Need a good academic app - note taking, pulling sources together, drafting ideas etc.. anything?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by TJ82, Jun 10, 2019 at 1:06 PM.

  1. TJ82 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2012
    Sort of a vague request and I'm not 100% able to envision what I'm looking for, but basically I always end up now with loads of random pages of Pages or Word open and a million tabs, and some random notes on reminders and Notes apps on my phone and Mac. So messy. Now I haven't studied anything seriously for over 15 years and am about to return to study for a career switch shortly. Surely there must be some good apps or whatever developed to keep everything organised by now?
  2. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
  3. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2010
    OneNote is a good suggestion.
    I'd also take a look at Scrivener.
  4. TJ82 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2012
    Thanks guys I’ll play with both and get a feel for them :)
  5. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    As yaxomoxay suggested, take a look at Scrivener.

    Its "Binder" organization with folders for research is very handy -- meaning you can have any amount of research, notes, other material, all easy to access and outside of your writing folder, but inside the Scrivener project. So once you import all your material, you don't have to be poking around on your disk looking for it.

    Typically I have a Scrivener pane open with what I'm writing, and put up notes or research or whatever else I want in the other pane either to look at, or to copy/paste into the writing pane. It's trivially easy to bring up another new chunk of information in the research pane.

    It's extremely convenient.

    When you have what you're after, you export it to Word (or PDF, or whatever) and go from there.

    The new Scrivener is trying to be all things, but you don't have to give in to all the complexity that's there. It's possible to use it as a lean mean writing app.

    It's been 8 or 9 years since I used anything but Scrivener for projects more than 3 or 4 pages long.
  6. jojoba macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    I'm a researcher and I use omnioutliner for note taking, Scrivener for writing texts and Bookends for organising literature (pdf files). Very happy with all of them. You could easily use Scrivener for note taking, too.
  7. Kraizelburg macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2018
    Onenote is free and works like a charm with other office products like excel and word. OneNote is more like a blackboard. Also Onenote web clipper is very good if you need to pull info from the web.
  8. fivetoedsloth macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2018
    I am a huge Scrivener fan. I usually make a Scrivener project for every subject or project that needs a lot of disparate pieces of info pulled together— notes, PDFs, images, web pages, etc. It is also the best tool for writing because of the ease of rearranging chunks of info. The Mac version allows you to drag web pages in as well, html intact. Also, there is an iOS app for it. The company that makes Scrivener has another little app called Scapple which is a nice complement to Scrivener, as it allows you to create diagrams and flow charts on a free form page to help think through ideas and connections, then import the pieces to Scrivener.

    I adore OneNote as well, and use it mainly as a big flexible whiteboard for handwritten notes, collages of notes, sketches and projects as I am working on them, PDFs and Word docs, web pages, etc. it will do OCR on your handwriting just like Evernote. It feels very much like a notebook that you can write or paste things on anywhere. But I do not use it for long writing projects that require a lot of editing. Always Scrivener for that.

    I have also relied on Evernote for years as a place to keep thousands of bits of info of every type for easy retrieval. Syncs among all devices and has best in class OCR and search features. It is not a writing tool really. And as it is one giant database, you have to use notebooks inside it to separate your notes into specific projects. You can also add custom tags to notes. I consider it a dumping ground of things that I may need later. It is one of the apps I rely on most in my business.

    Devonthink is a highly rated Mac-specific app that is in the same category as Evernote as a tool for organizing and retrieving info, but I find it a little complex and I don’t Iike that it is not cross platform.
  9. TJ82 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2012
    What about messy things like taking a photo of a real page and sticking it in the app so I don't need to write it up there and then. Can any of those handle that sort of thing easily, and do these have phone apps with some sort of sync or handover with your MacBook?
  10. sracer macrumors G3


    Apr 9, 2010
    Yes. OneNote can do that easily.
  11. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    The only two note taking apps I've ever used are OneNote and Evernote, and they will both do this. And they're cross-platform.
  12. TJ82 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2012
    Brill thanks guys, downloading OneNote first as we speak as it had the most mentions :)
  13. spooklog macrumors regular


    Aug 10, 2015
    New Hampshire
    OneNote is an excellent place to start; you can do a lot with it, it's cross-platform and pretty agile. My beef is simply that it depends on connectivity to function properly. Evernote is very useful too (I use them both), but with the paid subscription you can have your notebooks available offline.

    Scrivener has no dependency on internet connectivity, but it is a different beast altogether. I've used it for years to manage large collections of writing, and at this it excels. It is available for Mac and Windows, and it looks/functions the same on both platforms. There is also an iOS version, but I honestly think they did an awful job with the interface and overall functionality. My personal advice is that if you plan on using Scrivener on iOS, try before you buy, for heaven's sake. Basically, Scrivener for Mac and Win10 has a slightly oddball interface and is big and complex. I definitely think you should explore other options before committing to it, but of course no harm done in trying it out.

    Take care.
  14. ADudeInBoston macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2012
    You might also like to take a peek at “Notion” (website is which I just stumbled onto a couple weeks ago while looking for a replacement for Evernote and OneNote. It has clients for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android, as well as full access through your browser. This means of course that it’s a cloud-based solution, but so is OneNote these days.

    Notion has a free-forever tier that’s limited only by storage; if you fill it up you can buy a subscription that offers unlimited storage. It also has a web clipper.

    Anyway, it caught my interest because it seems flexible, lightweight, and modern, and seems to be actively improving / under development... unlike Evernote which seems to be stagnating.
  15. jerwin, Jun 12, 2019 at 12:52 PM
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019 at 1:13 PM

    jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    I think devonthink is in free beta right now. The non beta try out versions are limited to a generous number oif hours of actual use.

    Big hint-- don't leave it running in the background during this demoperiod.

    There's also an app called EagleFiler-- I know nothing about it, though.

    Some of these bits of software require a sort of commitment. The more you add to the database, the more connections the AI can find, and the more useful it actually becomes. If you own a perpetual license, the software can't hold you for ransom.

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15 June 10, 2019