One of my interests is writing and information management software. Perhaps using the term “interest” is misleading, as I am sort of obsessed with these types of applications, and have been since I got my first computer, one of those early Compaq “portables.” Around 1989, I bought a license for an application called GrandView. GrandView was a DOS program that combined outlining, word processing and task management. It had some features that were cutting edge at the time, some of which remain unmatched in modern software.

In this entry to Welcome to Sherwood, I want to explore my favorite features of GrandView, because many people have never had the chance to see GV work. So let’s begin:

On its face, GV is a basic single-pane outliner. That is, you can view all of your information in a single window. (Outlook, for example is generally a three-pane outliner, in which you have your list of folders in the tall, slender left pane, your list of e-mail headers in the upper right pane, and the content of any single e-mail message in the lower right pane.)

Here is a screen shot of a basic outline created in GrandView (I’m running it on VM Fusion on my MacBook — thus the status bar along the bottom of the screen):

Basic Outline in GrandView
Basic Outline in GrandView

Notice that headlines I.A, II.A.1, and II.A.2 have little down-pointing arrows at the end. This indicates that there is a document associated with those headlines. We can view those documents in a dedicated document window:

Dedicated document window in GrandView
Dedicated document window in GrandView

Document view is essentially a hoist to view just the text of the document. (Note that the odd cursor blocks in this and other screen shots are relics of using GrandView in emulation mode in Windows XP running on my MacBook.) I always liked this feature of GV, because it is like switching to a dedicated word processor to work on this one section of your outline. But one of the most powerful features of GrandView is the ability to see the text of your document inline with the rest of your outline:

Document text viewed "inline" in the GrandView outline
Document text viewed "inline" in the GrandView outline

An important point here is that this text is not a separate headline or node. It is directly associated with a headline and can be viewed inline (as above), in its own window (as in the second screen shot), or collapsed and not visible in the outline (as in the first screen shot) This visual flexibility is a powerful feature for writers, because it allows you to switch from a focussed view of your writing to the big picture. You can work on getting each section of the text right, then make sure the entire work flows smoothly with appropriate transitions. Two-pane outliners (such as MyInfo and Ultra Recall, for example), force you to keep your writing in separate, discrete blocks. To this day, no other application has matched GrandView for providing this combination of powerful outlining tools AND single-pane, inline text.

But GrandView had other impressive features, ones ahead of their time. First of all, it had all the outlining tools you could ask for, including hoisting, collapsing, mark and gather, and others:

GrandView provides a host of outlining tools
GrandView provides a host of outlining tools

It also provided advanced meta-data capability to help you organize your work. Here’s a basic list of tasks:

Task list created in GrandView
Task list created in GrandView

But now I want to organize this random list. I’ll start by turning on the Category Display (see the bottom of the screen):

GrandView with Category on
GrandView with Category on

Date and Priority are default categories that automatically attach to each headline. I created the category “Role” in order to separate my tasks into my three roles: Work, Home and MIC (the latter being a nonprofit organization I volunteer with). I can now fill in the due date, priority and role for each of my tasks. But to help me with this, I can have GrandView automatically assign a Role category based on a rule. Here I’ve created a rule to assign any headline with the text “MI” to the Role MIC.

You can have GrandView automatically assign categories
You can have GrandView automatically assign categories

Once I’ve assigned data to all the categories of each headline, I can now quickly filter those categories in the Category View:

GrandView filtering all headlines with Priority category set to High
GrandView filtering all headlines with Priority category set to High
GrandView showing me all the headlines with the category Role set to MIC
GrandView showing me all the headlines with the category Role set to MIC

Those of you into the GTD method of managing your day, can instantly see how GV would be an excellent way to manage your daily tasks.

Switching to Calendar View, I can now view tasks based upon the day they are due:

GrandView in Calendar View
GrandView in Calendar View

And when I want to get an overview of the date, priority and role for all my tasks at the same time, I can turn Columns on. Category data for each headline is then displayed in columns (which I can select) on the right:

GrandView with Column View turned on
GrandView with Column View turned on

It shouldn’t take too much imagination to see that GrandView’s incredible flexibility made it an exceptional tool for all kinds of work. When I was using it daily (up to about 15 years ago), I created an outline I called Mission Control. Here I kept a list of my major projects, daily tasks, and reminders. I created individual outlines for each of the projects, and used GV’s linking ability (common now, but pretty radical for DOS) to create hot links from my Mission Control to the project outlines. Some projects were task/milestone heavy, some were writing heavy. I could manage it all in GrandView.

GrandView was abandoned by Symantec at the dawn of the Windows age, and has yet to be matched. EccoPro by NetManage had outlining with powerful meta-data, but did not have GrandView’s document view nor its powerful outlining controls. And, it too has been abandoned (though it still has a dedicated group of users). Scrivener on Mac has its scrivenings view, which allows you to combine separate documents into one long view and edit them. But Scrivener has a weak outliner, and no customization of meta-data fields. NoteMap was a fairly powerful single-pane outliner, but it didn’t offer document view or meta-data or true inline text — plus it appears that development has ended on this application, as well. OmniOutliner has user-definable meta-data and columns, as well as “inline text” but this latter feature is very weak. You could manage tasks very well in OO, but I don’t think you’d ever try writing anything of any length.

Of course, GrandView had its deficits. It was only developed for about five or six years. It never had the advantage of being a Windows application, and existed before anyone had ever heard of the Internet or e-mail. All I can do is imagine how terrific this application would be if developed today with the same imagination, consideration for the end user, and innovation.


