A great outliner for Windows

Most of my software postings have related to applications that run on a Mac, but I spend my work days on a PC (using Windows XP still). So pent up inside me are many things to say about Windows applications. Today I want to mention a terrific outlining application called Noteliner.

Noteliner is the creation of a lone coder named Sam Hawksworth. Sam describes Noteliner like this:

As simple and lightweight as a text editor, with the power of an outliner, and the metadata of a to-do list

That is a perfect description. I’m not going to give a thorough review of Noteliner at this time. Sam’s web page does a good job running down the features. But I do want to sing Noteliner’s praises.

Noteliner is a simple but effective outliner and task organizer.

I’ve been using PCs in one form or another for almost 30 years, since just about the time the first PC was introduced. In the late 1980s I was introduced to GrandView, a DOS outliner that remains my all-time favorite application. Unfortunately, GrandView was never ported to Windows, and has yet to be matched in all its tremendous features by any other application on any platform — at least in my estimation. Even a terrific application like EccoPro — which I liked a lot — was never a great outliner.

But in Noteliner I’ve finally found an outliner that makes me happy to use it and not constantly thinking about how it comes up short compared with GrandView. Noteliner isn’t GrandView, but it is a snappy outliner with lots of simple, but powerful organizing features. And it’s free of charge, which is really just a bonus.

Sam’s initial vision for Noteliner was that users would keep all their information in one file, so he made it with a nice bookmarking system that would allow you to quickly drill down to different pages (a note with sub items is referred to as a page in Noteliner). However, in a consession to the notion that people are creating individual files for different projects, he has allowed for the use of multiple instances in version 3, so you can open more than one Noteliner file at a time.

Same file, just drilled down to a specific note or "page" in Noteliner parlance.

I use it primarily for outlining, and then export the text to another application. The export features are not very sophisticated as yet, but they are simple and effective. Sam seems committed to improving Noteliner — in fact, I’m prompted to write this posting because he recently released version 3.

Noteliner still has rough edges, but I’m confident they will be smoothed over in time. Meanwhile, I suggest you check it out if you are looking for a good Windows-based outliner.



  1. I’ve looked at UV Outliner in the past, but it requires the latest .NET framework to run, and I find it tedious to have to keep installing that massive architecture.

    Thank you for the comment.

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