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New to Mac & OSX: OO & OF with and iCall or Office 2007 (on Fusion) or Offic Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I have used DOS and Windows my entire computing life, and I have always enjoyed my experience. I will even say that I love much about Vista, which I bought the night it was released. However, discovering the Omni site and apps a few years ago, as well as others sites that covered Apple hardware and software, and constantly researching for the best computing experience and software, which really is the most important thing in the end, this past Friday I bought a Mac Pro! I maxed it out (for me) with two Quad-Core Xeons (3.2 GHz), 16 GB of RAM, 2.5 TB for hard drives, and I'm waiting for my two 30" monitors (not Cinema Displays, though). Now I just have to hope that Adobe doesn't mess up (agin) my cross-platform upgrade shipment!

Quite simply, i am in love! There are some minor (but very irritating) quirks getting used to the differences between OSs, and I've learned that OS X programmers are as human as any others, but what an adventure it's been so far! I am completely exhausted and sleep-deprived from staying up all night learning and researching and reading.

OmniOutliner and OmniFocus are the first two applications I have purchased and installed on my Mac It somehow seemed fitting that since the Omni Group (honest, with their "What is Omni?" page) and OO--and then OF--were so influential in my decision, I should start my journey with their software to help me. Thank you, Omni Group! Thank you for being such an inspiring company, and writing such inspiring software. You prove that great, best-of-breed software can also be beautiful. I will certainly do my best to spread the word about you and Omni product line (heck, I'm saving up for a couple more of your apps myself!). </newbie zeal>

So, to finally reach the point, I do have one question: There is clearly integration with iCal and, but only those two? Is that correct? I ask because I have spent days now researching a replacement for Office 2007 (Win). I really like Office 2007 on Vista, and Nota Bene, a word processor for scholars, and I have not found decent replacements on the OS X side. I'm tempted to run them in VMWare's Fusion. However, I was curious as to what you users use? Because of OO and OF, I'm tempted to use (and not Office 2008 or Thunderbird), and iCal. Or, will OO and OF work with Office 2007 (Win)--at least the files--and 2008 (Mac) software more than I think? I know AppleScript exists; maybe it's time to learn it too and make things happen!

I know that for word processing, if I were just in a business, Pages or some of the other word processors I have discovered might work, but Nota Bene and Word 2007 offer me more options that make writing easier. Perhaps I should abandon most everything in Office but Word. I haven't even installed Office 2008: there's no trial, and so I haven't opened the box in case I get some great advice and suggestions on here. That way I can return it.

So far, I'm not thrilled or Thunderbird, but that might be that I've used Outlook for so many years; at least, I'm willing to admit it's more habit than a lack of features I need or want. All I really do is read and respond to emails, sometimes with an HTML formatted letter. I do love Adobe Acrobat's ability to archive email to .pdfs, and apparently it can't do that on the Mac side.

OK, I've rambled on long enough and hopefully asked the right kinds of questions. I apologize for the length of this post and cross-posting between OO and OF, but since there are users of one who don't use the other....

I am grateful for any advice you share! If there are any users in MN, I'd love to meet and chat if you have the patience for someone who is completely new to this and is trying to figure out how best to organize and set up my Mac!

Thanks again and regards,


Fabricando fabri fimus.

Last edited by Brian; 2008-05-28 at 02:06 PM.. Reason: merging threads to keep the conversation centralized
Thanks very much for the kind words! We're not inherently opposed to integrating with apps other than iCal and Mail; given that we have more feature ideas than we have time to work on the apps, starting with the applications that are installed on every Mac OS X users' machine offers the best return on our development time.

Entourage support is one of the things that we've got on our radar screen - if you'd like to officially add a vote for compatibility, you'll want to send email to so the support ninjas can add your email to our development database.

I don't do much word processing beyond the built-in TextEdit application, so I can't really make suggestions of any real depth. I know some folks are big fans of Scrivener, while folks of a screenwriting bent prefer Final Draft. (Mellel also has a following.)