98 thoughts on “GrandView

  1. Hi there, I currently use MS Word documents in Outline view and have been looking for an outlining app that I can use both on my PC laptop and on my iPhone, when I came upon your post. Looks like GV had some of the features I’ve been looking for but can’t seem to find anywhere 🙂 Thanks for the info!

  2. Hello, very nice article. I was not aware of GV but I am always interested in learning about old applications with features ahead of their time or with features that have never been matched. GV definitely fits this description. One would think new software developers would do well to study the past and learn something.
    You might find “org mode” which runs under emacs interesting. It comes very close – so much so that I am wondering if the developers had some familiarity with GV.

    1. Kyle,

      Thanks for the heads up about orgmode. I’ve heard of it before, but it seemed like a lot of bother to install emacs and orgmode, but since you’re comparing it to my beloved GrandView, well I just gotta try it. Thanks, again.


  3. I’ve been following the outliner discussions for more than a decade. I still can’t believe there is no decent outliner for Windows. I use Emacs Org-Mode, but I still long for a an easy to use single plane outliner for Windows.

    One thing I’d really like to know is why are there 10-15 decent outliners for Mac, but not one for Windows? Does OS X have some embeddable control that makes writing an outliner easier?

    At this point I’m teaching myself C# so I can write my own outliner for Windows. Wish me luck!

    1. Clint,

      I don’t know why Mac seems to have more and stronger outlining applications than PC/Windows. But I will say that I’m not so impressed by what is available on the Mac. OmniOutliner is certainly serviceable and better than most anything for PC, and Tao might be the best of the lot. But none of these are as good as GrandView was, in my opinion.

      Good luck with your project.


    2. I would venture that a lot of writers/journalists work with a Mac, hence the need for outliners.

      As to why not a single company decided to write a Windows application based on the great ideas of GrandView and EccoPro…

  4. Vermonter 17032,

    It is a shame that Org Mode is not a standalone application. For that reason I don’t recommend it as a solution, but with regard to GV some of Org Mode’s functionality seems similar enough to make me wonder if someone didn’t receive a bit of inspiration from GV. Over the last few months I have been giving Emacs a try (which is where I encountered Org Mode) mainly out of hope that I will have a cross platform text editor that will not become obsolete. (I am also fond of plain text for the same reason.) We shall see if the payoff is worth the – let’s just say – significant time investment 🙂


  5. For the PC, there are many outliners— and they meet different needs.

    Inspiration, for instance, allows for multiple views of your outline— with inline blocks, headers only, and even notecards.

    Literary Machine is built around the classic notecard paradigm for writers, and makes a decent outliner in conjuction with its notecards.

    ConnectedText is a great personal wiki with outlining functionality.

    Natara’s Bonzai is a cross platform outliner.

    Wikipedia has quite a section on outliners, for windows, mac, and *nix.

    And of course, there’s always the big monster outliner sites, like (“Software for mindmapping and information organisation”) and all the other dozen or so monster sites dedicated to OUTLINERS or Mind-Mappers (as mindmappers are just radial outliners).

    Two and three panel outliners are the most common forms of outliners on the PC platform, but their are quite a few single pane ones out there, if you are willing to look.

    1. > “Literary Machine is built around the classic notecard paradigm for writers,
      > and makes a decent outliner in conjunction with its notecards.”

      Sounds like Zettelkasten Method of Niklas Luhmann
      [, and fuller in the German version ]
      In the English world, the Zetelkasten cards are a bit of “cult”
      less so in German

      (do try the parallel columns view of if you are going to puzzle another language on the intertubes)

  6. @Paul – I’m only looking for a single pane (ideally multiple columns) outliner for Windows. I’m not looking for a wiki or a web-based application or a mind-mapping tool. The only applications I’ve found are ECCO Pro, Java Outline Editor (JOE), and now a new one (just found out about it today), UV Outliner. See my post about it at I’m not affiliated with it, but it does look interesting.

  7. A reader had suggested this link to me and boy, what a great GrandView post!

    I became frustrated with the current state of single pane outliners for Windows so I decided to create my own. You can download Ume Outliner for free at

    My main goal is to create a research tool for students. The focus will be on creating useful tools to help create essays and research papers.

    Ume is still in its infancy and I just released 1.1. The new version 1.2 will be available in January 2010

    Thanks for a great article!

  8. I used PC-Outline in the 80’s to do my dissertation – it was crucial. I believe PCO morphed into GrandView – my diss was done and I did not need an outliner so badly. In the 20+years since I have never seen a Windows outliner close to as good as PCO.

  9. @Joe,

    I’m not sure that PC Outline is the precursor to GrandView. For several years there was a Windows version of PCO from Brown Bag Software, although it is no longer available. Here is their web site:

    Thanks for reading my post.


    1. The Windows version of PC Outline was written by a different author and had bugs and sometimes was very slow. GV had a very unique file format which undoubtedly had a lot to do with its functionality and speed.

  10. I have missed GrandView for years. I agree—it was by far the best outliner ever created, and Symantec blundered (I think, but what do I know?) by not carrying it forward into the Windows world.

    There’s a Web-based outliner,, that has some excellent features. I recently sent the developers my set of GrandView manuals (those were the days, eh? 3 manuals, including a reference manual of about 200 pages or so) in hopes that some GrandView features might be added. (Thinklinkr is still in beta.) I’m pleased to report that the developers really are impressed with GrandView capabilities, and so we may in time have a Web-based GrandView.

