Current state of Outliners

Does anyone have any recommendations for a good Outliner for the Mac that also syncs to iPadOS? Ideally I’d like to be able to use the outline for presentations on the iPad having (mostly) written it on the Mac, so increasing font size and ease of use there is important. Printing outlines is occasionally important to me.

Omnioutliner seems like a safe bet, but I do resent an $80 upgrade from essentials so I can get bold :slight_smile: and there has been some criticism of lack of development.

Workflowy looks good - I really like the infinite outline approach rather than separate files but have some reservation about another subscription and it’s primarily web based nature.

Zavala looks good, but is new and doesn’t seem to have a business model to support it beyond the goodwill of the developer.

Remnote is quite cool, but very focused on Spaced repetition.

Logseq is a bit too full featured for my intended purpose and it’s still a work in progress on iOS.


You got my attention with “presentations on the iPad”.

Are these actually given from OmniOutliner? Or somehow built in PowerPoint or Keynote?

If PowerPoint / Keynote I might have a tool chain for you - if you’re prepared to build on Mac (or PC or Raspberry Pi) rather than iPad or iPhone.

As ever I’m not aiming to “ambush market” so won’t say more unless the tool chain might be useful.

(BTW on my new Mac Studio I don’t have PowerPoint so am testing by importing a .pptx file into Keynote.)

I’m hoping to be able to talk from notes on my iPad directly in an outliner. At the moment I convert to PDF (I currently use Ulysses to construct talks).

As far as PowerPoint goes, I’m open to suggestions. I have looked at tools to convert markdown to PPT, but I’ve not done anything similar using an outliner… yet…

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I think the state of outliners is pretty stale. You pretty much already know all of them as far as I can tell.

There seems to be not much demand on outliners and the development is slow. The last few OmniOutliner iOS updates were pretty much due to me constantly pestering them to fix a few bugs. But OO still seems to tick the most boxes on the block. I heavily rely on the automation features so not much alternatives exist.

There exists a dedicated outliner “circle jerk club” at, which I occasionally pop over to see if there’s anything new. SheetPlanner is the only one I’m keeping an eye on for now. It’s mac only but claims the iPad version is in development.


Thanks for the link. I suppose the market is relatively small and, almost by definition, a desire to keep it relatively simple is part of the attraction (as distinct from Roam, Logseq et al which are aiming to do much more).

I am still surprised at a lack of what I’d think are basic features. Workflowy is nearly perfect for me… but lacks a word count. Dynalist has it, but very limited font sizes on the iPadOS app. It does have custom CSS, but it’s applied on all platfoms. OmniOutliner Essentials isn’t bad, but the “missing” features seem a bit arbitrary and therefore it’s expensive if you want Pro on both Mac and iPad just to focus on a bullet point!

Overall… a lot of of “nearly there” software!

It sounds like Pages might meet your need. Large font, page breaks, plenty of styling options, great on iPadOS, prints well. You just wouldn’t the task/data-oriented outlining power or as much scripting ability.

Have you considered using a mind map? While not an outliner, MindNode has a built in outline feature. It may not work for your needs but I thought I’d mention it.

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Personally, my favorite outliner has always been TaskPaper. I’ve just found there’s something colossal to be said for the capture speed and simplicity of a giant plain text document instead of individual, fiddly line items.

Unfortunately, though, the official app is macOS-only, and I’m hardly one to advise on the optimal way to sync it, as my outline data is sensitive and stays local. But I know Taskmator exists on iOS, and that Drafts supports TaskPaper’s format as well.

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Cloud Outliner is available in SetApp (I think I’m going to put “is available in SetApp” in TextExpander since I use it so often). There are iOS and iPadOS apps, but I don’t see them offered on SetApp, yet.

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If you were using my tooling - md2pptx - the idea would be for the outline to be exported in Markdown and then put through md2pptx. (Maybe mdpre gets involved along the way.)

The main issue - in my experience - is getting decent Markdown out of the outliner. I’ve tried iThoughts, MindNode, and OmniOutliner. All are fine outliners though getting the edge nodes and their immediate parent nodes nodes to, say, come out as a H3 and bullets is a mess.

Actually the structure of the emitted Markdown is probably an unsolvable problem. I’ll have to think about Markdowm conditioning some more. Perhaps there’s a role for my filterCSV tree manipulation tool.

One other thing to note: iThoughts has a direct export to PowerPoint function. But it suffers all the above structure problems. And you’d need to somehow re-skin the result to get the PowerPoint style you’ll want.

Thanks. Interestingly, I played around with Logseq again for a little while yesterday - it seems to have a built in Presentation function driven by an outline… but I don’t think there’s an export to PPT/Keynote. And, of course, it’s native markdown.

In any case, I’ll have a look at md2pptx… My needs for presentation are pretty basic - just words on a screen for people to follow along with rather than trying to sell anything… so it would hopefully let me focus on content.

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My needs - when I started on md2pptx 4 years ago - were also pretty basic. But when I learnt tricks python-pptx could do, and given I use md2pptx (and mdpre) very heavily in my day job, those “needs” :slight_smile: evolved.

But there’s still a mismatch getting stuff out of, say, iThoughts and into md2pptx. For example, I doubt the new audio and video support I just released can be fed from iThoughts (or the others) as the audio and video files probably don’t get exported (either as links or as actual data streams).

Which automation features are you using and how? I’m interested in doing something like this but haven’t gotten around to it.

I think I’m using most functionalities provided by Omni Automation. I shared all my plugins sometime ago here.

Recently I added a plugin to compute arbitrary function permitted by JavaScript taking values in different columns as input. It’s like a mini excel function that’s only seeing things row by row. I use it to compute time intervals for my time tracking for example.

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I had not heard of Sheetplanner, that definitely looks intriguing.

Another alternative is OutlineEdit. Just came out in a new version. Some very nice options in the new version. More here:

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Thanks for the recommendation, Mathew!

I am the developer of OutlineEdit for Mac (nine years in the works, as of today!). So if anyone is interested in the app or desktop outliners in general, please feel free to let me know any questions and feedback. I am always really interested in learning how other people use outliners on the Mac and what your use cases and related potential improvements could be.

Best, Robin


I will start to use it to take some notes while reading. Sometimes I miss the big picture of a book or article, and seeing the outline helps me to keep the flow.

I like craft for outlining.

I am not very familiar with outliner app, but I am surprised that Dynalist is not mentioned here, would you consider that as one option? I played around with the free version for a little while but my very simple needs can be done in Obsidian using the outliner plug in