For email, Mail Entourage, and Thunderbird seem to be the big apps on the scene.
Nisus Writer is another one, besides Mellel and Scrivener.

If you are looking for the best user experience, then I would recommend staying away from Entourage. It has a nice feature set, but it is poorly written (read: crashes, may cause catastrophic data loss, acts buggy, etc.) and seems focused around enclosing you in the Microsoft experience.

By contrast, Mail has fewer features, is pretty solidly coded, and (along with iCal and AddressBook) is full of hooks that other applications can tap.

If you look around at various cool Mac utilities, you will notice all kinds of hooks into the standard Apple apps (the above, plus iChat, iLife, iWork, and others). This is not because those programmers are pandering to the Mac experience... they just find it incredibly easy to add that functionality because the hooks are already there.

As for the word processor, that is more of a personal choice since you are looking for specific functionality (btw, have you looked at ScholarWord? No idea if it is useful...) But again, I do find that the Microsoft apps try to lock you into their world. Any other application wouldn't be as restrictive. Also, I do know some people working on their (English) dissertations in Pages. They seem pretty happy with it.
Being an academic, I do a lot of writing. My main word processors are (the new 2008) Word, Pages (weaning myself off Word, but Pages doesn't come close to it in certain critical areas for me), and Circus Ponies Notebook (for lectures which are then exported to HTML). I rely heavily on OmniGraffle Pro for all my diagrams which I then cut and paste to Notebook.

I have used OmniOutliner when I need a quick outline of something, and of course Omni Focus to keep track of all my tasks.

Someone mentioned Scrivener above - I've had the urge to write a book, and after trying out many "authors" word processors, I keep coming back to Scrivener.

Like you, I started with DOS then Windows beginning with the original IBM PC-1. After close to 25 years on that platform, I made the switch to a Mac and haven't looked back. It was like falling in love all over again. BTW I use Mac Mail and iCal - suits me fine. As someone else said, lots of other apps have hooks into the Apple main apps and that is a real plus.
Originally Posted by sylvaticus View Post
I maxed it out (for me) with two Quad-Core Xeons (3.2 GHz), 16 GB of RAM, 2.5 TB for hard drives, and I'm waiting for my two 30" monitors (not Cinema Displays, though).
Dear God, man, that's quite some system you've built for yourself! Am I safe in assuming from your name and P.S. that you are a Classicist? I too use a Mac Pro with 30-inch display for academic work, but also for photo and video work, which is how I justify the whole thing!

For academic work I use Mellel as my word processor. I have spent some time setting up academic templates which suit my purposes. I originally looked at Mellel because at the time it was the only GUI word processor which supported the advanced features of OpenType fonts, like ligatures and multiple numeral sets. (The alternative was to use some implementation of TeX, which I could never get my head around, but not for want of trying.) The latest version of Pages now handles most OpenType features, though, and I suspect some of the others do too. I now use Pages for anything non-academic.

I really like the way you can type Greek with breathings and accents on OS X. (I’m putting this here because I’m labouring under the assumption that you are in fact a Classicist.) To make it really easy, go to System Preferences > International > Input Menu (tab). Make sure ‘Show input menu in menu bar’ is ticked at the bottom of the window, and in the main panel make sure that ‘Keyboard Viewer’ and ‘Greek Polytonic’ are ticked, as well as whatever your keyboard layout actually is (perhaps ‘U.S.’ or ‘U.S. Extended’, or ‘British’). Then, when (in any application) you want to type Greek, go to the Input menu (represented by a flag in your menu bar) and choose ‘Greek Polytonic’. If you start typing now, your characters will come out as Greek. In order to work out which characters map on to which keys and, more importantly, which accents and breathings map on to which keys, choose ‘Keyboard viewer’ from the same menu. [NB that the font you are using needs to have all the characters for Greek: I think that the common ones on the Mac do. I do my academic work in Adobe Garamond Premier Pro, which I was fortunate to get as a free bonus with CS2, I think.]

