Mac Programs

All the following have a PC version as well. I've not included any Mac-only programs although I recognize that there are some spectaculare ones.

They're Sorted by Major Category (Research; Routine; Teaching) and Subcategory. Some programs appear in several categories.

Category Name Comments
Research: Generating CmapTools

What it Does: Concept relationships - Useful in group situation
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Public server allowing group projects.
Worst Feature: Initially difficult to see how powerful it is.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I have used it quite successfully in several courses. It was particularly helpful in promoting class interaction.
Research: Generating Freemind

What it Does: Relationship diagrams - brainstorming etc.
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free, Open Source
Best Feature: Very rapid development of a set of concept relationships
Worst Feature: Cannot add much text or images.
Learning Time: Half Hour --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Medium
Comment: A simple but elegant tool for organizing a bunch of ideas. Ideal at the brainstorming phase of a project. Quicker to use than cMap, but not as powerful.
Review & Comments about Freemind in Academic Tools Blog
Research: Numbers MS Excel

What it Does: The standard spreadsheet
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Easy lists
Worst Feature: Time to learn its vast array of features.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: For any heavy user it's worth adding the spreadsheet assistant mentioned elsewhere, and then learning how to record/write macros (VBA).
Numbers note: Classroom demos of relationships
Research: Numbers Simple Concordance

What it Does: Create document concordances - text analysis
Runs on: PC, Mac
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Amazing concordance
Worst Feature: Requires text files - must save Word file as text first.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: One of the gems. Months of work can be performed (better) in minutes. Obviously valuable only for those who need concordances.
To save the analyses you will probably use copy and paste.
Numbers note: For statistics on documents
Research: Search Firefox

What it Does: Web browser
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free, Open Source
Best Feature: Add-ins that provide additional fucntions.
Worst Feature: Many large institutions are not friendly to FF - e.g. Drexel.
Learning Time: Half Hour ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I use Adblock, NoScript, and All-In-One Sidebar extensions a lot.
Review & Comments about Firefox in Academic Tools Blog
Research: Words CmapTools

What it Does: Concept relationships - Useful in group situation
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Public server allowing group projects.
Worst Feature: Initially difficult to see how powerful it is.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I have used it quite successfully in several courses. It was particularly helpful in promoting class interaction.
Words note: Can attach documents and notes
Research: Words Endnote

What it Does: Bibliographic database with many output formats
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Integration with Word
Worst Feature: Cannot take multiple notes on a single source.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: If you have to write a big document this is an invaluable bibliography tool.
It does not have built-in note-taking capabilities as does "Citation" (http://www.citationonline.net/).
See also the brand-new (10/2006) Zotero (http://www.zotero.org/)
Words note: Can put abstracts etc. in it - but not multiple notes
Research: Words Filemaker Pro

What it Does: Database tool (relational) with exceptionally straightforward interface
Runs on: PC, Mac
Price: $250
Best Feature: Allows fairly easy keeping of detailed grading and attendance records and personalized Emails.
Worst Feature: You'll have to invest several days of time to get comfortable enough to use it (or any database) easily.
Learning Time: Days --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: You want to pay for Filemaker if you do a lot of database work and want a really good user interface.
Any time you get over about 100 things that need to be remembered, sorted, searched - up to that point Excel may be easier. If printed output appearance is critical FileMaker is excellent.
- Access (in MSOffice) is licensed, but tougher to use. Base in Openoffice is an Access clone, and currently very flaky. MySQL is free and even tougher for the non-techie.
Words note: Excellent for journal/log
Review & Comments about Filemaker Pro in Academic Tools Blog
Research: Words MS Word

What it Does: The standard word processor
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Outlines for those who love them.
Styles for those who love them.
Worst Feature: Complexity beyond the simple.
Immediately Useful: Yes --- Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: For those writing a lot it is very much worth exploring the bells and whistles - they can make a very big difference.
Research: Words Simple Concordance

What it Does: Create document concordances - text analysis
Runs on: PC, Mac
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Amazing concordance
Worst Feature: Requires text files - must save Word file as text first.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: One of the gems. Months of work can be performed (better) in minutes. Obviously valuable only for those who need concordances.
To save the analyses you will probably use copy and paste.
Routine: Administration Filemaker Pro

