Apple finally released new laptops, about four to six months after they should’ve. Still, the upgrades are impressive and if you’ve been on the fence or otherwise waiting, now’s the time. As usual, Apple’s hard drives are too small and their hard drive upgrade prices are usurious. People who want a Mac laptop and don’t want to pay full price should see sweet discounts on used and refurbished models in the next couple weeks.
I’m still using an iMac as a primary computer, so the announcements don’t affect me much. And my most important piece of Mac-only software is Devonthink Pro, which I still use according to a variation on this scheme, originally conceived by Steven Berlin Johnson (though he no longer uses DTP).
Otherwise, many writers swear by Scrivener. I wrote The Hook in Scrivener, and due to the structure of that novel it was extremely useful. But for most novels I don’t find it essential; I don’t think most scenes can (or should) be reshuffled at will, which probably limits its utility.
Scrivener’s appeal for nonfiction projects is much more apparent to me. A couple months ago I finished the Grant Writing Confidential book manuscript (details to follow), and if most of the book hadn’t already existed in the form of blog posts I would’ve used Scrivener as an organization tool.
In other laptop news, Dell has been producing Linux-native XPS laptops for a couple years, as does a smaller manufacturer called Purism. Given Apple’s lack of interest in non-smartphone products, it’s not a bad idea for Mac users to keep an eye on what everyone else is doing.
For over a decade I used (1) DevonNote, then upgraded to (2) Devonthink, then to (3) Devonthink Pro. But the UI weirdness and inconsistencies, followed by some frustrating, purposeful design decisions (like resetting my Preference not to launch Sorter on restart every time the app gets an update – something the dev knows about but stubbornly refuses to change) had me considering alternatives.
I ended up switching to EagleFiler, which I’d previously ignored because the name & icon seemed dopey. But it’s fast and equivalent to DT except for the search algorithms/summaries, which I never used as much (or found as useful) as others do. It also does mail archiving quite nicely, enabling me to drop the unMaclike, ugly database-app MailSteward, which I’d also been using for many years.
EagleFiler saves everything in separate files (which are all indexed by Spotlight) visible on the Mac, which I like, and it does everything I did with DTP (which admittedly was always a small subset of DT’s abilities).
I’m not a professional writer. When I want to focus on longer writing I open up the text editor BBedit, which I’ve used since the late 90s. I own Scrivener but haven’t had the time to sit down and learn it well enough to work inside it, but it looks incredibly useful. When I want to work on ideas and flesh them out in outline form I use the horizontal Tree outliner app.