Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Little List That Grows

As Education Librarian at Virginia Tech and former chair of the American Library Association Best Websites for Teaching and Learning committee, Heather Moorefield is frequently sending out alerts via Twitter about applications her followers might find useful.  Several months ago she tweeted about a simple but powerful organizational tool, which has been around for several years, but is new to me.  This tool makes use of a unique outlining technique for listing lists of lists.

Registration and use of Workflowy is free.  (You are allowed to add 500 items per month.) For users thirteen years and older all that is required is an email address and password.  As soon as you register an email is sent from the application creators about steps to take to begin use.  Within a few days more hints about features follow.  The instructions are concise and easy to understand.  As soon as you generate items on your list you will receive daily email updates. (You can unsubscribe if you desire.)

When you first log in, the blank screen can be a little intimidating (or liberating).  It is recommended that you first create several large categories.  Note that along the tool bar, the arrow in the upper right-hand corner (undo) is now highlighted as being an option once you've added categories.

When you mouse over a bullet point, a drop down menu appears. For your selected category you can add a note, chose complete, share with others, export, duplicate or delete it.  Added notes appear directly underneath the selected item.

If complete is chosen the item may disappear depending on your choice in the upper-right hand corner. (Completed: Hidden or Completed: Visible)  When you wish to share a particular portion of your list, another window pops up.  The two choices are to share with a link, either allowing editing or just viewing, or to send a private invitation via email with a required login.

If you decide to export, it can be formatted or in plain text; allowing for it to be copied and pasted into another document.  When you click on the bullet point next to a category to add items, it zooms you in to those specifics.

Click on the + sign to add to the list.  To continue adding points simply press the return key.  All items have the same options in the drop down menu as the larger categories and item order can be altered by simple dragging them to a new position. (Use the cross-like icon which appears.)

Here are separate views showing the zooming in feature.

If you want to expand the list to see all the items double click to open and double click to close.

If you wish to learn further details about other features on Workflowy click on the Help button in the upper right-hand corner.  There are a series of very informative short video clips which explain:

  • Getting Started
  • Tag & Filter
  • Complete
  • Share
  • Zoom
  • Edit
  • Search
  • Move
  • Delete
  • Duplicate
  • Expand & Collapse
  • Import & Export
  • Indent
  • Print
  • Undo and 
  • Settings.
Two features of particular interest are the ability to:  add tags grouping items from other lists together using the # symbol or the @ symbol to assign an item to a specific collaborator and search for items.

This is another of those applications that falls under the heading of so simple and easy to use, it's amazing.  I can see using this to plan month by month, week by week and day by day in the classroom.  It can be used with students who are working on projects together for storyboarding a presentation,  assigning tasks, or taking notes.  If you are working on a blog post, it can be used to organize your thoughts, list websites, videos and curriculum extras.  Workflowy is just what a list maker like myself needs.  Being able to zoom into a specific portion of your list without the distraction of all the other items is a huge bonus.  In your browser all you need to do is to open up the tab and forget about the paper pads and sticky notes.


  1. iTunes didn't show this app. I went to their website, then clicked on their iTunes link, and when iTunes came up I got an error msg saying there isn't a US version of the app. I'm therefore just using the desktop version. So far it seems like a great tool! Thanks for the heads up.

    1. I went to the Workflowy blog. I did some checking and found this: http://blog.workflowy.com/post/42389811911/weve-temporarily-pulled-workflowy-from-the-ios-app Hopefully they will have the mobile app available soon. I have been using the desktop version myself. I appreciate your comments.