Updated Instructions on Import from Circus Ponies NoteBook

Developing import from a cancelled app turned out to be a tricky thing. However, the users  trying out the import turned out to be so responsive, smart, and patient, that we couldn’t help going on working on the thing. Check out the update!

UPD: check out the latest of CircusPonies-to-Outline import.


  • Circus Ponies is supposed to be v4.0.1 or newer.
  • Outline for Mac is supposed to b the latest.

Step 1. Open Circus Ponies and proceed to the notebook you want to get imported into Outline.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 4.56.22 PM

Step 2. Export the thing as a website to Disk.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 4.57.06 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 4.58.19 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 4.58.34 PM

Step 3. Now it’s time for magic! Enters Terminal.


Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 17.18.36

Step 4. Access a Secret Folder by submitting the following command in Terminal:
open ~/Library/Group\ Containers/6WN928JT76.com.gorillized/Library

Please mind the space between

  • “open” and ~;
  • “Group\” and “Containers”.


Step 5. Find the Processed folder and CircusPonies subfolder in there.
Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 18.28.25

Note: in older versions of import there might have been other folders involved, like Import or even CircusPonnies (that ‘nn’ has become a legendary misspelling among Outline developers; one day we’ll tell the story). Make sure to use Processed and CircusPonies.

Step 6. Copy the folder with the exported Circus Ponies notebook files to the CircusPonies folder.

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 18.29.07 Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 18.29.48

Step 7. Make final preparations:

  •   Check that your opened Outline notebooks have names different to the folder you copied to the CircusPonies secret folder (e.g. no other sample_import notebook in Outline in my case);
  •   Stop Outline.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 2.07.50 PMThere might be a temptation just to close the app window and not quit Outline. But that’s a false path. The true path is shutting down the app (Quit).

Step 8. Now run the import command in Terminal:

open -a /Applications/Outline.app &#45&#45args -ImportCPN ~/Library/Group\ Containers/6WN928JT76.com.gorillized/Library/Processed/CircusPonies/

(Giving the “Group\ Containers” in bold here; to tell how important the space in “Group\ Containers” is. It must be there)

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 18.36.11

Bingo! Outline gets opened and there are newly imported notebooks.

Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 20.03.35

One might notice that at first the notebooks seem to be empty (grey-covered).
Don’t’ panic! (c) ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’
It takes some time for the notes to arrive, but finally they will be there (color-covered).

Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 20.03.50 Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 20.04.02

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 5.02.47 PM

That’s it!

What If..?

Q: What if I might want to import several / all notebooks (while the instruction above seem to be about a single one-by-one notebook import)?

A: Every time you run the import command in Terminal, all notebooks located in the CircusPonies get imported into Outline. So, you can at first export as a website all notebooks you want, place them into the CircusPonies folder, and then import them all at once.

Q: What if I get a message “open ~/Library/Group\Containers/6WN928JT76.com.gorillized/Library” does not exist.

A: It means there is a space missing between “Group\” and “Containers”. The thing must be there. Also, check if there is a space between “open” and ~.

Q: What if Outline opens after Step 8 but nothing happens?

A: Double-check that Step 7 was completed successfully. Outline opening and no import magic happening sound a lot like the situation when Outline is hiding around the corner, up and running.

Also, check that the space is there in “Group\ Containers” in front of Containers.

If you are sure that Outline was quit and all the spaces are where supposed but still nothing happens after Step 8, please don’t like how the import looks and feels and use the answer to the question right above (contact us at sales@outline.ws for investigation).

Q: What if I don’t own Outline for Mac?

A: You can give the import a try before purchasing Outline. Just download the trial version from our website. The trial is 14 days. Just in case there is also the coupon code CIRCUSPONIES resulting in an exclusive 31% discount for orders in the Outline Store.

12 thoughts on “Updated Instructions on Import from Circus Ponies NoteBook

  1. I have two issues with the import. I would not call it bugs, but something annoying.
    1. In CPN I have a couple of pages where two or three figures are side by side (I mean in the same row). When Outline import the CPN Notebook all the figures are placed under each other. Probably I can move them around but that would be a lot of work. Cannot the import preserve the positions of the figures/pictures/images.
    2. I have no idea where Outline put the imported notebook. On the ones I created I can right click and Show in Finder, but that option does not exist for the imported notebook. Also, I search all my hard drives for a folder with the name of the imported notebook but I cannot find it. Where it is?
    Otherwise now it really looks good, there is a huge progress since the first attempt.

    • Thanks for sharing your import experience!

      1) Preserving the position is on the table but not quite there yet. Can you send a sample Circus Ponies notebook to us at support@outline.ws? The more real-life samples we have the better the resulting import algorithm will be.

      2) We are getting ready to improve the location thing in the very туяе update: there will be a window to specify paths to the export source and import destination. Keep an eye on announcements in our Twitter!

  2. The export process works quite well for text but not so well for graph. I ended up importing graph manually, as screen shots.

    The above process does not allow you to save the Outline where you want. You also have to manually move and re-open the outline. And moving pages from one Outline book to another is not drag-and-drop.

    In conclusion, the above process does the job. Its limitations are somewhat inherent to Outline own UI limitations — not yet a wiki, but still not a full-fledge note taking/outlining app: limited nesting capabilities; no drawing capabilities; no wiki-like linking; no outlining mode (i.e. not possible to chose whether a text box is in editor mode, drawing mode or outlining mode), etc.

    • Thanks for the feedback! Working on improvements of import right this moment!

      Extended nested capabilities are scheduled to be rolled out in December. Which ones are missing for you at the moment?
      Wiki-like linking is covered by internal links right this moment (i.e. copy the link to a page and paste it onto another page). How can we extend it, so it works as you expect?
      Not sure if I am getting you right about switching between editor mode, drawing mode, or outlining mode. Can you send me a screenshot / image / draft to support@outline.ws?

  3. I figured out the answer to the second question in my previous post. The imported notebooks are put into ~/Library/Containers/com.gorillized.outlinemac/Data/Library/Outline/StorageOne/ where Start Here and User Guide are. This folder has a huge problem. If you close any of the notebooks in this folder they are sent to Trash instead of closing it.
    I tried to copy the imported notebook somewhere else but then Outline cannot open it, claiming it is not a notebook. I think the problem is that the top level of the imported notebook has no *.outdoc files, nut folders.
    Another problem is that Outline does not seem to import the attachments, on the image of them. I have PDF documents attached to CPN pages and the image of the first page is shown. But it opens in Preview if you double click on the image. During the import it seems that only the image made it into the imported notebook, but not the attachment.

    • Choosing a destination for the imported notebooks in handy manner is in the very next update. Stay tuned!

      What regards importing attachments, most of those must be imported. So, if an attachment doesn’t;t arrive into the imported notebook, we would really want to look at it and adjust the import algorithm accordingly. Can you send us a sample at support@outline.ws?

  4. Description is a little confusing to distinguish between the origin & destination.

    Once complete: I had 3 subfolders generated: “PAGES,” “IMAGES” & “ATTACHMENTS.”

    Found that I ought rename “PAGES” to my final Outline notebook name. I deleted the other two as the IMAGES was unreadable format, & the ATTACHMENTS were empty in my case.

    _Outline-nested items did not retain their formatting. _
    This is annoying if you are deeply nested. It is also a strength of CP Notebook, along with a true notebook metaphor.

    I would recommend changes in one’s Circus Ponies Notebook before importing, if possible; perhaps by capitalization & bolding to make it easier to recognize where the nesting occurs, as text colors don’t come through in the import.

    Opening the CP Notebook aside-by-side with the imported Outline notebook to compare the two is recommended & replacing images where possible.

    • True, deep nested lists are arriving like pain right now. Working to improve it in December!

      Choosing the origin and destination in a friendlier manner is in the next update. Keep an eye on announcements!

      What regards any situations, when the imported notebooks look different to what you expected, please consider sending us the origin Circus Ponies sample notebooks, so we investigate and fix. You can send stuff to support@outline.ws.

  5. I purchase outline waiting read my circus ponies Files that have in Dropbox, but Was not posible, Can you help me please.

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