Intro to KnowledgeOwl

Before you start

Before you jump in to things, there are a few helpful things to know:

  • KnowledgeOwl is a web-based application that works in your web browser, so you do not need to download or install any software on your computer. KnowledgeOwl works well in most modern web browsers, though it can be finicky in Internet Explorer 11.
  • When you create a KnowledgeOwl account, you agree to comply with our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • We provide a number of resources to provide help and insights about our software and its features:

Set up your account

When you sign up for KnowledgeOwl, you'll enter your email and password. This is what you'll use to log in to the KnowledgeOwl application. The first time you log in, we'll ask for your first and last name, which is what we'll call you and how your name will appear in author lists.

You can edit and customize your author profile by clicking your profile icon/name in the upper right and selecting My Settings (or, if you're a full admint, select Authors and open your author details). To learn more about managing authors, please check out Author roles & custom roles for a quick primer or dig into our full Author Management guide.

When you first log in to your account, we'll walk you through the basic setup process. You'll give your knowledge base a name and a URL, like "My Awesome Knowledge Base" and "" respectively. Don't worry about getting it perfect. You'll be able to update the knowledge base name and URL under Settings > Basic later!

To add additional author seats or knowledge bases, select your profile icon/name in the upper right and then Account.

What is a knowledge base?

While we see customers use knowledge bases for a variety of purposes, a knowledge base at its core is basically an online, self-serve collection of information. You can think of this like a library or repository, and it usually contains information about your company, product, policies, procedures, services, departments, or so on.

Knowledge bases can be:

  • Internal: referenced only by your employees or contractors
  • External: referenced by your customers, clients, or students
  • Combination of internal + external: referenced by both your employees and your customers

We like to think of knowledge bases as serving a few purposes:

  • Capturing/sharing knowledge from subject matter experts to everyone else
  • Making that knowledge available in some kind of structure and searchable
  • Collecting knowledge that might otherwise be stored in a bunch of different places

Beyond that, they're quite flexible. You can use knowledge bases for a variety of things, including:

  • Internal policies or procedures
  • Internal product or service support information
  • Customer-facing software, product, or service documentation
  • Educational materials like lesson plans, job briefs, exercises, activities
  • Personal or company blogs
  • Marketing materials
  • Presentation templates
  • And more!

We always use the two-word form of knowledge base, rather than knowledgebase. You can read Chief Executive Owl Marybeth Alexander's explanation of this choice on our blog: Is it “knowledge base” or “knowledgebase”?

How are KnowledgeOwl knowledge bases structured?

Within your knowledge base, there are two basic types of content:

  • Categories: used to define the hierarchy/navigation of your content
  • Articles: individual pages of content

You can create as many categories, subcategories, and articles as you'd like.

To help you create the exact content hierarchy you want, we include a few different options within these content types. For categories:

  • Default categories: These categories are used to display the subcategories or articles within them, and have a few display options for how you'd like that info displayed.
  • Blog style categories: Can only contain articles. These categories display in reverse chronological order, with most recent at the top by default, including a brief article meta description/blurb.
  • Topic display categories: Can only contain articles. These categories display the full text of all articles they contain, and you have options to enable a Quick Links style table of contents at the top, collapsing/expanding articles, and more.
  • Custom content categories: Can contain categories or articles, or nothing. These categories give you the full editor control of an article, while displaying in the navigation like a category. Great if you want something to look like a category in the table of contents but be editable like an article.
  • Shared content categories: For use when you have multiple knowledge bases and you want to sync a category and its content between knowledge bases.
  • URL redirect categories: Display like a regular category, but can redirect to any URL. Great for sharing files or documents, or directing to resources outside of KnowledgeOwl.

Articles also have a few options:

  • Topic articles: This is a box you can check on any article to make it available to embed within another article.
  • Template articles: This is a box you can check on any article to make it available as a template. When you create a new article, you can choose to create from template and see a list of all articles designated as templates.
  • URL redirect article: Like the URL redirect category, you can set up an article to redirect to any URL. Great for sharing files or documents, or directing to resources outside of KnowledgeOwl.

