Tinderbox free download for Mac


17 October 2019

Store and organize your notes, ideas, and plans.


Tinderbox is a personal content management assistant. It stores your notes, ideas, and plans. It can help you organize and understand them. And Tinderbox helps you share ideas through Web journals and Web logs.

Tinderbox's agents automatically scan your notes, looking for patterns and building relationships. Agents help discover relationships and help make sure important things don't get lost. Agents are easy to make and easy to modify. They're flexible and powerful. And Tinderbox can even gather and update changing information and breaking news from the Internet.

When it's time to share your notes, Tinderbox can assemble multiple notes into one page. Updates are a breeze -- even if you update several times a day. Private notes, timestamps, permanent links, archives: everything you want, just the way you want it.

What's new in Tinderbox

Version 8.1.0:

Tinderbox is now significantly faster on more powerful machines, especially when opening and saving documents and when selecting numerous notes. Adding notes to a large outline view is approximately three times faster. Reading documents with numerous notes is about 40% faster. Dragging notes in map view is also much faster

Geographic Adornments are adornments that depict maps. An adornment is a map adornment if all of the following are true:

  • It is sufficiently large
  • Its latitude and longitude are not zero

The latitude and longitude may be set directly, or may be computed indirectly because $Address has been set. The scale of the map is determined by the adornment’s $Range attribute, which represents the approximate size of the map in kilometers

If a note lies on a map adornment and has a latitude and longitude, it will be placed near the corresponding place on the map adornment

We use a new geocoder to deduce the latitude and longitude

  • First steps are under way to support Chinese versions of Tinderbox menus and interface elements

Also notable:

