Author 1.0 User Guide



Welcome To Liquid | Author


Author features a minimalist work environment with powerful controls. Since the controls are not visible as buttons please have a look through this interactive introduction to learn how to get the most out of it.



Full Screen


Author features a full screen mode which you can quickly enter and exit:


To toggle full screen:  ESC



Read/Edit Modes


Tap the centre bottom of the window to toggle the modes:


•  Read - the button says ‘Edit’

•  Edit - the button says ‘Done’


To toggle Read/Edit modes:  cmd/



Read Mode


Instant Table of Contents


•  Pinch in on your trackpad to collapse the text to only see headings. You can then:

•  Click on a heading to jump to that section

•  Pinch further to see less levels of headings

•  Pinch back out to return to normal view




•  Spacebar to go down one screen

•  Click on a heading to have it jump to the top of the screen

•  Select text and activate Liquid for advanced control

•  ESC to toggle full screen (also works in Edit mode)


Text to Speech


•  In Read Mode, select any text and hit spacebar for the text to be spoken. (Make sure you are in Read Mode; otherwise you will simply delete the text!)



Edit Mode




Anything you Cut will be stored in ‘Cuttings’. To paste something stored in Cuttings:


•  Tap anywhere and cmd-shift-v

•  You will be presented with everything you have Cut

•  (If you have not Cut anything nothing will happen)


Note that nothing you Copy will be listed here, since a Copy command leaves your original safe. Anything you Cut and then paste, before Cutting something else, will also not show up since that is also safe in your document. Try it now.


If you Cut something and you no longer want it, point to it and you’ll see an X inside a circle to the right of it - just click to delete it.


Cuttings are stored in your document so you can Cut, quit Author, launch again and still paste.




In Edit Mode you can assign tags to your text by selecting the text and ctrl clicking:


•  Heading. Tag the text as a heading which you can then pinch to collapse the document into a Table of Contents cmd-1 through cmd-6 to assign. Cmd-0 to un-assign


•  Link. Allows you to add a Web Address Link or Citation cmd-k for a weblink, cmd-t to assign a Citation Link


•  Format. Here you have all the usual suspects with all the usual cmd-b for bold and so on


•  Comment on your text. Comments° are intended as a way for you to add further information to your text. ‘Annotations’ will be developed later for you to annotate a document you did not author.






Interacting with Headings


•  Click on a Heading to make it jump to the top of the screen

•  Pinch vertically on your trackpad to collapse your document into an Outline.

 - Pinch out or click in the margin to return to regular view

 - Click on a Heading to jump to it


Creating Headings


To assign a line of text as a Heading:


•  Select the text

•  Ctrl-click on it and choose ‘Heading’, then a level (1-6)


•  cmd-1 for level 1, cmd-2 for level 2 and so on


Editing Headings


Since clicking on a heading makes it jump to the top of the screen, if you want to edit a Heading you need to either stripe/drag select it and then un-assign it as a heading (cmd-0) or double click on the heading to select it and un-assign it all in one go.  You can then edit it and assign it as a heading again, as described above.





A central purpose of Author is to give you more credibility and citations play a central part in this. You can cite from any source which can somehow be addressed, but Author provides particular support from citations from Academic Articles, Books, Video (on YouTube) and the Web.


Please note that you add and edit citations in Edit mode and view them for presentation in Read mode.


In Read mode you can click on the Full Citation to get a Google search so that you can see if the reference is cited correctly.