I found that I didn’t like Mail/iCal/Address Book at all at first when I first moved from Outlook/Exchange on Windows. For a long time I stuck with Entourage connecting to the Exchange server (which was a hosted Exchange account which I was administering for various family-members and myself). But gradually I began to realize that Entourage is crap in many respects, not least its support for Exchange. So I moved over to Mail etc., and also eventually moved to a simpler (but better-specced, for less money… go figure) IMAP email host. My contacts and calendar information is synced between computers using .Mac, and my email using the IMAP server. I'm very happy with it, but but wouldn't be without the numerous plug-ins I've got installed in Mail. I thoroughly recommend the Hawk Wings blog for ideas about improving your own experience with Mail. But what I love is the way that Mail (like so many other apps) has hooks for other applications (including OmniFocus) to get data in and out.

I personally couldn't imagine relying on a virtualized environment for day-to-day activities. I use Parallels to do some things (principally now for checking sites in Internet Explorer), but those are highly specific. However, if you think that that will work for you, please let us know how you get on!

As for Omni software, as well as OmniFocus, I use OmniOutliner Pro extensively, and OmniGraffle considerably less (it's evidently a good app, but I have few uses for it right now). I type notes from my reading (often just typing out whole sentences or paragraphs as I read them, ahem) into OmniOutliner. Then I am able to rearrange my notes into something more coherent for whatever I'm writing about, and then I tend write an essay plan
in a separate OOP document. That's been very helpful for me since I started doing it, about eighteen months ago.

Hope some of that helps! Enjoy your new computer…

Thank you, everyone, for the great responses! I'm embarrassed at how long it's taken me to get back to responding.

My head was completely awash in all things Apple and Mac, and I completely lost touch with any semblance of GTD. Now, I'm finally getting back into the thick of it.

I'm still in love with my computer (how could I not be), and a little blue to see that the Mac Pro line is about to be refreshed, and there will go my "bragging rights." Ha! Still plenty to brag about, I know! :-)

I did indeed end up using Mail, iCal, and Address Book, exactly for the reasons suggested. I like them, but there are some serious flaws in them, eg, iCal has no appointment conflict detection! I ended up with two events overlapping. I called Apple because I thought surely a feature like this that has been around for over ten years (on Windows) must be present, but nope! The person who answered the phone told me the tech thought that was a good idea and they would think about adding it. WTH(eck)? There are some other issues like that, but on the whole they're still OK. And, as you all have observed, it's the hooks.

You're welcome; you've earned them!!

@Word Processing:
I actually haven't done much writing of late, and oddly, TextEdit is filling what writing needs I currently do have. I think Pages will work well for more advanced processing, and since I have been learning more about InDesign, that might be be final, do-anything-and-everything word processor when I need all the muscle I can get.

Of course, I will miss the ability to format on the fly for Chicago, MLA, etc. That might be one reason to consider getting something other than TextEdit, Pages, and InDesign. Perhaps there is a plug-in for Pages or InDesign that doesn't cost a fortune?

I'd be interested to hear why, with Pages, you use Scrivener for your book. I did end up getting Circus Pony Notebook, but haven't really used it. I wanted to set up some formatting and was completely defeated. I'm sure I'll come back to it; I miss MS OneNote and so appreciate what Notebook offers!

Salve, Tu Bone Vir! Tu valde dixisti! I guess I'm more an "aspiring classicist." Thank you for the tip on setting my keyboard to type polytonic Greek! I'm still working with Latin currently, but I've now added the Greek, Hebrew and Devanagari (Sanskrit). Thank you!!

