A superb app for organizing ideas
Free trial. After from $9.99 From The Omni Group, omnigroup.com Made for iPhone and iPad Needs iOS 11 or later
OmniOutliner 3 comes in two versions: Essentials, which offers the basics, and Pro, which adds tools for power users. You don’t need to pick one immediately because the free trial enables you to try both. When you do decide, Essentials is just $9.99 — cheap for an Omni Group product — and Pro $39.99, or $19.99 for upgraders.
The name OmniOutliner is a bit of a misnomer, because there’s much more to the app than outlining. Think of it more as a repository for all your stuff, ranging from your project to-do list to study notes or the Great American Novel you’re writing. If you go Pro you can also include file attachments such as images and audio recordings, which makes it particularly handy for college work and projects involving meetings.
The app works on both iPad and iPhone: while using the latter means losing a lot of the space available to the bigger iPad app, it’s useful if you’re syncing via Omni’s own OmniPresence sync or via Apple’s iCloud Drive.
To start using OmniOutliner, you just start typing. If you want to indent, tap Tab or the indent button; if you want to go the other way, it’s Shift and Tab or outdent; and if you want a new line, just tap Return or
tap the plus button. Collapsing and expanding sections is just a matter of tapping the arrow next to them.
So far so straightforward. But it’s what you do after you’ve written that’s interesting. For example, when you filter, you don’t get the traditional highlight in a block of text. The app hides all the rows that don’t match, making it much easier to see what you’re looking for. You can select multiple rows to drag and drop, which is really useful, and in the Pro app you can drag images and files as well as text from other apps.
There are tons of keyboard shortcuts for formatting and highlighting if you’ve got a hardware keyboard. You also get a small but decent selection of pre-defined templates you can use — although irritatingly they’re pre-populated, so you need to delete content to insert your own. You can now print and you export to PDF, CSV, HTML, docx, pptx, and tabbed text. The Pro version adds Excel support and OPML links.
Pro also benefits from the OmniAutomation scripting we’ve already seen in OmniGraffle and OmniFocus, password encryption, custom templates and themes. It also offers considerably more styling options, the ability to have more than one column and the option to save filters. It’s very powerful and feels closer to a dedicated business writing app than an outliner.
Which is best? If you’re a student, Pro is the one to go for: it makes managing even the most enormous outlines a breeze, and the ability to include media is a real plus. For us, though, Essentials does enough.
the bottom line.
Essentials is great for most users, although formatting’s a little limited. If you outgrow it, going Pro is very cheap.
The Pro version is a capable writing and presenting tool with media embedding.
The provided templates are crisp and clear but you’ll need to delete their text.