To cite a reference manually, such as from private email correspondence:


•  Select the text

•  Cmd-t

•  Choose ‘Manually’


Academic Citation


“Existing rich graphical application approaches interfere with user input in many ways, forcing complex interactions to enter simple information, requiring complex cognition to decide where the data should be stored, and limiting the kind of information that can be entered to what can fit into specific applications' data models. Freeform text entry suffers from none of these limitations but produces data that is hard to retrieve or visualize.”  (Max Van Kleek, 2007)


To create an academic citation such as this using Mendeley:


•  Select the text you want to add a citation to

•  Cmd-t

•  Choose ‘From Mendely’ (or ‘enter’)

•  Enter the name of the book or author and click ‘Search Mendeley’ (or ‘enter’)

•  Choose the book from the list and Author will fill in the fields for  you


Book Citation


Book citations can be entered manually or by searching Amazon, such as this quote from the book ‘The Information’:


“A “file” was originally—in sixteenth-century England—a wire on which slips and bills and notes and letters could be strung for preservation and reference. Then came file folders, file drawers, and file cabinets; then the electronic namesakes of all these; and the inevitable irony.” (Gleick, 2012)


•  Select the text you want to add a citation to

•  Cmd-t

•  Choose ‘From Amazon’

•  Enter the name of the book or author and click ‘Search Amazon’ (or ‘enter’)

•  Choose the book from the list and Author will fill in the fields for  you


Video Citation


You can choose to cite video from the exact time in the video when your citation is spoken, for example Doug Engelbart discussing demonstrating his early prototypes: “…they never thought about just how quickly and flexibly you could do things…” (Engelbart,


In YouTube

•  Ctrl-click in the video itself and choose ‘Copy URL from Current Location’


Switch to Author

•  Select the text you want to add a citation to

•  Cmd-t

•  Choose ‘From YouTube’ (or ‘enter’)

•  Fill-in further information including the author since YouTube knows who produced the video but not who is speaking at any particular point in time


Web Citation


You can easily add a citation from text on the web, such as this seminal quote from Doug Engelbart:


“By “augmenting human intellect” we mean increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems.” (Engelbart,




•  Select the text

•  Cmd-t

•  Choose ‘Manually’


Using Liquid | Flow


In Web Browser

•  Select the text you want to be the source of the citation

•  Keyboard shortcut for Liquid | Flow

•  Keyboard shortcut for Copy/As Citation (this can be set up as cmd-space and space)


Switch to Author

•  Cmd-v to get the option to ‘Paste As Citation’ (or ‘enter’)


•  Select the text you want to add a citation to

•  Cmd-t

•  Choose ‘From Copied’




Citations show up in Author in italic, enclosed in “quotes” and  with the date and author in brackets after the cited text (Hegland,2017).


You can change this in the citation dialogue though, in the pop-up menu at the top of the screen, to appear without the quotes and italic.



Search Document / Find


A different and, we hope, a more powerful way of choosing what to see in the document:


If you have not selected text


•  cmd-f and enter a keyword


If you have Selected Text


•  cmd-f


•  cmd-shift-f when you have selected text to search and you want to modify your search with further text/edits




The document will instantly change to show only sentences which have the keyword in them. You can now:


•  Click on sentence to ‘jump’ to it in the document

•  ESC or click in the margin to return to regular view



Document Cover


Do a two finger horizontal swipe on the document and the document will flip around to show you the Document Cover (try it, it’s quite cool) though not in full screen because that just got messy.


Initially, your name will be missing, Author doesn’t know your name yet, so go to Edit mode, then tap the window bar to flip, enter your name, tap Done and now it will remember it - or enter your name in Author’s Preferences.


This will become more useful over time as this is where you can see all the information about the document - the information you’d use when citing the document, plus tags and more. For now however, it’s just kind of a cool document cover.



Keyboard Shortcut Power Tips


Keyboard shortcuts in Author work a little differently from what you might be used to, but they are all optimised to save you time and make you more efficient - to give you a smother flow when working with your text.


When you have selected text AND you have copied text


•  Cmd-k if you have copied a Web Address will immediately make the text a link.

•  Cmd-f immediately shows you all sentences with the selected text.

•  Cmd-t and select Amazon or Mendely and your copied text will automatically be in the Search Box.


When you have not selected anything AND you have copied text


•  Cmd-F will automatically place the text you have copied into the Search Box.





Share your documents as native Author documents or export them as .PDF or .RTF files which are accepted by most word processors: Choose ‘Export to…’ in the File menu.