What it Does: Database tool (relational) with exceptionally straightforward interface
Runs on: PC, Mac
Price: $250
Best Feature: Allows fairly easy keeping of detailed grading and attendance records and personalized Emails.
Worst Feature: You'll have to invest several days of time to get comfortable enough to use it (or any database) easily.
Learning Time: Days --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: You want to pay for Filemaker if you do a lot of database work and want a really good user interface.
Any time you get over about 100 things that need to be remembered, sorted, searched - up to that point Excel may be easier. If printed output appearance is critical FileMaker is excellent.
- Access (in MSOffice) is licensed, but tougher to use. Base in Openoffice is an Access clone, and currently very flaky. MySQL is free and even tougher for the non-techie.
Administration note: Particularly grading & email updates in combination with Outlook and MSWord
Review & Comments about Filemaker Pro in Academic Tools Blog
Routine: Administration MS Outlook

What it Does: The standard corporate Email/task/calendar/contact program
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Integration of Email and tasks.
Worst Feature: Corporate backup is atrocious. I've had a colleague lose vital emails thanks to MS incompetence.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I use it every day - but enhance it with Neo - and am sure to backup my own local data (PST) files.
Administration note: Task management
Routine: Administration Quicken

What it Does: Bookeeping and financial reporting - small scale
Runs on: PC, Mac
Price: $30+
Best Feature: About as easy as accounting can get
Worst Feature: Intuit is almost as greedy as MS.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: Be aware that Quicken trys, like MS, to lock you in to their product by making data interchange difficult.
Administration note: If you want to track your finances independent of your institution's official system.
Routine: Multipurpose Google Pack

What it Does: Many fine programs - some listed separately here
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free
Best Feature: Easy installation and maintenance of good programs.
Worst Feature: May become a time-waster because you get so many toys to play with.
Learning Time: Hours ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: Amazing complilation. They'll probably charge for it eventually, but now it includes 14 worthwhile pieces of software including several listed here: 5 from Google; 4 others; 5 optional.
Review & Comments about Google Pack in Academic Tools Blog
Routine: Multipurpose MS Office

What it Does: The standard office suite - I've included components too.
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Standard
Worst Feature: MS
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: Everyone has it. It's refined and pretty darned stable. The imminent Office-2007 is a big quesition.
Multipurpose note: All the "standard" programs: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
Routine: Multipurpose OpenOffice

What it Does: Office Suite - MS Office compatible - Free
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free, Open Source
Best Feature: Free
Worst Feature: Lacks MS Words Outline mode
For advanced MSOffice users the compatibility is not total.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good

Comment: It does almost everything MS Office does.
The reason I don't use it every day is that I use outlining a lot. OO stinks in that one area.
The drawing program is very good - you can do basic drawings for CAD work quickly, but don't expect to interchange with Autocad.

Multipurpose note: Free - Some capabilities better than MS Office
Routine: Organizing CmapTools

What it Does: Concept relationships - Useful in group situation
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Public server allowing group projects.
Worst Feature: Initially difficult to see how powerful it is.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I have used it quite successfully in several courses. It was particularly helpful in promoting class interaction.
Organizing note: Useful when trying to make connections between concepts
Routine: Organizing Filemaker Pro

What it Does: Database tool (relational) with exceptionally straightforward interface
Runs on: PC, Mac
Price: $250
Best Feature: Allows fairly easy keeping of detailed grading and attendance records and personalized Emails.
Worst Feature: You'll have to invest several days of time to get comfortable enough to use it (or any database) easily.
Learning Time: Days --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: You want to pay for Filemaker if you do a lot of database work and want a really good user interface.
Any time you get over about 100 things that need to be remembered, sorted, searched - up to that point Excel may be easier. If printed output appearance is critical FileMaker is excellent.
- Access (in MSOffice) is licensed, but tougher to use. Base in Openoffice is an Access clone, and currently very flaky. MySQL is free and even tougher for the non-techie.
Organizing note: Any time you get over about 100 things that need to be remembered, sorted, searched - up to that point Excel may be easier. If output appearance is critical FileMaker is superb
Review & Comments about Filemaker Pro in Academic Tools Blog
Routine: Organizing Freemind

