Save to local files

First off, thank you to everyone for bearing with us through the migration to the new backend which wasn’t quite as smooth as we had hoped. We’ve fixed the majority of the bugs and missing features since the release, but if you still have any issues reach out to us at [email protected] or in the Slack group.

Now let’s get into the updates!

Local documents (beta)

The desktop app has a new feature to store documents on your computer that do not sync with the server. It saves your documents as .json files into a folder of your choosing (see the new “Desktop App” section in the Settings). watches the files and reacts to changes instantly, so you can reliably sync the folder with your own sync/backup system if you’d like.

Note: this is an option in addition to the normal sync system, which is not going away.

This has some important benefits:

  • For the privacy focused:’s encryption options make syncing with our database very secure, but not syncing at all is even more secure.
  • For networks that block Google: Sync the folder with your preferred sync service.
  • For the hackers: You control the data so you can read and change it outside of

And one big downside:

  • Documents not available elsewhere: The mobile and web apps can only see documents that are synced with

To get started working with local documents, get the latest version (1.3.0) of the desktop app. It should update itself, or you can download it here. Then when you click the + button in the document list to add a new button, you’ll see a menu to choose local or synced.

We’re calling the local documents feature a beta because there’s a lot more we want to do with it. When fully finished will be able to function without signing in at all by syncing boards and settings as files too. We’d also like to add other niceties like multiple storage locations and saving files in a Markdown format. And let us know if there’s anything else you’d like from local documents support.

Lots of fixes

We’ve been focusing on fixing bugs and making everything very stable since the new backend release last month. The highlights include:

  • Automated cloud backups and new revision history system, and the desktop app does local backups
  • Fixed emails stuck loading in Mailbird
  • New plugin caching system that improves load time and fixes many email and calendar bugs
  • Change or remove encryption password
  • Sort the list of documents alphabetically or by last modified
  • Repeat dates show every single instance on the calendar
  • Repeat dates can recur from their completion date
  • Images show as uploading until they’re done
  • Fixed images were sometimes not loading
  • Notifications work much better
  • Fixed downloading attachments and opening links from the desktop apps
  • Paste of a lot of items is much faster
  • New settings for enabling plugins per account

See the changelog for the full list of changes.

Next up

We’re now working on building new mobile apps, and of course continuing with bug fixing.

Talk to us

If you want to get involved in shaping’s direction, join our active beta community or just email us.

New backend

The new backend is ready! It’s been a long time coming and we’re very excited about the improved performance, new features, and future possibilities it opens up. If you have any issues with the new version or any suggestions to improve it, please join our beta community or email support.

The old backend will stop syncing on December 11. You can still access it at to copy your data out of it, but it won’t sync with your collaborators or other devices anymore.

Get into it

Please make sure to click the Import from button on the Welcome screen to copy your Premium account information, documents, and settings over.

The Major Changes

Storage and sync

Documents are now stored and synced with Firebase instead of your Drive account. When you load the page it now only gets new changes since the last sync, so the initial sync on load will be much faster. Our beta testers have reported that the connection is much more stable than before. And there’s no longer a maximum document size.

Multiple documents

Each pane can now contain its own document. The pane sidebar that was the overview is now doing double duty as a document selector. Click the at the top left of a pane to choose the document for that pane, and click the outline icon on the document to open its overview.


Dates are now stored separately from the text so that we can add more date features without cluttering the text. The key for adding dates to items is now ! so that @ can be used for a future assigning tasks feature. Adding dates now opens a popup where you can select a date on a calendar or type the date in text. This new system will let us add more date features in the future.


All items are encrypted client-side before sending them to the database, and you can add an additional layer of security by using your own encryption password. You will be prompted to (optionally) set a password during the introduction.

Plugin authorization

We totally rewrote the way we authenticate plugins which should fix any sync issues you might have seen before.


We have a totally new sharing system, so you will need to re-share any documents you had shared in the old system. Shared documents can now be encrypted individually for extra security. Right click on a document and select Share from the menu share it.