Citation Handling


Documents will automatically have a References section at the end, where all Citations will be listed.


The style can not be edited currently but we will be adding Citation Styles over time.



Liquid | Flow


One more thing: To get the most out of the text in Author and all your text application, I strongly suggest you download the companion application Liquid | Flow from the Mac App Store and install it.


Through Flow you can select any text in any application, hit a keyboard shortcut and you get useful options instantly, given you a much greater mental freedom of movement when you work:


•  Search Google, Google Images, Reverse Image Search, Google Maps, Google Scholar, Amazon, Mendeley, YouTube, Spotlight, Contacts, Email and Spotlight Contents

•  References Wikipedia, IMDB, Etymonline, Google Definition, Oxford English Dictionary, Wolfram Alpha and Wordnik

•  Convert Currencies and other units: Area, Speed, Distance, Volume, Weight, Data and Power

•  Translate over 100 languages

•  Copy with Link, as Citation, As Plain Text, Copy only Sentences with Keyword, Copy to Edit and Copy to show as Flow Outline

•  Share to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, via email Google Mail or posting to WordPress





Thank you for being a pioneer Author user, I look forward to hearing from you.


Please visit for more information or email me with any questions/comments/bugs/suggestions at


This is only the beginning.


Frode Hegland

London, 2017



The Future


If you are interested in the future of Author please have a look at the list of potential future features and please get in touch should you have any ideas:


If you are interested in the future of text in general, please join us at the annual Future of Text Symposium:





Doug Engelbart


Author is inspired by the work of my mentor Doug Engelbart who pioneered richly interactive computing. As he said on the morning of the 9th of December 1968, when he presented interactive computing to the world for the very first time:


“The research program I am going to describe to you, is quickly characterisable by saying: If you in your office, you as an intellectual worker, were supplied with a computer display backed up by a computer that would be alive for you all day and was instantly responsive to every action you had - how much value could you derive from that?” (Engelbart,


That is a powerful question and one we need to continually ask ourselves - how can we keep improving the usefulness of computers? Author aims to continue this work  but it’s quite clear that there is still a lot of Doug’s work which has not been realised in Author or anywhere else, including high resolution linking - this release of Author is just a start, there is a lot left to do to implement his legacy and to move as far beyond his work as we can in his spirit more than simply by looking at what he actually implemented almost 50 years ago: Doug was not interested in computers, he was passionately interested in how we work together to solve urgent, complex problems collectively by using the power of networked computers.


By the way, the name Author has the same etymological roots as his system which was named Augment and that is why I chose it. Previous to Author I built Liquid | Flow to only later realise that it is basically copied from Augment’s command bar, with all potential commands listed hierarchically. Hopefully you will get to be so fast using Liquid | Flow that you won’t need to use the menus just the keyboard shortcuts, as Doug Preferred. You can see Doug discussing an early version of Liquid | Flow, when it was called Hyperwords


I miss you Doug.




I would also like to thank my father for his invaluable reality checks when the philosophical side of my work went a bit, well, vague, Sarah Walton for the co-development of the Liquid philosophy in the first place, Vint Cerf for his support, Ted Nelson for friendship and dialog and my former teacher Ed Leahy who helped me learn how to question, think and focus and has been a tremendous influence and support over they years.


I would also like to point out, with gratitude, that the work I do would not have happened without Howard Rheingold and his Tools for Thought (Rheingold, 2000).  Thank you for your writings and for walks along the North Bay.


I am currently working on my PhD at the University of Southampton, under the watchful eyes of two of my prime inspirations; Dame Wendy Hall and Les Carr, whose support and insights makes my life magical. The work I am doing is an extension of Author, adding what I call a ‘Liquid | View’. For more, please visit


Lastly, the crowning jewel of my life, my wife Emily Ballard-Hegland who not only supports my work with love but also with hard work.




This software is dedicated to our son Edgar, born 8th of May 2017.