You have probably experienced this many times. You try to keep things organized and your notepad might be the only way to keep track of things.
You can’t invite people over to start sketching in your notebook though. That wouldn’t work so you decide to give the digital tools a chance.
But there are so many…
After a while, you have installed a plethora of apps, subscribed to several services, but you still can’t connect it all.
This is where Miro comes in. Miro is a collaboration tool that allows you to throw your ideas on a digital whiteboard. You can keep it tidy or you can use it to brainstorm. The key is that you can use it by yourself, or you can use it with others.
The digital whiteboards don’t have any limits and can grow to be a huge bank of information.
Features are continuously added and the development of Miro is rather dynamic.
For me, it has expanded way past work and studies. It can be used for everything in life. You can organize your kid's birthday parties here if you want to.
Today I would like to share my workflow, some tips & tricks, and why I think it is the ultimate go-to tool for pretty much “everything”.
Disclaimer: Contains affiliate link
Who should use Miro?
Who should not use Miro is the question to ask. I see so many ways to use this software that I am almost looking for excuses to use it whenever possible.
Studios with freelancers from around the world
One of Miro’s strengths is collaboration. When multiple employees work together you can see their arrows flying around on the screen producing content.
If you have employees in different time zones it is an amazing feeling to wake up and see a board full of updated tasks. Some have been moved, new artwork has been uploaded, or someone has commented on your work.
Miro is a great presentation tool and since the whole system is built around a whiteboard, it makes sense that we replaced the physical whiteboard with this one in 2020.
You can use presentation mode, use the built-in chat to communicate, video chat, and vote. When used correctly, it is extremely powerful.
I used it to break down several chapters of our curriculum this year.
Do you have something to organize? Do you wish you could spread stuff all over your Trello board or your other lists? Do you wish you could create a Kanban board for your wedding with a section full of potential wedding dresses?
Heck, why don’t you throw in a seating plan while you’re at it?
To get Miro you can go to their website and sign up here
There are several accounts you can sign up for and the personal 1-user account is free (with some limitations)
The main limitation you will face is that you only have three boards. A board can be huge so you can fill a lot of content on one board, but for the sake of organizing your content, you want more boards.
Most of the presentation- and advanced communication tools also require an upgraded license.
Upgrades are fairly cheap and one license that is missing from the overview above is the freelancer license. You can get a single-seat license for $12 per month, but it is beneficial to team up and get team pricing. If you pay for a full year in advance, you also get a discount.
Once you have created your account and log in, you will be greeted by your dashboard. On your dashboard, you have a few interesting sections.
On the left-hand side, you have your Teams menu. Here you can add teams. Think of it like an office where you can invite team members to work on the boards in this office. Offices may contain several boards.
Boards are the core functionality of Miro. A board is what you think it is, a digital whiteboard for you to add whatever you like. We’ll get back to the whatever part later.
The question mark on the top right is a guide menu. From this menu, you can learn more about how to use Miro.
On the far right, there is a profile icon where you can control your:
- User Settings
- Apps and Integrations
- Documents and APIs
- Log out
We’ll talk more about apps and integrations later.
Get the Miro App
At the bottom left, there is a row of icons representing different operating systems. You can download the Miro app for your platform if you want to use the standalone version.
Once installed, it will show you the familiar dashboard. One huge benefit of using Miro is that you don’t need the standalone version to run it. You can run Miro in your browser, so you can use it wherever you are.
You can download the iOS and Android versions for your mobile devices as well. It is nice to have on the go or as a companion.
Working with boards
Remember the whiteboard you had in class as a kid? Imagine if you could send the whole class up there at the same time and they had a toolbox that would allow them to do anything. It’s 2020 now, and we have this — digitally. The kids won’t even bump into each other.
Boards are endless whiteboards where you can place anything you like. Sticky notes, text, shapes, templates…
To create a new board, simply hit the big +(New Board) button. You will get a warning stating that all members of the team will be able to see the board. If you wish to keep some boards private, but still organize it within the teams, you can upgrade your account and enjoy the private boards.
Untitled text next to the MIRO logo on the top left to edit your board information. Name it and add a detailed description to make it easier for your team members to know what the board is about. Add a thumbnail to make it stand out from the crowd.
Great! Now we have a blank board to work with. It’s time to look at how we move around and use the building blocks in our toolbox.
Miro works with pens, mice, trackpads, and fingers.
The left mouse button (LMB) has multiple functions.
- edit (double click)
- navigate/pan (if you click-drag on the canvas)
One issue with the LMB is that it is easy to grab something by mistake and move it around. Therefore, I always use the middle mouse button (MMB) to navigate. Since the MMB on my mouse is also a scroll wheel, I am able to quickly zoom in and out or pan around with the same button.
When you use the MMB you can pan even if you are over objects.
If you’re on a tablet, two fingers work the same way. Tap with one finger to select an object, tap-drag to instantly move it around, and use two fingers to pan.
You can use the navigator on the bottom right to quickly jump between sections. When your boards grow, it can be hard to move around to find that one frame you were working on last week.
