Mac Pro Tips for the University Student

Justin Pierce, MPS-CRM, CEH, CNDANASA Senior Cybersecurity Engineer
Dream not of today. ~ Jean-Luc Picard
This article contains professional tips for those who use Macintosh computers at their university.
   Graduating is a terrific feeling. The way the rolled degree feels in your hand and the sense of accomplishment that hits every time you look at it hanging on your wall. Why? Because it is earned, not given.

   Not too long ago, I obtained my Master's degree. As a forty-something, it meant many nights "Dad" was not at the dining room table, at family gatherings, or winding down in front of the Tele with "The Fam." Instead, it meant "Dad" switched from his work computer at the end of the day to his sticker-laden Mac for two years to knock out numerous assignments and reports.

   So, how did I make it through without losing my mind? I attribute my MacBook Pro, some excellent Apple and third-party apps, and a lot of time management. Below are my secrets; I hope they help you as much as they did me.

1)Love the Apple ecosystem because it will love you back. You should use Pages, Numbers, and Keynote as your primary project applications since they automatically backup your documents in real-time. This function/ability can't be understated; the number of horror stories I saw play out because a student used Word or PowerPoint as their go-to tool was gut-wrenching. Microsoft was never really good at saving your documents; think about how many times you've had to dig through the "saved" history because Excel was confused about what you wanted. Yep, now think about losing or having an older "saved" twenty or thirty-page paper because Word isn't sure if you wish to have last night's copy or the one from ten days ago when you started the behemoth of a task. In short, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are not only better at saving your important documents, but they allow exporting out into nearly any format, including Microsoft's. In addition, they can be accessed and edited on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad, which can be a lifesaver if you're on the go and need to fix the team's keynote so the crew can turn it in before lunchtime.
(Nourbash, 2018)

   Pro-Tip: Siri was adept at reading articles, books, and scholarly papers while I worked out. If I needed to highlight something or take a note, I could do that in tandem during a walk or pause for a second to mark up the document.

   Side note: Most Professors appreciate Apple's formatting, so I rarely had to change layouts or font. Lastly, don't forget that PDF is a universally accepted export, and many teachers/professors don't mind editing it.

2)Invest in Grammarly. As lovely as Apple's applications are, Grammarly beats them in the auto-fix department. It's as easy as selecting your goals: Audience, formality, domain, intent and then start typing. 
(Samkov, 2020)

    Pro-Tip: Grammarly also has automatic real-time saving features. Ultimately this means you have a second backup of the content you copied and pasted into your Pages document.

   Side note: You can access Grammarly on the go so that you can fix issues on the fly.

3)Use an app like Essayist. I nearly flipped my lid when I found it in the App Store. Having the ability to change from MLA to APA versions in an instant and then to magically drop-in intext citations was tear-jerking. Also, the time you save with their auto-find features is exciting to a college student; copy your website link into their search bar, and voila, a fully-formatted reference and in-text citation(s) appear. Amazing! 
(Chung, 2020)

   Pro-Tip: Write your paper in Grammarly, then copy and paste it into Essayist. After citing all of your references and dropping in your in-text citations, you can copy and paste the near-finished product into Pages. Using this tip will allow you to save your progress at every stage in the development of your paper, create additional backups, and turn in a well-formatted and neat assignment.

   Side note: Running low on funds, Son of Citation is a free reference and in-text citation program, but it can be slow with all of the ads that pop up to hog CPU cycles. Lastly, if you create an account, they will save your reference history, which can come in handy in other classes.

4)Use an app called to block the noise and put you in the right state of mind for all your student tasks. Also, when you need a break, they have guided meditations or tunes that can put you at ease.
(Cassolato, 2018)

  Pro-Tip: Try it out first with their free trial, and if you like it, I recommend going for the yearly subscription because it saves you money and lets you forget about it for 365 days. Believe me, if you like it, you will use it for all your papers and projects.

   Side note: They use patented neuromodulation to help put you in the right frame for different tasks: reading, light or deep work, learning, and creativity.  

5)Buy or rent e-books. While nothing can replace the feel of a paperback, nothing can beat the speed of an e-book. In addition, having the capacity to search the entire textbook for keywords or passages is invaluable. Another feature where e-books win out against paper is the capability of highlighting on your iPhone (I did this while walking on the treadmill) and seeing that highlight on your Mac. Also, there is the superb function of having Siri read the text as if it was an audiobook; excellent when multi-tasking.
(Capucine, 2018)

  Side note: Most e-books are cheaper than their paperback counterparts. Also, I found that nearly every e-book is open for rent, but most importantly, they are available for download immediately; goodbye snail-mail.

6)Invest in a portable screen and a laptop stand. Not only will this increase your screen real estate, but it will also keep you mobile when you need to be on the go and enjoy your stationary periods in comfort. Neck and eye strain are real; if you can mitigate them, then do so. The last thing you need as a student is to be walking around campus like a stiff board or writing your capstone papers like one.
(Tranmautritam, 2017)
   Finally, I loved my time in Grad school and am very proud that I decided to take on the challenge. I wish you the best in your academic endeavors and hope these tips aid you in your quest to become a little bit better than you are today.

Capucine, Henry. “Perfecto Capucine - Photography.” Pexels, Pexels, 25 May 2018,

Cassolato, David. "David Cassolato - Photography." Pexels, Pexels, 16 Jan. 2018,

Chung, Zen. "Zen Chung - Photography." Pexels, Pexels, 14 Sept. 2020,

Nourbash, Aisan. “Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.” Pexels, Pexels, 8 Oct. 2018,

Sahoo, Abhilash. "Photo by Abhilash Sahoo on Pexels." Pexels, Pexels, 9 May 2020,

Samkov, Ivan. “Ivan Samkov - Photography.” Pexels, Pexels, 15 Sept. 2020,

Tranmautritam. “Photo by Tranmautritam on Pexels.” Pexels, Pexels, 13 Feb. 2017,

Justin Pierce, MPS-CRM, CEH, CNDANASA Senior Cybersecurity Engineer
Dream not of today. ~ Jean-Luc Picard

Comments (2)

Justin Pierce, MPS-CRM, CEH, CNDANASA Senior Cybersecurity Engineer


Hi David,

I thought the same thing. ;) It looks like the editor is showing the spaces, but they get dropped somewhere in the conversion process.

Below is what the editor is showing. If you compare this picture to the final article, you'll notice that the spacings are gone.
Justin Pierce, MPS-CRM, CEH, CNDANASA Senior Cybersecurity Engineer


Hi David,

That did it! The font I imported into the editor was standard for Pages but wasn't the "normal" font the editor needed. Thanks for the kind words, btw, and have a great rest of the day.


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