Outliners allow you to organize text or place random pieces of information into tree-type notes or a well organized database.
They occupy a unique niche among computer users. Many people see no benefit from them while others consider them an essential piece of software.
If you are among the group that loves them, then you should check out some freeware reviewed here.
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KeyNote is a freeware program with a dedicated band of followers. While most software designers like to use the term user friendly, in this case it really applies. This is one of the few software programs that you can install and start using right away.
What do you do with KeyNote? Well to quote the web site “KeyNote is used by screenwriters to draft screenplays, by medical doctors to keep patient databases, by developers to store source code snippets - and to everyone it serves as a place to put all the random pieces of information that have no particular structure or relationship to other data, and do not fit easily in task-specific applications such as word-processors, databases or spreadsheets.
If it is a problem for you that KeyNote is no longer under development then you might want to consider NeoMem. It's not really a dedicated outliner but is rather more of a general purpose note taking program that can be used as an outliner.
It's a kind of hybrid of a database and word processor that's designed to allow you to organize, store, hyperlink and search information.
The bland description totally under-sells the product. It's one of those programs that you really need to use in order to understand its full potential. It works with all Windows versions so try it.
As another alternative, TreeDBNotes Free can be used with full text and paragraph formatting with customizable images. It supports many useful features such as hyperlinks, word tables, auto time-stamping, filtered search and more.
With this application, you can backup and restore your database, print your notes or export them to txt, rtf, html, doc and other formats.
Though most basic features in this free version are sufficient for average users, there're some extra features, such as setting passwords and spell checker that need to be enabled through a registration which is not free.
KeepNote works as an outliner and keep notes or other content in a simple hierarchy of folders as well. In each notebook, you can create folders and pages, as well as sub-folders and sub-pages, and you can re-organize them easily by drag-and-drop. In each page, rich text formatting including colored fonts, bullet point lists and hyperlinks are supported.
As an added advantage, not only can you store images, you can also directly insert a screenshot you take with this application into an opened note.
KeepNote auto saves your files in xml format and allows you to archive and restore your notes from your storage device. No print option is available in the application.
Another possibility is FreeMind. It's an Open Source "mind mapping" program written in Java that can serve as an outliner as well.
Functionally it's closer to Keynote than NeoMem. It's slower than Keynote but is more powerful for mapping complex relationships.
The software is cross platforms and you can run it in Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.
ZuluPad is another program that is not really an outliner but rather a cross between a note-taking program and a wiki. Its strong card is the ease with which you can create a set of linked and cross linked documents.
In its current release, it is lacking in features when compared to the other products but this is more than compensated for by its high level of usability.
Other freeware products to be reviewed:
SEO Note is used for any tree-like structured information. It saves your file in a proprietary seo format but allows for export to txt, rtf or html format.
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