739: Checking in on Freeform

1 Like

I’d love to actually see some examples of how people are using Freeform. I understand some of the examples given in the podcast are probably filled with sensitive data, but if anyone have any that are safe to share, please drop a screenshot.

I’m considering moving over from GoodNotes for a foreign language night class I’m taking and kinda want some inspiration of how to organise a big sprawling doc for this sort of thing.


In regards to SF Symbols and other images for mind mapping and other Freeform documents where you want a visual element…

I searched for any tips on using SF Symbols in iPadOS / iOS, no luck. However, Linearity Curve app supports using SF Symbols in their vector app - so it stands as an example of what Apple could do if they so choose. Would love to see them support that, as well as SVG and ICO support. I tried using SVGs of a third party icon pack and it treated it as embedded objects with a titled box around it.

For my own mind maps, I wanted a template that was ready to go with a set of Emoji that would be useful for a wide variety of projects. Also, using my Mac, I opened up Character Viewer, and brought in a number of symbols that would be useful for bullets or icons. These are then available in that Freeform document on my iPad and iPhone. Not perfect, but it works. Apparently there is a third party for iPad and iPhone called “Unicode Pad” that is basically like the Mac’s Character Viewer.

Anyway, both Apple’s native emoji characters and it’s Mac symbols scale up and down beautifully enough to work as small or large icons. Attached is my in-progress template that gives you an idea of the emoji and symbols that seemed appropriate to me. I still need to develop a template for a legend for symbols, as well as starting compass or initial branches.


Here’s a thread on Freeform use and my response to it in the forum recently: Anyone using Freeform regularly? - #11 by Pupsino

I suppose I could share a screengrab or two of non-sensitive boards, but they’re just boards that won’t mean much to anyone except me, not sure how useful it would be?

I’m loving your work on this! Will you share a final template for others to use? (Not sure if that’s even possible?)

Here’s my desk layout, made in Freeform:


I thought I’d reshare my small example of using Freeform to prepare and deliver an interactive presentation. I’d normally use keynote, by Freeform was a lot easier to prepare and a lot nicer to deliver - the trackpad really helped.


I’ve been doing this same thing. I prepare a board with all the topics I want to cover and then I move-and-zoom as I go through the presentation. The people I’ve presented to really seem to like it. And, as a presenter, it’s fun to do this.

I also really like Free Form for trip planning. He’s a section of a collaborative board my wife and I (and the kids, too) created for our family trip last December to Paris and Strasbourg.

Maybe we aren’t winning any graphic design prizes, but the app is fun
to use, collaborate on, and look back at. We have a whole grid in one section with the major events planned for the days we were there, meeting spots for the photographer to get the all-important family photos, etc.


I made a template ( which I then duplicate as needed), to plan out my StreamDeck pages. The stickies can be moved around, and I color code them so that, if I move one that uses the new native Keyboard Maestro way of addressing numbered SD keys, I remember to change the USB Device Key trigger as well. I put the page “#” at the top so that I remember how to number all the virtual buttons - e.g the fith SD screen I created would have buttons R51C51 through R54C58.


@MacSparky What piece of networking gear did you buy after seeing @ismh86’s network diagram? Don’t leave us in suspense!


Here is a screengrab of my book shopping list. I’ve made different areas of the board for different themes and just drop the URLs in. Freeform automatically makes previews of the webpage, which makes it really useful for managing shopping lists as you can browse it visually. (There is also a title in there that’s a screengrab, because sometimes when I’m on the go I just screengrab something and then just drop that in later).

I have a couple of lists for different things in Freeform now. It’s replaced my use of Notes and Reminders for this.

Here is a screengrab of my weekly planner board. I’ve blacked out all the sensitive stuff, and basically: I screengrab my calendar for the current week and the next week, and I have post-its with tasks on them. I move the tasks around my meetings. I also have holding areas for pending tasks, memos, tasks I’ve completed (I didn’t want to just delete a post-it, it’s useful to hold them for a week or two to remember what’s been done). I also have an area where I save things I’ve read that I need to action (e.g. there’s a reminder to update Popclips in there). I’ve also got a daily time log and a week time log view saved in here but I’m not using them and will probably delete them at some point.

Freeform can drop an image into an existing image, so each week I take the screengrab of my calendar and drop it into the existing image on my board. This means it goes straight to the back, and is the same size as the existing image file. This means nothing on the board changes except the calendar.

I leave this open on my widescreen monitor so I can see my week and my tasks at a glance (I leave it open so just the current week is visible).

Finally, here is a screengrab of my Baldur’s Gate playthrough for one character. I’m doing a thorough playthrough so I have maps, quest lists, links to guides, etc. The blacked out area is character notes, which I felt weird sharing, but is just a note of decisions I made for various quests (for non Baldur’s Gate / dnd people - there are many different options in the game and decisions you make affect the game hence why I’ve noted a few key character bits).

You can see that I’m marking up the maps and quest lists as I complete them.

In conclusion: Freeform is great!


Thank you! So, you CAN share a Freeform board - and choose to do it just by a link and set permissions to view only. Then whoever has the link can view it, say by clicking on it in this message board, then save it and duplicate it. They can then edit the duplicate that they made in their own Freeform account.

I will definitely share my template in a couple of days, finishing up some additional content / template items in it.

Back about 2010 and app came out called Prezi where you could basically smoothly animate a fly-over / fly-through path of a whiteboarded presentation - it was rather compelling, lot of marketing salespersons used it. It’s still around, but I’d love to see Apple to enable some keynote-like animations and fly-throughs with a Freeform board.


At the moment I’m using it for family genealogy. A fun way to compile a family tree/collage with lots of old images mixed in. Then easily shareable allowing others to edit or just view. Almost everyone in my extended family has access to at least one iPad or Mac so sharing the Freeform file directly is nice as they can watch as the project progresses.


Oh, that is a cool use case.

haha @ChrisUpchurch … I nearly bought a T4. I’m out of ports! but then I figured a way around it without new hardware. Expenses averted (for now).

I work at an architecture office where we use a similar app called Miro. I can see freeform sneaking its way into the workflow for architects/interior designer/landscape architect/etc as a free alternative on the Mac. I’ve been trying Freeform out for personal design work on the side, but compared to Miro it has a ways to go. With a couple workflow additions I believe it can be useable:

  1. Sketching on the Mac
  2. Hotkeys for tools (P for pen, R for rectangle, etc…)
  3. Clicking on a shape in the menu shouldn’t just plop that shape in the middle of your board, it should start a command where you then draw the shape on the board (i.e, click the start and end point of a line).
1 Like

Yes! In this case Freeform is just being consistent with how the drawing tools work in all of Apples apps like Pages/Keynote/Preview. Annoying and counterproductive.

However as for the also annoying

which is also missing from Pages and Keynote, you can assign hotkeys.

A friend of mine uses Miro as well and he’s an architect too! I wonder if this is something like a „scene“ thing where specific apps are favored in certain areas of work.

I use Freeform as a game master for roleplaying (Shadowrun for anyone who’s interested). I find it really handy to have all my information in one place. E. g. I have Screenshots of stats of the non-player characters, rules, maps, personal notes etc.
In the example you see the stats of a security mage. In advance of the gaming session I took screenshots of the rules for his specific spells from the rulebook PDF and placed them next to his stats. This way I don‘t have to search in the rulebook during play. And I can just scribble over it to keep track of damage or whatever.