  • substr() and .substr() sometimes mishandled Unicode sequences. Both now operate as expected for both ASCII and two-byte Unicode code points
  • New list/set commands .any and .every let you test each item in a list or set
  • $MyList.every(x,x>5) is true if every element in $MyList is greater than 5
  • $MyList.any(x,x>5) is true if any element in $MyList is greater than 5. The comparison may also be applied to lists of strings: “apple; pear; plum”.every(x, x>"aardvark"). Is true because every element follows “aardvark” in alphabetical order
  • If the target list or set is empty, .any() always returns false, and .every always returns true
  • unlinkToOriginal and unlinkFromOriginal are now offered as autocompletions in code fields
  • The two-argument form of the stamp operator now takes the designator as the first argument, consistent with other operators that take an argument. stamp(designator, name). The one-argument form stamp(name) operates as before
  • .remove() removes items from a list or set. For example
  • $MyList.remove(0) returns a new list from which all elements equal to zero have been removed, and
  • $MyList.remove(“cat”) returns a new list from which call elements equal to “cat” have been removed
  • $MyList.remove(“cat; dog; badger”) removes cats, dogs, and badgers
Attribute Browser:
  • Attribute browser uses less liberal line spacing
  • Attribute browser no longer defaults to DisplayName as a sort option, as this causes severe performance problems in large data sets. Instead, it defaults to $Name
  • OnAdd and OnLink actions no longer fire when a document is opened
  • New attribute, Range, in the People category, represents the approximate range of a geographic display, in kilometers, for use by Geographic Adornments
  • $AutoFetchCommand is now an action attribute rather than a string
Dark Mode:
  • Many small adjustments improve legibility in dark mode
  • Outline icons are more legible in dark mode
  • Find: highlighting the found string in the context of the find view is now more legible in dark mode
Document Settings:
  • When changing the default text font in Document Settings: Text, Tinderbox now updates existing all font runs where the text font family matches the old default, and replaces them with the new text family. For example, if changing from Mercury to Ideal, passages set in Mercury Italic will now be updated to Ideal Italic
Filtered Outlines:
  • In filtered outlines, range-select (e.g. shift-click) and Edit ▸ Select All selected notes that were filtered out of the outline. Notes that are hidden by the filter no longer are selected
  • The search menu in the view pane’s find bar now offers an option for case-sensitive search, and an option to turn off regular expression search
  • The Create Link dialog suffered layout problems when the source or destination note name was exceptionally long. The name is now truncated as required
  • In outline view, link stubs are no longer drawn to represent invisible links
Map View:
  • Some shapes, notably clouds, were hard to drag because they mishandled clicks in the note body but outside the title area
Text Export:
  • Text export of selected notes now exports those notes in outline order. Previously, it exported notes in the sequence in which they were selected
  • A late update to Catalina broke Tinderbox’s approach to handling text links. This update reimplements text links in a manner compatible with macOS Catalina as well as previous versions of macOS
  • Addressed a hang when working with two main windows, when adding notes in the front window while the back window has an outline view, because the update was computing heights for the outline while the new note was locked
  • The title of the Document Settings window is now “Document Settings”; it had been “Preferences” since the Flood if not before
  • The command Note ▸ Open Text Window is now available in hyperbolic view
  • When using macOS 10.14 or later, the pane activation highlight uses the user interface accent color, rather than the blue-green guide color
  • View panes reflect changes to color scheme immediately, rather than when their parent next changes
  • In map view, dragging an adornment temporarily brings it to the foreground to ensure it is plainly visible. On mouse up, Tinderbox now restores it to its proper layer; previously, this might be deferred until the tab was clicked
  • The hyperbolic view’s axes and boundary are drawn to be less obtrusive in dark mode
  • The link parking space’s “contents” label, which shows the source of the parked link, is easier to read in dark mode
  • Took measures to guard against crashes in .format and collect under unusual error conditions
  • The activation highlight in the view pane now uses the correct rectangle, even at startup. Previously, it failed to account for animation in progress during window assembly. The activation highlight in the text pane is now drawn without unwanted clipping
  • Fixed a crash when comparing two dates, if the right-hand date expression was not parseable
  • Revised error management methods to separate management of the error list from instantiation of the view controller, since the view controller must be instantiated on the main thread but the document, which owns the error manager, might not be
  • Cleaned up font cache code, and avoided potential concurrency problems when adding or removing views
  • Increased the size of the action recycling pool, which should reduce mishaps when running edicts on emergence from background
  • Reorganized the bottom of the Tinderbox Inspector’s Agents & Rules pane to make it more clear that the update timer refers to network updates rather than the edict cycle
  • Manual agent updates are now enqueued on the agent queue, avoiding potential conflict when they are invoked while an agent update is under way
  • Removed a layer in the scroll pane for the key attributes table TextPaneController.xib ; this may account for some inexplicable refresh issues in the key attributes table
  • In the Tinderbox inspector’s Rules and Agents pane, slowly-changing facets like the number of outstanding edicts are now updated periodically
  • Fixes a hang when saving from outline view, arising because changing the document name prematurely forces a deadlocking outline re-rendering
  • Prevented a hang when adding an agent in outline view, caused by a premature layout update
  • Disabled ISO8601 caching, a performance improvement that may be leading to incorrectly-saved date attributes
  • Fixed a deadlock when creating built-in templates in outline view, arising when layout updates were recalculated recursively. Fixed an intermittent crash in documents with more than 5000 rules, often triggered by updating agents manually or bringing the document to the foreground
  • Scripted unlinkToOriginal could crash because the change manager tried to update text links whilst the link caches were in an inconsistent state. The parser failed to recognize unlinkFrom, though it handled unlinkFromOriginal correctly
  • Documents with flawed xml now open as Untitled, avoiding a worrisome (though fortunately rare!) situation where Tinderbox could overwrite the damaged file with an valid but empty file
  • Fixed a crash when pasting notes, arising when Tinderbox failed to wait for concurrent processes to finish before disposing of the underlying XML parser data
  • Fixed a deadlock when creating built-in prototypes in outline view, arising when layout updates were recalculated recursively
  • Fixed a very intermittent crash during revert or when opening a document, where the old hypertext might try to process pending changes after its deletion
  • Corrected some display issues in Treemap view, related to previous revisions to improve performance of link drawing. There ain’t no rest for the wicked
  • Reduced the frequency of rule updates slightly when Tinderbox is active, and more significantly when Tinderbox is inactive
  • Selecting multiple notes is now much faster because the text display system performs less unnecessary work
  • Found and fixed several memory leaks, notably one that failed to dispose of closed TbxMaps
  • We do less indexing when typing, saving some processor cycles. This should save a little energy when running on battery
  • Improved the efficiency of Tansey Tab drawing, and standardized the truncation of tab labels
  • Corrected an update problem in map view that affected redrawing after cleanup
  • Corrected a crash when opening multiple documents at the same time
  • Adjustments to natural language tagging, which should slightly improve overall performance on 10.14 and 10.15
  • The text in the text pane shader, which is displayed when no note is selected, no longer has a shadow
  • The neural network behind NLTags detection became very slow when dealing with large quantities of Chinese text, which it does not understand. We no longer attempt to tag non-English text
  • On macOS 10.12 and later, Tinderbox respects time zones in dates saved in the Tinderbox document. On earlier systems, Tinderbox continues to assume that the time zone is the user’s local time. Some anomalies might be encountered in dates before 1BCE
  • On macOS 10.14 and later, we encountered a memory leak because one of the natural language framework objects appears to leak internally, and we were creating these profligately. Instead, we now share one plan tagger for all tasks; this should also help restrain load when opening the document
  • Removed Simplenote support, though some vestiges (such as the Simplenote attributes) remain to avoid problems with existing documents
  • The natural language analyzer was not run on note with empty text. This is wrong, since a planning note might have the plan in the title (“get some bagels on the way home”) and no text
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42 Tinderbox Reviews

