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Bible Apps for Mac

by MBG


Updated 7-21-12

One of the first issues I had after switching to a Mac was finding software. Many programs, including my favorite Bible program E-Sword, were simply not available for the Mac. It was quite a learning curve to say the least.

I really like the addition of the App Store to OSX 10.6, and it has helped with me to find great software. However, Bible software is the one area I have struggled to find adequate software. Even after a year of searching I have yet to find an application that I have embraced.

In this article, I’d like to list the Bible applications available for the Mac, focusing primarily on free ones. I’ll give some basic information and my general opinion of them.

I realize that my need and wants are not going to be same as many people’s. To give you a basic idea of what I’m looking for, here’s some features I am looking for:

So here’s the run down, in alphabetical order:


A-Bible

A-Bible's title is short for "Asia Bible". It is very evident that the main audience for this app are from that area. There are a lot of features for Japanese, Korean, and Chinese users. There is a version also available on Windows.

Unfortunately, I'm just a simple English speaker. So that means that there are a lot of things about A-Bible that just do not apply to me. Using the demo you get the feeling that English is really more of a feature than a focus. Every default is set to a Japanese (I think) version and some example text in the Preferences is not English.

I'm not griping at all about the language issues. The developer is very much up front about what the software is and who it is for. If you need this type of multiple language support then I think this is the app for you. For basic English-only use I would look elsewhere because there just isn't enough differentiation between its English study features and some of the free offerings.


A-Bible Manna

From the makers of A-Bible, this is a daily Bible reading app. It has better features and options than the other Mac App Store offering Daily Bible. Like A-Bible it has a lot of features relevant to languages like Japanese and Chinese.

I don't see much use in apps like this, but right now if I did want a daily Bible reading app on my Mac I would use this one.


Accordance <--- RECOMMENDED

Accordance is probably the premier Mac-only Bible study tool. The price tag will probably scare away most customers though. I’m not sure why a free version with very limited tools couldn’t be released. The demo gives you most of the features of the full version, the main limit is that it closes after sixty minutes of use.

Accordance appears to be a very good option with a strong community of users. The interface is one of the best I used in this survey, and one of the few that makes serious study possible. I think it is a little too advanced perhaps for the casual user but has all the features I am looking for.

The biggest limit to me is the price tag. It is difficult for me to shell out premium money for mostly public domain works. Most of these add-ons and features are free in other programs. However, the interface and features make Accordance one of the only real choices for study.


Accordance: Scholar's Edition

I'm glad to see a version of Accordance in the App Store. I kind of wish it wasn't $200 and Lion (10.7) only. See the review of Accordance for more thoughts on this product.


Alkitab

Alkitab (from an Indonesian word for “Bible”) is a free application based mainly on the JSword project. There are multiple projects based on the Sword Project, including Bible Desktop. The developing company is called KIYUT that is based in Indonesia.

Alkitab is a bare-bones approach to Bible study software. It is definitely usable to do simple searches, but I doubt you will get much serious study done with it. There are many included commentaries and such, but they do not tie in to the verses you are viewing in the Bible.

Overall, Alkitab is serviceable for light use and fairly simple to use for simple Bible searches. For more serious use, including any use of commentaries, look elsewhere.


Bible 360 Premium

From the makers of Glo, it is more of multimedia experience than a study tool. I'm not sure what differentiates this offering from the Glo products as it looks exactly the same as Glo Premium. See the review for Glo for more info.


Bible Analyzer <--- RECOMMENDED

I just became aware of this app which I think just became available on the Mac after being available on Windows and Linux. The design of the app reflects that it is a port and not completely native, but I don't think it is terrible. This app has a lot of really neat features, including text-to-speech and lots of reasonably priced add-ons ( a quick look tells me that many of which are public domain).

I think this app is worth a look. You get a reasonably powerful app with acceptable references for a great price tag - FREE! There a good add-ons available that are priced very reasonable. My only real complaint is in the design with is far from pretty in my opinion. Can use a little work (the "About" command in the menu bar does nothing, etc.) that I hope could be ironed out in future updates.


Bible App

Very basic Bible study app catered to Catholics. It boasts three features: search, version comparison, and 20+ translations (I think all of the offered versions are public domain by the way). You can get those features for free in other offerings. Other than for its iBooks-like UI I'm not sure what kind of saving grace this app could have. I'm not spending $10 to see if a weak feature list with freely available texts is worth a look.


BibleCalendar

A combination calendar, solar and lunar schedules, and KJV text. Why??? Not even sure who the target audience is on this.


Bible Desktop

Like Alkitab, Bible Desktop is based on the Sword Project. It is available on multiple platforms.

Bible Desktop is basically the same as Alkitab in a different layout. The same basic features such as search are very much usable, but don’t expect to do much heavy studying with it.

Bible Desktop is light and usable for VERY simple usage such as quick searches and copying/pasting verses. Look elsewhere if you want to do anything resembling studying.


Bible Glo

Same as Glo, but available on the Mac App Store. It is more of multimedia experience than a study tool. Practically useless in my opinion, as it seems to be a demo for the Premium version. See the review for Glo for more info.


Bible Glo Premium

Same as Glo Premium, but available on the Mac App Store. It is more of multimedia experience than a study tool. At least they dropped the price somewhat from the version available on their website. See the review for Glo for more info.


Bible+

I'm familiar with Olive Tree's software from as far back as Palm OS and have used and been pleased with their offerings. I have played with their iOS apps and liked them.

My biggest problem at this time is that Bible Reader is Lion (10.7) only and does not support Snow Leopard (10.6) which I still have on my Mac mini. I'd love to try it but I can't.

