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The Best Open Source Outliners for Mac OSX

written by: DeborahWoehr•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 8/23/2010

Do you need to outline a novel or a research paper? You don’t have to spend money for an outlining software. Instead, check out the free open source outliners for Mac OSX.

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    Zulu Pad

    ZuluPad Main Screen 

    ZuluPad is an open source outliner for Mac OSX that is called personal desktop wiki. A wiki is repository of information on a topic that is organized by a main index. From that index, you click on the hyperlink that will take you to the page you want to read. Wikis allow you to outline novel ideas, non-fiction books, academic papers or whatever you need to collect your research and keep it all in one place.

    Source: ZuluPad

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    MyMind is an open source outliner for Mac OSX that creates both outlines and mind maps. First, you create you outline by creating Sub-Items and any Siblings that fall beneath the Sub-Items. From there, you can print out the outline as is or create a mind map. I’ll discuss mindmapping in more detail in the next paragraph.

    For now, I want to let you know that MyMind is much less complicated to learn than ZuluPad. It took me all of two seconds to learn. The screenshot I took is a basic outline that I started for this article.

    I’m not sure when the last software upgrade occurred, but I can tell you that MyMind works fine on Snow Leopard.

    Source: MyMind

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    FreeMind is an open source outliner for Mac OSX that creates mind maps. Mind maps are visual outlines that consist of a central idea. From that idea, you draw branches outward and write subtopics either on the plain branch or draw shapes.

    The purpose of a mind map is to help you brainstorm your ideas for articles, books, websites, term papers, etc. Not only that, but mind maps are good for helping you remember what you have learned.

    Take a look at the screenshot to see the basic mind map that I drew. You’ll see the basic premise for this article, as well as the names of the programs and the branches that contain keywords for the software that I am discussing.

    With FreeMind, you can collapse those sub-branches so that all you see is the central keyword and the first child branches that sprout from it. You also notice a bunch of icons to the left. Those icons will help you build a more visual mind map by helping you associate ideas with images. It will also help you speed up your note-taking time.

    Source: FreeMind

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    The purpose of this article was to help you learn what types of open source outliners are available for Mac OSX. As you can see, there are several forms of outliners available. ZuluPad uses the wiki format. MyMind is a bare-bones list maker that can be converted into a mind map. FreeMind is a tool that creates mind maps. Test all of these out and find out what system works best for you.