The Technical Writer’s Macintosh PC

My MacBook Pro has become my primary home office writing machine and I’ve spent some time seeking out the best technical writing oriented software. Here is my short list:

  • Microsoft Office 2004 for Macintosh: Microsoft Office is a ubiquitous standard like it or not and the Macintosh version of Microsoft Office includes Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Entourage (think Microsoft Office Outlook with some other nifty features). A majority of my work is internal documentation like architecture documents so my documentation templates are simple and can easily be sent cross platform between Windows XP and Macintosh OS X  without much drama.
  • Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional: The latest release of Adobe Acrobat perfectly mimics its Windows-based sibling including its integration with Microsoft Word.
  • Adobe Dreamweaver 8: Macromedia Dreamweaver on the Macintosh is faithful to its Windows-based cousin so I had no problems making the transition.
  • MindJet MindManager 6 Mac: MindJet MindManager came on my scope after a couple of months where my brainstorming for new articles and other plans started to synaptically misfire. I use MindManager on a regular basis to brainstorm new article ideas and to plot out documentation plans for my current clients.
  • OmniOutliner Professional: While as a college English major I may have rebelled against outlines, as a professional writer, outlines have become a powerful planning tool for articles, technical documentation, and some important professional next steps.
  • OmniGraffle: Technical writers doing process flow and network diagrams live in Visio. I look forward to exercising OmniGraffle on an upcoming freelance project and see how importing the diagrams into Visio works or doesn’t work.
  • OmniPlan: While it may not be as full-featured as Microsoft Project, it does includes many of the features that project managers and team leads need to manage projects.
  • Adium: IM is the communications tool of choice in many IT organizations and Adium enables you to communicate with colleagues and clients using AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger.

I don’t live in a FrameMaker world and thus a desktop publishing application is not a requirement for my billable client work.

Am I missing anything?


3 responses to The Technical Writer’s Macintosh PC

What browser do you use? I use Firefox; it’s ok, but not great. Also, I rely on iCal and Soho Notebook to organize my writing and editing projects.

I use Firefox and I’ve been pretty happy with it although at times I do run into issues with online videos.

How do you like the MacBook Pro keyboard after a full day of typing? I’m a ThinkPad user trying to decide if I should switch to a MacBook Pro. I’ve tried the MBP keyboard in Apple stores, and it’s always seemed a bit “flat” and less tactile compared to the ThinkPad. That aside, I much prefer OS X to Windows.
If I do go the OS X route I can then use DevonThink, which could be very helpful to the work I do (in brands.)

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