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Creating and Importing Outlines
 

Although your iPhone is the ideal place to listen to your outlines, it's not a great place to create them. Outlines can be long—and long documents are not the sort of thing you want to be typing on an iPhone keypad. Creating them on your laptop or desktop computer makes the most sense, and you can do so using any application that exports in .opml or .txt format. These are the two file formats OutlinesOutloud can read. 

Still, a text-editor-formatted outline will display and read just fine in OutlinesOutloud

If you use Microsoft Word, or another word processor, be sure to use it as a text editor only—without using styles or setting additional margins which would get stripped away when you save as a .txt file. Include only the tabs at the beginning of paragraphs, as described above.

OPML (Outlining Processor Markup Language) is a file format like .txt or .doc, but a special one that supports the row-oriented, hierarchical nature of outlines. The file extension of an OPML file is ".opml".

What is OPML?

For this purpose, we strongly recommend using an outlining application that will output in .opml format.  Outlining apps display your outline properly on the screen as you're writing and let you view or hide individual subpoints while you work. The resulting outline will print with correct formatting and will, of course, display and read perfectly in OutlinesOutloud.

Using a text editor instead (inserting one or more tabs at the beginnings of lines to create the hierarchy and outputting as a .txt file), will also produce a satisfactory result, although the outline won't look exactly right on the screen—only the first lines will be indented and all text will wrap to the left margin. 

Formatting your outline requires inserting one or more tabs at the beginning of each paragraph, to indicate the levels. 

If you do need to upload an existing outline that was created with additional formatting in Word, follow the steps in the section below under Microsoft Word Workaround.

Here’s a partial list of outlining programs for Mac and PC that save in OPML format:

(Cross-Platform)

Checkvist (FREE)

Mac

OmniOutliner 5 Essentials 
(Most recommended: "lite" version of OmniOutliner has the essential features.)

 

OmniOutliner 5 Pro 

(The most full-featured version; look for the educational discount in Omni’s store.)


MindNodePro

Windows

Browser-Based

Microsoft Word Workaround

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Surprisingly, Microsoft Word doesn’t export to .opml format. Fortunately, there is a way to convert existing Word outlines to .opml: Use the ‘Save-As’ option in Word to save your outline as a text file (with a .txt file extension) and then import into the free Visual Outliner (Windows), OmniOutliner (Mac) or your favorite browser-based .opml editor, then run through the outline, re-indenting the rows, and save the file out as an .opml file.  Even for long documents, this only takes a couple of minutes.

Here are exact steps, using an OPML editor….

 

1. Create your outline in MS Word

2. SAVE-AS a text file…

3. Select ‘OPEN’ from the File menu in the OPML editor and navigate to the text file you outputted…​

4. ​Click on the triangle at the beginning of the first row that should be indented…

5. ​Hit TAB to indent (or SHIFT-TAB to outdent)…

6. Hit LEFT-ARROW to go to the next row and indent. Repeat for all rows…

7. ​Select ‘Save-As’…

8. Save into your OutlinesOutloud folder…

 

Importing Outlines Using Dropbox

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Once you’ve created an outline on your computer and saved it in OPML format, there are two ways to get it onto your phone. The best is using Dropbox.

Dropbox is free and makes the transfer totally painless and automatic. To move outlines to your iPhone using Dropbox, you simply drop them into a special folder on your computer and they appear on your phone within seconds, without your having to do anything else.

(The other method of transferring outlines, using the Share button, doesn't require any additional apps, but it does involve one extra step each time you do it. It is described here.)

If you already have a Dropbox account and have Dropbox installed on your computer, skip down to tell OutlinesOutloud to get your outline files from Dropbox. Otherwise, do these steps first:

  • Set up a Dropbox Account. Go to www.dropbox.com and follow the instructions. It takes about one minute, and it’s free.

  • Install Dropbox on Your Laptop or Desktop Computer. The Dropbox site will walk you through installation once you’ve set up an account. (NOTE: You do not need to install the Dropbox iPhone app on your iPhone, but you can if you want to.)

Tell OutlinesOutloud to Get Your Outline Files From Dropbox:

  • Launch the OutlinesOutloud app on your iPhone.​​

When you see the Choose How To Import screen, select Dropbox and tap DONE…

When prompted, enter your Dropbox login info (your email address and password)…

Dropbox will automatically create an Apps/OutlinesOutloud folder in the Dropbox folder on your computer. That’s where you will put outline files you want on your iPhone.

You’ll only have to set this up once. From then on, any files placed into the /Dropbox/Apps/OutlinesOutloud folder on your computer will instantly be available on your iPhone when you launch OutlinesOutloud.

To Transfer Outlines Using Dropbox

When you’ve finished creating an outline, remember to save it in .opml or .txt format (see recommendations under Creating and Importing Outlines) into the /Dropbox/Apps/OutlinesOutloud folder on your computer. The file will then be available for playback on your iPhone and will appear in the Outline List View when you launch OutlinesOutloud.

Importing Using the Share Button

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As an alternative to using Dropbox, OutlinesOutloud also lets you import outlines manually using the Share button. Once you set this as your preferred method, you can bring in an outline as an email attachment, tap the Share button, and select OutlinesOutloud as the destination.

 

Transferring Outlines Using the Share Button

Now, for example, you can email an outline to yourself and import from within Mail.

Select Share...

First, open the email and long-press on the attached outline file...

Select OutlinesOutloud...

...and the outline will appear, ready to play, in the Outline List View.

 

Set Up:

1. Launch the OutlinesOutloud app on your iPhone.

2. When you see the How To Import screen, select the Share button and tap DONE…

You’ll only have set this up once. 

 

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