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Organize science PDFs on your Mac

An iTunes for science PDFs would be fantastic.  Luckily it already exists.  After trying to organize folder after folder of accumulated journal article PDFs I came across a piece of Mac software about a year ago that manages them for you.  It also has powerful search abilities, will download PDFs and import meta data and has a great support community.  The app is Papers, written by two former PhD students from the Netherlands who now produce science related software for the Mac community.

The best feature I have found is how easy it is to search the literature using a variety of search engines, like PubMed and Google Scholar.  There are a bunch of other discipline specific search engines as well.  As you browse your papers it is easy to do a quick keyword search for new articles.  You can easily save your searches, and have them automatically update.  And even better, Papers organizes all of your authors so that you can quickly search for anyones latest papers and then dump them into you library.  You can read a paper in full screen mode, leave notes on them, and open several papers at once in multiple tabs.  I still need to print out papers that I want to read very closely, but the full screen view is good.  And the iPhone version is in the works.  This app does not produce reference lists, so I wind up exporting references from Papers into Endnote when writing manuscripts.  This bit of hassle is worth it to add the organizational and search power not offered by programs like Endnote.  

I have converted one friend already to Mac in part because of this app.  If you are on Mac already you have to check it out.  And I am not getting paid for this endorsement.

8 comments to Organize science PDFs on your Mac

  • I love it!! It is beautiful, sleek, informative, and very, very you. You constantly amaze me!

  • Ok, glowing comments from your Mother are nice, but I don’t know if they count.

  • Steve Fenser

    Nice site. Your Mother is a smart lady so her comments always count!

    Do they make a similar PDF software for Windows?


  • Mason Posner

    Of course the killer apps are made exclusively for Mac. You can use this software when you get your next laptop upgrade.

  • Oooo OOO! This is exciting! And I was starting to worry I would have to chop my hard drive in half and run windows alongside my mac OS… Now they need some good stats programs and I’ll be happy…

  • Christie – Have you checked out graphpad.com for a Mac stats program? Their graphing program is great too, and they are both economical.

  • Have you checked out the Zotero plugin for firefox. It is pretty cool and it stores a pdf copy along with the reference info. It also is intergrated with NeoOffice, the openoffice software custom made for macs.

  • I played with it once but have not really used it. One pain with using Papers is that it does not produce reference cited lists, so I still rely on Endnote for that. I should give Zotero another try.

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