Advanced Tips and Tricks

iThoughts is intended to be 'easy to use'. In order to achieve that, I've had to 'hide' many of the more 'advanced features' - making them difficult to discover. Below you can see (and download) a mind map which documents many of these.

See below for the map in outline form:

iOS App Tips


  • Long press on topic create buttons
    • Create parent/sibling etc.
  • Long press on callout button
    • select from predefined callout color
  • Long press on Share toolbar button will force a sync
  • Long press on ‘map library’ button will close the current map
  • Drag one of the topic create buttons onto the canvas to create a new topic/callout

    • By default, those topics will have a progress=0 (i.e. they’ll be ‘task topics’)

      This can be disabled in the System Settings

(Screen) Keyboard

  • Tap on the leftmost ’Shift button’ and it’ll ‘pop’ the cut/copy/paste context menu.
  • Hold down the leftmost shift button whilst tapping on next/prev word/letter to select the text

(Bluetooth) Keyboard shortcuts.


  • Tapping
    • Tap on the link icon on the bottom edge of a topic to open, copy or remove the link
      • Long press on the link icon to open it.
    • Tap on the note icon on the bottom edge of a topic to open the notes window
    • Long press on the expand/collapse button to the left or right of a topic to show/hide a specific number of topic sub levels.
    • Tap on the small square in the bottom corner of the dashed selection box to see the max topic width (before text is wrapped) and current font size.
    • Drag the small square in the bottom corner of the dashed selection box to resize the topic
      • Vertically to change font size
      • Horizontally to change max topic width before text is wrapped.
      • Diagonally for both
    • Tap on a topic and choose ‘Cut’ then ‘to New Map’ to move the selected branch into a new map. A bidirectional link will be inserted (great for breaking up larger maps.)
    • Long press on a topic image (or document attachment) to view the image/document full screen.
      • From full screen view you can also share/print the image/document.
    • Tap on a topic and choose ‘Copy’ from the popup menu
      • Choose the format to copy onto the clipboard (image, PDF, Markdown)
      • Choose to copy the branch ‘to New Map’ (great for template branches.)
      • Choose ‘link’ and a hyperlink to that map/topic will be placed on the clipboard. This link can be pasted into and opened within another app.
  • Dragging
    • Drag one topic over another and hold it there until the ‘merge’ indicator shows then drop it. The topics will be merged (text, notes etc.)
    • Drag one topic to a blank area of the canvas and hold it there until the ‘float’ indicator presents then drop it to detach the topic from its parent.
    • Drag one topic over another and an arrow will indicate whether the topic (if dropped) would be attached as a child or sibling.
    • Hold down the SHIFT button in the top corner of the canvas then drag a topic to duplicate it.
  • Selection
    • Long press on the background canvas then drag to start a selection box. Drag this over topics to select them.
    • Hold down the SHIFT button in the top corner of the canvas then drag the canvas to create a selection box.
    • Hold down the SHIFT button in the top corner of the canvas then tap on topics to add/remove them from the current selection.
    • Tap on a topic then choose ‘Select’ to select all of a topics children, siblings or cousins (topics at the same level.)
    • Tap on the background canvas then choose ‘Select All’ to select all topics.
    • Select multiple topics and apply changes to all via the inspector.
    • Double tap a topic to edit its text then double tap a word to select it.
      • Tap on the selected text and choose ‘Add to Note’ to copy/paste the text into the topic’s note field.
      • Tap on the selected text and choose ‘Make Topic’ to copy/paste the text into a new child topic.
      • The above works in the notes field also - enabling you to turn a large chunk of notes text into multiple topics.
      • Select multiple lines of text and then Make Topics and each line of text will be a new topic.
  • Delete
    • Drag a topic and drop it on the wastebin icon in the bottom corner of the screen to delete it.
    • Tap on the wastebin icon in the bottom corner of the screen to delete the currently selected topics
    • Tap on a topic with children and choose ‘Delete’ from the popup menu. There is an option to delete the entire branch or just the selected topic (effectively ‘re homing’ its children)
  • Creation
    • Type SPACE 3x in quick succession (whilst editing a topic’s text) to create a new child topic.
    • Type RETURN 3x in quick succession (whilst editing a topic’s text) to create a new sibling topic.
    • Triple SPACE or RETURN in the middle of some text will ‘split the topic’ in two.
    • Double tap the background canvas to create a new child topic (of the current selection)
    • Drag one of the topic create toolbar buttons onto the map to create a new topic (will be given a progress of 0)


  • Inspector
    • Long press on an icon to make it a favourite
      • There is then a (bluetooth) keyboard shortcut to insert the nth favourite icon into the current topic (ALT 1-9)
  • Map Picker
    • Long press map name
      • Duplicate it
        • This works for folders of maps too
      • Copy a link to it onto the clipboard.
      • Make it a favourite
    • Tap on the ‘favourite tab’ at the bottom of the map picker window then on Edit in the top right. The favourites can be manually re-ordered.
  • Styles
    • Predefine colors, shapes, fonts etc. for a map then save those settings as a named ‘Style’ which can be applied to subsequent maps.
    • Share (email) styles with colleagues or across devices.
    • Remove custom formatting from the map - enabling the Style settings to apply
      • Use ‘Reset Map’ (in the Style settings) to reset the entire map
      • To reset individual topics, tap on them and choose ‘Auto’ from the popup menu
      • Long press on the ‘notes pull tab (^)’ in the center beneath the toolbar to reset the notes text to be as specified in the Style
    • Automatically apply descending font sizes to lower level topics
      • Set the font to something large for the Level0 topic - you will then be asked if you’d like to apply the font (in descending sizes) to lower levels.
    • Let the system choose topic colors by enabling ‘Rainbow’.

