Filling the outliner gap on Windows

I was recently reminded of the gap on the Windows platform in really good outlining tools. I am a long-time OmniOutliner user on my Mac, and haven’t really found a good, cheap, lightweight tool for managing structured outlines on Windows. According to this thread on, the leading candidates are probably Inspiration and NoteMap. NoteMap knows about hoisting, and Inspiration allows for some unstructured brainstorming in addition to pure outlining. But it’s not apparent that either has one of the elegant simple features I would need: the ability to convert an outline into a structured to-do list (which is desperately needed for our house projects).

Enter OneNote. I’ve had this app installed since I got Office 2003 but hadn’t really played with it until the last few days. It uses a notebook metaphor, automatically saves notes, allows for placement of multiple text and graphics blocks on the page, and has some really good outline features, including quick and intuitive numbering mechanisms and the ability to set to-do checkboxes. No hoisting and no ability to create columns on outline items, but otherwise pretty nice.

Miscellaneous links: Andrew May has a draft MSDN article about new import features in OneNote 1.1; Josh Allen wrote an OPML importer that works with the preview of OneNote 1.1; Omar Shahine writes an RSS to OneNote PowerToy that basically allows you to easily copy items from RSS feeds to an outline for later reading.