What software should I get besides Scrivener?

I’m planning for months to buy the new MacMini, because: one, it’s highly energy efficient, and secondly it’s running OSX. (And no, going for the iMac isn’t an option, as I already have a great lcd screen and I don’t have room for another, and the über energy inefficient gaming PC can’t be connected with an iMac.) Anyway, since I’m a longtime Windows user, and never really used a Mac, I don’t know what software I should get to get the most out of the experience.

This is what I found so far after searching the internet for a couple of hours:

1 - Scrivener (Writing);
2 - Journler (Note taking);
3 - Spell Catcher (Spell Checker);
4 - 1 Password (Password Management);
5 - Adium (Messenger);
6 - Bee Docs Timeline (Timeline);
7 - Times (News Reader);
8 - Tweetie for Mac (Twitter Client);
9 - iWork '09 (Office Suite);

I believe that I’ve got everything I need in the list above. But I don’t know if it’s the best I can get; I need a password manager, but I don’t know if there is a better (or cheaper) one out there, etc. Is there any other software you can recommend me, or software that I should never buy? Thanks!

Hi DogMeat :smiley:

I can vouch for 1password, it is excellent, couldn’t do without it, also comes with a free iPod/iPhone client

As for the others (apart from Scrivener of course) there will be different opinions. Hard to know what to recommend without knowing what you want to do…

There are several others in this list, including MacJournal (from Mariner Software), which is the one I have.

This is a gratuitous plug for my own beta software, but you might want to look at Aeon Timeline (see the sub-forum here, or aeontimeline.wordpress.com). It may not have everything you need yet, but it is free to download and play with.

If price is an issue, you might want to consider the various spin-offs of the Open Office suite, which are free.

Almost all of the applications allow you to download trial versions, so I would suggest in each case finding the one you are most comfortable with. The only other category you have missed is the “Information manager” category, with apps such as DevonThink, Yojimbo, etc.

For almost all of the categories, you will probably find lots of discussion and comparison between the various options on this Software by Other Folk board.

Welcome aboard, DogMeat!

Like coolie said, it’s hard to tell exactly what you need when we don’t know what you want to do with your Mac Mini.

But as you are here in the Scrivener forum you must be some kind of text person, so here’s a few things:

– Give Together a shot. In my opinion it is the superior alternative to Journler. And, unlike J, it is still under development. One killer argument for it is that you can drag items from Together to Scrivener which is not possible with Journler as far as I know (haven’t checked it for a few months). Together is not free, but worth the bucks.

TextSoap: You will find it a little pricey on the first look (so did I) but very soon indispensable. It’s a macro-like program that works with all writing apps. If you copy regularly text chunks from various sources like web pages and PDFs it will convert it to your preferred text format. And much more. Again, worth every buck.

– While TextSoap is for processing already written texts you should have a text expansion app for the writing itself. These work similar to auto-text functions in word processors but they are actually key loggers which means they have a few limitations against the auto-text functions but again, they work in all writing apps. Three apps of this kind are very common, TextExpander, TypeIt4Me, and Typinator. I’d recommend that you check the trial version of each program thoroughly and maybe you will find out like me, that, despite of the first impression that Typinator has less features it is the superior program. Opinions may differ, of course.

– Word processor: When you got your new and first Mac all will be new and you will have plenty to play around with. So I strongly recommend you not to rush your decision for a word processor. You should take your time to do some in deep testing. Until you are ready for that Bean is a small and free app that will do for all simple writings. And for the bigger things OpenOffice or it’s cousin NeoOffice are free options.
If you decide to buy a word processor you will probably choose between Pages (iWork), Mellel, Nisus Writer (Pro) and MS Word. They all—yes, even the latter—have their merits.
If you write academic texts with lots of footnotes and citations my personal recommendation would be Mellel in combination with the reference manager Bookends (available in a bundle). Bookends also works perfectly with Scrivener.