The KnowledgeOwl app vs. a knowledge base

There are basically two "sides" to KnowledgeOwl:

  • The KnowledgeOwl app ( log in here to create and edit content, what you might consider the "back end".
    • The people who access the app are considered authors and are factored into your billing.
    • By default, authors can have an Editor or Writer role for each knowledge base, but you can create custom roles and assign those to authors to further refine their permissions.
  • Your KnowledgeOwl knowledge base itself (example: the view-only version of your content that you can share with your customers or end-users, what you might consider the "front end".
    • People who access the knowledge base are considered readers; readers cost you nothing and you can have unlimited readers.
    • All KnowledgeOwl knowledge bases are created with a subdomain which you specify when you create the knowledge base. You can change the subdomain or add your own private domain in Settings > Basic.
    • You can set who can see your knowledge base overall in Settings > Security by changing the Default Access. Public access allows anyone to access your knowledge base; any of the other options will restrict your knowledge base to access by people with a shared password/IP or individual reader accounts.
    • You can view your knowledge base at any time by clicking the View KB link in the top navigation of the app. When you're editing an individual category or article, you can open the knowledge base directly to that category or article using the View Category and View Article links near the top of your screen.
    • Only articles that are marked with a "Needs Review" or a "Published" status will be visible in the knowledge base itself.

You can restrict certain articles or entire categories to viewing by specific groups using reader groups.

You can restrict editing certain articles or entire categories to specific authors using author teams.

Get oriented in the app

Here's a quick guide to getting around the KnowledgeOwl app:


When you first log in, you'll be taken to the app dashboard. This dashboard displays:

  1. A tile for each of your knowledge bases in the main pane. You can click anywhere in the tile to open that knowledge base in the app.
  2. A KnowledgeOwl News section. In the News section, we always display our 3 most recent Release Notes, so you can see what updates have been made to KO recently. Clicking any of these links will open a new browser tab to the release note in our support knowledge base.
  3. Below that, we also display 3 recent Blog Posts we think might be useful for you. Clicking any of these links will open a new browser tab to the blog post on our public website.

When we have critical announcements such as planned site outages, you'll see an Announcements section at the very top of the News panel:

Top navigation

On every page in the app, you'll see the same navigation bar across the top.

In our support documentation, instructions to open a top navigation menu will display the top navigation menu title followed by an arrow and the item you'll select. So a document referencing Settings > Basic is telling you to open the Settings menu in the top navigation and to select the "Basic" option from that menu.

Here are some quick highlights of what each top navigation option contains, from left to right:

  • Linus owl icon: this will take you back to the app dashboard.
  • Knowledge base name dropdown: If you have multiple knowledge bases, you can use this dropdown to select a different knowledge base.
  • Knowledge Base menu: This menu contains most of the content creation and auditing menu options: Articles, Manage, Home Page, Glossary, Contact Form, Exports, and Import. These are the menu items most content authors need most often: Articles and Manage.
  • Tools menu: This menu is a recent addition to our top navigation. It contains tools you can use to optimize your knowledge base. Currently this includes one tool:
    • the Broken link checker & report: creates a CSV export identifying internal and external links that throw HTTP status codes above the 200-level
  • Library menu: This menu contains all the libraries where we store itemsthat are used or referenced by your content. Generally you'd only access these libraries if you needed to create, edit/update, or delete some of these objects. These libraries include:
    • the File Library: where all images, videos, and files you upload to KnowledgeOwl are stored
    • the File Labels Library: where we store all the file labels you've added to files in the File Library
    • the Snippets Library: where you can create reusable code or text snippets to add to content or other areas
    • the Synonyms Library: used for identifying synonyms that search should use
    • the Tags Library: for all tags you've added to articles/categories
  • Settings menu: This menu contains various features or settings that you may need to configure. Generally these are set once initially and might be occasionally updated thereafter.
  • Reporting menu: This menu contains KnowledgeOwl's reporting functionality for the knowledge base overall (Reporting Dashboard), the Contact Form, and the Contextual Help Widget. It's also where you'll view, approve, and delete Comments.
  • View KB: You can select this option to view your knowledge base as it appears to readers, in a new tab.
  • Help: This option will open our Contextual Help Widget, powered by our support knowledge base. It will recommend help materials for the page you're currently viewing in the app, allow you to search our entire support knowledge base, and allow you to contact our support team. If you'd like to set up something similar from your own knowledge base, see Contextual Help Widget (2.0).
  • Your Accountmenu: This menu contains information for anything that applies to your account overall rather than an individual knowledge base. The options you'll see here will depend on your permissions, but it can include:
    • Account: where you can see and update your billing/subscription information.
    • Knowledge Bases: directs you back to the app dashboard, just like the Linus icon in the upper left.
    • Change Password: lets you update the password you use to log in to
    • Authors: opens the Authors management page
    • Readers: opens the Readers management page
    • API: displays and lets you create, edit/update, and delete API keys for your account
    • Webhooks: lets you create, configure, and delete webhooks for integrations with other software
    • Logout: logs you out