    1. Hi, Leisure Guy,

      I have my set of GV manuals, too. One of my treasured possessions.

      Thank you for your comment.


  11. At one point a few of us tried to get GV made open source. A fellow in England said Symantec wasn’t interested. Years later, I was able to locate the author, but he had just moved and his GV-related contracts and papers were packed in some unknown box.

    NoteMap is a sigle-pane outliner but has some simple and some serious bugs. (I lost a whole page of material.) Development ceased years ago.

    Inspiration has a brand new version 9. However almost nothing new has been added to the outlining part. The diagram part has some new features.

    1. Cassius,

      Any chance of you contacting the author and asking him about “getting the band back together”?
      I will reach out to a former Symantec executive.


  12. ThinkTank was my first tool of organizing my life after 3 X 5 cards with ink written notes and lists. First I plotted out in Think Tank my business transaction and then the rest of my life. I left ThinkTank because of a merger and went kicking and screaming into GrandView and never looked back.
    I’ve tried Word, Inspiration 7.5 and 8, and MindManager, not the same. All have features that would make great add on to GrandView
    Why not rewrite it?
    Open source; community project
    Use by many for all

  13. Grandview could make, size, and move windows before Windows existed. More importantly, though, the operator could get the work done without needing windows, without a mouse, without the hands ever leaving the keyboard, without waiting. Well, maybe we did have to wait a moment when it converted a document into a word processing format or into PostScript so our printer could produce it.

    Before I had a computer assigned to me, I would take along Grandview, and run it on a computer at a plant I was visiting. My software and work files would all fit on a single floppy. People sometimes asked what I used to generate documents so quickly and I was pleased to give them a demo. The sight of an entry being “cloned” never failed to leave the observer speechless as I entered text that filled two different subheadings simultaneously.

    GV ran on 80286 computers just fine. I wonder if I could acquire a used HP Palmtop cheaply and install GV and find a GV preservation society to join.

    GV would be a tough act to follow. I wonder if the author ever had the chance to create another such masterpiece.

    I hear good things about another orphan, Lotus Agenda. Tough learning curve though.

    1. Lotus Agenda is truly wonderful—irreplaceable in fact, though they are trying to make lightning strike a second time with Chandler ( Still, Lotus Agenda was absolutely wonderful—if they had only brought it into Windows and perfected its printing capabilities.

      Unfortunately, it was a product whose capabilities and uses were limited only by the user’s imagination, and apparently for many users that limitation was too stringent.

  14. Stephen,

    Just came across the Outlining Software site as the result of a Google search, and found the link to the Atlantic article (and, hence, this blog entry). Wow–talk about a blast from the past.

    Like Joe, I got started with outlining on PC Outline while in grad school (back in ’87). Loved that program! When I found a copy of GrandView in a clearance bin at a a computer store’s sidewalk sale (remember those?), I snapped it up and never looked back. BTW, it’s also my recollection that reviews of GV at the time (’88? ’89?) credited PCO as being GV’s progenitor (though I can’t guarantee that’s correct).

    I used GV all the way through grad school for writing papers and collecting research notes (wouldn’t have made it quite so easily without it) and as a PIM until 1995, when I finally made the transition from DOS to Windows.

    I still have my GV disks and manuals (hmm…maybe I better back up the disks before they fade…) and have no intention of getting rid of them (even if that’s just nostalgia on my part). I even ran GV on XP a few years ago, just long enough to export all of my outlines to tab-delimited files (to import into Word). I’ve used Word’s outliner since Word 97, but never found it to be more than a basic tool–certainly not a match for GV’s versatility.

    Just for fun, I just fired up GV–still working on XP SP3 (though the window is awfully small on my 23″ widescreen monitor). Sigh…if only there was a true Windows-based equivalent.

  15. Very interesting musings. Having now bought a UV-Outliner licence, I’d regard it as the most promising of the recent outliner developments. I’ve used almost everything that’s ever been developed throughout the Windows era – I never knew about GrandView, unfortunately.

    One of my favourites for fast, simple work was ThoughtManager (used to synch between Windows and Palm, rather like a very simple version of Bonsai, and ran particularly well on the now defunct AlphaSmart Dana device), but it’s not been developed for years. Otherwise Ecco Pro was one of the greats – and was actually much more powerful than has been realised here. Hoisting is certainly possible, although it was a bit of a performance. I still use it occasionally, but more out of nostalgia than for any other reason.

    Another very interesting if tangential development is TreeSheets, a fascinating spreadsheet-like concept (, under active development and very ingenious. Unfortunately Wouter doesn’t want to turn it into an outliner as such, although if enough people prod him, he’s willing to consider it!

    Thanks for tips on Org-Mode and Ume Outliner. I’ll take a look.

    1. @MadaboutDana

      After using GrandView in DOS for about 7-8 years (mostly for grad school work, as I’ve noted previously), I was looking for a Windows replacement in 1996 and settled on Ecco Pro. At the time, EP did what I wanted–namely, serve as an outline-based simple project manager. EP was certainly more elegant than GV and had a bit more going for it in the PM arena. I found that using EP as a writing tool tended to reveal its shortcomings, however. Still, it fit better for what I needed during the late 90s (I used EP until about 2001, when a career change greatly lessened my needs for a PM tool).

