The Bible software market for Mac got a little more competitive this summer as Laridian released their long awaited PocketBible for Mac, brining the simplicity of the PocketBible app from years gone by to OSX. This program started out as a Kickstarter campaign and when I learned about it, I quickly pledged to back the program and happily started testing it as a beta app awhile ago.
No one will confuse PocketBible for an advanced Bible study tool that competes with tools like Logos Bible Software or Accordance, but it does make for a simple to use, speedy way to quickly look up verses, search for that passage you’re trying to find and access your PocketBible books. Most lay Bible students will really enjoy PocketBible and more advanced students should consider adding it to their arsenal for those times they want to quickly find something in the Bible.
If someone already owns a Laridian PocketBible library of books, then he or she should go to http://www.laridian.com and download it today. There’s no good reason not to install it on the Mac. Even owners of other more feature complete tools will want to give PocketBible a serious look since it’s one of the fastest and most Mac-like Bible apps available.
Setting it Up
Open PocketBible and log in using the simple registration screen that shows up upon first launch. Then go into the Cloud Library from the Books menu item, from with the Open Library box that shows up when the user hits the Open Library button on the toolbar, or hit CMD-L on the keyboard.
Here’s one possible area of improvement. I wish the program had a Download All button for instant installation of all of my books. That’s a one-time problem, so it’s not a big deal.
For those who used Book Builder from Laridian to make their own books, install them by copying the books into this folder:
~/Library/Application Support/com.laridian.PocketBible/Laridian Books
The user must open Finder, hit the Go menu and press the Option key to reveal the Library folder. Then drill down to the Laridian Books folder and copy books there.
The User Interface
PocketBible for Mac looks much like it does on other platforms. There’s the Study Panel on the left with tabs for things like …
- Find – perform advanced Boolean searches
- Bookmarks – find and organize your bookmarks
- FindNote – search your notes
- GoTo – navigate books (table of contents)
To use the GoTo section, click in the open book first and it automatically changes to the table of contents for that book.
The default window pane layout includes a larger center pane where most users will place a Bible. On the right find two smaller panes. I opened two of my favorite commentaries. By default, the Bible pane will control the other two. In other words, as I scroll through the book of 1 Corinthians, the two commentaries will follow moving from verse-to-verse and chapter-to-chapter syncing the content.
There’s a toolbar with buttons for the following tasks:
- Study Panel – opens and closes the Study Panel on the left of the main window
- Open Book – opens the library
- Go To – opens the GoTo box in Study Panel to jump to a place in book or Bible
- Search – opens the Search box in Study Panel
- Bookmarks – opens the Bookmarks box in Study Panel
- Back/Forward – moves back and forth in the user’s history
- Today – takes the user to that day’s reading in their chosen devotional
- Cloud Sync – syncs with Laridian’s cloud sync service to back up or download user content like bookmarks, highlights and notes
- Help – opens the Help book
The menu at the top gives users another way to access the various parts of the program.
While PocketBible doesn’t offer a large collection of advanced tools, it does what it’s designed to do very well. For example, instead of jumping from page to page by tapping as one does on the mobile version of the app, each book scrolls through the book. That means we don’t need to try and remember which part of the screen to tap, like we do with the tablet or phone version.
To highlight, bookmark or add a note to a passage, right lick inside a verse to show the menu. By default there’s a collection of highlighting styles with all the basic colors plus three styles of underlining.
Bookmarking uses a category system that the user sets up. For example, one might want to set up a category for topics like grace, sin, glory, church, etc. Then right-click and select the bookmark item in the menu and a flare-out menu will show the categories created. Click on a category to add a bookmark to that category.
Other features available through the right-click include…
- Adding notes
- Looking up the selected word or phrase in PocketBible
- Searching Google
- Copying the passage or phrase
- Starting speech which reads the text
- Close the pane or split it vertically/horizontally
PocketBible also handles daily Bible reading. Click on the Today button to open the chosen devotional or reading plan. When a user finishes that day’s reading or devotional, they can “tap” which means to click on it. This seems to be a holdover from the tablet days.
Customize the layout by choosing the View menu and clicking on Change Layout…. A window of optional layouts appears after a dialogue box asks if you want to discard the current layout. The result will be an empty layout. Click one of the empty panes and then click on Open Book button to open a book. Click the next pane and repeat until books populate all the panes. To close a pane, right-click on the pane and close it from the menu.
If a user would like, they can customize the toolbar to put things like a Close Pane or Close Book button the toolbar. Right-click any blank part of the toolbar and choose Customize Toolbar…. Then add buttons from the window that appears by dragging them into place.
3 Minor Areas of Improvement and 1 Major Suggestion
Here’s a few minor areas of improvement I’d like to see in the first update. First, a user can’t close book with COMMAND+W like most Mac programs. This would make things faster for experienced Mac users who like to use keyboard shortcuts.
Some of the available buttons don’t appear on the toolbar by default, and I they should, like the Close Book button and the Close Pane button.
Finally, I wish I could save a layout with specific books and give it a name. For example, I’d like to open the ESV, the ESV Study Bible and my favorite commentary in a three-pane layout. I can’t see a way to save this arrangement. I can open the three-pane layout, but then I must reopen the three books manually.
The major change I’d like to see is a study helper option like other programs offer. WordSearch, Logos, and Olive Tree all offer a feature where the user can, with the lick of a button, show a window that lists all of their books pointing to a particular passage. It’s like having a research assistant go to your library and get all your books on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and then open them in a stack on your desk.
If you’re a Mac owner and already own books in Laridian’s PocketBible or used to use one of their mobile apps for Palm, PocketPC or some other platform, then drop everything and download PocketBible for Mac. Windows users who want to switch to make, but didn’t because they own a large Laridian library, now’s the time. There’s nothing holding you back.
Users who want to get started using a digital library, should give Laridian’s PocketBible a look. It’s a simple program that won’t take long to learn to use. It’s not the most advanced and doesn’t include as many features as some of the other Bible software programs, but I like it a lot and will make it my Go To program when I just want to quickly open the Bible and read or search for a particular passage. That’s because it’s lightning fast and simple to master. I’m a satisfied Kickstarter backer.
Bible students who plant to go deep and want something that can grow with them, may want to look at Accordance or Logos on the Mac. The two best Mac programs for advanced Digital Bible Study.