How I Take Notes, and Why We Need an OmniOutliner Alternative

We’re all wired differently. Some people like to write out their thoughts nicely on paper, but for me I can’t seem to do that. Also, I find the process to be slow and tedious (on paper), not to mention that my writing isn’t that neat. It would also slow me down (if I’m listening to a sermon) because Scriptures fly through my mind and pops up out of nowhere very often. If I’m busy writing I might miss the opportunity or forget to capture them because connections vanish from my mind if I don’t record them down. So I’m more interested in seeing how Scriptures connect, how they’re linked and related, and I record that instead. I can give an example of this in another post.

How It All Started

When I was a new believer, I started from scratch. Didn’t have any template, database or software, and my notes were mostly topical and diagrams. Then I moved to computer, and started mapping it out using mind mapping apps.

Mindmapping was fun initially, but hard to manage and fill in new connections. So I stopped everything altogether. Then later I wondered to myself whether I should keep these notepads or just throw them away, since by this time, I have grown in the faith and a lot of the notes were very basic.

In God’s providence, I found out an outlining app called Tree that has a tree format—perfect for how my mind works. I used Tree for a few years and built my own theological note database. Then I found out that the app got discontinued! This didn’t look good because my Tree database was 25MB of text (uncompressed)… So I went and looked for an alternative, but couldn’t find any that has tree mode.

Without any option, I gave OmniOutliner a try… a very simple app, but turns out to be the kind of app that takes my note taking to the next level thanks to the ability to style and create a link to a node within the outline. After a few years of using, I found out that I no longer need the tree mode.

The problem? It’s only for macOS. I’m aware of Evernote and others, but for something this specific that I’m doing, so far only OmniOutliner can deliver. Recently I found out about Obsidian (check the apps page in the menu), and have thought and looked for ways to transfer my OmniOutliner to it, but there’s simply no way. Even if I were to start from scratch, Obsidian’s workflow is not effective because it’s not an outlining app.

If you’re a Berean, then a good outliner like Omni is a must have! I can only hope that one day, someone will make a clone for Linux. The app is pretty simple! What makes it unique is its ability to style and a simple GUI. I have seen open source apps that are a lot more complicated than OmniOutliner, so it’s definitely not hard to make one. There are ways to improve OmniOutliner, but there’s no point at this point since Linux is where I’m heading.

In the follow up post, I’ll talk a bit more about how to start taking notes and build a database.

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