      Today, I don’t find myself wishing I still had EP (I sold it off shortly after I stopped using it, and there is currently a plethora of cheap PM tools that are actually easier to use than EP due to a tighter focus on PM). My ambitions for being a writer have me strongly longing for a Windows tool to match GV’s support for the writing process, however (and I still own GV, so I could go back to it if I don’t find a suitable replacement).

  16. Thanks for such a nice writeup of Grandview. I own five copies that were used for project planning years ago. I still use the program and am looking for a replacement.

    1. I’m still using Grandview and also looking for a replacement. Have you found one? Why can’t a bunch of diehard Grandview users get together, buy the rights or source code, and hire someone to rewrite a Windows version?

      1. Sadly, I still have not found anything that adequately replaces Grandview. Various applications can do some of the things Grandview did, but nothing does it all as well. If I had to choose one piece of software that comes closest, it is probably OmniOutliner or Neo on the Mac… And there is nothing close for Windows.

  17. I have used BBO for 25 years – beginning in law school and in writing every motion and many letters and outlining many thought trains ever since on an old pc. I have been recently looking to see where I could get another one of these for my new computers. It looks like I have found some people who know. I guess I will have to try Grand View. Thanks

  18. I was a trial lawyer for 22 years and found GV to be the most powerful tool for building a trial I had ever used. I could outline my case as I wanted, assigned categories by witness name, issues, and evidence, and then sort and print my trial binders in a nano-second. Extremely powerful software. I have been looking for an equivalent product since GV was discontinued and have failed to find anything even close to GV’s capabilities. I remember calling Symantec after it purchased GV and learned that GV was to be discontinued. No wonder Symantec eventually had to be sold–it managers could not recognize a brilliant product.

    Anyways, if anyone has any ideas on something like GV that has both the outline and database feature of GV, please let me know. I prefer desktop apps and am not to thrilled about cloud computing for legal and confidentiality reasons.

  19. I used GV when I worked for a finance company and it was the most helpful in my writing of proposals, plans and other projects. I even did an entire venture development proposal and presented it to senior management as an outline–they loved it since the business proposal was so logically laid out. When the company got sold and was in liquidation, and I got laid off, my manager gifted me the GV package and I still have it..

    I had it running on my 486Dx2 system, which I still own and installed in on my XP laptop. Now that I am becoming a writer, I sorely need an outlining program, and want to see if I can get it to run on Vista. If all else fails, I guess I could fire up the old 486DX2 running NT and try to do my writing on that.

    I have been searching for a GV workalike replacement for some time.

    Has anyone ever contacted Symantec to see if they are willing to update GV? I don’t have the programming ability to update GV for windows, but perhaps some talented programmer could be found.

    Symantec is strange company, they bought GV and let it die, they bought Partition Magic and let it die. Meanwhile their Norton Anit-virus sucks–I was a NAV user for so long, but finally gave up on it.

    While I am at it, I like to mention that I also use BroadPage, a multi-windowing browser–it is great, but is now also defunct. Has anyone else used it?

    1. Unfortunately, I know of no application for Windows that comes close to GrandView. The closest thing on any platform is probably OmniOutliner for the Mac.

      You might find some helpful tips on running GV under newer Windows editions at the site… run a search for GrandView or post a question. There are still a few die-hard GV users there.

  20. Although it’s not an outliner per se, if you’re a writer, you should certanly look at Scrivener, which runs on Mac and Windows. (I use it on both machines, keeping the book’s files in DropBox.)

    It has an outline view, and you can move the outline’s entries (“documents”) around, change their level in the hierarchy, etc. I also am an outline-oriented writer and have found it extremely useful.

    Scrivener is a very rich program, and teh outline-oriented writing is only part of it. WARNING: Watch the training videos—don’t think you can just figure it out on the fly. I got myself into a mess that way.

  21. The game is afoot
    The hunt is on
    The challenge has been thrown down

    Could social networks assist?
    If data is found, will a PM come forward and carry the torch?
    Let the emails go out


  22. Wow–I just stumbled upon this discussion. I completely agree that nothing developed since GrandView has come close to its power–both as an outliner and as a “personal project manager”. I actually continued to use it to organize both my personal and professional lives until about a year ago, when the problems getting it to run under Windows 7 proved insurmountable. (It ran fine as a DOS application under Windows XP. With Windows 7, getting it to run involved too many compromises.)

    1. Hi, Bob,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m impressed that you kept using GrandView for so long. It’s too bad you can’t still use it. What solution have you turned to?

      1. Originally to OneNote, but it was clunky and cumbersome, and doesn’t quite get it when it comes to making an outline behave like an outline. I’ve recently switched to Noteliner, which I think I found as a result of your posting on It’s not truly a Windows GrandView, but it’s a lot closer to one than anything else I’ve found. The more I use it, the more I like it.

      2. OneNote has its charms, but it is not a good outliner. I’m glad I could direct you to Noteliner. I think I first learned about it from someone else on, but now I don’t recall. But there remains nothing that matches GrandView I’m afraid, which is downright confounding! The closest is probably OmniOutliner for the Mac, but it is so far from GrandView that I don’t even use it very often.

    2. DOS programs generally run well on the VdosPLUS program, derived from Vdos for games and such graphics. runs in both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows, including Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 (all versions up to the latest release; Windows 2000 can be supported too)
      It runs your DOS applications reliably in a DOS virtual machine; the text-mode DOS screen (either in a window or full-screen) is fully scalable with a TTF font.