To select an object, simply left-click it. To select multiple objects at once, hold shift, and draw a rectangle around the items you wish to select.
You can click
v or the arrow on the left menu bar to disable/enable selection. When you disable it, you can not select anything. It is a nice feature to use if you wish to browse around without editing or moving any objects.
To lock an object, select it and click the little padlock in the top menu or click
To unlock an object, long-press the padlock again, or hit
Think of frames like containers where you can keep items collected. They share some similarities with groups, but it is easier to move an item from one frame to the other and any object inside the frame will move with the frame.
To create a frame, click the frame icon or hit
f on your keyboard
Miro comes with a variety of presets or you can choose
custom to create a frame any size you want.
A nifty feature when using a template, like
browser is that you can toggle
show device on or off.
Double click on the frame name to rename it and get access to the settings for the frame. You can adjust the frame size by dragging any of the white circles in the corners.
When your board gets populated with several frames, you can easily navigate them by enabling the frame browsing view.
Elements you place on your board are referred to as objects. Miro comes with a variety of objects. Let’s have an in-depth look at them.
One of the simplest objects in Miro is text. To create a text object, click the
T on the side menu or hit
t on your keyboard.
There are many ways to change the text object. Click the object and edit it from the menu that appears above it.
- Bold, Italic, Underline
- Text Color
- Background Color
If you have seen Miro before, you have most likely seen pictures of the post-its, sorry… sticky notes, on the boards. It is iconic and widely used.
To create a sticky note, click the icon on the left menu or hit
n on your keyboard.
Sticky notes also have some options.
- Text size
- Text type
- Preset Size
The sticky notes tool has a bulk option which allows you to add multiple notes in one go.
When you click the sticky notes icon on the left menu, select
bulk mode at the bottom. This is a brilliant way to add several sticky notes if you know what you need beforehand.
Shapes is one of my favorite functions. You can add a variety of shapes to build your node trees or if you simply need a shape to assist your board in any way.
To create a shape, click the square icon in the left menu or hit
s on your keyboard. (If you replace the square shape, the currently selected shape will replace the shape icon in the menu)
When you click the shape icon, you are shown a preset thumbnail list. Pick one from the overview or click
all shapes to see all available shapes.
When you find a shape you like, select it, and click-drag on your board to place it.
A beautiful thing about Miro is that you can link almost any object to another. The connection line menu lets you create a few different arrows you can use to connect objects.
To create a connection line click the arrow icon on the left menu (remember that this changes based on your last selection) or hit
l on your keyboard.
You can link objects by dragging a line directly from one object to the other so this tool is not something I use frequently.
To link two objects at any time, simply select the first and grab one of the blue dots. When you click-drag this dot, you can drag a line between one object to the other. Drag it to the object you want to connect it to.
You can use the pen tool to draw on the whiteboard. This works best with an actual pen, like Wacom or the Apple Pencil, but you can use your mouse as well.
To use the pen tool, select the pen icon from the left menu or hit
p on your keyboard.
There are several options for the pen tool.
- Smart Drawing
- Lasso Select
- Type and Color
Here is a gif showing you how the pen tools work.
The little speech bubble on the left menu is the comment tool. Click it or hit
c to use the tool. Click anywhere to drop a comment on your board.
Write your comment and hit enter. Your comment is now created and others can reply to it. Tag team members using the
When you are done discussing a note, you can mark it as resolved by sliding the resolve slider to the right.
Miro has an upload function where you can add material from several sources. Normally, I drag-drop from my computer, but you can link Miro to cloud services if you like and browse material you have stored online.
Working with objects
Now that we have gone through how the basic building blocks of Miro work, it is time to look at how we can use them together.
When you use Miro, you will most likely see yourself mixing all sorts of objects and while some boards are wild and full of ideas, others are super structured.
We briefly looked at how we can connect nodes earlier. Now, I will go through the way I work with shapes to quickly set up a node tree.
I use Miro to create flow-charts and to break down text material, like chapters from books, to get a visual representation.
Use the shapes tool to create your first shape.
You can either keep adding shapes manually, or you can drag from any blue dots and let go of your mouse. This way you get a connection line and a shape attached to the other end of the line. Select a duplicate of your shape or a new one.
Select your desired shape and edit it to your liking
You can edit the appearance of the connection lines as well.
- Add end types in any direction
- Flip direction of the line
- Select type
- Set color
- Add Text
Play with the types to get the look you want. You can adjust the thickness of the line, set the line to linear, stepped, or curved, and chose between solid, lines or dots.
Here is an example of a smooth connection line and a stepped connection line.
Other ways you can create new nodes is by pressing
Ctrl+d/Cmd+d to duplicate or hold
Alt/Option while you drag a selected node. This way a ghosted version will pop up that you can drag into place. when you let go, a duplicate is dropped to the canvas.
Remember that you can change the shape type at any time, by clicking it and selecting the shape type icon to the left in the pop-up menu. The drop-down menu shows you the available types.
Let’s create a condition shape and look at how we can add text to the connections
First, create the nodes after the conditions are met and set the connection line type to stepped.
If you select the connection line, you can click
T+ to add text. You can also double click the line to get straight into text mode.
