What software do I really need for academic work on Mac?

A reader has just challenged me to re-think the software I use for academic work on Mac. Well, there are over 250 items in my Applications folder, but how many do I need to remain productive? So imagine that I have a completely new Mac with no software (except OS and its standard apps). Also imagine that I am not bound to any historical file or data formats. What would I choose? To answer this, I have made a mission critical list of 25 apps in five categories. These apps do not duplicate each other, on the contrary some of them are mentioned under more than one heading and some are used together (e.g. NValt and Ulysses or Byword and Scrivener). I am pretty sure that I could do my professor work with these 25 apps but if any one was removed without replacement I would be severely handicapped.   Continue reading

Posted in Automation, Bibliographies, Email, Files, Graphics, Notes, Presentations, Projects, Tasks, Workflows, Writing | 45 Comments

Academic contacts management. Part 1 – capturing

Contact management is very important for academic work. We need to be in touch with prospective and current students, alumni, co-authors, competitors and peers. On top of that there are journal editors and publishers, funders, university administrators, and journalists. Social media multiply these connections and make it more difficult to listen and to be heard above all the noise. Yet, there are a lot of tools for effective capturing, organizing and using contacts in academic work. Continue reading

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5 years and 200 episodes of Mac Power Users

I was incredibly lucky to buy my first Mac in the same year and the same month when Macpowerusers launched their podcast. I was also lucky to start listening to awesome Katie and David right from Episode 1. Now 5 years and 200 episodes later, it is a bit more difficult to keep up, but they still never fail to give me laughs, tips and ideas. I think their secret is the exact right balance of geekery and common sense. In any case, congratulations and thank you!

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TextExpander for writing recommendation letters

The time it takes to write recommendation letters usually increases dramatically with the years spent teaching in a University. This is not a responsibility that should be ditched: many former students – especially those applying for academic positions – deserve glowing recommendations which should be hand-crafted and long. Even in this business Mac automation tools such as TextExpander can take care of the routine and let you focus on creative and important parts. Continue reading

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Papers 3: considerable improvements, but still beta

I have recently been asked to prepare one of the Oxford Bibliographies. This required sifting through, organizing and annotating a large number of references and so I decided to give Papers 3.0 another try. I have previously been disappointed by various deficiencies of this new version. It seems, however, that the programming team has been working hard updating the (still beta) version. So my impression is cautiously optimistic. Continue reading

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50 pounds of writing

A great article from a design blog talks about the importance of the first draft. It shares a parable from Art and Fear on art-making and creative ventures. A pottery teacher splits a class into two groups: one group is measured on the quantity of work they produce over the semester and the other is measured only on the quality of the best piece at the end of the class. Which group produces the best art?

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Ulysses can assign OS X tags and manage reference notes

Ulysses III has recently had  an important update. It now assigns and reads OS X tags. This brings the Ulysses’ value for academics to an entire new level. Ulysses III has already been great for taking project notes (e.g. on teaching or publications) because it can organize its sheets by hierarchical folders corresponding to work areas and projects. However, Ulysses lacked good capacity to effectively manage reference notes, which may be used for several projects including those that don’t yet exist and are more logically organized by tags or keywords. Continue reading

Posted in Notes, Tags and folders | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments