Personal Brain: A No Brainer For iOS

Organize and Find Everything the Way You Think

TheBrain is an amazing tool for GTD, mind mapping, teamwork, a digital repository, brainstorming and so on. It differs from its competitors in some striking components:

  • TheBrain has three ways to interlink a thought: Parents, Childs and Jumps. In this way you can create three-dimensional Brains with unlimited thoughts;
  • It is free of distraction, by his way of presentation. Play with my example to understand this unique feature;
  • You can attach URL’s, Photos, Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Styles, Colours, Text and Tags to Thoughts;
  • You have full text retrieval in an auto generated database;
  • Cross Platform: Mac, Windows, UNIX and iOS;
  • WebAccess via the Browser and WebBrain (CloudSync);
  • Its free for personal use (Limited Edition).

I have been using Personal Brain for more than 15 years on Windows, but the possibility to use it now on an iPad – especially on an iPad Pro 12,9″ – is big fun! Not only to view my Personal Brains, but also to create them in iOS. Here you can see what I recently created on my iPad with the help of a bookmarklet en some hacks. First you have to create a free account to see my iOS creation.
I hope you will enjoy it!

👍 If you have any question, leave a comment on the blog.

How to hack TheBrain?

On my iPad Pro I use the bookmarklet of TheBrain to capture the URL from the webpage to the Inbox. That works pretty well, though the iOS App it-selves has regularly hiccups (it freezes) on older iPads. Restarting the app will solve the problem, but is time consuming. The support team told me the engineers are thinking of integration with iOS Share Sheet.
Fortunately there are workflows to enhance the use of the Inbox:

Adding a bookmarklet to Safari

You can add web pages directly to TheBrain from Safari. To do this you will first need to set up TheBrain’s Bookmarklet. Go to the ‘paperclip’ in the right section of the toolbar and tap it. Now you see among several options the ‘Add Bookmarklet’. The is more information in the Help section of the app if you want to explore more later.

A Drafts 4 Action

If you use Drafts 4 – Quickly Capture Notes, Share Anywhere van Agile, you can use the Drafts 4 extension to
paste the results in Drafts, edit (shorten) the first line (title) and trigger the action “Post to TheBrain”. You can download the action here.
Text and URL will be parsed into your Personal Brain Inbox.

Adding more file types to your Inbox

I had no problems with attaching Photos or PDF-files to the Inbox, but Word-documents were refused. The Brain Support is still working on this omission in iOS. I discovered a workaround via Workflow, the Swiss Army Knife for automation iOS.
If you want to attach other type files to your thoughts (I tested .doc, .docx, .epub, .txt, .xls and .ppt) you have to parse their Direct Download Links from Dropbox into a Workflow that you can download here.

The file will be opened in Safari, where you can use this workflow to parse the URL into the Inbox of Personal Brain and/or Instapaper..
Very handy if you want to have your books and notes in your Personal Brain.


If you want to attach an URL directly from RSS, Mr.Reader is your way to go. I found this hack on The Brain Forums, by Alex Zenrain.
You can use the following code to create a custom App services to send the Title and the URL to TheBrain:
Code: brain://app/api/inbox?url={[URL]}&title={[TITLE]}

Linking YouTube Video’s

This is not a hack, but just a demonstration of the power of the bookmarklet of TheBrain. Open a video in your browser (Safari) and hit the bookmarklet, preferably in your Favorites Bar.
It will parse the link into your Inbox, with a nice YouTube icon.

Quick hack by Zenrain

Did you know you can add tags and thought types to thoughts in the iOS app? To do so, activate the thought you want to add the type or tag to and then click the button to create a thought. Change the link to parent, and then type the name of the Thought Type or Tag. Select it from the list of matching thoughts and voilà, your thought now has that type (or tag).
N.B. To show them in your list, you first have to add your Thought Types and Tags through your PC or Mac. Give them an unique name, so you will easy recognize them.
Enjoy your Personal Brain!

© Frank van Exter


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