I’ve spent a fair amount of time (and probably too much money) trying to set up the academic workflow I want over the past year, and looking back I’ve now tried to consolidate the key criteria that are important when you’re designing your work flow. What questions should you ask when setting up your academic work flow on a mac? Here’s a short list of things I find useful to consider (‘it’ here being the app you’re looking at):
Does it have an iPad version? If yes, does it talk to the mac version, and how?
With some rare exceptions, an iPad counterpart is a key criteria for me when I’m looking at apps for mac. My iPad is always with me, my mac isn’t. The second key question here is how they talk to each other, and whether that connection requires effort on your part (see next point).
Does it sync? If yes, to what and how? Will the sync require any effort on your part?
Some apps are easier to sync than others. For example, while some sync seamlessly across iPad and mac, others require this to be a manual operation (e.g. Sente versus Bookends).
Cross platform sync is also an issue for those using both Windows and OS X, and applies to e.g. Scrivener, Papers and EndNote.
Does it communicate with other apps?
Some apps, like Evernote, Scrivener, PostBox and Curio, have actively addressed integration with other apps – which can make your work flow that much smoother. Explore what the different apps offer, and how that might help your own workflow.
Do you need to work across platforms (e.g. OS X and windows, iOS and android).
If you, like me, work in a windows environment but use mac privately, this is important to look into. For example, Word, Scrivener, Papers and EndNote work across OS X and Windows, while Pages, Sente and Bookends don’t.
What do the reviews say?
There’s a large number of reviews available on almost every mac and iPad app out there. Do some proper googling and make sure the posts you read are recent (I usually only go 12 months back in time) before you shop. Ask for advice on forums such as MacRumours and ask your connections/followers on social media what their experiences are.
Will it be on sale soon?
A lot of apps are frequently on sale. I’ve saved a fair bit of money looking out for the apps I’d like on AppShopper, a site that has consolidated lists of apps on sale for both mac and iPad. Bookmark this site if you haven’t already – they also have RSS feeds.
Any other questions and issues you think are important to consider? Please leave your comment below!
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