Known issues

  • Enabling plugins with multiple accounts causes reauthorize messages for each account, but after reauthorizing everything works
  • Undo/redo may be slightly buggy

Next up

There’s still a few features missing in the new version that we will add within the next couple of weeks such as email snoozing. And we will be focusing on fixing bugs and making sure that this new version is very stable. Then the next project is to finish the new mobile apps.

Talk to us

If you want to get involved in shaping’s direction, please join our active beta community, or just email us.

You may have noticed updates have slowed from our normal daily clip, and that’s because we’ve got some big projects in the works.

New backend currently uses the Google Drive Realtime API as its backend, which was great for letting us get up and running with realtime collaboration quickly, but it comes with many downsides. The biggest downside is that Google is shutting it down in December. So we are working on a new backend which will be faster and more flexible.

One of our favorite things about storing data in Google Drive is the privacy benefit that nobody (including us) is able to access your data. Privacy is still very important to us, so we’re approaching privacy in a different (and better) way: end to end encryption. Your data will always be encrypted before saving to the database, and you’ll be able to password encrypt your data so that nobody can ever read it. We’re also adding support for working with local files, which entirely avoids any privacy issues with syncing.

Benefits of the new backend

  • Multiple simultaneous documents - each pane can view a different document
  • Faster load/sync time
  • End to end encryption
  • Easier and more flexible sharing
  • Undo/redo works offline
  • Not tied to a Google account
  • Support opening local files on your computer
  • No maximum document size

Potential new features possible with the new backend

  • Public API for accessing and adding to documents
  • Browser extensions for saving links
  • Plugins in other apps (Slack, Gmail, etc…)
  • Features for teams (manage users in a team, assign tasks, billing for teams, etc…)
  • Realtime chat

New mobile apps

The one thing we hear most from our users is that the mobile apps are really bad, and we totally agree. We had been focusing on making the web/desktop apps great and have let the mobile experience fall short. Rather than investing time in upgrading the current app to use the new backend, we’ve started on a fresh new app. The major problems are unfixable in the current app, so we’re making a new one from scratch. The new apps will be much faster and smoother, will fix a lot of the existing bugs, and we’ll be able to more quickly improve the user interface and bring over the features from the desktop apps.

Technical details

Current backend: Data is stored and synced in your Google Drive account with the Drive Realtime API. Sharing is done through Drive’s sharing system. The mobile apps are wrappers around web views (WKWebView on iOS and Crosswalk on Android), with custom native code for native features like notifications and authentication.

New backend: Data is stored and synced data with a combination of Google Firebase and Google Cloud Storage, and data is encrypted client-side before sending it to the database. Sharing is done using Firebase’s security rules. The new mobile apps are built with React Native and share a majority of the code with the web/desktop apps, but have their own unique user interfaces.


We’re already quite far along with getting the basics working and we’re aiming to start beta testing in about a month. We’ll post another update when it’s ready.

Images now has full support for inline images: for links to online images, images in your Google Drive, and images uploaded from your computer. There’s a new option in the settings which is enabled by default:

With that setting enabled, you can add images in multiple ways:

  1. Click the + button next to an empty item and select Image
  2. Click the image icon at the top of a pane
  3. Drag an image file from your computer onto a pane
  4. Paste a link to an image

You can resize the images to fit your document perfectly, and you can always toggle between showing the image or its text representation by right clicking it and selecting “Show as text”.

Are there any additional features you’d like to see for images?

We began this year with a new goal: to make into a killer task management app. Until now we had been focused on putting the pieces together: outlining, task management, calendar, and email. And with that complete, we took a step back to redesign around the way people actually use it.

We worked with a group of wonderful beta testers, experimenting and tweaking both our and their ideas until they felt right, resulting in what we think is a much better product.

And today we are very happy to finally release this update in public beta to everyone!