      PC-outline, Grandview work fine, (if you still have the software).

  23. I sorely miss MORE, the Mac outliner that was similar to GrandView in many ways. I used it first years after it was abandoned by Symantec and made freeware, and never have found a replacement that works quite as well for outlining books. It had it all: cloning (so I could have scenes in multiple places in the outline–allowing me to list together all scenes featuring a certain character, say, and then also have the same scene in a part of the outline that listed the chronology of the story), inline text, hoisting, etc. Tinderbox has cloning, but it doesn’t have inline text so you can see the “meat” of all your notes at once. Inspiration has inline text but no cloning. I tend to use Inspiration more. Scrivener is wonderful but its outlining capability is the weakest part of the program. But if there was a modern version of GrandView or MORE (which no longer runs under modern Mac systems), I’d be very interested.

    1. Jeff,

      My first Mac experience was with a Mac II. I bought a copy of MORE trying to find a Mac version of Grandview, but I never warmed up to it. I’m not sure why. I now wish that I’d spent more (no pun intended) with it, because I’ve read so many rave reviews like yours. Like you, I remain on the look out for a modern GrandView. I do not understand why it seems so hard for software developers to include decent inline text in outlines. OmniOutliner also features inline text, but it is more appropriate for notes, not longer, serious writing.

      Thank you for the comment.


  24. I was an early adopter of GV when it first came out. I managed compter operations for a large local government agency and GV became essential to managing all aspects of my job responsibilities. I miss it terribly. This is the first time I engage in a discussion about GV. Glad I found this site.


    1. Thank you for reading and commenting on my post about GrandView, Felix. It remains a mystery to me why such a great program was never ported to Windows, nor has its functionality been completely duplicated by any other application.

      1. Thanks to both Ssmith and bethel95 for pointing out the lawsuit and its outcome. I was unaware of this. In some ways it seems even more inexplicable that after going to the effort and expense to win this legal fight that Symantec would drop GrandView just a few years later.

      2. I also knew nothing of the lawsuits, and I much appreciate learning of them. Intellectual property rights are a two-edged sword, it seems. I imagine Symantec viewed the lawsuit as a sunk cost and made the decision to kill the product independently. That was a serious loss for the public.

  25. You know, I wonder why there is not an open-source project to resurrect Grandview in a modern OS environment. Certainly this sort of communal volunteer effort has worked well for Firefox, for example, and I would think a superb outliner like Grandview would be an equally good/important/intriguing project.

  26. A few pgms I load on ALL my computers (will run on both Win or Mac via emulation software) are the old DOS pgms GrandView outliner & XYWrite III+ word processor – and the Mac the pgms are MORE 3.1 outliner & WriteNow 4.0 word processor. The emulation software for DOS I use is DOS-box and MAC classic OS emulation software I use is Basilisk or Sheepshaver –

    These work wonderful with old software apps. With the Mac I add print to PDF ability. With DOS I look for ways I can save or convert to file extensions that can be manipulated in newer windows programs etc.

    1. Another legacy program to consider: Lotus Agenda. Absolutely wonderful program, but Lotus didn’t know how to sell it, and it didn’t fit a pre-defined category (e.g., database, word processor, calendar, spreadsheet). Terrific program.

    2. Specialized VdosPlus environment for Xywrite, Wordstar, and WordPerfect 5 at
      DosBox works, this was derived from the gamer software Vdos

  27. I am old GV user who still has the last files along with all my old outlines. Just for fun I wanted to see if I could run it on MAC OSX and you can! You need the right unzip tool and the right DOS emulator. For those interested.
    Step 1. The unzip tool I used was Zipeg (from I extracted all the files into my applications folder in a subfolder I called GV.
    Step 2. I downloaded a DOS emulator for MAC OSX from Running the resulting DOSBOX, you get a Z:\ prompt. You need to mount the GV directory. So the command is
    Z:\ > Mount C /applications/gv. It will tell it has mounted this directory.
    Change to the C:\ prompt, then type in GV and
    Hey presto, you’re running GV.


    1. That’s truly amazing. I didn’t know you could run dosbox on OSX.

      I continued to heavily use GrandView until I switched to Windows 7 a couple of years back. With Vista and previous Windows versions, I was still able to integrate it fairly cleanly into my workflow.

      Early this year I switched to a Mac as my primary machine. And on OSX I finally found a package that could fully duplicate the functionality I was using GrandView for. Circus Ponies Notebook has both the powerful outlining capability and–via its Multidex–the tagging/sorting/alternate view capability. (No, I don’t have any financial relationship with them–I’m just a very happy customer.)

  28. There were many good programs for DOS. Yes you had non existent graphics and chunky text only displays but computing was a new thing back in the eighties, boundaries were being pushed, possibilities were being explored and there was a great deal of ingenuity being displayed. Sadly that is no longer the case.

    I used Grand View and Lotus Agenda. Lotus Agenda had capabilities which have still to be matched by today’s windows applications, for instance one could make an entry which mentioned ‘next thursday’ in the body text and Agenda would work out what date ‘next thursday’ was and assign that date to that entry without you having to do anything more (of course you could change the date if you wanted to).

    Sadly with the advent of windows 7 if you try to run a DOS application you get the ‘Yes it’s a program but not for this operating system’ dialog box. Oh well …

    The rate of advance in science has increased because researchers base their work on work which has gone before, Isaac Newton once said “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” meaning that his work would not have been possible if it had not been for the work of others whom had gone before.