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10 September 2010

Most helpful

I would define Tinderbox as an integration of four things. - it is an outliner in the ordinary sense with tree structure. It is a particularly rich outliner compared to others, with clones and special tools. Each note is cleverly designed to have an open set of attributes and everything is an attribute: note location in the hierarchy, fonts, colors badges and so on. Most of these are changeable by the user or automated agents. Attributes provide a deep, consistent and easy way to work with outlines. - it is a typed link hypertext environment. You can make links, usually by simply dragging, among notes and text blocks. These links have a user-definable type system, which is about the closest you can get to a machine-understandable structure that reflects human cognitive constructs. This is a hyper-text or better, “meta-text” system. - it is a programming environment where the programs understand attributes and links and can act on those, changing some. A built in language, tailored for this is provided, and you can move to shell scripting for a greater capability if you wish. The native file format is XML, and you can manipulate that directly as well. Most attributes associated with notes can be modified. This programming power extends to Tinderbox publishing and export, making it the most powerful XML document producer I know. - it is a graphical environment for spatially presenting and creating concepts and their relationships. In this sense, it is more Mac-like (in terms of the System 9 Spatial Finder) than the Mac currently is. If you are limited to thinking about files with static tags, you will find this challenging. If you are looking for something strong in snipping and media management, look elsewhere for a complimentary application (I use EagleFiler). If you are not prepared to think seriously about you work and can improve how you work - and invest in growing as you tailor this tool, you will be better off using something simpler out of the box. The price is trivial if you use it and it enhances your creativity even a small amount. In my case, I am an order of magnitude beyond that threshold.
Like (14)
Version 5.5.4
04 June 2018
Good app.Simple and convenient. I recommend
Like (1)
Version 7.5.1
24 November 2017
Great tool! Recently purchase and it's been a complete star helping keep my notes and documents neat, tidy, and organised. Would highly recommend. Worth the cost!
Like (2)
Version 7.3.1
23 November 2017
This app is steep, deep and relentlessly powerful. If your task is to turn diverse ideas and random thoughts into cohesive instruction or persuasive rhetoric, this is your tool! Don't let its storied steep learning curve put you off — you can immediately start at the top level to harness its inherent power and later bring in the heavier tools as you press the pedal down further with each use.

