I’m not a scientist and I don’t play one on TV, but I know something about research papers. They are difficult to organize.
Enter Papers—a new way to organize research and PDFs in a way that mere mortals can use. Using a Mac.
If you have have printed PDFs by the copier paper box full, then you have too many PDFs. If you have PDFs scattered in more that three folders on your Mac, then you need some help.
Papers is a Mac-only application designed to help you deal with organizing the many documents we receive in PDF form these days, but specifically research and scientific papers.
Libraries are soooo 20th century. Today the internet is the library and facilities of higher education have begun to make the adjustment by making documents available in a format for everyone.
The problem is, the previous format was paper, which got stacked. The current format is PDF file, which gets dumped into folders on your Mac.
How do your organize hundres and hundreds of PDF documents? How many folders can you create and stuff and still feel like you’re in control and you know where everything is?
I can only imagine what it’s like for those engaged in research fields. It’s bad enough for those of us who teach for a living. Take PubMed. Please.
Browsing through documents in a library was slow and tedious.
Browsing through research papers such as those found in PubMed, a service of the US National Library of Medicine, means you get your headache before you’re qualified to diagnose it.
Papers takes the organization cues from iPhoto and iTunes and many other Mac applications that have mastered the multi-column organizational look.
Categories to the left, lists in the center, and details for each list item to the right. Organizing PDF documents will not be any easier, as it works just like iTunes.
Open Papers, drag and drop a PDF. Fill out some information. Papers actually copies the PDF and stores it in a central location. If you wish, you can delete the original.
For PubMed users, Papers becomes the window to PubMed meta data which matches the PDF to the database and fills in information for you.
What we’re seeing here is the future of document storage and management. The Mac has a number of PDF organizers which mimic some of what is found in Papers.
The solution isn’t exclusive to Papers and PubMed. What’s needed is a central repository for PDF documents, and the ability to add meta data, those pieces of information exclusive to an individual document.
Papers and PubMed marry the two, which reduces the work load when organizing PubMed documents, and other research documents.
For the rest of us, we’re stuck entering matching meta data the old fashioned way—via the keyboard.
Jonathan Gitlin does a great review of Papers for ArsTechnica and highlights both the ease of use, and the need for the invention.
From what I can tell, the $25 for Papers is a worthy expense since the application appears useful to anyone with more PDFs than the woman who lived in a shoe. It’s just that there’s effort involved in filling out the detailed information for each document.
All the basic information must be entered by hand, and can’t easily be automated. Still, there’s tremendous value in a central location for PDFs on your Mac.
Documents can be organized, searched, and displayed. On Jack’s old PowerMac G5, Papers ran slowly, though it’s a Universal Binary. Still, there was no difficulty dragging and dropping PDFs into Papers.
Entering metadata was straightforward and caused no problems, making Papers easy to search, easy to gather information about any PDF.
Papers has promise. It may be perfect for the PubMed subscriber, but for the rest of us, there has to be a serious need to organize that growing folder of PDF documents.
Months ago, Alexis looked at other Mac organizers which do just that, including Yep, one of our previous Friday Freebie Mac utilities.
Despite the promise of Yep and Papers and other document managers, we’re not quite ready for the paperless office, but the sooner we get there, the better life will be.
How do you manage the growing stack of PDFs on your Mac? Share your experience in the Comments section below.