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Mac software recommendations

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Posted by satis
Jun 6, 2021 at 04:01 PM


You’re asking a probably too-broad question, especially for this forum. Vellum, for example is designed as a sophisticated tool for ebook creation, and is really outside the scope of the kinds of discussions here. Apps like Devonthink shine as ‘shoebox’ apps, not as good writing or notetaking tools.

So you’re asking about three different kinds of apps. I’d recommend delving into the included apps and researching reviews of replacements when you hit pain points. LOTS of articles out there that compare apps, from which you can do research, like this


For notetaking you could always start with the included Notes app (which is so good some people migrated to it from EverNote) and Pages, and see what you think you’re missing. Pages has advanced layout options to create ebooks.


Personally I use Ulysses ($49.99/yr subscription) for most medium- and longform writing. It outputs text, HTML, PDF and DocX, as well as to blogs like Medium and Wordpress. But for pure writing there are good free to cheap text or Markdown tools, with differing abilities, from CotEditor or Typora (free) to IA Writer ($30) to Bear ($15/yr), to Highland 2 or Scrivener (both around $50). If you’re writing a book for a publishing house you’ll have no option but use Word, as the markup and versioning is both industry standard and without peer. (Some writers can write in Word; most of the rest just import their writing into it as a last step before sending it to their agent/publisher.)

For now I’m using my purchased upgrade of UpNote ($20) as a replacement for Apple Notes, but I’m not sure I’ll stick with it as for my needs it doesn’t do too much more, while being rough around the edges compared to other notes apps I’ve used.


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Jun 6, 2021 at 08:06 PM


For writing apps you need to look at Ulysses and Scrivener, I think. Ulysses is more versatile, but is a subscription model. Scrivener is more project-oriented and a one-time purchase.

For notes, well if you find something you like let me know. There are so many options. DT is certainly powerful, but I agree with those who have said it isn’t very attractive to write notes in. For that you might try Craft, which is gaining new features all the time and it feels more like a wordprocessor (at least to me), so it is nice to write in.

For outlines, I personally like the online outliners better than OmniOutliner… Dynalist and Workflowy being two strong ones. Although if you get Tinderbox, it is an excellent outliner and you may not need another one.

Steve Z.


Posted by Amontillado
Jun 6, 2021 at 11:50 PM


I use Devonthink heavily. From a brief look at Curio 16 I see it’s got some good refinements. In the past I’ve had scrolling issues on some “figures,” what Curio calls objects like text boxes.

Those issues seem to be all resolved. Curio is very nice.

Traditional word processors (or text editors) still have my vote for how to compose.

Except for Word. For some reason, Word has that _je ne sais crap_ that manages to send me in search of something else to use.

That’s a personal failing on my part. Word is a fine product. I guess.


Posted by Luhmann
Jun 7, 2021 at 05:14 AM


I also use Ulysses and highly recommend it. I prefer it to Scrivener personally, but some people are the other way around…

If you want to try a bunch of new software you might enjoy getting a SetApp subscription:


It isn’t worth it for me because I had already purchased many of these apps individually before I learned about it, but it might be a good fit for you.


Posted by Simon
Jun 7, 2021 at 05:53 AM


OmniOutliner is very good. If you’re also looking to go mobile it is the most powerful outliner you can get. Yes it has some quirks; styling; but once you learn how it works it’s superb. One of my most used apps.

Contrary to popular opinion MS Word is also very good if you learn how to use it. I can write and create fully formatted docs faster in Word than any markdown app (the styles feature is awesome). I’ve created fully formatted books in Word that have been used by publishers. It also has the longest backward compatibility of any app I know. I can still open Word docs created in the 1990’s and everything is there and fully formatted.

Devonthink as others have mentioned is a great repository. It’s Finder on steroids. I used it for many years, dumped it and went back to it. It is probably the best place to put all your stuff and be able to find it effortlessly.

Tinderbox is great, but has a massive learning curve. It is best for textual analysis rather than writing. I never liked the rtf styling in the app. To utilise its full feature set you’ll need to learn its scripting function.


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