This post shares the 10 best outliner apps which shall help you effectively create outlines to better organize your work and life.
Outlining is a great way to get organized. Be it writing an article, developing an app, planning your vacation, or doing anything else, outlining shall help your work be more structured and easier to manage. Digital apps are much better than traditional pen and paper, as they are more efficient, more accessible, and have more features.
There are a lot of outlining apps available on the market today, which can make choosing the right tool daunting. In this article, I will share sharing the best outliner apps available on the market and which tool is good for you. For tips using outlining tools like these, check out our guide how to write an outline.
Pricing: There is a free version and paid plans to start at $4.99/month or $49/year
Workflowy is an infinite journal that helps create to-do lists, outlines, and notes. It’s a simple and easy-to-use app along with great features like real-time collaboration, mirroring, tagging, and global search to name a few.
Everything you add in Workflowy is a bullet and you can further expand on that bullet by creating sub-bullets. This shall help you effectively create outlines and add additional information under each heading. The interface can be customized to suit your style along with other customization options like font, font size, color, etc.
Best For: Minimalists and for those who want something really simple
Platform Availability: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and web app
Read our full Workflowy review here.
Pricing: $49 for Mac and Windows and $19.99 for iOS
Scrivener is a popular tool used by the world’s best authors to plan and write their books. It can be used to create both, simple, and complex outlines.
The interface feels very much like MS-Word to me which makes it feel very familiar and easy to use. There are a ton of formatting options for your text unlike some of the other tools on this list.
If you are outlining something like a research paper or an article, then Scrivener also has a very useful ‘Research’ feature with which you can import and work on research stuff while writing side by side.
Read our Scrivener review
You can also search on a particular page or through your whole project. Apart from the document, there is also a board view which makes it easy to visualize your outlines.
Best For: Complex and big outlines
Platform Availability: Windows, macOS, iOS (includes iPad)
Pricing: Free Plan, $5/member/month, $20/member/month
Taskade is honestly one of the best outlining apps I have ever used. It is a perfect blend of features and usability. It has built-in collaboration, chat, lots of templates, keyboard shortcuts, due dates, various views, etc…
The interface is intuitive and it has a dark mode which I love using! You can have multiple workspaces and create subspaces inside of them for greater organization. Tasks are easy to make and can be struck off once you complete them. You can also assign specific tasks to specific people, and set due dates.
Keyboard shortcuts allow quicker work and increase productivity inside the app. Images and videos can be easily dragged and dropped into your outlines! The huge number of templates cut the friction of writing each task on your own and there are templates for various scenarios.
The free plan is VERY generous and provides access to almost all the features of the app.
Best For: People on a budget who don’t want to compromise much on the features
Platform Availability: Mac, Windows, Chrome Extension, Android, iOS, Linux
Pricing: Free plan, $39/person/year, $69/person/year
Everything in the app can be done with a keyboard shortcut and mouse use is limited, although you can still use it.
The default interface didn’t feel very refreshing to me and I absolutely hated the default font. There are customization options in the settings and you can also add custom CSS to the app. Checkvist works similar to Workflowy where you can keep on expanding infinitely using items and sub-items.
Apart from the normal features like file uploading, collaborating, tags, due dates, and assigning, one unique feature of Checkvist is ‘Linking’ which allows you to create a link to some other checklist within your account. If you want maximized productivity and don’t mind the interface, then this app is for you.
Best For: Productivity geeks (and if your mouse has stopped working)
Platform Availability: Web and Mobile
5. Microsoft OneNote
Pricing: Free. The paid version is included with Microsoft 365 ($69.99 or $99.99 per year)
OneNote isn’t a traditional outlining app, but it’s more of a note-taking app, although both these tasks are pretty much the same.
With OneNote, you can create outlines with a great organization in the form of notebooks, sections, and pages. Outlines can be customized according to your will and all sorts of multimedia like images, videos, and sound.
One of the best parts about OneNote is that it also has built-in annotation which is great if you use an iPad with a stylus for some quick, on-the-go outlining and note-taking.
The app is included for free with every Microsoft account and also comes with 5GB of free OneDrive cloud storage to store and sync your notes/outlines across devices.