– Something else? Little Snitch of course which has an eye on all outgoing data from your Mac. (Hazel? Good one too. But you got already enough to chew.)

And by the way, I think a Mac Mini, especially the latest modell, is a great choice. You will love it.

Without being facile, I think you need to be rather more specific about what you may want to do with it, to get a precise response.

For example, the “information manager” category that Matt mentions may be unnecessary for you, depending on what you’re aiming to write with Scrivener or iWork. On the other hand, it may be very necessary if you’re planning something research-heavy.

One thing to add, if you haven’t noticed already: the developer of Journler has ceased work on it, so, nice as it is, what you see now is what you’re always going to get.


Edit: Ah! We’re all saying more or less the same thing. A L and L consensus?

Enter the cranky.

#1 and #9. Nothing else. The rest of your list can all be done with those 2 or stock OS tools.

Now if you have some specific function like sermon preparation, then there are specific progies you should consider.

If you want to save a couple of $$ or make heavy use of M$ Office advanced features look at open office 3. I am moving everything to Pages and Numbers, but the OO suite is a bit more capable than iWork. OO is also a little easier to move to as it feels more familiar.

As a not so recent convert I might also add that reducing the tools will make the transition a tad easier for you. The differences between OSX and Winblows are significant but manageable. I found it easier to get the basics down then start using specialized tools once I was very comfy in OSX (I am a unix guy so it was just UI stuff, if you are not familiar with a unix variant there will be a bit for you to learn).

Have fun and post as many questions here as you like. We will all flood you with advice and alternate ways to do things. Some of it might even be helpful!

Welcome to the Mac! You’re going to get a lot of suggestions here, so I thought I’d add a list of non-application (mostly) names I think you need to know as a Mac user:

This forum. You’ve clearly already found your way here, but I encourage you to get the RSS feed. I’ve gotten better Mac advice here than I have anywhere else. The thing I find really valuable is that the advice has context – everyone here has a different style, and it doesn’t take long for you to find a person who works a lot like you (or like you’d like to), and come armed with good advice.

Screencasts Online. If you have the money for a subscription, this podcast is an excellent way to become a sophisticated Mac user pretty quickly. Host Don McAllister picks a concept a week, and gives you a thorough 20 minute video tutorial. This week’s: How to use your Mac Mini as a media center. Last week’s: Tweetie for the Mac. A few weeks ago: Numbers '09. This sounds like something a new Mac user like you might find very useful. (Even if you don’t get a subscription, keep track of the podcast – he offers the occasional free tutorial.)

Macbreak Weekly Picks. The weekly podcast is an acquired taste, but the show does feature some very smart Mac users picking applications and equipment they like. I’ve found their advice to be excellent. And expensive. This link takes you to a list of their weekly picks.

Curio. A really, truly great Mac app. Imagine a room filled with infinite, taggable, searchable, Evernote-compatible white boards. It’s a great mind-mapping tool, a great thought-organizing tool, and soon (if I have my way) a great index card solution. And it’s incredibly Mac-like: It’s beautiful, powerful, flexible, and it costs too much.

Services. You’ll find this menu option under the menu bearing the name of whatever application you’re in, and I encourage you to explore it. A lot of Mac apps use this feature, and it allows you to use certain features of those apps even when you’re working on something else. Devon Technologies (another name you should know) provides a few free servicesas well. I use their Word Service every day.

AppleScript/Automator You can get along really well without AppleScript and Automator – the application that lets you script certain repetitive tasks. Lots of people love their Macs without ever knowing these things exist. But getting good at scripting (or even functional at it) will take that love to a new level. Lurve. Lufth. Something like that.

Right click. The one Windows habit you should be sure to bring with you. AppleScript and Automator make the Mac’s contextual menus insanely useable.

Devon. The Omni Group. Mariner. Red Sweater. Rogue Amoeba. Flying Meat. A small list of very good developers. Names you can trust.

