OSX, a tale of complex simplicity

One thing I like very much about working with a Mac, it’s not the Mac itself. It’s the software. I found several pieces of software for OSX that have a sort of intriguing personality. At first glance they seems very simple guys: they are not intimidating you, they do not bother you with a lot of possibilities to do what they are supposed to do.They do their job in a simple way and most of the time you’re fine with them. Perfectly fine. 

Then it may happen; at a given point you want to search for a given feature that’s not so immediate, or you want simply to explore new possibilities of a program that it’s now quite familiar to you. And then you discover that normally you use your program (as your brain) only for a little part of its possibilities. In other worlds, the simplicity does not come at the price of reducing the possibilities and the features: I propose the terms complex simplicity to address this issue. I used linux for several years, sometimes even Windows, but only coming to OSX I found programs with this attractive peculiarity (be advised, anyway, that things may change, and my knowledge can be partial or biased).

This seems to me particularly true when I turn to writing software. Note that I am now on the point to reveal you which are my favorite programs to write down worlds in a computer (one of the things I like most, definitively). Just to start from here, I’m writing this post with MarsEdit, a program that fits wonderfully this paradigm of complex simplicity. It’s only after some time spent looking around that you discover what it really can do. At the first glance, you’re presented with a very simple interface, letting you to write down your thoughs without having to deal with an excessive amount of technology. MarsEdit can even be reduced to a simple windows, to just  write (see below). There are many option but you do not need to worry about them until you actuality start searching them.

MarsEditScreen

 Writing this post with MarsEdit was a pleasure 🙂

At any rate, the software that surprised me most, about its complex  simplicity, is definitively MacJournal. I bought this long time ago, to be adopted mainly as a daily work diary (a task which it does quite well,in passing). It’s only recently that I realized how MacJournal is good at writing. I mean, writing short stories, as well as poetry. Wonderful, for that. I’ve adopted MacJournal to manage a series of short stories I’m developing. I created a diary named Racconti (which stands for Novels in Italian) which has various folders (you can organize your diaries at your pleasure), one for each project. Each entry in such folders is a novel, at various stages of completeness. For each post, I can easily see the number of words, I can make it editable or not, see the creation or last modification date, and a number of other useful option. Of course I have a full set of options for text formatting. I can even set a word goal for a specific diary, very useful when it does contain novels. When it comes to create, writing without distraction is easily done by choosing Focused Editing Mode, which turns MacJournal as a all screen application, showing text over a customizable background. There is much more in MacJournal, of course. This is just to give you an idea of an excellent software, very good for writing. And, needless to say, for each kind of journaling! 

But the first  great program for writing, you guessed, is Scrivener. Admittedly, Scrivener takes some times to understand how can you use it in an intelligent way (i.e., to really take advantages of its peculiarities). It is a kind of program which ask you to live with him for a while, before starting to use it at its best, moving inside its incredible set of features. Nevertheless, even with complex piece of software as Scrivener, you can follow a gradual approach. Thanks to its complex simplicity, you can be productive almost immediately, even you’re still barely scratching the surface of the sea of possibilities. I’ll probably talk more about Scrivener in a future post.

This was intended to let you understand why I like OSX software. And why I think that a writer feels at home with a Mac (no advertise intended!). 

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