Feeling overwhelmed with multiple tasks, looming deadlines, disorganized thoughts, and scattered notes? You might need an outliner app. They bring order to your thoughts, notes, and tasks, making life more productive and stress-free.
But what exactly is an outlining app? Simply put, it’s a tool that structures and simplifies your note-taking and task-planning workflows by helping you break down complex thoughts, long research notes, and big tasks into small and manageable pieces. ✨
There are many outliner apps available today, so finding the right fit could be tedious and time-consuming. But don’t worry! We’ve narrowed down the top 10 outliner apps covering a variety of needs and use cases. So whether you’re a busy professional, business owner, writer, researcher, or freelancer, there’s a tool for you.
What Should You Look for in an Outliner App?
Picking the right outliner app for your needs involves a thorough review of its features. Consider these key factors:
- User-friendly interface: An outliner app should be easy to navigate, so organizing your thoughts, notes, and plans is simple. If the app seems complex, look for comprehensive documentation and responsive customer support to guide you
- Works on the go: Choose an outliner app that’s available wherever you go, ready to capture your thoughts at any point. Ensure it works on the web, desktop, and mobile, and that it offers a Chrome extension if needed
- Integration with other apps: Your outliner app should connect with other apps you use daily, like your email, calendar, cloud storage, or project management tools. This keeps your workflow management smooth and efficient
- Team-friendly: If you’re part of a team, choose an app with real-time collaboration features to keep everyone updated. And if your team is expanding, be sure the app will easily scale to accommodate growth
- Customization options: An outliner app should be customizable to your liking, with features like formatting styles and colors, multiple views, and custom display settings (e.g., themes, dark mode, etc.)
The 10 Best Outliner Tools to Use in 2023
After thorough research and testing, we’ve handpicked the top 10 outliner apps on the market and highlighted their unique features, limitations, and user review ratings. Let’s take a look.
ClickUp is an all-in-one productivity platform equipped with features that make outlining notes and tasks easy and fun! Use ClickUp Tasks, Mind Maps, Whiteboards, or Docs as canvases for your creativity.
ClickUp’s Hierarchy is a flexible and customizable organizational framework that empowers users to effectively manage their projects, tasks, and teams.
ClickUp Mind Maps break complicated ideas into bite-sized pieces to arrange in an order that makes sense to you. And if you have existing projects inside ClickUp or want to plan one from scratch, Mind Maps provide a visual overview for better planning and organization.
ClickUp Whiteboards are even more flexible, allowing your ideas to flow freely with features like sticky notes, the pen tool, and highlighters. Upload images, embed links, and pull in other ClickUp tasks, documents, and Mind Maps for a more robust plan. Plus, moving these elements around is a breeze, making it ideal for digesting complex thoughts, brainstorming ideas, and crafting project plans.
If you’ve ever used Notion, you’ll love ClickUp Docs even more. Create an infinite number of pages and subpages in a document, and take notes and outline your documents with bullet lists, tables, checklists, and more. And if you’re a visual person, there are customized options for styling your text and color-coding different sections. 🤩
The best part? All of these spaces are equipped with real-time collaboration tools for working with a team. And with just a few clicks, turn any element in your mind map, Whiteboard, or Doc into a task, assign it to team members, and set deadlines.
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry. ClickUp’s library of 1,000+ templates includes everything you need for daily planning, managing project development and project timelines, and tracking progress with project status reports.
ClickUp best features
- The platform is accessible via the web and across all desktop and mobile devices, with support for dark mode and working offline
- Keyboard shortcuts and the Slash Command menu make it easy to navigate your Workspace, upload content, and apply suitable text formats
- There’s extensive project management functionality with custom fields and statuses, multiple views (e.g., List, Kanban, Calendar, Gantt, etc.), Reminders, and automation for planning tasks and tracking progress
- It has native integrations with 100+ apps, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox
- The export options for ClickUp Docs include PDF, HTML, Markdown, and print
- ClickUp AI is accessible throughout your Workspace, helping you summarize notes, brainstorm ideas, improve your written content, and even generate tasks from text blocks 🤖
- The comprehensive knowledge base, video tutorials, webinars, and blog posts help you get started and make the most of the features
- With so many features, some new users find ClickUp overwhelming
- Not all views are available on the mobile app (yet!)
- Free Forever
- Unlimited: $7/month per user
- Business: $12/month per user
- Enterprise: Contact for pricing
- ClickUp AI is available on all paid plans for $5 per Workspace member per month
ClickUp ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.7/5 (8,200+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (3,700+ reviews)
OmniOutliner is an outlining tool for organizing information and planning simple projects with bullet points. Create outlines with multiple layers, making it easier to see connections between different elements. Add notes and attach images, audio, videos, and PDFs to any element in your outline.
Whether you’re a student, writer, or managing a small team, OmniOutliner is a handy project management app for keeping your ideas and tasks well-structured and easy to manage.