The text has a few options, like font size and color. The
ABC icon with a curve lets you choose between having the text follow the curve or always stay horizontal.
what we just did with shapes, works with any other object. If you want to connect text or sticky notes, follow the same procedure.
Arrangement and Alignment
OK, this is starting to look a bit cluttered. Thankfully, there are ways to clean up this mess.
When you want to clean up, make sure
snap objects is checked. Open the menu on the top right to see what settings are currently active.
Here is a gif showing how snapping works
You can also let Miro help you align several objects or space them out evenly.
To group objects, simply select them and click the grouping icon in the menu that pops up. Alternatively, hit
Ctrl+g/Cmd+g on your keyboard
When your objects are grouped, you can single-click the group and move it around. If you need to edit objects inside the group, double click to select it.
You should consider when you want to use groups and when you want to use frames. If you drop objects inside a frame, they will follow the frame when you move it around.
You can place groups inside of frames so the groups will follow the frame and the items inside the group will follow the group.
To ungroup, simply click the ungroup icon which is located at the same place the group icon was originally, or hit
Ctrl+Shift+g/Cmd+Shift+g on your keyboard.
Sometimes you want to create a background using a shape. Start by drawing a shape around your content. Then click the three dots in the top menu. Click
send to back to move this shape behind the other objects.
What happens in Miro does not have to stay in Miro. There are several ways to export your creations from Miro.
Export to CSV
If we select our group, we can click the three dots in the top menu and select export to
The result is a list of the objects’ names.
If you convert your selection to a frame or drop it into a frame, you can export this frame as an image. With the basic version of Miro, you are limited to image size small.
If you upgrade you can export higher resolution and a vector version.
Presenting your material
Miro isn’t just a whiteboard. It is a full presentation suite. I am currently making a python programming course, and instead of making a keynote or graphics in Photoshop that I later have to time in my edit, I can use Miro and a screen recording software to record everything live.
Our main tools will be located in the bottom menu
If we open the frame-view, we can arrange our frames the way we want for our presentation.
Initially, they are a bit cluttered.
Simply grab a frame and drag it into place to rearrange it to your liking.
When you go into
presenter mode a play button appears so you can play your presentation in full screen. The small arrows to go back and forth to navigate through your frames.
Even though most of us have been pushed to install MS Teams or Zoom this year, Miro has a built-in video call feature. To use it, simply click the video icon at the bottom menu.
If you allow Miro to use your camera and microphone in your browser settings, you can use this like any other video conference software.
Note, that this is a paid feature, but you can try it out for 14 days before you decide to upgrade
If you can’t agree on a subject or there are too many participants for you to keep an overview of peoples’ opinions, you can set up a vote.
To set up a vote, simply click the thumbs up icon at the bottom menu and tweak the settings to your liking.
When your settings are good, click start and people will have the ability to cast their votes.
When votes have been cast and the time is up, you can see the results.
Do you need to work on a task for a limited time? You can use the built-in timer function in Miro so everyone knows how much time is left.
The timer icon is also located at the bottom menu and looks like a stopwatch.
When the timer is up, it will start bouncing so everyone knows it’s time to stop working.
We casually skipped Miro templates because I wanted to cover the basics first. Templates is one of Miro’s strongest assets and there are many good ones out there.
If you click the templates icon on the side menu you enter the template browser.
A template browser will be displayed and you can either search for a template or you can browse templates based on categories or use cases.
When you see a template that interests you, you can click on it to add it to your board directly or you can show a preview.
You can either add the filled example or add a blank template. Here we have added the filled example.
There are tons of templates to check out. I strongly advise you to browse around and try them out.
The Apps function allows you to use your favorite tools right inside of Miro. Let’s install the Unsplash app and see how that works.
Click the three dots at the bottom of the left menu.
Get more apps → to go to the app browser.
Since we know what app we are looking for, we are going to use the search function and type “Unsplash”.
Click the thumbnail to go to the information page of the app.
Get app → to start installing the app.
Now that Unsplash is installed, you can access it from the three dots menu.
When you find the image you want to use, drag it onto your board.
The image now behaves like any other object and is ready for use.
Integrating Miro into other software
It doesn’t stop there… Miro can be integrated into other software as well. Let’s have a look at how Miro boards can be used in Notion as an example.
Fire up notion and type
/miro in any of your blocks.
When you click Miro, you get a prompt asking for a link to your board.
Go to Miro and click the share button on the top right. Here you set the link to view (it becomes public) and you can copy the link from Miro. Paste the link in the Notion form and hit
The board is now available in Notion, but you have to click
See the board to expose it.
Yes, that’s it. You now have your Miro board inside of Notion.
When I first started using Miro, I didn’t realize how much of a powerhouse this tool is.
I use it for almost everything in my day to day tasks. I use it at work, I use it for my studies, I use it to plan my online courses, and I use it to arrange personal business.
Here is an example of a chapter breakdown from my studies.
At first, you find yourself fiddling around with the basics. When you start working in teams and utilize the extra tools you will have a blast working with this tool.
Thanks for reading through. I hope it was valuable to you.
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