    Software developers tend not to base their work on the work of those whom have gone before for fear of being sued for breach of someones intellectual property or software patent and so the software industry has become bogged down and innovation is stifled.

    There are some good applications out there. Scrivener for serious writing projects and even Microsoft Word, I hate to support the Microsoft hegemony but outline mode in MS Word is far better than Navigator in Libre Office by a very long way. I also use Ultra Recall for organising things and ConnectedText for everything else, you can even duplicate much of the functionality of Lotus Agenda in ConnectedText.

    But it would be good to have a windows version of GrandView especially if it were open source. I think the nearest thing we have right now is EMACS with org mode.

    1. I never tried Lotus Agenda, but have read lots of good stories. In some ways, I think DOS was a more productive computing environment for text- or number-based work. Once the processors got to 286 or 386, they were blindingly fast running DOS. I built huge spreadsheets in Quattro Pro that ran through calculations in no time. And there were no distractions.

      I have never gotten the hang of EMACS and OrgMode, unfortunately. Thanks for the comments!

  29. Fascinating thread, and long-lived!

    I never heard of GV, but wish I had—or perhaps not! I’d feel horrible to have used and loft such a great app!

    I was madly in love with EccoPro, and will always hate NetManage for killing it. Another DOS app I discovered just as. Moved to Windows was Nota Bene, the world’ smooth awesome scholarly word processor (and MS Word can still make me miss WordPerfect!). Fortunately, Nota Bene, which made it to Windows, but never 64-bit, is rising like the phoenix, and I wish them oodles of success. I suspect I’ll upgrade and run it in VMware!

    OmniOutliner was the app partly responsible for making me switch to Apple. **SO** glad I did! I have to to confess, it seems better at writing than some think? But I haven’t (yet?) used it for any long documents.

    I’m new to the idea of cloning, so it hasn’t permeated my thinking as something I need, but I’m starting too get it. My understanding is that the OmniGroup plans on adding it as a feature to version 4?

    I’m just starting to learn code and one dream is to create the ultimate Markdown outliner. Truthfully, all I want is to align text properly and make it easy to set the numbering format for levels as *you* see fit.

    I can’t help but wonder if there’s enough interest in GV to get something going? Cards on the table: I have a strong dislike of OpenSource, because great ideas start strongly and fade away. (Yes, there a few exceptions.) Perhaps a group could meet to start the project, and maybe even take it KickStarter?

    I moved last year to the San Francisco Bay Area, and would gladly meet over coffee to geek out over outliners, and I’m on Google+, Skype, and FaceTime.


  30. As I’ve mentioned earlier in this thread, I spent almost two decades looking for a Windows alternative to GrandView, and never found it. One result was that out of necessity I found ways to keep GrandView working in a Windows environment until 2011! My basic needs were–and still are–(a) an outliner powerful enough to easily maintain and use all my project and day-to-day notes and information, and (b) the ability to create a prioritized and date-aware “action items” view without having to maintain a separate “to do” list.

    When I transitioned to a Mac in 2013 I found Circus Ponies NoteBook, which, especially after its recent upgrade, has pretty much turned out to be the alternative I was looking for. I’m not using it as a writing tool, so I can’t comment on how effective it would be for that.

    1. Thank you for the comment, Bob. Circus Ponies NoteBook was one of the first apps I bought when I moved to Mac (second, I think, to Scrivener), but I’ve never warmed to it. I’m not sure why. I’d welcome reading more about how you use it?

  31. Interesting. Like Steve, I never warmed to CP Notebook. I had hoped it would replace OneNote. I just couldn’t make it work. I’d love reading more too, if you decide to share. Perhaps I’ll need to upgrade.

  32. I’ll try and summarize how I use CP NoteBook:

    In both my work life (web developer, previously other IT roles) and personal life there’s a continuous need to manage projects–both big and small–as well as perform miscellaneous tasks that aren’t project-related. There’s also a need to maintain lots of information with varying levels of structure. I’ve always found that traditional solutions for project management, contact management, password and login management, etc assume a higher level of structure and higher degree of uniformity than exists in the real world. I’ve found a good outliner, like NoteBook, to be a better solution. NoteBook allows me to take notes and then organize them hierarchically to apply whatever level of structure makes sense given the nature and completeness of the information. In addition, I can tag action-related items with a priority and/or due date. As well as appearing within the outline, they then appear on a virtual page that contains only action items, sorted appropriately. That lets me quickly determine what I need to be working on or addressing at any point in time. At any time I can (option-)click on an item within that virtual page to see and edit it within its outline.

    So, for example, I have a Notebook for each of my clients. The contents of these Notebooks vary a bit, but in general they have a page for information about relevant parties (e.g., the client him or herself, other relevant people in his/her organization, the host supporting the website and relevant login and access information, etc), a page for technical and miscellaneous information (e.g., paths of critical directories), a “diary” page where I keep track of what I’ve done with respect to that website on a particular day, a page for sub-projects related to the development of the website (for example, the development of an artist’s portfolio pages), an “InBox” page where I enter notes from client meetings, discussions with host support people, and other activities that will later be moved to where they belong, and, of course, the virtual action items page–part of NoteBook’s “Multidex”. (The Multidex has other virtual pages for other purposes, but this is the one I use heavily.)