What it Does: Relationship diagrams - brainstorming etc.
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free, Open Source
Best Feature: Very rapid development of a set of concept relationships
Worst Feature: Cannot add much text or images.
Learning Time: Half Hour --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Medium
Comment: A simple but elegant tool for organizing a bunch of ideas. Ideal at the brainstorming phase of a project. Quicker to use than cMap, but not as powerful.
Review & Comments about Freemind in Academic Tools Blog
Routine: Organizing MS Excel

What it Does: The standard spreadsheet
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Easy lists
Worst Feature: Time to learn its vast array of features.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: For any heavy user it's worth adding the spreadsheet assistant mentioned elsewhere, and then learning how to record/write macros (VBA).
Organizing note: Excellent for small lists.
Routine: Organizing MS Word

What it Does: The standard word processor
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Outlines for those who love them.
Styles for those who love them.
Worst Feature: Complexity beyond the simple.
Immediately Useful: Yes --- Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: For those writing a lot it is very much worth exploring the bells and whistles - they can make a very big difference.
Organizing note: The outline mode is very good for organizing.
Routine: Storage Endnote

What it Does: Bibliographic database with many output formats
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Integration with Word
Worst Feature: Cannot take multiple notes on a single source.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: If you have to write a big document this is an invaluable bibliography tool.
It does not have built-in note-taking capabilities as does "Citation" (http://www.citationonline.net/).
See also the brand-new (10/2006) Zotero (http://www.zotero.org/)
Storage note: Bibliographic information
Routine: Storage Filemaker Pro

What it Does: Database tool (relational) with exceptionally straightforward interface
Runs on: PC, Mac
Price: $250
Best Feature: Allows fairly easy keeping of detailed grading and attendance records and personalized Emails.
Worst Feature: You'll have to invest several days of time to get comfortable enough to use it (or any database) easily.
Learning Time: Days --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: You want to pay for Filemaker if you do a lot of database work and want a really good user interface.
Any time you get over about 100 things that need to be remembered, sorted, searched - up to that point Excel may be easier. If printed output appearance is critical FileMaker is excellent.
- Access (in MSOffice) is licensed, but tougher to use. Base in Openoffice is an Access clone, and currently very flaky. MySQL is free and even tougher for the non-techie.
Review & Comments about Filemaker Pro in Academic Tools Blog
Routine: Utility Firefox

What it Does: Web browser
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free, Open Source
Best Feature: Add-ins that provide additional fucntions.
Worst Feature: Many large institutions are not friendly to FF - e.g. Drexel.
Learning Time: Half Hour ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I use Adblock, NoScript, and All-In-One Sidebar extensions a lot.
Utility note: My current favorite web browser.
Review & Comments about Firefox in Academic Tools Blog
Routine: Utility Foldershare

What it Does: Synchronize files on multiple machines via web
Runs on: PC, Mac - Uses Web
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Automatic backup of files protects against hardware failure.
Worst Feature: If you delete a file on one machine it deletes it on all.
Learning Time: Hours ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: A web-basede srvice (MS now owns it) for synchronizing files between multiple machines. It takes a bit of thought to set up, but works wonderfully in the background.
You should still backup separately.

Review & Comments about Foldershare in Academic Tools Blog
Routine: Utility VPN Client

What it Does: Work away from home as if on campus -Virtual Private Network
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux - Uses Web
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Use Outlook at home.
Worst Feature: Cannot print to local network printer at home when connected to VPN.
Learning Time: Half Hour ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: It ought to be possible to connect to campus servers when using the VPN, but I've not been successful recently.
Teaching: Classroom CmapTools

What it Does: Concept relationships - Useful in group situation
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Public server allowing group projects.
Worst Feature: Initially difficult to see how powerful it is.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I have used it quite successfully in several courses. It was particularly helpful in promoting class interaction.
Classroom note: Develop group consensus
Teaching: Classroom Firefox

What it Does: Web browser
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free, Open Source
Best Feature: Add-ins that provide additional fucntions.
Worst Feature: Many large institutions are not friendly to FF - e.g. Drexel.
Learning Time: Half Hour ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I use Adblock, NoScript, and All-In-One Sidebar extensions a lot.
Classroom note: Useful to present external material - in my case my students produce web pages and we review them in class.
Review & Comments about Firefox in Academic Tools Blog
Teaching: Classroom Google Earth