From what I know about the quality of Olive Tree's other offerings past and present, plus the price tag of FREE, I'd give this one a shot if you have a more up to date Mac than I do. It will probably be great for basic study needs.


Bible Explorer

Bible Explorer is a free download from the makers of WORDsearch. It is available on Windows and Mac.

First of all, my technical gripes. I was required to restart on installation, which is really just an annoyance. Next, Bible Explorer uses the X11 windows system, which is an even bigger annoyance. Next, no Bible or books come preinstalled, which is only a slight annoyance.

In the end, Bible Explorer is a very limited compared the company’s more powerful offering WORDsearch. It may be a decent piece of software, but it feels too much like a bad port of a Windows 98 application.


Bible Sander

Not a Bible study app, but an overpriced tool that lets you clean up copied text copied from other Bible study software. It is an interesting idea and I can say that I could have used it in the past. However, you can find text to copy with all of the markup (verse numbers, study references, etc.) and I don't see getting $13 worth of benefit from this app. $.99 or even free would be a better price to have it in case you needed it. Otherwise if you are spending a lot of time reformatting copied text from Bible Study software I would look to see if that software features a better copy/export option or find a free source online for the text you need that is formatted cleaner.


The Bible Scholar ULTIMATE

A collection of public domain study tools with no Bible text(?) Based on the minuscule download size I suspect the texts aren't included in the download and this is a front for a website. Not sure why I'd bother with it since many online sources have these same public domain books for free.

The same developer sells a number of these resources individually for $1.99 each. Just wanted to mention it. Definitely not recommended them.


Bible Works

This software is supposed to be THE choice for studying in the original languages or in translation work. They have a Mac port in development, and if you are already a registered user with the proper DVDs you can download and use a beta version for $6.


Bible Verse

A daily verse app. Supposedly on sale for $1.99 from a regular price of $5.99, and there is a free "lite" version. Either is way to much in my humble opinion.


Daily Bible

This one is really a stretch to even be included, but it is the first Bible program to be listed in the Mac App Store. It is designed with one thing in mind: reading through the Bible in a year’s time according to one of three plans. I’m really not sure how useful it would be to anyone unless you just enjoy reading for 15+ minutes a day on your computer monitor. If I were going to get an app like this I would go for A-Bible Manna which is also in the App Store.


Daily Bible and Daily Bible Pro

This app displays a "daily Bible Verse" (or prayer or thought or something according to screenshots). I don't get anything from these types of apps personally but understand there is a market for them.


Desktop Verse

An app that puts a Bible verse on your desktop. I'm sure it appeals to someone but it doesn't to me.


Divine Office

This is not a Bible study app, but it comes up when searching the App Store for "Bible". It is something of a Catholic devotional or prayer book.


Eloquent

Formerly titled MacSword, this project is also based on the Sword Project like Alkitab and Bible Desktop. It is far superior to those two offerings, but is still far from user friendly in my opinion. I have used this one more than any other, but that isn’t saying much.

I think that if someone spent some time to learn the intricacies of this program then it may be useful. I’ve really only been able to use it for very basic reading and very light study.


Glo

Glo is meant to be more of an experience than a study tool. The graphics and UI are really beautiful, but the features are very limited in the “Lite” version. You can read the Bible and view some maps and pictures, but that’s about it. The premium version retails I believe for $70 and is available in the Mac App Store. You’d have to go for the Premium version to get anything out of it.


iLumina

This is an outdated title that sometimes appears in searches for Mac Bible apps. I’m not very familiar with it since there is no demo version available. Seems to have been a while since the last update.


Online Bible

I recall a day when the Online Bible was one of the more popular software names I heard. That day has long since past. This is about as primitive as an interface can be. It does seem to have some power behind it and there are some features that are pretty good, but I can’t help but feel that I am using something from fifteen years ago.


Logos

I have heard many people say that Logos is the best software around for Bible study. I think they changed their business model since the first time I tried to review it. The base "engine" is a free download, but basically everything costs you beyond that. The KJV is $10. Matthew Henry's commentary is $20. Both of these examples are public domain (here in the USA at least) and are examples of resources many other options give you for free. The prices for Logos resources are comparable to premium print prices. I might give it another try in the future, but seems too expensive for me.


Presence

An app that displays from over 100 quotes from "The Practice and Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence ar random times on you Mac. First, why? Second, who would want this? It came up by searching for "Bible" on the Mac App Store so I'm including it because there is not other reason that I should.


River Bible

Another app I can't review because it requires a newer version of OS X (10.7 to be exact). Looks like it has only three resources: KJV, World English Bible, and Strong's (for $5 in-app purchase). I think you can do more with free options.


RT Bible

A barebones KJV search app. Basic search is a must for me when it comes to Bible software and this app does it well I believe. It is currently free but the developer may eventually put it in the App Store for a nominal price. I'd pay for it to support its continued development.


Strong's Concordance

Another app I can't review because it requires OS X 10.7+. Looks nice from the screenshots but $10 is a but pricy for such basic features.


QuickVerse

I had bad experiences with QuickVerse dating back to my days using Windows 95. I was pretty desperate to try to find a decent Mac Bible app and I just happen to find a copy of this software at Half Price Books. Total waste of money.

The interface is not user friendly. The Bible text only display in paragraph form with absolutely no option to have it displayed as one verse per line. The pricier versions may be better (I hope they are), but I doubt I ever try them again.


WORDsearch

WORDsearch is the premium offering from the makers of Bible Explorer. There is no demo or trial, but if it is anything like Bible Explorer then you can’t count me out. From the looks of the information on the website it suffers from the same problems, including the use of X11 and WINE. It just looks like another example of a poorly ported Windows app.


ArabBible

If you are an English speaking AND want to study the Bible in Arabic AND willing to part with $90... this is the app for you!!!


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