    I also have a Notebook for organizing my personal projects and day-to-day action items. For example, we recently purchased a house that needed a fair amount of work. I used NoteBook to plan and keep track of all the things we needed to do, including assigning tasks to contractors, keeping track of work, etc. Another “project” within the personal projects Notebook dealt with all of the things that I had to deal with after my father’s recent death. The personal projects Notebook also has a list of lots of non-project action items–both one time and recurring. Examples include things like “connect Victoria (a friend) with landscaping contractor” (a one-time item with a priority but not a due date), or “take out garbage and recycling” (a weekly reminder that appears at the top of the action items virtual page on the relevant day).

    Then there are some information-only Notebooks. “Parties” keeps track of all the organizations and business people I interact with. Where relevant, it contains detailed information related to accounts, how to log in to online account management (increasingly that’s not just a matter of a user id and password), etc. That Notebook, like others that require heavy security, is kept on my “Secure” drive–which is actually a heavily-encrypted dmg file that appears as a separate drive (a fantastically-well-engineered solution that Apple provides in OS X). “Personal Info” has information related to appliances, connections in our home electrical sub-panel, car service-related stuff, clothing sizes, and a million other bits and pieces of information that are needed from time-to-time.

    There’s a lot more I could add, but I don’t want this comment to turn into a dissertation! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Bob. I very much appreciate the time you’ve taken to write about how you use NoteBook. You’ve inspired me to take another long look at using it. Do you use the iPad version?

      1. >> Do you use the iPad version? <<

        Only as an extension of the Mac version (using Dropbox syncing), for reference and light input. Its interface is too clunky for the kind of heavy-duty interaction I do with the Mac version. I could pretty much say the same thing about all the apps I use on the iPad, however. A separate keyboard might change that, but in that case I might as well be using a laptop!

        It's hard for me to picture how the iPad version could be useful as a stand-alone app (vs. as an extension of the Mac product). I know that now that the V4 Mac upgrade is out Circus Ponies is turning its attention to upgrading the iPad version–it will be interesting to see what they do.

        A couple of notes about the V4 upgrade, by the way. Rather than adding lots of new features, they focused on improving the existing ones, which personally I think was great. There's a new compressed-XML file format, significantly-improved performance (which is apparently at least partly related to the new format), and a thousand little tweaks to improve things across the board. In general, the focus seems to have been on strengthening the outlining-related functionality vs. the features related to non-hierarchical information (e.g. "writing pages"), which personally I've found great but some people have complained about.

        Note that the new file format means that once you've opened a Notebook in V4 it automatically gets converted and you can't go back to opening it in V3. It also means that if you upgrade Mac to V4 you need to upgrade iPad as well and vice-versa. For now, they've lowered the price on the iPad upgrade so it's almost free.

    2. Thanks for such a detailed report! It’s too bad the iPad version isn’t more useful, but, as you say. Perhaps the next version.

  33. Just to clarify: I DO find the iPad version useful. When I’m somewhere where it would be inconvenient to use my laptop, it’s great, because it gives me (a) the ability to reference my existing notes, and (b) the ability to make new notes. What it’s not so great for is heavy note input or heavy-duty organization/reorganization of existing notes. But that’s not because of NoteBook’s design–it’s because of the inherent limitations of the iPad itself. Its keyboard is limited, its screen size is limited, and it only supports using one app at a time. (When I use NoteBook on my laptop, it’s kind of my information “control center”. I have lots of other apps open at the same time that I’m moving information to and from.)

    When it comes to information management, the iPad provides a light-duty extension of the apps on my computer. That’s regardless of whether I’m using it for email, contact management, word processing, spreadsheet, NoteBook notes, or whatever.

    1. Thanks for the clarification. I agree with your general assessment of the iPad, but I will say that some apps are designed better than others to take advantage of the iPad’s strengths. I don’t think Notebook is one of those apps. I am hopeful the next version will be better. It is interesting to compare apps that have both iOS and OSx versions. Some were designed first for the iPad then ported to the Mac, and others went the other way. I’ve found that there is usually something unsatisfactory about the ported version. For example, MagicalPad on the iPad is a pretty healthy app. But the version for Mac is difficult to use (in my view, of course; others may see it different). Same with Notebooks (by Alfonse Schmidt, not NoteBook). NoteBook on the other hand went in the other direction, and it is the iPad version that feels limited and awkward to me. It must be a very difficult challenge for developers to create apps for both types of machine that are familiar to users and make good use of each environment.

      1. I agree that the iPad version is more difficult to use than the Mac version. But that’s been my experience with every piece of input/manipulation-type software I’ve ever used on a tablet or phone. It will be interesting to see how much easier they can make it in the upcoming update.

        One thing I like that NoteBook iPad provides and I haven’t seen in other packages is the cursor arrows on the keyboard. Maybe it’s just my clumsy fingers, but the standard method of trying to precisely place the cursor in most phone/tablet text-oriented apps drives me nuts.

  34. Lotus Agenda runs perfectly under DosBox (there are some issues with printing but there are workarounds). I still maintain a Lotus Agenda site, complete with legal downloads, at

    1. I’m finding surprisingly good and useful, and the ability to share any node is useful. It’s one giant outline, but you can click the bullet for any entry and see an outline with that entry as the top level. For example, here is a node that I share publicly in read-only mode: I have another node “Move” that serves as the top level for an outline of everything involved with an upcoming move. That node I share with my wife that allows us both to edit the entries.

