Software Recommendation

Let me start by syaing that I discovered Scrivener a month ago by poring over forums regarding grad school and after all the high recommendations I downloaded it and have fallen in LOVE! It has helped me stay organized not only with my personal writing but also my school related works and I cannot recommend it enough! :smiley:

I am trying out the beta test on Scapple and am over the moon that you guys have written something that helps the creative process even more without the rigid ‘mind map’ formula!

So with two lovely programs I am sold on the fact that you guys (and the peeps that use your lovely programs) know software that works for writers and I’m hoping anyone on here can help me out.

I am looking for an app or software for my Mac that would be of the list keeping variety. My To-Do lists have To-Do lists these days and I need something that is a little less rigid than my Reminders app but still allows me to have checklists I can mark off as items are completed. There are tons available for iPad but I haven’t run across any good ones for Mac that aren’t of the GTD variety. I need something that doesn’t take ages to set up and doesn’t adhere to a ‘formula’ of how to accomplish things.

Since I found Scrivener and Scapple by reaching out on a forum I figure it couldn’t hurt to ask on here for any ideas on apps or pointers to use Scrivener for that purpose. I know Scapple will come in handy for free flowing ideas, but I also need something for structure as well.

Anybody have any suggestions?



I sympathise. I have tried all sorts of applications that turn out to be simply too complex, convoluted or fanciful for what I need. I have licences for OmniFocus and Things, but while each of them is perfectly adequate, somehow they don’t quite meet my requirements, in some vague unquantifiable way, so I seldom use them. I’d happily recommend either of them in certain circumstances. They’re both OK if I’m feeling organised – but let’s face it, if you’re feeling organised, a simple piece of paper and a pencil would be a perfectly adequate solution. And if you want a specific paper-based system, I would probably recommend the Autofocus system by Mark Forster:

Since I have decided that organisational chaos lies within me and is not something that can be resolved simply by buying yet another software application, I have resolved not to buy any more task management apps. Something I have trialled but not bought is TaskPaper, and that might match what you’re looking for. Or you might decide that you can do what you want with a simple checkbox list in any application of your choice, which is what I have opted for…

On the other hand, if by “structure” you mean the structure of your work, rather than your task management, I would suggest Scrivener itself as the solution. That’s what I use for structuring my writing, at any rate.

All the best,

I’m not sure if you have looked at the plain text todotxt world, but might be of interest. I like that I can use some of the various apps, that work pretty well, but also can just use any old text editor that I happen to like.

Keep the file in Dropbox and you’re synced across all your devices.

Sadly, my experience is very similar to Astrid’s (although, while I have a licence for Things, I managed to hold off buying a licence for OF as well).

For simple checklists, TaskPaper does look good.
For a paper & pen checklist, I agree that it’s worth investigating Autofocus (or its replacement, “Superfocus”, which itself has now been superseded by the “Final Version” - which I’ve only very recently seen).

Of all the systems and apps I’ve tried since the late 80’s, the one I have found most helpful was LifeBalance by Llamagraphics. It’s certainly not a simple checklist and it took me a while to set it up “just right”, but once I did the time that I then used it with my Palm and Mac remains the most productive period of my life. Unfortunately, an update a few years ago that enabled it to sync directly with iCal also caused it to delete old appointments (rather than ignoring them like other apps) so I had to stop using it. Despite this, and the fact it’s now looking rather dated, it remains a powerful and remarkable piece of software, it just no longer meets my needs.

If you want something a little less overwhelming than LB, then SmartDay by LeftCoast Logic might fit the bill. It offers more flexibility than iCal and Reminders, but still syncs with them as well as with an online web-access version. There is an iPad app with an iPhone version on the way (but they have a couple of other iPhone apps that will work in the interim).

Having said all that, I’m now just using Apple’s iCal and Reminders. Not brilliant, but sufficient.

I would second the TaskPaper recommendation. It’s a good little program with a lot of depth if you want it, but it’s surface is extremely easy to learn. The thing I like about TaskPaper is that it lets me explain what I’m doing, as well as keep track of what I need to do. I like to jot down notes whenever I do something that requires some research, so that if I ever need to do that again in the future I can just pull up my notes an benefit from that. TaskPaper’s loose structure of combining free-form text with “to do” lines makes this a natural act.

I am becoming a fan of apps that are free and work on the Web.
So for basic task management I am using Wunderlist.
It’s easy to set up, maintain, and launch with a bookmark.
It also runs on various phones and tablets.
And it’s free. You might enjoy trying it out.

I don’t know anything about Wunderlist, and have heard of it for the first time only 10 seconds ago when reading druid’s post, so this is absolutely not a comment on that application. But my husband is always saying “if it’s free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product being sold”. I’m a bit wary of free stuff. No doubt you will all tell me how silly I am… :wink:

Wow guys thanks for all the suggestions! :smiley:

I downloaded a trial of Taskpaper and am going to give it a whirl for a day or two and see how that works out. I am hoping it can keep multiple lists going at a time.

I have tried Wunderlist and although there are things about it I like, it doesn’t sync very well across platforms, at least not for me. It’s free, which is groovy, but the lack of sync and having to delete/add things multiple times was a turn off. I’m lucky if I remember where my pajamas are these days, much less what I added/subtracted from my list the second I close it (grad school time management has been a beastly beast for me!)

Like I said, thanks for all the suggestions! Fingers crossed Taskpaper pans out but I’m also curious to hear more about using Scrivener as a simple set up of task lists if anyone does that or knows of anything else.

Thanks again guys!!!


I’ve just read a review of Folding Text in MacUser UK. Seems that that can do to-do lists as well as other things. You might like to read this thread:

and give it a try. I haven’t tried it myself, but it might be worth your looking at.



Might not want to post that sentiment over in the Linux section of the forum. :wink:

But, to be fair with stuff like this I would tend to agree. Large-scale projects of human collaboration like Firefox and Linux, that’s the good free stuff. Chrome on the other hand—one is most certainly a product!

I pick my forums carefully :slight_smile:

I wonder if you’ve overlooked the possibilities of a simple spreadsheet. You may not have MS Office, but you can get LibreOffice for free, and their Calc is every bit as good.

You can set it up to suit just your needs, not someone else’s idea of what your needs might be. I have one with columns for start date, target date, actual finish date, requirement (what you want to achieve) and solution. When an item is finished I change the text to strike-through, and as I go through the list, I can change the background colour if I see that something is being forgotten. Another useful column might be for priority, of course.

Just a thought.