Tinderbox workspaces

I’ve watched a few tinderbox videos to get more of an understanding and one of the things that I noticed recently was the hardware setups that people are using.

I am using a Macbook Pro 16" currently which is partly enforced as current health issues preclude me sitting at a desk for very long.

Having watch the zoom meetings it seems like quite a few people are using multi screen setups so I decided to hook my Macbook up just to see what difference it made. It was transformational for me!! I hooked up to one 32" 4k screen with a 5k 27" to the left and a 4k 27" to the right. I used a logitech mx mouse and keyboard and a loupedeck.

Whilst I couldn’t use it for long the sense of expansion was incredible all that real estate for my maps, outlines, other apps etc. It’s what I used to use for my development / video editing environment and going back to “just” my 16" Macbook feels incredibly cramped.

So I’m curious, especially for large Tinderbox environments of many 100’s to 1000’s of notes, what do people use as their hardware setups?

1 Like

System 1: a 14" M1 laptop with a 17" second screen.

System 2: a 27" iMac Pro.

Overall: I don’t mind Tinderbox on the laptop. Sure, bigger screens are nice to have.

Question: I wonder if there are loupedeck integrations that make sense and would be worth the trouble. Those things have come down in price.

Idea: someone ought to write a Pomodoro note for Tinderbox — one that notifies you every 40 minutes that it’s time to take a break.


I’ve used Tinderbox on a 16" MBP 99% of the time I use the app (which is all day). Rarely use Tinderbox on a large screen. This is the same kit going back through the numerous laptops that preceded the current MBP. I’ve also made a comfortable living working on the same machines, and rarely using a larger monitor. So, I’m good with what I’ve got.

(Just for me, I feel that having multiple screens and windows is a big distraction. ⌘-tab is my friend. No doubt others love having massive square footage available for display.)

1 Like

Here 14" M1Pro MBPro. In office, which is most of the time, it is on a riser to one side (for my email client) and the main workspace is on a pair of LG 24" 4k monitors. They are all run as one virtual screen, but mainly so I can shift windows about. Essentially one screen tends to be input (the thing I’m reading/observing/copying) and the other is input, e.g. the TBX on which I’m working/recording data.

A big upside to multiple monitors is avoiding window shuffle, to get the desired window in focus, but macOS and the app cope well enough when working single screen.

[Edit: q.v. previous post (posted just as I was adding mine) eloquently showing that preferences aren’t universal. Nor is it as trivial as taste: different folk really do get on better with different layouts. Vive la différence!]

Full-screen mode doesn’t work so well on big monitors, IMO—but that might just be personal preference.

Also consider having one monitor that rotates 90 to a ‘portrait’ mode if you read a lot os source documents (especially things like PDFs of journal articles and such). Not for everyone but some find it really useful to read ‘paper’ on a paper-page-shaped screen.

†. I’d prefer to use a 16" for more poser, bigger screen on the road, but the smaller is pragmatism over the weight to badly broken shoulders can carry when mobile. I always carry dongles/cables to ‘borrow’ an extra screen if I can when on the road. (USB-C to HDMI is useful)

‡. Apple store used to sell these, now discontinued—I think. An upside was 5 USB-C ports (2 lightning/power-providing). This allows me to use one USC-C cable to provide power to the Mac (via a monitor) and pass video out to the two daisy-chained monitors. Sadly this approach never got taken up more widely (partly as the chip powering that port combo was, I believe, never manufactured at scale).

1 Like

Could you explain that a little more please Mark - is this some kind of setting in MacOs or Tinderbox?

I switch between a 27" iMac and a 13" MacBook Air. I prefer the bigger screen but never hesitate to use Tinderbox on the smaller screen. On both, I make considerable use of macOS’s Spaces feature and I usually put Tinderbox in its own space and just move to or from it using control-right/left arrow or command-tab. Having used multiple screens before, I found it somewhat distracting. Spaces helps me focus on one type of work at a time.

  • Macbook Pro '16 M2
  • 27 inc Samsung monitor
  • 49 in. LG widescreen monitor (amazing!!!)
  • External logitech 4K camera on mount
  • Logitech MX3 mouse (totally AWESOME–recommended by Bryan Jenks)
  • Yeti Mic
  • Key Light lighting
  • Alexa (for mood)

When traveling, I use my iPad as a second screen.


macOS. See Settings → Desktop & Doc. I don’t use it.

Albeit I have bezels in the middle where the screens meet and I can’t place a window to display across the bezel (it is one or other), I’ve got a main screen of (minus bezel) effectively 42.5 inches - compare with @satikusala’s 49" in a single screen.

If planning multiple monitors do check specs for your Mac. I returned an early M1 Mac as it—by design—only supported a single external monitor (I don’t think it would have coped with a single 49" screen either). My current MBPro is essentially a higher-spec 14 (CPU/RAM not base level) and its fine.


It all looks really cool and engineerish. If I had to look at that, I’d sign up for the Space Force and run away from home LOL

1 Like

There are plugins for the standard AV apps that worked well for me. There won’t be a Tinderbox plugin but the other thing you can do is map to keyboard shortcuts. As I’m not a. touch typist that worked well for me. And you can quickly access several mappings so I would probably have 1 for map view, one for outline etc.

  • MacBook Pro 16 M2 Max (Monitor open and on)
  • LG UltraFine 27 5K Monitor
  • LogiTech MX 3 mouse
  • Keychron K5 keyboard (cooler than a penguin turd in a blizzard)
  • Streamdeck (don’t use the keys too often, no set for TBX)

TBX is running on the 27’’ screen most of the time.

