After I wrote a post about the changes in Lion's Dictionary app and made suggestions about how Apple could still improve it, I got a nice email from a reader asking if I would write an article about some other writing tools I use. One of my favorites is Visual Thesaurus by Thinkmap.
Visual Thesaurus is an interactive -- almost organic -- dictionary and thesaurus for your Mac. Enter a word, and you'll be presented with branch nodes displaying synonyms or antonyms for that word. The lines between the words are color-coded to indicate parts of speech. Depending on how you are using the word, click on its proper definition and then delve down through the semantic relationship of the word by clicking on its node. The whole process is a really fun way to find the right words you are looking for. You almost feel like an explorer traipsing through a thesaurus thanks to the interactivity of the app.
In addition to containing 145,000 English words, the app also features 39,000 proper nouns and American and British word pronunciations. Visual Thesaurus is available as both a web app and a Mac/Windows app. The web app costs US$2.95 per month or $19.95 per year. I opted for choosing the actual Mac app, which costs $39.95. The advantage of the Mac app is that you don't need an internet connection to access the thesaurus, which is handy if you're like me and commonly take your MacBook to various non-connected places to write. Visual Thesaurus for the web requires Mac OS X 10.0 or higher, an internet connection and a web browser. Visual Thesaurus for Mac requires Mac OS X 10.0 or higher.