For image editing, Acorn or Pixelmator.

For Office, I’d use NeoOffice or Nisus Writer (just WordProcessing) or even Lotus Symphony depending on the type of interface you like. There’s also Bean if you want small, light, and fast.

For uninstalling apps, I suggest AppCleaner, but be sure to check the list of files it’s going to delete before hitting “Trash.” There’s some inexpensive pay-for ones out there as well. I’ve been told to avoid AppZapper as development seems to have died.

If you do decide to virtualize windows for some of the programs you can’t find a loveable replacement for an mac, there’s VirtualBox. There’s also Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion. Parallels Desktop 4.0 is supposed to be a lot better, but I like Fusion…

If you need to use any Right-to-left languages, like Hebrew or Arabic, then avoid MS Office, OpenOffice, and Symphony. While NeoOffice is based on OpenOffice, it does handle Hebrew correctly. But for heavy duty work with those languages, Mellel is first choice and Nisus Writer Pro is second.

Welcome to the Mac world! You will enjoy.

Re Services - is there any way besides Scrubber to manage Services? It seems like an insane oversight on Apple’s part, although I suppose it’s to keep people with messing with something very sensitive. Any hope of new Services functionality in Snow Leopard?


Interesting. Appzapper zaps apps, and does it very well. Not sure what else I might want it to be ‘developed’ to do so the lack of ‘development’ wouldn’t be an issue for me :confused:

I’d avoid it for one reason alone, with only a few more dollars you can get Hazel, which has the same functions along with a lot more, and I’m not sure if AppZapper works this way, but with Hazel all you do is trash the application in a second or two later it pops up a dialogue automatically asking which if any ancillary preferences and components you’d like to get rid of as well.

Plus, Hazel does not only drop the connected preference etc. files into the trash bin but also mirrors the folder structure of their former location. So if you find out that you shouldn’t have trashed them you can move them back pretty easily. (Yes, in Macland there is no restore button for trashed items like in Windows, believe it or not …)

And one more thing: If you want us to stop drowning you in software recommendations you have to yell loud and clear STOP!

One recommendation that’s more or less independent of what you plan to use your Mac for is Launchbar: (http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar/index.html). It’s a cunning piece of software somewhat akin to Launchy on Windows that enables you to launch virtually anything on your Mac entirely by keystrokes and is a real time-saver. I first heard about it here (thanks Amber), downloaded it, abandoned it for some reason, came back to it and now wouldn’t be without it.


Actually, it does much more than just check your spelling.
It can trigger shorthands in a similar fashion to TextExpander or Typinator, it can modify text (Uppercase, lowercase, title case, etc.), give you different readability statistics, dictionary, thesaurus, etc.
Support is great.

I would recommend PTH Pasteboard as well.

Since nobody seems to want to do it, I’ll do it: for note taking, also consider Circus Ponies NoteBook (circusponies.com). I’m using it for collecting free notes, lesson notes, as a planner in the GTD style, and as an ancillary software for Scrivener when in need of a powerful outliner/info collector for researches. I could also test it as a public address tool, and it worked nicely during my first lesson at the university yesterday.


I used Circus Ponies Notebook all through law school: for my class notes (their recording feature, which ties the segments of the recording to the line you were typing at the time, was invaluable for professors who talk too quickly) and for my end-of-term summaries. It’s a very versatile piece of software and I couldn’t do without it.

Quicksilver is amazing and soon becomes indispensable for doing just about anything.

I like Circus Ponies a lot. Which is a strange sentence to type.

@shp: what’s the deal with Quicksilver development? I know a few people here swear by it, but are they still actively developing it?

AFAIK it is being maintained but not actively developed by other people as the genius behind it is now working on Google Quick Search Box. Personally I’m happy to stick with Quicksilver for the time being and then switch to GQSB if it gets the really killer features (for me) such as triggers for append text to file, etc.