The release of Think Tank and MORE are considered major events in the early history of the Mac. But these were standalone products.

Does anyone know...

  1. when MS Word added outlining capabilities?
  2. the first WP on the Mac with a built-in outliner?
  • I can't speak for the Mac version of Word, but Word has had the outlining capability on Windows since at least Word 2003. Oct 11, 2022 at 19:31
  • 2
    The version of MS Word I bought for my Macintosh around 1992 had such abilities.
    – supercat
    Oct 11, 2022 at 20:12

1 Answer 1


The first available outliner for Macintosh computers before MORE would be ThinkTank by Dave Winer from 1984.

The first application seen as 'a word processor' would be MindWrite, from 1986:

MindWrite is an early word processor designed for Macintosh computers. It was released in 1986 by Mindword Software and distributed by DeltaPoint, placing it among the earlier word processors on the platform.
The key feature of MindWrite was its integrated outliner, a system that allowed documents to be organized in a hierarchy and then re-arranged with drag-and-drop operations. At the time, after the release of the pioneering ThinkTank, such systems were considered to be a new way to organize knowledge and perform workflows. This generated considerable press for the small company. However, the system was otherwise very simple in terms of style and layout options and initially lacked a spell checker, issues that were always noted in reviews.

The first word processor I'd call 'real' however, if the target platform should be a Macintosh, would probably be FullWrite, from 1988:

Another input into the eventual FullWrite product was the recent introduction of outliner products. These products were intended to help workers, and writers in particular, keep their work organized by introducing a top-down workflow. Instead of starting a document at the top and working their way to the bottom, outliners suggested the user first jot down their ideas in outline form, and then expand the outlines over time, in any order. If major changes had to be made, editing the outline itself could accomplish those changes in the document. There was serious consideration given to the idea that outliners might be ushering in a new way of writing. At the time, outliners were typically stand-alone products with limited integration with other applications, but there was clearly a desire for these systems to be integrated directly into the products they supported.

More on Macintosh legacy outliners…

As for Microsoft Word for Macintosh: the legendary version 5 from 1991 already had an outliner in its familiar form:

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While the 'quick reference' manual for the earlier 1989 Word 4.0 does mention an 'outline view':

To scroll left past the zero point on the ruler (normal ruler view) in galley view or outline view, hold down Shift and click the left arrow on the bottom scroll bar.

when running version 4 I do not see any indication of outline functionality?

With caveats: Microsoft Word for Macintosh gained this functionality in the seminal Word 5 release.

  • 1
    I could swear I remember outlining appearing in Word 4, because I started a long academic document in 3, and I was really happy when the new outlining functionality appeared. I don't think I upgraded to 5 until much later.
    – jeffB
    Oct 12, 2022 at 16:46
  • 1
    @jeffB Well, I tried out v4 (both) just now, and as reflected in the above: it may be 'in there' (the ref seems to hint even!, but I could not figure out 'how?' If you do: please share! Oct 12, 2022 at 16:48
  • 1
    Most excellent post! MindWrite was the one I was trying to recall. Oct 14, 2022 at 18:11
  • @LаngLаngС Then I'm likely just misremembering. I'm quite sure about starting with version 3, and I'm pretty sure I passed on upgrading to version 6, but as far as 4 vs. 5 -- well, it was a very long time ago!
    – jeffB
    Oct 18, 2022 at 21:04

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