Mac Software & Workflow Tools for Academics, Writers, and other Procrastinators

This morning I sat stuck in the London Underground for about 90 minutes. I was listening to the Mac Power User Podcast – their “workflows” podcasts are great. Anyway, it got me thinking about the tools that I’ve wasted hours on over the years. I jotted down a little list on my iPhone as I waited for my train to start moving again.  Here is that list.

To save you some time, I am only including my tried-and-true favorites. These are tools and software applications I use effortlessly every day, without even thinking about  it.  I am intentionally not including links to any of these apps; if I did, I would be tempting you to read about each, try each one out, and not spend any time writing.  But I did decide to share my list, because I always wish people would share their work processes.  This list reveals a bit about my own academic/writing workflow, and gives props to some of the developers who have made damn good products.

*Writing

  1. Scrivener
  2. Taskpaper (synced to iPhone with Simpletext.app)
  3. Writeroom
  4. Textmate

*Thinking

  1. Omnigraffle
  2. Mindmanager
  3. Omnioutliner

*Utilities I couldn’t live without

  1. Textexpander
  2. Clips
  3. and most of all, Quicksilver. I am nearly certain that I truly could not live without Quicksilver.
  4. Dropbox (ditto)

*Data storage

  1. Devonthink
  2. Evernote
  3. Notational Velocity (synced to iPhone with Simplenote.app)

*Research

  1. Sente
  2. Papers
  3. PASW Statistics (used to be called SPSS)
  4. ISI Web of Knowledge

*Time managers

  1. Time Out break reminder software
  2. Apimac timer (for timing myself while writing – or using the Pomodoro Technique)!
  3. A little clip-on digital kitchen clock and a pad of paper where I write what I’m working on RIGHT NOW and the time I start and end
  4. RescueTime

*Excel functions for data analysis

  1. Pivot tables
  2. Conditional formatting
  3. Vlookup

*writing support resources

  1. Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast
  2. Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die web tool
  3. Gina Hiatt’s Academic Writing Club
  4. Howard Becker’s Writing for Social Scientists
    • Hi Luis! Glad your found this post. Mindmapping rocks. Do you use Mindmanager? I also wish we had bumped into each other while I was teaching at the LSE, especially because I was dying to do some work with the Ludic Group! Maybe someday. We do have a lot of shared interests around Design Thinking, Innovation, etc. 🙂 Please keep in touch.

  1. Really useful, thank you. Upped my confidence my dissertation might get written without the teeth-pulling…

  2. One disadvantage with Textmate is it doesn’t seem to be being updated. An alternative is BBEdit or the free TextWrangler.

    Another app in the Data Storage field, which I think is potentially even better than Evernote or DevonThink (primarily because it is simpler than both of them) is Yojimbo.
    All three are by BareBones Software (no commission involved, unfortunately)