What it Does: View and zoom the entire world
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux - Uses Web
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Wow factor when exploring a geography-related aspect of a course.
Worst Feature: Interface a bit clunky when going beyond basics.
Learning Time: Minutes --- Export/Import: Medium
Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: What a splendid, ever-improving tool. If you use it regularly it's worth it to spring the $20/year for the "plus" version.
Classroom note: Wow factor is still high
Review & Comments about Google Earth in Academic Tools Blog
Teaching: Classroom MS Powerpoint

What it Does: The standard slide-show creator
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Professional appearance made easy.
Worst Feature: It's difficult to change course in mid-stream presentation.
Immediately Useful: Yes --- Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: It's not fair to blame the tool for its misuse, but many people do.
Teaching: Communication CmapTools

What it Does: Concept relationships - Useful in group situation
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Public server allowing group projects.
Worst Feature: Initially difficult to see how powerful it is.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I have used it quite successfully in several courses. It was particularly helpful in promoting class interaction.
Communication note: Allows group development
Teaching: Communication MS Outlook

What it Does: The standard corporate Email/task/calendar/contact program
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Integration of Email and tasks.
Worst Feature: Corporate backup is atrocious. I've had a colleague lose vital emails thanks to MS incompetence.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I use it every day - but enhance it with Neo - and am sure to backup my own local data (PST) files.
Teaching: Communication Skype

What it Does: Telephone and video over web (VOIP)
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux - Uses Web
Free
Best Feature: Very low cost calls
Worst Feature: Not as easy as the phone yet.
Learning Time: Half Hour ---

Comment: There are many competitors. The field is changing rapdily. Skype certifies hardware.
Teaching: Communication Thunderbird EMail

What it Does: EMail client
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free, Open Source
Best Feature: Clean interface and search
Worst Feature: It doesn't connect to outlook
Learning Time: Half Hour ---
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: A good EMail client that is being constantly improved. Firefox's sibling.
I currently use GMail and my wife uses Thunderbird.
Teaching: Presentation CmapTools

What it Does: Concept relationships - Useful in group situation
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Public server allowing group projects.
Worst Feature: Initially difficult to see how powerful it is.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I have used it quite successfully in several courses. It was particularly helpful in promoting class interaction.
Presentation note: Can use interactively - modify session on the fly.
Teaching: Presentation Google Earth

What it Does: View and zoom the entire world
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux - Uses Web
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Wow factor when exploring a geography-related aspect of a course.
Worst Feature: Interface a bit clunky when going beyond basics.
Learning Time: Minutes --- Export/Import: Medium
Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: What a splendid, ever-improving tool. If you use it regularly it's worth it to spring the $20/year for the "plus" version.
Presentation note: Wow factor is still high
Review & Comments about Google Earth in Academic Tools Blog
Teaching: Presentation MS Powerpoint

What it Does: The standard slide-show creator
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Professional appearance made easy.
Worst Feature: It's difficult to change course in mid-stream presentation.
Immediately Useful: Yes --- Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: It's not fair to blame the tool for its misuse, but many people do.
Teaching: Visualization CmapTools

What it Does: Concept relationships - Useful in group situation
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Public server allowing group projects.
Worst Feature: Initially difficult to see how powerful it is.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I have used it quite successfully in several courses. It was particularly helpful in promoting class interaction.
Visualization note: It's inherently visual.
Teaching: Visualization Google Earth

What it Does: View and zoom the entire world
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux - Uses Web
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Wow factor when exploring a geography-related aspect of a course.
Worst Feature: Interface a bit clunky when going beyond basics.
Learning Time: Minutes --- Export/Import: Medium
Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: What a splendid, ever-improving tool. If you use it regularly it's worth it to spring the $20/year for the "plus" version.
Review & Comments about Google Earth in Academic Tools Blog
Teaching: Visualization Google Sketchup

What it Does: 3D Drawing tool - sketching rather than detailed.
Runs on: PC, Mac
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Integration with Google Earth + Wow factor
Worst Feature: Focus is on buildings - orthogonal objects
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: The integration with Google Earth is spectacular.
Teaching: Visualization MS Excel

What it Does: The standard spreadsheet
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Easy lists
Worst Feature: Time to learn its vast array of features.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: For any heavy user it's worth adding the spreadsheet assistant mentioned elsewhere, and then learning how to record/write macros (VBA).
Visualization note: The charts are quite good.

 

 

Update: 2006-11-26