Curio learns Markdown

[Note: This article was updated 5/8/18]

Imagine a notebook that had white boards instead of pages. That’s sort of Curio in a nutshell. Well, maybe I should suggest you add in that you have tools for including

  • Text
  • Lists
  • Mind Maps
  • Tables
  • Index Cards
  • Images
  • Videos

… and other figures to those white boards in order to make sense of your information. Oh, yes, you should add the project and task management features. Right, and also you can add sections to your notebook to organize your white boards. And you can have as many notebooks as you want. (BTW, the white board pages in Curio are known as Idea Spaces.)

You get my point, I hope. Curio is a remarkably robust information manager. (I wrote a review of a previous version for the defunct website MacAppStorm.) Well, the developer, George Browning of Zengobi Software, just released version 12.0, and it just so happens that it dovetails nicely with my Markdown Shakedown series. So here goes.

With the release of version 12.0, Curio now has the ability to work with markdown files. I won’t yet call Curio a markdown editor, as it is missing too many elements required for genuine markdown writing and note taking, but the new markdown proficiency makes for some interesting interaction with markdown editors.

To render text into markdown you just create a text figure, like the one in the image above. Add the markdown syntax, then click the little markdown button in the inspector. When you click out of the text figure, Curio does its work showing what you wrote in its markdown rendering.

You can change the look of your rendered text, but this requires customizing the master markdown style, which sounds a bit complicated, but really isn’t. Curio has a menu option for opening and editing the master markdown style file in whatever is your default text editor. I managed to do it, so it isn’t too hard.

The list of markdown syntax recognized and rendered by Curio.

Markdown limitations

As you can see in the image above, Curio has a limited number of markdown attributes it recognizes. Markdown aficionados will probably have a long list of missing attributes. The two major missing ones for me are ordered or unordered lists and tables. (Of course, if you add asterisks before your list items and export the text into a markdown file, a good markdown editor will render those asterisks as bullets.) Because Curio does do tables and lists with its other figures, this is not a major omission as far as getting information on the page. I asked George if he were planning to add rendering of lists and tables and he explained that it was more of a technical challenge, one that might have other implications… so the answer is maybe, but don’t count on it unless there is an overwhelming demand from Curioites.

Update: After reading my initial draft of this post, George sent me an email with the following clarifications:

Curio does support markdown lists and markdown tables but only to/from Curio’s native lists/mindmaps and native tables (so just not within its text figure)…

Plus you can export selected figures, idea spaces, or even your entire project as markdown — with Curio generating the markdown as needed for rich text, images, lists, mind maps, tables, links, files, etc with optional figure notes as markdown footnotes plus meta tags — is also a huge feature. Basically without knowing markdown you can use Curio to produce a tremendous amount of markdown content. That single resulting markdown file, with associated assets folder, can be viewed with Marked 2 or MultiMarkdown Composer.

Here is a simple example of what he is talking about:

Curio Table Figure

I created this simple table figure in Curio, then exported it using the share as markdown command under the FILE > SHARE menu.

LightPaper Preview 2018-05-09 14-36-52

I then opened the table export file in LightPaper. You can see the exported markdown on the left, and the rendered version on the right.

Curio markdown proficiency

The markdown proficiency of Curio may seem limited, but it isn’t intended to replace a good markdown editor like LightPaper, but to work alongside it. You can extract text from Curio in a markdown format and open it or paste it into your markdown editor of choice.

I exported this article from Curio as markdown and opened it in LightPaper. Voila.

But the real power, I think, in Curio’s markdown proficiency is how you can bring markdown files from your favorite editor into Curio. In the video below I drag a markdown list created in Lightpaper and drop it onto a Curio Idea Space:

The verdict

Well, there isn’t a verdict. You wouldn’t buy Curio to use as your markdown editor, but for the million other things it does, yes, you definitely might want to buy it. The markdown built into Curio adds a new dimension to its usability. One of Curio’s other limitations is that it is only for MacOS. Cognizant of this, Zengobi works to add functions for Curio to work with other apps that run on other types of devices. It interacts with your Calendar. It has an easy way to bring Evernote notes onboard. Zengobi’s free notes app, Curiota, helps capture stuff from the web and elsewhere and then suck it into Curio. The markdown capabilities of Curio now make it possible to, for example, use a markdown editor on your iPad, and save markdown files to your Curiota folder on DropBox. You can then yank that information into Curio as text, a list or a mind map. That’s pretty cool.

Markdown proficiency adds another tool to the impressive list of ways Curio can help you manage, analyze and capture information.


Curio 10 now available with helper app Curiota

Curio 10 is now available.

Curio 10 is now available. (Image courtesy of Zengobi.)

I got word today from George Browning of Zengobi Software that a new version of Curio is now available. According to the press release, Curio 10 features these improvements:

Zengobi today announced the availability of Curio 10, a major update of their professional brainstorming, mind mapping, and note taking application for the Mac, as well as a new free companion app, Curiota, which integrates with and extends Curio’s functionality and connectivity with always-available note taking, file collection, and extensive OS X scripting and integration features. New features in Curio 10 include support for stack collections for visual task management; powerful mind map & list sorting; iMindMap and updated MindNode import/export support; tag emoji support; numerous table, pinboard, and list enhancements; new Local library shelf for custom watch folders, fast file searching, and Curiota integration; stencils shelf for more efficient diagramming; interface refinements; plus dozens of other features and enhancements.

While I have long been an admirer of Curio, I have not used it much, only because I tend to use more focused apps for note taking and organizing. But I have used it in the past for building and making a presentation. And I am currently using Curio to manage the research I am doing for a book project I’m working on. The helper app, Curiota, is especially intriguing to me, because it may help extend my usage of Curio.

Curiota. (Image courtesy of Zengobi.)

Curiota. (Image courtesy of Zengobi.)

Within the past year, Zengobi released a “lite” version of Curio called Curio Express, as well as a free reader app, which allows colleagues to view your Curio projects without the need to buy the app. Here’s pricing, requirements and how to download/buy the Curio family of apps:

Curio 10 requires OS X Yosemite or OS X El Capitan and is available immediately for download from New licenses can be purchased for US$129.99 (US$79.99 for academia, upgrades are US$49.99) from, volume discounts are available. Downloading Curio will begin a full-featured, 2-week trial. More information on Curio can be found at and detailed Curio 10 release notes can be found at

Curiota requires OS X Yosemite or OS X El Capitan and can be downloaded at no charge only from the Apple Mac App Store. More information on Curiota can be found at

Curio Express requires OS X Yosemite or OS X El Capitan and can be purchased for US$29.99 only from the Apple Mac App Store. More information on Curio Express can be found at

Curio Reader requires OS X Yosemite or OS X El Capitan and can be downloaded at no charge only from the Apple Mac App Store. More information on Curio Reader can be found at

I have not yet tried version 10, but plan to purchase the upgrade today. I’ll get back with a more in-depth commentary soon.

An embarrassment of riches?

The past week or so has been like Christmas for a CRIMP geek like me. First, I decided to bite the bullet and subscribe to Office 365 so I could use OneNote effectively on all my devices (more about this in an upcoming post). Then I was offered an advance look at Curio 9 (which I’ll be able to write about when it is officially released). Yesterday, Circus Ponies Notebook version 4 was released. And to top it all off, I’ve been trying out an advance version of Tinderbox 6 — talk about changes!

So I’ve been like a kid let loose in a candy shop. After I’ve had some time to digest all the treats, I’ll be posting about them as I’m able.