OmniOutliner best features
- Use the distraction-free mode to hide toolbars and sidebars for creating outlines
- Filter outlines to only display rows containing a specific keyword
- Set up custom keyboard shortcuts for navigating your workspace and accessing various features
- Track the number of rows, words, and characters in your outline with the info bar at the bottom of your document
- Export your outlines to multiple formats, including plain text, HTML, RTF, Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
- Supports 10+ languages, including English, French, Spanish, Dutch, and Italian
- No web app
- Accessible only on Mac and iOS devices
- No free plan (only 14-day trial)
- Expensive paid plans
- Essentials (Mac): $19.99 (one-time payment)
- Pro (Mac): $99.99 (one-time payment)
- Essentials (iPhone and iPad): $19.99 (one-time payment)
- Pro (iPhone and iPad): $49.99 (one-time payment)
- Pro subscription (Mac, iPhone, and iPad): $4.99/month
OmniOutliner ratings and reviews
- G2: No reviews
- Capterra: No reviews
Scrivener is a comprehensive writing tool for outlining and drafting long-form content. It allows you to split your writing into small chunks and shuffle them around as you write.
Need to compare different parts of your work to ensure consistency? The native editor lets you view up to four documents side-by-side.
Plus, it easily puts together related documents in collections for easy reference. These features make Scrivener the ideal tool for authors, novelists, researchers, journalists, and screenwriters.
Scrivener best features
- Unlock all features with a one-time payment 💰
- Use the outliner tool to get a structured overview of your manuscript, review word counts and other metadata, and reorganize sections as needed
- Set writing targets for your entire document or specific sections, and monitor your word and character counts as you write
- Switch to full-screen mode to block out distractions and focus on writing
- Create custom templates with custom icons for working on new project sections
- Export your finished work to Microsoft Word, PDF, Final Draft, EPUB, or Kindle
- Available only on Windows, macOS, and iOS
- No web app
- Steep learning curve
- No free plan (only 30-day trial)
- Scrivener for Windows: $59.99
- Scrivener for Mac: $59.99
- Scrivener for iOS: $23.99
Note: You have to purchase a separate license for each platform.
Scrivener ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.5/5 (81 reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (188 reviews)
Dynalist is an intuitive note-taking tool that organizes your thoughts and tasks using bullet lists. Create an infinite number of nested lists, collapse and expand lists to focus on a specific idea at a time, and use tags and color codes for organization.
Additionally, the search and filter tools make finding specific information a breeze. If you’re a “bullet thinker” looking to manage your notes, brainstorm ideas, and keep track of simple to-do lists, Dynalist is the app for you.
Dynalist best features
- Generous free plan that lets you create unlimited items and documents
- Available via the web, desktop (Mac, Windows, Linux), and mobile (Android, and iOS)
- Quickly convert your bullets into checklists or numbered lists
- Add notes to each bullet point for additional context
- Create custom keyboard shortcuts for navigation, text formatting, and search actions
- Sync your dates in Dynalist with Google Calendar via a native integration 📅
- Supports flexible sharing permissions and collaborative editing with your team
- Uploads limited to 50MB in size
- No built-in spell and grammar check features
- Export options are limited to OPML, plain, and formatted text compared to other outlining tools
- Free plan
- Pro: $9.99/month
Dynalist ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.9/5 (4 reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (34 reviews)
Taskade is a productivity tool that combines note-taking, task management, and team communication in one easy-to-use interface—making it ideal for individuals and small teams looking to streamline their workflows.
With Taskade, you have the flexibility to view your notes and tasks as lists, boards (Kanban), mind maps, and organization charts, which lets you visualize information in your preferred style.
Taskade best features
- Intuitive interface and responsive customer support team
- Access Taskade via a web app and across major platforms, including Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android
- Create multiple workspaces to house different teams, with sub-spaces for specific projects within these teams
- Create a task list, assign items to your team, set deadlines, and keep track of progress
- Collaborate with your team via comments, chat, and video calls
- Use any of Taksade’s 500+ templates for different use cases, including bullet journals, event planning, team review checklist, and SWOT analysis
- Can’t work offline
- Few integrations
- Free plan restricts access to integrations
- Free plan
- Starter: $8/month (3 users max)
- Plus: $16/month (5 users max)
- Pro: $19/month (10 users max)
- Business: $49/month (25 users max)
- Ultimate: $99/month (50 users max)
- Enterprise: Contact for pricing
Taskade ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.7/5 (28 reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (46 reviews)
MindNode is a mind-mapping tool for visually capturing and organizing ideas. It’s perfect for brainstorming, note-taking, and planning simple projects—start with a central idea and branch out with related ideas.
The colorful and bubbly mind maps make the process feel intuitive and enjoyable. While this is great for personal use, it may not be the best fit for professional and business-related settings.