I'd love to chat over email or IM sometime about Macs for scholarly use if that's not too weird or nerdy. :-)

Thank you again, all. I'm thinking about OmniGraffle and OmniPlan as well. I'm not sure how often I'll need them, but when you need them, you need them!
Originally Posted by sylvaticus View Post
I'd be interested to hear why, with Pages, you use Scrivener for your book. I did end up getting Circus Pony Notebook, but haven't really used it. I wanted to set up some formatting and was completely defeated. I'm sure I'll come back to it; I miss MS OneNote and so appreciate what Notebook offers!

Thank you again, all. I'm thinking about OmniGraffle and OmniPlan as well. I'm not sure how often I'll need them, but when you need them, you need them!
I've tried Scrivener because it has special features for novels, etc, but truth be told, I've hardly used it since the first week.

I use Pages for some short docs, like lab assignments or programming projects (I used to use Word for everything). For long projects, it's Word.

As for Circus Ponies: I've never warmed up to Powerpoint or similar products, since I usually need the ability to scroll down long code pages. Since slide pages don't work with me, enter Circus Ponies Notebook. It does outlining and more, and exports the material to html. Using a browser in class, I can expand and collapse subtopics as I do lectures - in lab, the students can follow along. I use OmniGraffle to create quick graphics that enhance my html pages (actually, graphics that originally go into Circus Ponies Notebook). OmniGraffle Pro is such an intuitive product that's quite powerful and looks so much better than other similar products. You know how a person who knows Word inside and out can create all kinds of "wow" documents? OmniGraffle is like that for graphics (the type I need)! I know it quite well and create a lot of images that spice up my "act" during class.

OmniPlan? I don't think so. I don't work in groups, never saw a need for Gantt charts. OF is just what I need, and with the iPod Touch/Phone version, I sync and have a portable version of my tasks.

After almost four years since my "switch" to the Mac, the honeymoon is still in place. Hoping you'll experience the same!

Last edited by pvonk; 2008-09-22 at 06:39 PM..
I transferred to Mac 20 years ago but I often work in a Windows world. I find there's no problem keeping fingers in many app pies. Page is terrific for some tasks and mediocre for others. Scrivener is great for bringing certain kinds of creative ideas to fruition, but not others. SubEthaEdit is worth checking out if you want to collaborate with remote co-writers on the same document. Nisus is fluid for very long projects with TOC, indexing & bookmarks. But Word 2008 is indispensable for me for most heavy duty word processing tasks and I continue to use it.
If you are used to Outlook in Windows, I would recommend that you use IMAP email instead of POP and use both Mail and Entourage. I work in Mail for some communications tasks and Entourage for others. By using IMAP, anything received, sent or created in one is in sync with the other via your various mail servers. Entourage has some great features (similar to and in some cases surpassing Outlook) but it's typical of Microsoft's bloatware closed-garden attitude to app development. The major limitation to this set up is the old bogey, synchronisation. Not all fields in the contact cards of Address Book & Entourage will synchronise. If only Apple would put some real work into Address Book and iCal, then the endless search for a PIM / CRM combo might end. sigh :) but that's another story. Hope this helps.
It seems most still favor Word, at least in certain situations. I bought and installed Vista x64 on Fursion, in part so I could install Office 2007 (which irritatingly has a fuller feature set than Word 2008).

I have found some merit in in writing in a plain text editor, and then formatting the document in InDesign. Writing and design are two different tasks and using tools that allow me to focus on each task to the exclusion of the other might be the way to go. Still, I like Word and some of the features it offers should I want or need them.

I don't need to collaborate, though if I did I'd consider getting InCopy. I'll have to look into what features Scrivener has for novels and creative ideas, though, I don't see getting any new writing software at this time. For some complex things, I think OmniOutliner would be the way to go for me. I love outlines and tend to think hierarchically. An outline structure is perfect for me to order my thoughts in a longer, more complex document, where I might need to shift whole paragraphs around.

And--yes and thanks to you both! I am still in love with my Mac and I want to use it every day!


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