How to Turn a TaskPaper File into a Project Information Hub

TaskPaper, the plain-text ToDo app for Mac, reminds of me of Hook. It’s extremely nimble, easy to use, and yet amazingly powerful. Because its format is conventional plain text, you can also easily work with TaskPaper files using your favorite editors. But I love PlainText; so > 99% of the time, I use that app to edit those files. The app is designed to auto-format task lists in a manner that is easy to read. It also manages to package powerful outlining features (such as expanding, collapsing and moving sections) in its plain text format with minimal styling (e.g., strike-throughs).

(If you’re using Safari, the following might not render well. Firefox is fine. We intend to move away from YouTube for our screencasts.)



The screencast above demonstrates how to use Hook to turn a TaskPaper file into a project hub, by linking it to its components. The screencast illustrates how I manage creative project folders and files, and how I organize their constituents. The screencast uses as examples two linked projects: one for creating a screencast and the other for a blog post related to it. The same principles apply to creating papers, specifications, presentations and more.

The screencast explains

  • How to quickly start creative projects with most of the files you need (templates).
  • How to structure your TaskPaper files to take advantage of TaskPaper’s plain text format.
  • How to instantly reveal your TaskPaper files in the Finder — and do the same thing in any app.
  • How to hook all kinds of information to your TaskPaper files/projects (emails, web pages, files [outlines, figures, etc.], etc.)
  • How to instantly access information related to your TaskPaper file/projects.
  • How to instantly get and paste (markdown) links (or undecorated URLs) to almost any web page, file or more, and paste the in your TaskPaper file.

In passing, this screencast also demonstrates how to use Hook to connect ScreenFlow files to the information resources on which they depend, such as the TaskPaper file, the outline, script and PDFs. It illustrates, in passing, linking to OmniFocus projects; more on that later. It also illustrates the launching of PDF files with the PDFPenPro (version 12 of which was recently released).

You’ll see that with Hook, you can quickly navigate to files that are linked to your TaskPaper project file. It’s not that Hook replaces search tools (like HoudahSpot, Spotlight®, web search engines) or applications switchers. It’s just that Hook makes you less dependent on them. We are fans of HoudahSpot — and it works well with Hook. And we also invite you to check out Contexts, the radically simpler & faster window switcher for Mac.

Another TaskPaper integration: Link to New > TaskPaper document

The screencast did not illustrate this. However, another way to use Hook with TaskPaper is with the Hook to New command. Whether from the Title menu or a Links menu, you can hook a new TaskPaper file to the current document.

If you want to move the new TaskPaper file, you’ll need to find it first. That’s easy. One way to do it is to invoke Hook on the TaskPaper file and use Hook’s handy Reveal File in Finder. This Hook command works in the context of most files. (In fact, that command is also available both from the Title menu, to operate on the title item, and for each Link’s menu.)

You can even include a custom TaskPaper template document in your Hook Templates folder.

OmniFocus and other OmniGroup products

If you’ve read my Cognitive Productivity books, you know that I rely heavily on OmniGroup products.

Perhaps you noticed in the video that I had linked a TaskPaper file to an OmniFocus project. TaskPaper and OmniFocus can be used together.

Also, the template folder I used in this has several ancillary .txt files (elements files, outline, etc.). I also have a template folder that contains OmniOutliner files for these creative scaffolds. My Cognitive Productivity with macOS includes those OmniOutliner templates.

Many of the examples on this website use OmniGroup products. Stay tuned for specific showcases about using Hook with OmniGroup products.

Book: Cognitive Productivity with macOS: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge

This screencast uses some of the concepts and principles I described in my second book, Cognitive Productivity with macOS: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge. In fact, I intend to add information about TaskPaper in that book. (Cognitive Productivity with macOS is a Leanpub book, which makes it easy for me to keep it up to date).

Luc Beaudoin

Luc P. Beaudoin, Ph.D. (Cognitive Science) Co-founder, CogSci Apps Corp. https://cogsciapps.com/about/ My books: https://cogzest.com/books/

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