MindNode best features
- Accessible across all Apple devices, including the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and even the Apple Watch
- Add images and links to the branches of your mind map
- Work on specific branches at a time with focus mode
- Turn mind map nodes into tasks
- Sync with your Apple Reminders app to stay on top of task deadlines and tick them off once you’re done ✔️
- Export your mind maps to plain text, DOCX, PDF, image, Markdown, and RTF files
- Doesn’t support Windows and Android devices
- Key features are locked on the free plan
- Limited theme options
- Free plan
- Plus: $2.49/month
MindNode ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.2/5 (32 reviews)
- Capterra: 4.8/5 (15 reviews)
Workflowy is a minimalist outlining software that keeps your notes, to-dos, ideas, and more in one infinite space using bullet lists. Zoom into any point, treating it like its own document, which keeps your workspace tidy and focused.
It’s great for individuals who prefer simple and straightforward organization. However, its simplicity might not suit everyone—if you prefer having separate folders or need advanced team features, you might want to explore other powerful tools.
Workflowy best features
- Works via the web alongside desktop (Windows, MacOS, and Linux) and mobile (Android and iOS) devices
- Use the breadcrumbs and keyboard shortcuts to navigate your space
- Collapse bullet points to focus on specific sections of your page
- Use hashtags to tag your bullet points (aka pages) for easier organization and searchability
- Switch from bullet list view to a Kanban board for managing simple tasks
- Update multiple copies of a page by editing in one instance
- Few integrations
- Limited formatting options
- Free plan is limited to 250 bullets per month
- Free plan
- Pro: $4.99/month
Workflowy ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.4/5 (22 reviews)
- Capterra: 4.6/5 (10 reviews)
xTiles is a tile-based outlining tool for managing tasks and notes. Instead of the usual list or hierarchy, you get a customizable grid filled with resizable and movable tiles. Each tile holds notes, images, and tasks, making it easy to organize information.
Plus, color-coding your tiles makes for easier organization and navigation. It’s great for students, freelancers, and creative teams who want a simple and aesthetic way to organize thoughts, manage resources, and plan projects.
xTiles best features
- Minimal learning curve for newbies
- Accessible via the web, as well as Windows, Android, MacOS, and iOS devices
- Drag-and-drop interface makes tile organization a breeze
- Integrates with Unsplash, providing a huge library of images to work with
- The slash command menu makes it easy to execute actions like adding a task, uploading a file, or creating a table
- Has a wide range of templates spanning categories such as productivity, brainstorming, weekly planning, and self-improvement
- Can’t handle complex projects
- Free plan is limited to 1,000 blocks (i.e., text, pictures, videos, links, etc.)
- Export options are limited to Markdown, PDF, and PNG
- Free plan
- Personal Pro: $10/month
- Team: $10/month per member
xTiles ratings and reviews
- G2: 5.0/5 (10 reviews)
- Capterra: 4.9/5 (11 reviews)
Checkvist is a task management software that prioritizes a minimalist interface and keyboard-first navigation. Execute all its functions without switching between your keyboard and mouse—making it super easy to jot down your notes, ideas, and plans. It’s perfect for keyboard enthusiasts looking for a simple note-taking and task-management tool to boost their organization and productivity.
Checkvist best features
- Get unlimited lists on the free plan, and easily upgrade to their affordable paid plans
- Allows you to add tasks via email
- Assign tasks to team members, set priorities and due dates, and track project schedule
- Search for key information and details using the robust search feature and filters
- Integrates with Dropbox, Google Calendar, Jira, and Zapier
- Has a responsive and helpful customer support team
- No desktop app
- Mobile app lacks key features
- No reminders for scheduled tasks
- Free plan
- Pro: $3.90/month per person
- Pro team: $6.90/month per person
Checkvist ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.2/5 (3 reviews)
- Capterra: 4.9/5 (53 reviews)
10. Roam Research
Roam Research (similar to Workflowy) is a note-taking app that doesn’t rely on conventional workspaces and folders. Most users organize their workflows using the PARA (Projects, Area, Resources, and Archives) method.
Roam’s standout feature is its bi-directional linking for connecting bullet points (aka “blocks”). This simply means when you create a link from Block A to Block B, Roam automatically generates another link back from Block B to Block A.
This creates a web of interconnected ideas for easy navigation. It’s the perfect tool for complex research among academics, engineers, and tech professionals—as it aids in memory retention, encourages critical thinking, and facilitates deeper understanding.
Roam Research best features
- Access Roam via a web browser, Android, Windows, iOS, MacOS, and Linux
- Collapse bullet points to focus on different sections of your notes
- Tag your notes for better organization and searchability
- View a map of your notes and how they connect using the graph overview feature
- Journal your daily thoughts and ideas using daily notes
Roam Research limitations
- No free plan
- No native integrations
- Limited formatting and collaboration features
Roam Research pricing
- Pro: $15/month
- Believer: $500/5 years
Roam Research ratings and reviews
- G2: No reviews
- Capterra: 4.3/5 (16 reviews)
Pick the Best Outliner App to Transform Chaos Into Clarity
There you have it—the top 10 outlining apps to help you organize your ideas, notes, and tasks so you can boost your personal and team productivity. If you’re still unsure, try them out to see which ones work best for you. And if you’re looking for a flexible cloud outliner with extensive project management functionality, then you should definitely check out ClickUp. Sign up for ClickUp’s Free Forever Plan to get started! 🌻