If it's your lot to assemble little bits of rock and packets of dust into some sort of linguistic classical statuary this tool should be in your pouch!
Like (6)
Version 7.3.0
01 September 2017
I have been eyeing this software for many years. About a year ago I decided to finally include it in my workflow as a designer and engineer in the audiovisual industry. Now, a year later, having completed my biggest project to date in my career, I can honestly say that I will never again be without this wonderful tool. I have managed meetings, construction and project planning in addition to gaining insight using agents on all data accumulated over the past year that has all been added to this software. It does take some effort to get to get to a level where one might feel a real benefit from it, but in my opinion that effort has paid off. For me, my employer and most of all, my clients. Give it a try, you just might find it useful.
Like (4)
Version 7.2.0
25 December 2016
Tinderbox 6.6.5 is full-featured and again stable, which stability allows it to reclaim its ability to empower its users to create, visualize, and transform data of arbitrary complexity (within reason).

There was definitely a rough patch between version 5 and early 6.x versions, but this patch has been smoothed. As a result the wisdom of rearchitecting the windowing UX mechanics is also proved.

Exports and templating is still a somewhat confusing affair, but it is stable and experiment tolerant. I still wish external files could be specified as templates since Tinderbox 6.x is not a strong programmer's text editor. It is a good for authoring moderately complex styled text, and its ability to include inline images with OS-level affordances such as image markup is a welcome improvement.

This is software for your mind and, once again, its quality and feature set make using Tinderbox an exciting and rewarding adventure.
Like (2)
Version 6.6.5
20 May 2015
Invaluable tool to digest, map out, and process textual information. The main reason i stick to the mac, actually.
Like (2)
Version 6.2.1
19 April 2015
This app is really expensive for what it does. I downloaded the demo and you can do the same things with other apps, some of which are listed in the similar software section above. If you're going to pay this much for an app to store information, then you might as well buy FIleMaker Pro and build your own database because you'll spend about the same amount of time learning this app and setting it up the way you want.
Like (3)
Version 6.2.0
3 answer(s)
20 April 2015
I'm inclined to agree with the bulk of this with a few exceptions — the value proposition seems light if you are more inclined to databases but I can easily imagine circumstances where someone doesn't want to build a Filemaker database much less come up with a way to manipulate that data in the sort of freestyle method TInderbox lets you build assocations.

I think it seems likely most users of Tinderbox would be completely tuned out within 10 minutes by Filemaker or any relational database system, but can quickly navigate, populate, explore and use what Tinderbox does for them. I really wanted to like Tinderbox but my workflow didn't fit with it at all and my instinct is to use outlines or mindmaps when I want to structure some visualization to my ideas and it's really hard to not think of Tinderbox in those terms which is really undercutting a huge portion of it.

tl;dr: a lot of people would probably be right with you and want to build a database, but I really like that there is such a powerful alternative available that doesn't put up too many roadblocks to creative writers and researchers that don't like working in boxes.
Like (4)
20 April 2015
Those are good points, Essadee. However, I think the cost of admission still outweighs the usefulness of this app.
Like (3)
25 April 2015
If you want to build a database, you should certainly look at FileMaker! It's a terrific tool. But that;s not the point of Tinderbox.

Tinderbox works really well in tasks where you can’t know in advance how your work is going to be structured -- research, investigative journalism, film continuity, product management. It's got powerful representational tools lke inheritance and persistent agents that help keep your work organized as it evolves and changes over a span of months and years.