iPhone Specific

  • Swipe the toolbar to the left to reveal more options
  • Swipe right from left edge of screen to go back


  • Change to left handed (certain screen buttons swap sides)
  • Show/hide some of the ‘screen chrome’ (shift button, trash can etc.)
  • Change Markdown export options
    • TAB or SPACE indent
    • Number of topic levels to export as headers/bullets
  • Enable ‘One Level per Slide’ PowerPoint export option.
  • Change PDF export options
    • Paper size
    • Scaling
    • Include notes
  • Configure the search engines available to ‘Research’ feature - including adding custom engines
  • Enable alternate map transfer mechanisms
  • Strike-through the text of ‘completed’ topics
  • Override the ‘auto caps’ setting
    • Capitalize sentences, words, all etc.
  • Administer syncing defaults
    • WiFi, cellular or both
    • Hide the black ‘syncing’ box

Task Management

  • Drag one of the topic creation toolbar buttons to create a task topic (i.e. progress=0)
  • Drag a topic along a ‘tick’ path to mark it as 100% complete (i.e. tick it off) - see attached YouTube link
  • Tap on the ‘task badge’ beneath a topic to pop the Inspector window on the task page
  • Tap on the Priority number on the bottom edge of a topic to change priority
  • Tap on the Progress indicator on the bottom edge of a topic to change the priority
  • Send tasks over into Calendar or Reminder apps
    • Tap on the topic and choose the ‘Calendar’ option
    • Tap on the Share toolbar button then Calendar option to email the task as an industry standard ICS file
  • Hide completed tasks (100% progress)
    • Menu option under the Gear toolbar button.
  • Strike through completed tasks (System Preference)
  • Use ‘rollup’ progress to summarise sub task progress
    Immediate children of a topic with rollup progress will automatically be given a progress of 0
    Progress: 37%
    • Task1
      Progress: 50%
    • Task2
      Progress: 25%
  • Use ‘rollup’ effort to estimate total project effort
    Effort: 5 days
    • Task1
      Effort: 4 days
    • Task2
      Effort: 1 day

Presenting using iThoughts

  • Connect to a Projector (VGA or HDMI cable)
    • Use topic notes to present text over the top of a map.
    • Long press on a topic with an image to present that image full screen (on the projector)
  • Use AirPlay to present via an AppleTV
  • Use an app like Reflector to record (video) a presentation on your Mac/PC
  • Enable ‘Focus on Selected’ in the menu under the gear toolbar button to ‘dim’ all unselected topics.
  • Use an external bluetooth keyboard and the various keyboard shortcuts to navigate around the map
    • Use CMD+CTRL+0 to enable ‘auto zoom’ for a Prezi like presentation.


  • Long press on the Next/Back buttons to show browsing history.
  • Configure other Research engines/websites in the System Preferences.
  • Long press on text, images or links to insert them into the map
    • Save chunks of text into a topics notes then use ‘Make Topic’ in the notes field to further summarise that text.
  • Tap on the title/toolbar for more options
    • Save page for offline viewing
    • Insert link to page
    • Open the page in Safari


  • Use ‘Open in another app’ to send maps to services such as GDrive, OneDrive, Box, SugarSync, Evernote etc.
  • Use ‘Open In’ option in other apps (such as Dropbox) to send documents, images or maps over into iThoughts.
    • Documents/images can then be pasted into a map
  • Use WebDAV to connect/sync
  • Install the Transmit app and send maps/exports to any number of FTP type servers.
  • Print a map over multiple pages then ‘stick them together’ to produce a ‘poster sized’ paper map.
  • Predefine a ‘watermark’ to be inserted in the bottom right of the first page of a printed map.
    $name will insert the map name.
    $path will insert the map path
    $modified will insert the latest modified date of all topics.

    May also want to insert a copyright notice in here.

  • Configure a ‘transparent’ canvas then any PDF or image export will also be transparent - great for pasting into PowerPoint or Keynote
  • Import plain text files (.txt) and each newline will become a topic. TAB or 4xSPACE indented text will become child topics.
    • Works when Copy/Pasting text too
  • 3rd party apps
    • Export as OPML
      • OmniOutliner
      • Scrivener
    • Send Word, PowerPoint, Excel variants of a map into iWork or MS Office apps.
    • Send Markdown variants to Byword, Editorial, iA Writer etc. (and visa versa)
  • Drive iThoughts from other apps using x-callback-url
    • Editorial
    • Launch Center Pro
    • Workflow
    • Drafts
    • Editorial
  • Bulk add multiple images to the ‘image library’
  • Hyperlinking
  • Package a map and its images/attachments into a single ‘website’ zip file - see attached link.
  • Copy all email addresses (on a branch) onto the clipboard - then paste them into the TO field of an email.
    • Great for managing groups of contacts.
    • Tap on the root of the branch and choose Copy->@
    • Can also pre-populate an email with the addresses.