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Circus Ponies support

Gyorgy Vizkelethy Oct 04, 2016 07:14AM PDT

I have just bought Outline from the AppStore. The reason I bought because the description said:
**Circus Ponies import enabled**
Because of it I thought that the outline team finally added this long requested feature, so it was time to by it. But I am unable to find how to do it? There is nothing on the menus, nothing in the user manual. What am I missing? So is this feature there or it is just an advertising lie?

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alex Oct 04, 2016 06:17PM PDT
Me too!
It has been talked about so much, I don't believe this is a "lie" but rather a case of version confusion...right?

From the "how to" page:
4. Manage the utility privileges in System Preferences > Accessibility.
5. Run the utility and choose .nb notebooks.

...problem is that in there is not a "utility" to run there. Help!
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Valya Oct 04, 2016 10:40PM PDT OUTLINE Helping Hand

Thanks for reaching out!

We will contact you with all the details on CP notebooks import to Outline.
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Gyorgy Vizkelethy Oct 05, 2016 09:38AM PDT
Hi Alex,

Yes I found that "How to", too. The first item is to get on the wait list and they say they would notify you about the "utility" beta. I have been on the list for months and never ever received anything from the developers. There is nothing in the User Guide at all. I hope they will contact me, too because I have many CP notebook and I would really like to use Outline, but without conversion I cannot.
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Valya Oct 05, 2016 10:55PM PDT OUTLINE Helping Hand

I apologise for inconvenience!

I renewed the information on your request and we will contact you with all the details on CP notebooks import as soon as possible!

Feel free to write to me directly at if having any other questions on Outline.
I'll be happy to help!
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Charles Oct 14, 2016 11:53AM PDT

I beta tested the import process with Aleksey Dolgushev last August.

He emailed the dropbox link to the revised instruction on Sept. 7:

Hope that helps
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Valya Oct 16, 2016 09:52PM PDT OUTLINE Helping Hand

Thank you for your help!

We usually contact the CP users personally in order to be able to discuss the features they'd like to see in Outline CP notebooks import.
If there are any questions / suggestions on CP notebooks in Outline, feel free to write us at
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Brian Gockley Nov 02, 2016 06:59AM PDT
Still no utility, and the Terminal command in the dropbox file did not work.
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Valya Nov 02, 2016 08:31PM PDT OUTLINE Helping Hand

Thanks for contacting us!

I've replied to you with email, could you please check it?

And there is a new instruction.
So for everyone else interested in CP notebooks import - please write to me at
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bob wilcox Nov 03, 2016 01:28PM PDT
Your outline app is awesome, a few things on my wishlist but I'm sure it'll get there.

Do you have an updated script for importing circus ponies notebook, i have tried each new version dozens of times with not the expected results, i am writing out my findings and will email them to you, but if you have a new script and instructions id love to give it a shot.


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Valya Nov 06, 2016 11:29PM PST OUTLINE Helping Hand
Hi Bob,

Thanks for reaching out!

I've sent you an email, could you please check it and give me some more information about what happens when you try to import the notebooks.
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Jeff Kofsky Nov 11, 2016 10:29AM PST
This would be extremely helpful.
I have made extensive use of circus ponies, and it would be great to get it all onto Outline.
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bob wilcox Nov 11, 2016 12:55PM PST
Collapsable outlines would be a great addition
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Richard Johnson Nov 11, 2016 10:44PM PST
Collapsible / Expandable feature would turn Outline+ into a true outlining app.

Circus Ponies Notebook had some good features, but it was not always as user-friendly as I would have liked. There just wasn’t anything better out there that could what it did.

One drawback was its linking to paragraphs. This took about twice as many clicks as it should have. It was hard to keep track of and was not robust in that it had operational issues.

Even though Outline only links to the page, currently, the process is simple. If you can maintain that simplicity, I would welcome the linking to paragraphs feature. Even though I did not like the way this feature worked in CPN, it was important enough to me to use it.

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Valya Nov 13, 2016 11:31PM PST OUTLINE Helping Hand
Hi everyone!

Thank you all for your comments!

We've discussed this feature with collapsible / expandable outlines some time ago and got to the point that it needs to be implemented very carefully.

Currently we're working on some other useful features and there is no free spots in our nearest release plans.
But I think as soon as we finish with iPhone version and Office 365 support on Mac, we will be able to dedicate some time to think about how we can implement this core CP feature in Outline.

Feel free to contact me directly to get the latest news and share your feedback!
I'm always happy to get your emails!
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Brian Garceau Nov 21, 2016 02:07PM PST
I followed the latest instructions to use one of my CircusPonies notebooks. When I execute the second Open command the following is returned:

iMac:~ Bg$ open -a /Applications/ –args -ImportCPN ~/Library/Group\ Containers/
open: invalid option -- I
Usage: open [-e] [-t] [-f] [-W] [-R] [-n] [-g] [-h] [-s <partial SDK name>][-b <bundle identifier>] [-a <application>] [filenames] [--args arguments]
Help: Open opens files from a shell.
By default, opens each file using the default application for that file.
If the file is in the form of a URL, the file will be opened as a URL.
-a Opens with the specified application.
-b Opens with the specified application bundle identifier.
-e Opens with TextEdit.
-t Opens with default text editor.
-f Reads input from standard input and opens with TextEdit.
-F --fresh Launches the app fresh, that is, without restoring windows. Saved persistent state is lost, excluding Untitled documents.
-R, --reveal Selects in the Finder instead of opening.
-W, --wait-apps Blocks until the used applications are closed (even if they were already running).
--args All remaining arguments are passed in argv to the application's main() function instead of opened.
-n, --new Open a new instance of the application even if one is already running.
-j, --hide Launches the app hidden.
-g, --background Does not bring the application to the foreground.
-h, --header Searches header file locations for headers matching the given filenames, and opens them.
-s For -h, the SDK to use; if supplied, only SDKs whose names contain the argument value are searched.
Otherwise the highest versioned SDK in each platform is used.
iMac:~ Bg$


I actually copy/pasted the command into Terminal.

Help please?

Up 0 rated Down
Valya Nov 22, 2016 01:22AM PST OUTLINE Helping Hand

Sorry, there's been a mistake in the blog post.
Here is the right command spelling (the second one):

open -a /Applications/ --args -ImportCPN ~/Library/Group\ Containers/
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Brian Garceau Nov 22, 2016 02:48AM PST
Hi Alena,

We're not quite there. The command did not work and I think there may be a disconnect where it concerns the paths. Here are the commands I used.

open ~/Library/Group\ Containers/

When I execute the above, I see the Library folder with two subfolders, Imported and Processed. Based on the blog instructions I had placed the folder containing the CP export files in the ...../Library/Processed/CircusPonies/ folder.

There is no Import folder in the /Library folder.

When I execute the command provided in your response, Outline opens, and no new CP notebook is imported. What does happen is there is now a second "Start Here" Notebook is created, named "Start Here 2".

Maybe the above info will help sort this out. Thanks!! Bg
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Valya Nov 22, 2016 03:13AM PST OUTLINE Helping Hand

You need the first Terminal command to be able to open the folder which will be used for import:

- run the first command to open the folder;
- copy your CP notebook to "CircusPonies" folder;
- quit Outline;
- run the second command.

You can look up all the screenshots in Aleks' post:

The notebook must appear in Outline when it gets opened.
Do you have it?
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Brian Garceau Nov 22, 2016 05:05AM PST
Hi Alena,

I will email with the specifics. The CP file is a large one. Outline apparently attempted to open it but eventually ran out of memory (on a 64 Gig iMac!).

I have screen shots of my progress but unfortunately I cannot share them here on the Support pages.

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Laurel Bowman Jan 31, 2017 07:48AM PST
Yes please!
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Russell Banks Feb 15, 2017 08:35AM PST
In your Jan. 27, 2017 "Features Planned" list, for the Mac it says, "Get your CP notebooks imported with expandable / collapsible outlines supported."

Does this mean that once the text is in Outline, you can expand and collapse items just like you could in Notebook? Is Outline really getting the ability to expand and collapse items?

If it is, I didn’t see expand/collapse listed in coming features for the iPad version. That would be critical to me using this app.

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Valya Feb 15, 2017 09:25PM PST OUTLINE Helping Hand
Hi Russell,

Thanks for reaching out!

Well, this feature is presented in the list of the planned features.
Which means we've started analysing it but at the moment we don't have it in Outline.
And yes, once we finish working on it, the lists will be collapsible (as far as I know they've already implemented this feature in OneNote).
And sure, we will also think about moving this feature to iPad version too.
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elizabeth hostetter Apr 18, 2017 05:41PM PDT
the odd way i have to create outlines (as compared to what i'm used to from CP Notebook) is one thing keeping me from purchasing - because i'd have to purchase two Mac and one iPad license for two student users. i think i'm getting the hang of it - but definitely, collapsible items would be gold. So would indices akin to what CPNB had - i used these often to locate old lecture notes using a keyword from the topic i'm interested in remembering. Also, having to pay three licenses in full is a bit steep for students.
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Valya Apr 18, 2017 09:51PM PDT OUTLINE Helping Hand
Hi Elisabeth,

Well, Outline is free layout app.
We're more like OneNote. However I had the requests for something like "snap to grid" feature to make the outlines organised.
If you want I can add your vote for this feature too.

And what about licenses: you can use the one for both of your Macs.
We also have educational discounts - it's 40%.

Please write to me at to get more information about this discount.
I will help!
Up 1 rated Down
Boris May 07, 2017 12:52AM PDT
I'm here solely for collapsing support. I have long notes now with some server configurations in between, which are needed only sometimes. Collapsing those would be great. OneNote has this feature, but implementation is not very good. I'm stuck with it, though. Tried E***note, but this feature request is probably 10 years old now and still didn't make it in, I've given up. Can't wait for Outline to support this.

You should be able to select a text and make it collapsible, with no indenting required. Hope it gets implemented soon, I might switch!
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Henry Olders May 13, 2019 11:36AM PDT
Absolutely need the capability to expand and collapse outline items that have children. Is this still in the list of things that will happen?
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Henry Olders May 13, 2019 11:40AM PDT
By the way, I have a whole bunch of Circus Ponies files that I still need to access. My workaround is to use Parallels on my Mac, to set up a virtual machine running Mavericks. Works quite well!

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