Best For: Students who want a powerful and free all-in-one app
Platform Availability: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, iPadOS, WearOS, Chromebooks, Apple Watch, Web
Read our Evernote vs OneNote comparison
Pricing: Free plan, $5/month, $10/user/month
Notion is the king when it comes to productivity apps. It can be used for a variety of purposes, including outlining. Most of the other outlining apps work with the concept of bullets, whereas Notion works with the concept of pages.
One page can have unlimited sub-pages that you can keep on expanding. There are various types of elements that can be added to your page like bulleted lists, to-do lists, kanban boards, lists, tables, galleries, etc. Instead of pages, you can also nest certain elements of your page by using the drag-and-drop feature. There are tons of templates for any kind of task that you want to do.
The interface is very clean and distraction-free which helps a lot while creating outlines. Another huge plus with Notion is that millions of people are using it, hence tutorials and community support are available in abundance!
Best For: Teams and Businesses
Platform Availability: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Web Clipper Extension
Pricing: Free plan, $9.99/month
Dynalist is yet another simple, but impressive outlining app. It’s as simple as a plain sheet of paper, yet has as many (or probably more) features as other outlining apps have.
The interface is easy to use and customizable so you can close all unnecessary panels while working. It’s quite similar to Workflowy and Checkvist. There are a lot of formatting options available like typing code, equations, links, attachments, highlight, bold, italics, etc.
You can add due dates, sync your outline with Google Calendar, search through your outlines, create infinite visual hierarchies, add tags, cross-link notes, export to various formats like OPML, plain text, or formatted text, auto backup to cloud storage, collaborate with others and the list goes on!
The free plan is very generous and grants access to unlimited bullets and notes along with other useful features.
Read our Dynalist review
Best For: Those torn between minimalism and features
Platform Availability: Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS
Read our full Dynalist review here
OmniOutliner is a premium outlining app built specifically for Apple users. There isn’t much to the interface. Everything has been neatly hidden above in the menu bar, although it does make finding stuff a bit harder.
You have a canvas where you can write outlines.
This tool also works on the concept of infinite visual hierarchy using the indentation of different bullet points. The only difference here is that you see the bullets beside each slate of text after you hover over it. Otherwise, they remain invisible.
Search can be used to filter through your outlines. OmniOutliner also syncs your outlines between your iPhone and Mac to allow for work on the go.
Best For: People locked in the Apple Ecosystem and willing to pay
Platform Availability: Mac, iOS, and iPadOS
Pricing: Free version, $7.99/month, $9.99/month
Evernote just like OneNote is primarily a note-taking and project management app, but it is versatile enough to work as a good outliner. The interface is outstanding and the home screen adds a very nice touch.
You can quickly view the outlines and notes you had been working on and you can customize the screen to fit your needs. When it comes to the actual editor, it can be easily used for writing notes, making outlines, managing a to-do list, and so on.
There are also lots of templates available to make the process even faster.
There are a ton of text formatting options available along with the ability to add elements like code blocks, sketches, attachments, tasks, etc…
Evernote automatically syncs all your notes across all your devices pretty much instantly. Collaboration is easy and you can manage the level of access one has to your document.
Read our guide: What is Evernote?
Best for: Students and Freelancers
Platform Availability: Windows, macOS, iPhone, Android, iPad, and web app
Read my full OneNote and Evernote comparison here.
Pricing: Free, $2.49/month, $19.99/year
MindNode is a great app if you don’t want the traditional outlining experience. MindNode uses mind-mapping to help you create outlines allowing them to be as complex or as simple as you want. The interface is really beautiful and simple at the same time and there are various customizable themes available.
In terms of functioning, everything you add is a ‘node’. Every node can be color-coded and categorized for greater organization. You can also transform your nodes into tasks and complete them as you go.
The app also sits on your Mac’s menu bar and iPhone widgets for easier access when you need it. The sync functionality is also great and your data can be synced between your iPhone and Mac or MindNode and other apps like Apple reminders, OmniFocus, etc…
Best For: Mind-map lovers
Platform Availability: Mac and iOS
The Final Word on The Best Outliner Apps
While you are brainstorming, and that great idea comes to your mind, outlining can help you quickly jot it down so that you don’t forget it, and later allow you to expand upon the idea to add even more information to it. And for such a task, instead of using pen and paper, use the outlining apps that I handpicked after a ton of testing and shared today.
Each of these outlining tools suits a particular set of people, and I hope that this post helped you decide which app is the best for you. Thanks for reading and happy outlining!
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