliner document that has the same structure as the folder structure for each report. Within that document, I also have filenames for the contents of each folder that follow the naming convention I devised. With OmniOutliner, I have the ability to have a reference for not only the folder structure, but also for the numerous resources required for completing the report.

On a more personal note, I have music wish is that is also an OmniOutliner document. The list is hierarchal by artist, album, and the specific tracks of interest. Once I purchase and receive an album, I can check it off in my wishlist. The list has a checkbox column called “Ripped into iTunes” that is checked if a track of interest is already in my iTunes library; these would be tracks that are from compilation albums as opposed to the original album. Another column is a checkbox column for tracks that are only available digitally—no physical media.

I have also recently started cataloging the 1000+ fonts I have acquired over the years using OmniOutliner. My goal is to,

  • inventory the typefaces and their associated fonts that are stored on my Mac;
  • compile fonts for active typefaces that were not installed because they accompanied software from previous Macs or were from bundles and never installed;
  • determine the source of the fonts—e.g., Microsoft Office, a former Mac, a Windows VM, etc.—so as to create libraries in Font Book;
  • find fonts that I did not have for the typefaces for which I did have some of the available fonts; and,
  • to have sufficient information about my font collection to devise a system of creating useful categories for fonts in Font Book that would facilitate easily finding, activating, or deactivating fonts.

In all, I have found OmniOutliner to be much more than just outlining software.