Get into it

The new web app is at a new address: The Mac and Windows apps will update themselves, or download them and the new Linux app at In the app you will see a “Use latest version” checkbox in the Moo.dosystem File menu to toggle between the latest version and the previous version. On Windows 8 and 10, you may need to press Alt to open the File menu.

Note: This update is for the desktop apps. An update for the mobile apps will be coming in a few weeks.

New design

We’ve updated the design of the app with a more modern look. The new top toolbar makes it easy to switch boards and takes up less of that crucial horizontal space, or the sidebar is still an option if you prefer it.

View your tasks from any angle

We love the Outline for quickly laying out projects and tasks, but there’s often better ways to get an overview of your day or see tasks in different contexts. So now has many ways to view and manage your data.

Project View

The new Project View retains all the power of the Outline with collapsible nodes, but is laid out in a familiar task-management view grouped by project.

Tag, Contact, Priority views

For those people who like to organize with Tags (as context for GTD or to separate phases of a project), the Tag view makes it easy to view projects grouped by tag and drag items between tag blocks. It’s similarly easy to manage and reorganize tasks by contact or priority.

Agenda view

The Agenda has been completely redesigned. Each item now shows its context and is expandable to show all its children. The Agenda has new Today/Week/All views, and it’s customizable to change the order and show any Tags you’d like. And it just looks nicer.

Calendar view is now free

We feel that the calendar is a core feature of, so we’re making it a free feature. And it has a new 3 day (customizable) view.


The new view modes can be sorted alphabetically, by number of items, priority, date due, and date created. And the Agenda can be sorted by date created and date completed, which is very useful to track the tasks you’ve completed over time.

Search upgraded

Search now supports OR to show results from multiple searches. New date-based searches like before:@tomorrow and @overdue help keep on top of what to do next. And you can type $ to quickly autocomplete an item to zoom into.

Design your document

You can now format text and include inline images. New Display Settings give more control over how your document looks. Notes and emails support rich text. And panes are resizable to fully customize what you’re focused on.

More powerful Boards

Boards can be quickly switched by hotkey + Shift + 1,2,3,…, dragged to rearrange, and have a new option to Clone. Each pane has an option to “Open in new board.” And an extra fun feature: you can drag an item onto a board to switch to it and drop the item into that board.

Speed and fixes

We made some large changes to the core infrastructure, so is now smaller in size, loads faster, syncs faster, and collapses items faster. A lot of bugs have been fixed, most notably: calendar and email sync problems, notification bugs, and dates not rolling over to the next day correctly.

Significant changes

We kept this update in beta for so long because we were making some breaking changes that we wanted to stabilize before releasing.

  • Soft dates (@now, @next, @soon, @later, @someday) are being replaced by a more flexible system. Now that the Agenda supports adding any #tag, you have full control over what kind of soft dates you’d like to use, and how to order them. The old soft dates will appear on the agenda with their corresponding tag, like @soon and #soon will go together.
  • The “Show Bullets” display mode is removed in favor of prefixes. If you were using “Show Bullets”, then items without prefixes will be converted to use the Bullet prefix.
  • Items now hide when completed, so you don’t need to archive items after completing. If you’d like to see completed items, there’s a search filter to “show completed items.”
  • + Click tags and dates to search for them, and + Click to remove them
  • Many of the hotkeys have been changed and improved. Press + / to see the Hotkey list.

Lots of new settings

  • Default item type: Set the default prefix for new items. If you prefer the bulleted look of an Outliner, choose Bullet. If you prefer a checklist, choose Task. If you prefer the flat look of a document, choose None.
  • Show Markdown formatting: The Markdown formatting characters are hidden by default now, but you can optionally show them if you like.
  • Agenda sorting: Rearrange the order of the Agenda and add any custom tags onto the Agenda.


Our beta program has been so successful that we’re going to keep it going and open it up to everyone, although there will be a much shorter time between releases in the future. If you would like to help us shape the product, check out to join our Slack community.

What’s next

Our next major project will be to put some serious work into the iOS and Android apps, fixing bugs and bringing it up to the quality level of the desktop app.