1 Like

Thanks everyone for giving your setups

I’ve played around a little bit more this morning and come to the realisation that screen real estate makes a real difference for me when in map view but in outline I’m really fine on my Macbook.

They are such different representations. The visual cues like colour, shape, links, border etc in map view have helped me so far to just “see” things that are not so obvious in outline. They prompt me. Whereas with outline I am aware I am doing more thinking / considering.

1 Like

Don’t forget to try the other views too! See a list here. I doubt anyone uses them all, all the time, but at different phases of a project, or in different TBXs. Attribute Browser is probably the one more people have a use for but never try.

A TBX opens with 2 tabs and different views partly to indicate that multiple tabs and differing concurrent views of the same document (data) are possible. Map is the default, so people try it first; Outline is the stored structure of the document and used for export. But you can have more tabs - tabs in the background aren’t running—they refresh when you give the tab focus.

Views can be ‘hoisted’ so the ‘root’ of the view is now necessarily the root of the document (outline). View scopes vary:

  • Single container: Map view
  • Whole document: all other views, but most are filterable allowing what of child/descendant content is shown.

Hyperbolic view is slightly atypical in that it only shows notes reachable from the starting/selected note that are reachable by Tinderbox links (basic or text) and in either directly. Put another way, if it is not connected by an in- or out-bound link of any type, it isn’t plotted in hyperbolic view.

Attribute Browser and Crosstabs views are sort-of reports - you configure them via the panel as the top to set scope, filtering, attributes to view, etc.

Can’t stress enough the usefulness of Attribute Browser view for review-type work.

1 Like

System: M1 MacBook Pro, 2 external LG 4K Ultrafine external displays mounted on LX Dual Side-by-Side
Apple extended keyboard and trackpad in Grovemade wooden mounts
Apple HomePod stereo-paired speakers
Logitech logi HD camera
Full-spectrum display light
Fujitsu ScanSnap 1500
Ugmonk leather desk pad
Apple AirPods Max headphones
Stream Desk XL

1 Like

Thanks Mark

I have tried the other views but to a lesser extent and definitely found attribute browser useful. I didn’t get on with hyperbolic view but with the clarification that it only shows notes with links I understand why I didn’t find it very helpful and will explore some more.

I found by accident the tear off feature of some parts of the UI which I now use deliberately and whilst I have less tabs open than in my browser I find having tabs of differing views and levels really helpful.

The only way I have found so far to sort notes by attribute is the table view. Sorting my view by attribute is helpful for me sometimes (maybe I’m too used to spreadsheets?). I can kind of get there with filters but it’s not the same and not as quick.

A few suggestions for further exploration/reading based on the points in your last post.

Hyperbolic view

Hyperbolic view perhaps lays bare the difference between inferred links and actual links. For instance, a note nested note is a child of it’s container, but is not linked. Accepting that the view only shows linked items and controls the layout, it gets around the problem of seeing a map of notes in different containers (e.g. map views). in turn this makes link-types useful in their original role indicating the purpose of the linkage (as opposed to merely as line-labels in map view). By judicious use of link types, different interrelations between notes can be explored—visually, as altering the link type(s) selected will add remove notes form the view: all the notes are still in the doc, just not in the current view display.

Secondary windows

‘Tear-off’ notes, a.k.a. ‘stand-alone’ notes. Have you read the Secondary windows section of aTbRef? It might help orient you as to their purpose. Be aware it’s hard to know before the fact what any given reader wants to know about the app, or the order in which they wish to explore. Tinderbox is a toolbox of views and features, and at any time we only use a subset. This why I style aTbref as a Reference: you go and explore it and follow its many links rather than consume it in lesson form. But there’s a lot of detail in the resource, and the forum’s here for any questions arising.

The last also reminds us all that, as not all views apply to not all tasks/contexts, a common mistake is to look at a particular view only from the context of the task/content we use most often. The latter often hides the purpose of the view as it is being sen from an unhelpful perspective.

Side note. Something for the community to consider pulling together are some notes of what views suite particular tasks. In turn this might help building better tutorials/demos as a suitable task & source data are the bigger and harder part of making such resources: you can’t show what isn’t there to be found.


This does surprise me. Any container can be sorted, see the Sort Inspector and the Sorting group of attributes.

Sorting probably makes least (visual) impact in map—which I think you’re mainly using. You might do best to explore sorting behaviours in Outline or Chart view. Note too, that sort order affects both $SiblingOrder and overall $OutlineOrder of a note. The latter is important in understanding the differences between Map and Outline views. Sort order doesn’t alter the {x,y} position of a map item, but it does affect stacking order if the notes overlap. I’ve documented these difference in some detail in a suite of articles on Outline vs. Map Interface.

Finding features

Given there are so many things to find it is hard to index everything. For aTbRef, don’t overlook the site map—it’s linked in the top and bottom of every page. Use your web browser’s Find (Cmd+F in Safari/Firefox/Chrome, and probably Bing) and search for a word or phrase and it might find you article about, or close to, that which you seek: don’t forget the myriad of links in aTbRef are deliberate, it is expected the reader will follow these, as few if any topics can we written about from every perspective within a single note.

Also find and (re-)visit the two PDF tutorials in the app’s Help menu, the app’s own Help. Here in the forum, @satikusala has collected an impressive range of videos demoing/teaching various aspects of Tinderbox use: see Mastering Tinderbox: Training Videos (Complete List).

HTH :slight_smile:

1 Like

Thanks for the guidance - I’ve been off exploring and playing with it all - it’s interesting the effect on my thinking / processing that the different representations have.

1 Like