You wouldn't start planning a novel in a relational database, or use a database to piece together the design forces that will influence your next restaurant design or your upcoming political campaign. Those are some of the tasks for which people use Tinderbox.
Like (7)
29 August 2014
Version 6.0.4 is out
Version 6.0.3
09 July 2014
I bought Tinderbox in 2011 after I had tried what seems like an endless list of other products that promised to achieve the goal of taking and organizing information. Circus Ponies’ notebook, OmniOutliner, Curio, DevonThink Pro to name a few. Some of them I used for more than a year before I finally decided that they wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do. Tinderbox was the last I tried and it has stuck with me. It provides a way to organize my notes and make sense of them in a way that I have not been able to do with any other piece of software. I attribute that to the fact that Tinderbox provides an environment to work in that allows me to explore ideas and find connections in my notes besides providing a mechanism to jot information down for later retrieval. I’m mostly referring to the map view (which is my favorite for that type of activity). Being able to lay out notes in 2D space, attributing them (color, shape, subtitles, captions), badges and connecting them via links or simply through proximity or grouping in adornments is already extremely powerful, although that is only a small subset of Tinderbox' capabilities There isn’t enough space here to review all the other features, or talk much about the ability to have “agents” or “smart adornments” search for and organize the data to provide a different view (no better way to find new connections by displaying the same information in a different way). I have been using Tinderbox for my daily work journal, to design software, keep track of projects (Tinderbox allows to build a nice dashboard to display the metrics you need to know), online research of all kinds, etc. Some of my Tinderbox documents are pretty big, the largest holds >1600 notes, more than half a million words, with almost 50 agents searching through the data without Tinderbox breaking a sweat. With version 6 it has made a big jump forward in providing a user friendly GUI. And different than the previous reviewer, I didn’t have a crash yet (I’m a daily user since the day version 6 was released). Support by the developer is very good, response time measured in hours, and the forum is active and populated with helpful people. The only negative I have to mention is that it takes a while to learn how to use the more powerful features, like writing export templates, or performing complex queries with agents. However, if you subscribe to the saying: "Easy things should be easy, hard things should be possible", you will be happy with Tinderbox.
Like (8)
Version 6.0.1
2 answer(s)
10 July 2014
@ Macott: I really enjoyed reading your own perspectives on this software. Thanks for taking the time to write this review. I'm not a user of TB but every once in a while I download the demo as I'd really like to get into it, but, alas, I get overpowered. I admire Mark the dev and his continued support and tenacity in fostering continued interest and development of hypertext.
Like (3)
24 November 2015
Thanks also for taking the time relating your success with this app. I, like Prince_Isaac alluded, have just never tamed the beast to properly uncover the beauty. Evernote handles nearly 27,000 notes with ease, delivering order with tags and search functions. Curio works wonderfully to aggregate the topic of the moment and make a PDF creation to deliver it when needed. I'd love to believe my workflow could be automated with agents, but I hardly muddle through my processes myself. What I am trying to accomplish changes all the time, and I've found that automation excels best at doing the same thing over and over again. My pure database needs (i.e., categorized data) are best met with FileMaker.
Like (2)
29 June 2014
Current app (6.0.x) is not fit to purpose. As a long-time user of Tinderbox and material supporter of the beta effort, I am enormously disappointed in the quality and feature set of version 6.0, which feature set is in some ways regressive compared to version 5.x (e.g. external templates are not possible available in version 6.0, a feature I requested be re-included early in the beta development cycle). But this disappointed review is not about "I did not get the feature I wanted". Once version 6.0 became publicly available for purchase, I tested the software and in 30 minutes uncovered one crasher bug and a number of glitches, anomalous behavior, and poor functional interface design. Because I have neither time nor inclination to submit reports for the bugs (crasher or otherwise), I recommend you form an opinion of the software by using it yourself. May your experience be better than mine. I will re-rate and review this app once it is again stable. Until then, I will consider Tinderbox 6.0.x unusable and will continue with Tinderbox 5.x.
Like (3)
Version 6.0.1
1 answer(s)
02 July 2014
Most people seem to find tinderbox 6 very useful indeed. Not knowing what went wrong for you, it's very hard to suggest a remedy. But, as you know from backstage testing, we've supplied a lot of fixes for a lot of people, often within hours of the report.
Like (1)


App requirements: 
  • Intel 64
  • OS X 10.10.0 or later
Developer Website: 
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