Increase your productivity by moving beyond the basics.
Workflowy is one of those apps that looks simple on the outside. However, there’s plenty under the hood for power users if you take the time to dig a little deeper.
Here are ten of my favorite Workflowy features that are guaranteed to take your notetaking to the next level.
1. Add Notes to Bullets
Notes are a great way to add additional information to a bullet. They are perfect for adding clarity to list items or providing more details to an outline. Text in notes can be styled like any other text and can contain links or tags.
To add a note, hover your mouse over a bullet and click the three dots to its left. From here, you can select Add Note to begin typing.
2. Create a To-Do List
If you want to create a checklist or a to-do list, Workflowy has you covered. That’s because any bullet can be completed like items on a list. Marking a bullet as complete adds a strike through line and allows you to hide or filter it.
To mark a bullet as complete, hover over it and click the three-dot menu to the left of the bullet. Then, click Complete. You can also use Ctrl+Enter on Windows or Cmd+Return on a Mac.
To mark a completed bullet as incomplete, repeat the process above. To show or hide completed items, click the checkmark in the top right of your screen.
3. Star Bullets for Easy Access
You can star a bullet to bookmark it. Starred bullets appear in the STARRED list on the left-hand sidebar. I like to star the bullets I use most often or the ones I am currently working on, so I can find them easily.
To star a bullet, click on it. Then click the star in the toolbar at the top of your screen. You can remove a star the same way, or by clicking on the star next to the bullet’s title in the sidebar.
4. Organize Bullets With Tags
Tags are a great way to help organize and filter your notes. They are also really easy to add. All you need to do is type a hashtag or the @ symbol before a word in your notes.
Some people like to use hashtags for categories and the @ symbol for people, but they both do the same thing (add a tag), so you can use whatever system works best for you.
To make tags stand out, you can highlight them. To add a color, hover your cursor over a tag to reveal a dropdown arrow. Clicking this arrow lets you choose a color to highlight your tag.
To filter your notes by a specific tag, click on the tag you want to view, or use the search bar at the top of the screen to search for a tag.
5. Searching Notes in Workflowy
You can search through your notes in Workflowy using the search bar at the top of the screen. It searches in real-time, so you don’t even need to press enter when you are done.
When searching for tags, you can use boolean operatives like AND and OR. This allows you to search for multiple tags at once.
Other search hacks include the ability to search by type. For instance, you can search has:note for bullets that have notes attached to them. The same method works for images, videos, files, or tweets.
Colors are another useful search filter. You can search for text with highlight colors using terms like highlight:red. The highlight colors Workflowy uses are red, orange, yellow, green, teal, sky, blue, purple, pink, and gray. You can also use text:red to filter colored text.
If you have a search that you use a lot, you can star your search by clicking the star in the search bar. This adds your search to Starred items in the sidebar.
Pro tip: Workflowy searches through the nodes currently on display. If you want to search through all your notes, click the Home icon first.
6. Creating Internal Links
To help you move between related ideas in your notes, you can add internal links (backlinks). You can get the link for any bullet by hovering over it with your mouse and selecting the three-dot menu. Here you will see an option to Copy Internal Link. Copied links can be pasted anywhere in Workflowy.
A faster way to add an internal link is to use the keyboard shortcut. If you type two square brackets, you can search for a bullet to link to. As you start typing, a list of related notes will appear.
You can view all the backlinks for a specific bullet by clicking on a backlink and expanding the bullet at the bottom of the page that says Backlinks.
7. Creating Mirror Copies
Workflowy also lets you create a live copy of any bullet. These are called mirrors. You can have as many mirror copies as you want. A mirror looks different from other bullets because it has a diamond-shaped bullet.
If you edit a mirror, those changes will sync to all the other mirrors. This means adding sub-bullets to a mirror will add sub-bullets to all the additional mirror copies.
To create a mirror copy, hover over any bullet and click the three-dot menu. Next, click Mirror (Live copy) from the pop-up menu. Once copied, you can paste the mirror into another part of your notes.
You can also type a double parenthesis to search for notes that you would like to turn into a mirror copy.
8. View Notes as Boards
If you’re a fan of Trello, you will love Workflowy’s Boards. They turn your lists into a Kanban system, with columns and cards instead of bullets. Boards can be enabled or disabled as needed. You can turn them on for a project you are working on and leave them off when viewing your shopping list.
To turn a list into a board, click on the bullet that you want to turn into a board. Then hover your cursor over it and click the three-dot menu. Next, click Bullets, and choose Boards from the pop-up menu.
Once enabled, you can add a card to any of the columns by clicking the plus sign. Cards can be moved between columns by hovering your mouse over the card and clicking and dragging the circle icon to move your card.
You can click and drag columns the same way. If you need more columns, scroll all the way to the right and click the plus icon to add a new one.
9. Sharing Notes With Others
You can share anything you want in Workflowy, and the people you share your notes with don’t need to have a Workflowy account. Each bullet can have its own permissions, with sub-bullets inheriting the permissions of the parent bullet. This lets you drill down and share only what you want to share.
A shared bullet looks different from other bullets because it has a blue ring around it. This is to remind you that this bullet is shared.
The easiest way to share something is with a secret link. You can generate one by navigating to the bullet you want to share and clicking the settings button on the toolbar. From here, all you have to do is click Share and choose Enable link sharing.
Underneath the generated link is an option to select your sharing permissions. You can give people full access, editing rights, or view-only access. A description of each one is included here.
Regardless of which permissions you choose, people will only be able to access your notes with the secret link. They won’t find it in a public Google search. And remember, you can test the link before you share it with others to ensure you are sharing what you want other people to see.
10. Customizing Workflowy’s Appearance
If you don’t like the default design, you can change the Workflowy looks. There are three main ways to do this, and you can access all these options by clicking the three dots in the menu bar and selecting Settings.
The first option is Themes. Free users can choose between Default, Vintage, and Dark. As you can see from the screenshots in this article, I like the Dark theme. However, Pro users get four additional themes to pick from.
You can also customize fonts. There are five free fonts and three Pro fonts. I stick with the system font, but it is nice to have options.
Last but not least, is the external link color. It can be blue or gray.
Workflowy is a free outlining tool that anyone can use. The features above are available for free and paid plans. There is a monthly limit on the number of bullets you can use on the free plan, but if you sign up with my affiliate link, you and I will both get an extra 100 bullets per month!
If you decide to upgrade to a Pro account, there is a 20% discount on annual plans, a free year of service for students, and a 50% discount for non-profit organizations.
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