      Workflowy provides the option to receive a daily email of the history of changes. That is useful primarily if you are sharing nodes with edit capability: it draws you attention to changes others have made.

      The “Help” section consists of 1-2 minute videos, each covering a specific feature.

  35. I’ve used Workflowy in the past and definitely agree with your assessment. It is a clean, inviting outlining environment. I’ve switched to Dynalist because it offers more tools than Workflowy, and I can create individual outlines, which I find a little more manageable than the one-outline approach of Workflowy. Dynalist is more cluttered looking than WF — a necessary trade-off for me.Thank you for the comment.

  36. Hi: To avoid internet-related distractions, I do most of my writing — specifically, narrative non-fiction — on a DOS laptop. Having read about Grandview here, it strikes me as a tool that could be of great use to me. But I’ve been unable to find a download of it anywhere (unlike ThinkTank, by which I’ve been underwhelmed).
    Any possibility of some fellow admirer of vintage computer wares making one available to me? If so, I’d be glad to make payment for it.

    1. I have my old BrownBag Software PC outline and have carried it around to all my PC computers.
      It worked under Windows 7 in most configurations, but Windows 8 and 10 required VdosPlus (from to run this old DOS program.

      You can get PC Outline and Grandview from the “abandonware” site
      But do explore the files in the ZIP container before use.
      Some softwares were with Spanish language files and other odd features.

      Gordon’s Tech ( ) has a scanned Grandview Manual from 1990.
      See entry for Tuesday, February 18, 2014
      “GrandView Outliner and Information Manager: Scanned manual from 1990 – and a DOS Emulator”

      GrandView User Guide 2009 .pdf 9,080,411 bytes from Symantec 736 pages!
      GrandViewForWinV1 . zip 10,381,803 bytes

      ZIP file includes:

      Backup of Keyboard
      GV.ZIP (Folder)
      vDos-lfn.ZIP (vDos with Long File Names ability, and with 4DOS utility)
      GrandView 2.0 Reference Guide.pdf
      GrandView Shortcut Creator.vbs
      Windows Compatible Keyboard Shortcuts.pdf 98,730 bytes
      includes 23 page ASCII text manual.DOC.


  37. I used Grandview extensively in the 1990’s for note-taking, project planning,and creative writing. After Windows Vista I thought I had lost the ability to run Grandview and view my files forever.

    In preparing for a presentation on a project yesterday, I wished I could see my old notes on a similar project I had done 23 years ago. I did a Google search and discovered that someone named Dee had created a free conversion program that once again runs Grandview on today’s versions of Windows. I downloaded and installed it and it works just like new. I’m overjoyed!

    Here’s the link for anyone who wants to run Grandview again:

  38. Hi Sherwood author! I also have been obsessed with GrandView and used it for 20 years, until I had to leave XP. I just could not get it working on Win7. Originally it was written by John Friend and marketed by BrownBag Software (and some other firm) before purchased by Norton.

    Norton had a habig to buying software and putting it on the shelf to have it’s development ignored; They did wthis with a few other great products that died in their “care”. I guess this was to stop competition with their inferior “native” products. Another example they did this with was X-Tree — the createst file manager ever. However, a smart fellow mimicked X-Tree and came out with a similar better (and improved) product called Z-Tree.

    I have tried the download of GV mentioned here to work on Win 7 but have not gotten it to work. Is there anyone who can help with this? I have Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit. Thanks.

    Norton had a habig to buying software and putting it on the shelf to have it’s development ignored; They did wthis with a few other great products that died in their “care”. I guess this was to stop competition with their inferior “native” products. Another example they did this with was X-Tree — the createst file manager ever. However, a smart fellow mimicked X-Tree and came out with a similar better (and improved) product called Z-Tree.

    I have tried the download of GV mentioned here to work on Win 7 but have not gotten it to work. Is there anyone who can help with this? I have Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit. Thanks.

    1. Yes, try the various VDOS and VDOSPLUA fix references in this email trail (about 10 refs). It does work in the most recent Windows with DOS-oriented programs

  39. If anyone’s still interested, I’ve found a way to use Grandview with Word10. First I run it in Doxbox, boots up perfectly, with all the features. When I have an outline completed, I export it with the tab indented option, but first you must select the entire outline using your cursor (no Ctrl-A). Then export it. Open the export file in Word, select it, and convert it to a multilevel list. You’ll have to go through and make some corrections, but once you’ve done that you’ve got a perfect Word file of your outline. Grandview is such a terrific program I can’t understand why no one has brought it out for windows. BTW I also use Symantec Q&A for the data base; it’s so simple and so functional… but that’s another story.

    1. Thank you for the comment and for reading my blog. Grandview was great… sometimes I miss DOS.

      1. New version of Dos-Box-this week
        Latest Release: 0.83.12
        Release Date: April 1, 2021
        DOSBox-X is an open-source DOS emulator for running DOS games and applications.
        DOS-based Windows such as Windows 3.x and Windows 9x are officially supported.
        Compared to DOSBox, DOSBox-X is much more flexible and provides more features.
        Look at the DOSBox-X Wiki for more information about DOSBox-X and usage guides.
        We also hope that DOSBox-X (along with DOSLIB) can aid in new DOS development.

      2. DOXbox is great. It lets me run programs like Symantec Q&A, in which I have multiple programmed databases, and, of course, Grandview. Dosbox is quick, easy, simple to install and run, and performs spotlessly. Don’t know what I’d do without it. Cry a lot, I guess.

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