Best Mac Study Tools (Part I)

April 30, 2008 at 11:34 pm 1 comment

Considering a mac as a college student is undoubtedly a smart choice for a number of reasons.

Next to Apple’s unique and fascinating operating system it’s the variety of stylish student applications that makes studying on a mac so efficient while at the same time being so much fun (and yes, those variables do correlate). 

Finding the right tools tailored to your academic needs will take some time and extensive online research. There is no fixed list of “the” best study tools for all students. It depends on your chosen subject area as well as your own level of technological understanding.

Unfortunately the most effective tools are mostly the hardest to learn and only really start to shine after you invested considerable time in tutorials or related forums (and you are strongly advised to do so). Take a widely known application like Photoshop as an example. If you intensively study this application for a number of weeks you will without a doubt produce astonishing results. Nevertheless a few hours may be sufficient enough to use Photoshop satisfactory for your needs. Not every mac user will end up in the creative branch after all and in the past few years many universities have started to recognize the mac as a universal interdisciplinary student tool.

So, since this list can’t provide “the” best tools for your subject, I will not try to do so. Instead you will get an overview of the best tools that aid studying in general. Although if you ask me as a social scientist about “the” one tool I couldn’t do without, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick Scrivener. Yes, it’s that good and you’ll also find it on this list. Not because of it’s qualities for the social sciences but for it’s value as a universal creative writing tool. I would even go so far to say that you’d have an unfair advantage over any student on a windows pc when it comes to essay planning (more about that later).

Ladies & gents, I’m pleased to introduce you to Macology’s very own mini series about a few handpicked tools that I consider the best of the trade.

Part I
Keep your stuff SAFE

The first priority for any student should be a safe work environment. On a mac your files are already pretty much immune to viruses, trojans and most other nasty malware that plague most windows users. That leaves us mac users with just general concerns about data security, such as accidental file deletion, application failure and worst of all hard disk errors.

While Time Machine (included tool in Leopard) is already a very good back up solution (that is if you have a second hard drive available) most students prefer to have their files on the go with (not less important) cross-platform compatibility. That leaves us with only one logic solution, files & folders on a usb-stick. Gigs on a stick come cheap these days and for most students a few gigabyte are more than enough to survive a whole semester (or even the whole way).

The application that does the job best and which is also super-easy to handle is called LifeBoat by Martian Technology (around $14). All you need to do is to select the files & folders you intend to backup. From then on every time you plug your usb-stick into your mac, folders you pre-selected on your mac will automatically update your stick content. And that’s all it takes. Once configured it’s just plug & go. No opening of the app and no extra clicks. It really is that simple.

Voila, data safety & mobility in one easy & cheap application.


………to be continued in “Best Mac Study Tools Part II” (coming this weekend)


Entry filed under: software reviews. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. René  |  May 1, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    I’m very thankful for your little series. And also strained.


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