Ask the Mac.AppStorm Editor #13

It’s time for another “Ask the Editor” post today. A big thank you to everyone who sent in their questions – it’s great to have the chance to help you out with your Mac-related queries and quibbles.

Today I’ll be offering some advice about apps for creating and managing bibliographies, keeping track of your finances and setting up advanced alarm actions. Read on for some awesome tips and tools to make your Mac experience even better.

I’m looking for a free Mac app that strictly helps you create citations and compile a bibliography, nothing fancy.

- Renee

Great question Renee! Bibliographies are something that countless students and writers are cursed with creating daily. There are so many rules involved and alternate styling guides that formatting mistakes are bound to happen if you do it manually. Not to mention it can take forever!

Back when I was in college, I always used KnightCite or some similar free web app, but there are some native options for this too.

For starters, both Word and Pages can help you generate and manage citations. Check out this page for a screencast straight from Apple on working with Citations in iWork. For Word, this process varies quite a bit from version to version, check here for a guide on citations in Word 2011.

Even with these options, there is still plenty of need for a simple, dedicated bibliography app like the one you mentioned. Fortunately, there’s BibDesk a free, open source Bibliography manager for Mac.

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BibDesk

BibDesk will keep track of both the bibliographic information and the associated files or web links. Given your requirements, I think this is the perfect app for you!

I like the simplicity and aesthetic of iOS apps like Budgetbook, Saver and MoneyBook. Why aren’t there any Finance apps like that for the Mac?

- Sean

After a thorough investigation, I’ve decided that you’re right. There are a ton of really gorgeous finance iPhone apps but those for Mac tend to just borrow the standard OS X interface. They also tend to be quite cluttered and complicated. It would be great to see developers start to translate the experience of apps like Moneybook to the Mac.

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MoneyBook for iPhone

In the mean time, you’ll have to make due with what’s available. The Mac finance app that I always recommend is Money, it’s simply one of the best options around for managing your finances on your Mac.

In the simple and attractive finance category the best is probably Koku. It’s very straightforward and easy to use and the reports are pretty snazzy. Check out our dedicated review here.

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Koku

Is there an app that will act as an alarm, that will vocally indicate the weather, time and/or other things?

- John Holmes

Right out of the box, your Mac can speak the time. All you have to do is go to Date & Time in System Preferences, click on the Clock tab and activate “Speak Time.” Here you can set the interval and voice. I warn you though, it’s quite startling and a little creepy to hear a robot voice unexpectedly begin talking to you once every hour!

Unfortunately, there’s no option in that preference for speaking the weather. For this type of functionality, you should check out a little utility called iAlarm. For less than two bucks, you get a ton of functionality, including the ability to speak the weather, play a podcast or playlist, run an AppleScript or speak a custom message at times that you specify.

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iAlarm

If you want to do even more with alarms, check out Alarm Clock Pro. At almost $20, it’s a little pricey, but for good reason. It can control nearly every aspect of your Mac that you could hope for and perform automated functions at a given time.

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Alarm Clock Pro

Didn’t See Your Question?

If you asked a question but didn’t have it answered today, don’t worry! I’ll do my best to get to it in a future week. I love a challenge, so feel free to ask some weird and wonderful questions…

If you’d like to submit your query, you can do so here:

Thanks for reading, and let me know if you agree or disagree with anything I mentioned today!


  • lars

    A good citation manager I have found is the free zotero project (www.zotero.org). It works great on Mac, syncs between computers and even allows team colaboration. It runs as a browser plugin and connects to Word, OpenOffice… There was a standalone version (beta) released last week to bring all the functions to a desktop programm.

  • http://www.lukevink.com Luke

    What about squirrel? It even syncs with it’s own iPhone app which also has a sexy ui. Though not exactly money it certainly has an nice desktop interface…

  • snownado

    Some of the new voices for Lion don’t sound that robotic at all. It is still a little startling to hear a voice start speaking the time out of nowhere when you’re just sitting quietly by yourself at the computer.

  • Michael

    You forgot You Need A Budget (YNAB)!

    By far the best and most beautiful finance app for the Mac. YNAB has great tools for detailed budgeting and forecasting your cash flow. Check it out.

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