Organising college stuff to be paperless

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Jaypi, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. Jaypi macrumors regular


    Nov 10, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Hey guys,

    we get all your college stuff via .pdf so during the lessons I make notes on my Mac via the note tool and mark specific and important text parts. Right now I use 'Preview' for this.

    Is there any other way to organize all those pdfs and is there a better way to attach handwritten notes to a pdf page? Sometimes we have graphs etc. I would like to attach to that pdf page.

    How do you do it? How do you organize all your college stuff to be paperless?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. onekerato, Sep 26, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013

    onekerato macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2011
    I would recommend DevonThink to organize your PDFs and related notes for class. The search is fast & excellent. Use one database for each "set" of documents you want to search together - for example, use one database for each class you're taking.

    Use rich text format in DevonThink to take notes. You can paste in images & audio files into a rich text document (Devonthink saves it on disk as RTFD format, which can also be opened in TextEdit).

    DevonThink has a neat "create a hyperlink to this page in the PDF" feature, which you can use to build up your notes with one-click access to content inside the PDF. I also wrote an app PDFoo which does the same thing, except it keeps the PDFs in Finder folders, and makes readable URLs. It can also export all your annotations to rich text with pdfoo:// URLs back to the source page in PDF. I also wrote an app PDFExplode to split a long PDF (such as textbooks) into one PDF for each chapter, which is useful when you want search results to be more focused.

    You may also like FingerPDF, which collects PDFs and searches across multiple PDFs simultaneously.

    You may want to try out for annotating PDFs (rather than Preview.) It's faster and has a nice freehand tool for annotations too, in case you have a wacom tablet to mark up PDFs quickly.

    Lastly, find a workflow to send handwritten notes to your Mac. I like RemoteSnap app on my iPhone, which allows me to take a photo and immediately sends it to the Mac over wifi network. Devonthink has a designated "Inbox" folder on the Mac, and if you save anything to this folder (such as configuring RemoteSnap to automatically do so) it will get imported into DevonThink. You can also OCR the contents using DevonThink Pro Office version of DevonThink.

    IMHO DevonThink is superb for organizing research & learning materials. It's built around the concept of a database though, so if you're more visually oriented (mindmaps and whiteboards) then check out Curio (which I recommend for projects & planning).
  3. Jaypi thread starter macrumors regular


    Nov 10, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Thanks I will go through it and will see what I like most :)
  4. Mike Oxard macrumors 6502a

    Mike Oxard

    Oct 22, 2009
    For your handwritten notes you could use a "Livescribe Pen" . It will digitise your writing with OCR and can make audio recordings of your lecture. It can play back the audio, while showing what you were writing at the time. Very cool!
  5. JoeG4 macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2002
    Bay Area, Ca.
    I really hate to bring it up because hell, this is a mac forum, but the best digital note taking system I've seen is a tablet with MS OneNote.

    It's a windows thing, and people often attribute it to bulky, funny looking tablet PC laptops, but there are other options. The funny thing is the few classmates I've seen using those, keep them for years and always have great things to say about them.
  6. onekerato macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2011
    FYI - two apps similar in design to OneNote are "Growly Notes" (free) and Curio ($100) on Mac OS X. Perhaps also "Circus Ponies Notebook" ($50) to some extent. I've seen the Circus Ponies Notebook app recommended by lawyers who use Macs - and since lawyers' documentation needs are similar to students' note-taking needs, it may be a good fit for class too. These apps are good for freeform note-taking though may not be great at managing PDF files - YMMV of course.
  7. jojoba macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Hi there,

    I have a blog here on how to use a mac and iPad to support academic work

    I have posts on Circus Ponies Notebooks and Curio as someone else mentioned upthread, and I also write about Sente and Bookends which are very good for organising pdfs. In addition, Skim is good for annotating pdfs on a mac, and iAnnotate and GoodReader are good for marking up pdfs on an iPad.

    This is another blog that might be useful for you

    For pdf management, I personally use Bookends for both mac and iPad. I read and annotate pdfs on my iPad, using iAnnotate and GoodReader. For digitalising handwritten notes, I use Notability and 7NotesHD. The latter also converts hand writing to text.

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