Logos for Mac worth the wait for Bible students

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Logos for Mac worth the wait for Bible students
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I have been waiting for Logos for Mac, the Bible research application suite, for over a year. I take that back: I have been waiting for Logos for the Mac for over five years, when I first switched to Mac after a brief and unfortunate experience in the Windows world.

Before we go any further I must stop to address the fear which has already gripped many Mac users. Let me say this clearly: this is no hastily slapped together Mac "port" of a Windows application. In fact 15 seconds into the introductory video, they proudly announce: "What we've done for the Mac is rebuild it from the ground up."

You can tell.

Logos for Mac looks and feels like a native Mac application. How native? If you can copy a passage from Logos to Microsoft Word for Mac, it automatically creates a footnote in APA, BibTex, Chicago, Harvard, MLA, Refer-BiblX, RIS, SBL, or Turabian format (whichever you choose in the preferences). As someone who has no love for footnoting, this may be my favorite feature of any piece of software ever.

There are also Mac-specific support videos to help you learn to use the software and native Mac "Help" available in the application itself.

The Mac version does not support all of the Windows features, although they say they "plan to add many of these features in upcoming versions." You can see a list of some of those features on a chart of features covered at Camp Logos, a two-day training seminar for Logos users. The same page also makes it clear that they have been thinking about Mac users for these seminars, and in fact usually have someone there who is a Mac user to help if needed.

Don't let the fact that they offer a seminar to learn how to use the software scare you. The website describes it as "Easy enough for a novice, powerful enough for a scholar, now on a Mac!" The videos mentioned above are highly recommended, as this is a powerful piece of software. It is often said that most users only use 20% of any application's features. I've used Microsoft Word and iWork's Pages application for years and have no doubt that I could benefit from a couple days instruction from someone who really knew the applications inside and out.

The challenge for Logos is that their customer base covers a very wide range of potential users: from casual users who want to do some personal Bible study to pastors preparing sermons to academics using it for detailed and in-depth study. Casual users who watch the videos should learn enough to feel comfortable using the application.

There five different versions available. They all use the same core application, the only difference is which books are included. For that reason they are referred to as "libraries":

  1. Bible Study Library ($259.95) (See what's included in Bible Study library)
  2. Leader's Library ($309.95) (See what's included in Leader's library)
  3. Scholar's Library ($629.95) ( See what's included in Scholar's library)
  4. Scholar's Library: Silver ($999.95) (See what's included in Silver library)
  5. Scholar's Library: Gold ($1,379.95) (See what's included in Gold library)

The list of available resources is pretty amazing. The "Gold" version includes "700 titles worth more than $11,700.00" if you purchased the print versions (not to mention finding space to store them all!). That's less than 12% of the total price of the "dead tree" versions. Even the "Bible Study Library" boasts and impressive collection of approximately 150 titles.

It is important to note that once these Library items are purchased, you own them; only the application itself will have to be updated in the future (as opposed to, for example, some very well known photo-manipulation software which costs several hundred dollars even for an upgrade). These library items are investments which you should have for the rest of your computer-using life.

If you have both Windows and Mac computers, you can install the software on both computers (up to two personally owned computers), and the Mac version even includes an installer for Windows. This can also come in handy if you have setup Boot Camp. If you have previously purchased library items from a Windows version of the Logos software, you can also use those on your Mac as well. See the FAQ for more details. There is also a Mac disclaimer page you should read if you are switching over from the Windows version. I would recommend getting in touch with Mac customer support (email and phone numbers are provided on the previously mentioned page).

Mac users have been second-class citizens in the Biblical software world. I have tried some of the other well known "names" and found their Mac versions to be fairly unsatisfactory, and their Mac technical support to be difficult to access or non-existent. (One company required that all support requests be sent through a web form which didn't even list the Mac version of their software.) Logos has taken their time to come into the Mac world as a company which has tried to understand how Mac users think and work. No, the software doesn't have a 1:1 feature parity with the Windows version yet, but it seems clear that the Mac community is important to folks at Logos and they have invested a lot to bring something worthwhile to the Mac world.

Normally I would devote more time to explaining how the application works, but the introductory video does a much better job of this than I could. (Note that the demo videos are all done in Quicktime, and download links for Desktop and iPhone versions are available.) I have only begun using the software in the past week or so, and already have used it more than another Bible software program that I have owned (and upgraded!) for several years. As bonus to those of you who have read this far, don't miss the free Bible verse Dashboard widget which is also available from Logos.

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