Please help: Best organization, note taking apps for Tiger?

Hi all,

I’m a doctoral student about to begin dissertating. My prospectus should be approved very soon.

In the meantime, I’ve realized, gradually and painfully, that I’ve been able to manage relatively well for several decades without disciplining my thinking to the extent I need to and want to (the internet age has not helped this).

Scrivener is a godsend for my writing style, and I plan to purchase Bookends (and possibly Mellel) as I move forward. I’m looking for a way to collect and store the random things I come across (articles, blogs) and my thoughts about them and their potential importance. Much of my random browsing does end up serving a purpose, but much more of it could do so if I could learn a good system for tracking and thinking more substantially as I read online and receive emails.

For a MA thesis several years back, I used Sticky Brain (now SohoNotes), which worked OK, but it’s now very clunky and I continue to hear bad things about the upgrade (which we haven’t purchased). I haven’t used electronic notes or reference management thus far during the doctoral program, but I want to now.

**Here’s the issue: from all the research I’ve done in the past week or so, DevonThinkPro sounds like it would really meet my needs. However, I have what is now apparently a dinosaur machine (late 2004 ibook G4 running Tiger OSX10.4.11). DevonThink is now only for Leopard. I’ve been told that upgrading to Leopard will cause more problems than it’s worth for me on this machine (I have RAM maxed out at 1.25GB).

What suggestions do you have for note taking/data organization apps that can serve me well for the next two years or so on this machine? (Journler? Together? EagleFiler? NoteBook?)


10.5’s working fine on mine–but then, I went right from 10.3 to 10.5, so it could be that 10.4 would’ve worked better on my machine. (I have the same thing you do, RAM likewise maxed.) I’ve been using Leopard for over 6 months now.


Version 1.x of DevonThink should run just fine on your iBook. I still run it on a 2002 iMac (admittedly not very often, but it does run).

In a perfect world, we’d all get brand new MacBook Pros when starting our theses - I’d love to live in that world. Given the world that we do live in is somewhat less than ideal, here’s my thoughts…

My subjective “best” alternative to DevonThink is Reinvented Software’s Together. However since it also requires Leopard, my next best solution is Circus Ponies Notebook. It runs on PowerPC architecture running Tiger and offers education discounts. Although I like Journler (and MacJournal even more so), I don’t think they are as flexible as Notebook. Personally I wouldn’t bother with EagleFiler - maybe someone has heard good things about it but, when I last checked it out, it seemed overblown and over-priced.

Good luck!

Another alternative to DevonThink is DevonNote, a speedy “lite” version of the main products. I use it constantly for gathering notes, planning courses, and organizing research. It’s quite cheap, especially with the education discount, and it introduces you to the DT interface in a comfortable manner. The only limitation is in the variety of files you may import.

See this table: … rison.html

Thanks all.

What I’m wanting is roughly a Mac equivalent to the NotaBene suite. Given my limitations, CircusPonies Notebook may be the way to go for that “collection” step, but I’m still playing around with it.

Leopard might work OK, but it doesn’t seem worth the cost if there’s a chance it would lead to more frustration (even if I’m left in the dust as far as recent apps go).

Any thoughts about the limitations of DT 1.x if I decide to buy a legacy product?

I will be using a series of Moleskines for a great deal of primary gathering, but I don’t mind the extra work of typing up notes (they stay better in my mind that way).

I run a 12" 1ghz G4 Powerbook with 1.25 gb RAM, and it runs 10.5 and Devonthink Pro Office very happily. I may be like the boiling frog, and have grown used to a performance lag that a MacBook owner couldn’t tolerate, but I don’t notice any vexing speed hit. I’ve been wedded to this machine (and the 20" monitor it’s hooked up to) most working days for the past four years. That said, I’m itching for a 13" MacBook.

I have a very similar aged Mac to you - 2004 G4 ibook, 1.25GHZ processsor, and only 750 MB RAM.

I’m running 10.5.7 now, and of course it struggles at times, but I can still use photoshop and indesign quite happily on it, sometimes both at once. I’m trying out the Devonthink 2.0 Beta at the moment and all seems well - though I don’t have an incredibly large database within it.

I found that 10.4.11 almost killed my iBook. It ran unbelievably badly until I upgraded to 10.5. I checked the forums at the time and found quite a few other people in the same boat when upgrading their old macs - those that went to Leopard all recommended it so I did it as well, and I’ve been on Leopard since midway through last year.

Every person’s computer is quirky in it’s own way, so you may not have the same experience with Leopard as I have, but I think you’ll find it will actually make an improvement.


Thanks, Lewis (and everyone else!).

I think I’ve been convinced to get Leopard. Interestingly, although I want to trust the folks at my local mac shops, they have–to a person–told me not to waste my $$ purchasing and installing Leopard on this machine, whereas the online consensus (especially here) seems to be it shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t tend to run a lot of really fancy software, and I’ve maxed out my RAM (1.25 GB).

I can get OS 10.5.6 for a good price at the educational discount, and it seems to make sense for two primary reasons: 1) I have no backup software, and time machine seems suited for my needs (I’ve only this summer bought an external HD); 2) if I want this Mac to last for the next two years or so, I want to have the option of using applications like Together, Evernote, and DT Pro, none of which actively support Tiger-compatible versions. I’m left in the cold as it is with a PPC processor, but upgrading to Leopard alleviates some of the frustration.

Ideally, as I try to sharpen my organizational and drafting tools before entering fully into the dissertation stage (while doing other smaller projects–sermons, class lectures, etc.), I would like to get Leopard, Scrivener (the software alone is magnificent, but the quality of folks that post on this board is another reason for me to want to support Scrivener and the community it has brought into existence!), Bookends, and either DevonThink, Notebook, or Together.

I’m playing with free (or much cheaper) alternatives like Zotero and Evernote, but–although I use gmail as my primary email–I don’t know that my comfort level with that mode of working is such that I’ll implement them.

Any thoughts on Zotero and Evernote vs. Bookends and DT/Notebook? At some point, I’ll probably want the extensive AI possibilities that DT offers, but that’s likely years away. Are we reaching the point that Bookends is a slightly risky investment since cheaper, web-based options seem to be gaining in popularity and sophistication?

I’m using DTP myself, but I’m thinking of recommending Circus Ponies Notebook to someone who is not in the slightest capable of intuiting how software works. I’ve been playing around with it a bit to see if it is suitable.
One concern I have is whether a single notebook can take a lot of data. Does anyone happen to know? It seems that the space for tabs will quickly run out. Does anyone have a huge CPN notebook? Can a person plan a single large writing project with it?

The biggest project I have in NoteBook is a lesson I did at the university, that is 9.5MB (with most linked files just linked, not embedded).

Tabs in this articulate project are actually a lot, but you can hide the less useful ones, or shorten their name. Also, I tend to use the Content Card opening as a drawer on the left, when size really grows too much to make side tabs easy to read.


Just so there’s no misunderstanding with my post above, my 2002 model iMac runs Tiger (my MBP runs latest bells & whistles of Leopard). I’d hate to be considered even partly responsible if your Leopard experiment doesn’t work. I’m not normally such a cautious kill-joy, but I have heard enough warnings from people I trust & respect to warrant disclaimer. :blush:

Even so, if you do go ahead, I wish you all the best and am keen to hear of your success.

Good luck. :smiley:

If you’d like some expert advice on what your old mac is capable of, have a look at, or ask someone on their boards.

The whole premise of the site is that of extending the life of your mac. I can’t remember exactly what or where I found the impetus to go for Leopard on my iBook, but I’m fairly sure it was this site.