Easily Organize Your Cooking Instructions with Recipes

Cooking at home has become a lost art due to the omnipresence of diners, fast-food restaurants, and the surplus of other ways to eat out. I’m not bashing great food that others can prepare, but why don’t you fire up that oven sometime to make some cobbler? If that seems too complicated, there’s always the stovetop which can cook caramel for popcorn this evening — it’s a great accompaniment to the film you’re planning to watch with your significant other.

Okay, enough of my urging you to prepare the delectable. If you happen to cook things even on occasion, I’m sure you keep a folder with recipes in it, if not a tactile book in your cupboard. What if I told you that there’s an easier way to organize things using Michael Göbel’s Recipes app on your Mac? Yes yes, you want to know more. Well then let’s get started.

Adding Recipes Manually

It all starts with creating a group for your recipes, along with a little icon to identify it.

It all starts with creating a group for your recipes, along with a little icon to identify it.

Begin by adding a group using the New button in the bottom left corner.

Recipes is a short 5.2 MB download and once that’s finished, you can open up the app to find a welcome screen thanking you for your purchase. Then you’re off to build your digital world of food, starting with the creation of your first recipes group. I cannot resist a good set of brownies or lemon meringue pie, so I decided to start with desserts. I then proceeded to find the correct icon for this group, which took a while since it’s hard to distinguish one black-with-little-white figure from another.

Try creating a new recipe for your group using the second New button which is accompanied by a list icon.

Editing the formula for my favorite brownies.

Editing the formula for my favorite brownies.

Now, on to the food itself. I began with my favorite brownies recipe, which currently resides in Cookies, Brownies, Muffins, and More by Anne Egan. I decided to type out the recipe for safekeeping inside my Mac so that it’ll be with me wherever I go. Inputting the information — ingredients, directions, notes, and other details — went fairly well, but I did encounter a few little roadblocks. Bullets, for instance, are not automatic and there is also no numbering system for directions.

I found these particular areas lacking functionality to be irritating when I was manually inputting a recipe because the extra effort of typing out numbers and bullets isn’t something I should have to do. As a workaround for this, I used TextEdit to type out the directions with a real list format. I then copied and pasted the document I’d created and everything worked out well. However, I’d still like to see a better integrated editor in this app.

Further, I would suggest that the developer add a smart fractions feature instead of the menu selection for 1/2 cup and such. It’d be much faster for people who were copying and pasting text as well as typing it.

Importing and Exporting

Saving a recipe to share with others.

Saving a recipe to share with others.

If you feel like taking the easier approach to adding files to Recipes, there’s always the file types that it supports. Currently they’re limited to documents from the app (.recipe) and Paprika, MacGourmet, and YummySoup files. If you happen to use any of these formats for anything then importing should be a breeze compared to manually typing or copying and pasting everything.

Go to the File menu and click Import… to easily grab a recipe of the supported formats.

Exporting can also be something that’s useful. If you’ve built up a library of recipes using the app and have some friends who’d like to use it as well, just click the File menu and click Export… to output a .recipe file for use with any Mac that’s running the software. Göbel even provides a few of his favorite recipes in this format for you to download free. They’ll give you a good idea of what recipes should look like when fully complete.

Adding Details

If you’d like to take things further than the basics, Recipes offers a Details pane for everything from the cost of cooking something to a photo of it. You can also rate the recipe, detail its origin with a web address, and even add a difficulty rating for the chef.

Recipes automatically resizes photos that you add to recipes.

Fullscreen and “Cook View”

An alternative to fullscreen, Cook View allows you to go distraction-free.

An alternative to fullscreen, Cook View allows you to go distraction-free.

Just like nearly all productive software on the App Store, Recipes includes a fullscreen mode. It’s nothing too fancy and merely gives you a larger editing view than the small window, but then there’s the “Cook View”. This minimal layout will put the app in fullscreen appearance, but not actually enable the true mode you’re used to in anything past Lion. Instead, Cook View is its own standalone layout with no access to the menu bar or dock. There is also no gesture to return to the windowed mode.

I think Cook View can prove to be useful for some, but it only takes one thing away from the fullscreen mode: the sidebar. I honestly don’t think there’s much of a need for this extra layout and it kind of seems like a waste of screen space on a Mac, but an iPad could benefit from it greatly. Cook View seems like it wants to be the digital version of a real cookbook with no clutter or distractions so that you can effortlessly concentrate on what you’re preparing. For that, it works well; otherwise, it’s unnecessary.

iCloud for Backup and iOS Companion Apps

iCloud sync can be turned on from here.

iCloud sync can be turned on from here.

Let Recipes store your library in iCloud by going to Preferences and checking the appropriate box.

Sometimes bringing your computer into the kitchen isn’t quite preferred, which is why the developer of Recipes is working hard on iPhone and iPad companion apps. iCloud sync is already included in the app, as you may very well know from browsing the Preferences menu. There’s not really a better way of ensuring that your precious files are always in your reach, especially when the iOS version of Recipes releases.

Final Thoughts



When it comes to organizing things, I’ll go to a lot of trouble just to get things perfect. Recipes is a great way of digitally cataloguing all my favorite cooking files. I think that the Mac app is definitely valuable, but a bit overpriced at $8.99. A library of your recipes it is; available everywhere it is not. I still prefer the traditional cookbook to this app because of its extra portability. Until the iOS counterparts of Recipes release, I don’t recommend getting the app. And in addition, I highly suggest that you wait until the Mac version is on sale before spending so much for it.


Overpriced for what it offers, Recipes is nearly the epitome of how your culinary documents should be stored on a Mac.