Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only]

Jeffry Thurana 05-07-2009

School can be one of the best things that ever happens in someone’s life. Or it can be the worst. There are always the teachers who think that their job is to make a student’s life miserable, the boring textbooks which are thicker than Harry Potter’s series, the never ending papers and assignments and pop quizzes and tests… You get the picture.


Luckily, in this digital age, everybody can turn to their computer for help. There are many applications dedicated to improve your study skills, as well as the overall school experience.

And for those Mac-user students out there, here are five free tools to help you survive, and win.

1. Schoolhouse

Update: No longer available.
The first thing to do to achieve a better academic grades is to organize everything into one easy-to-observe placeholder. Schoolhouse, which dubs itself as “The Homework Manager for The Mac“, is built to do just that. Developed by a student who still lives the life, you can expect this application to be as useful as it should be.

You start the application by creating a new term; give name to it and set the time range of the term.

Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only] 01b schoolhouse new term


Then you gradually add your assignments, tasks and notes to it. You could choose to view all the items by list, week or month, iCal style.

Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only] 01c schoolhouse windows

Schoolhouse also has the ability to link documents and media to the assignments for quick reference, preview all your grades during the term to help you monitor your performance, and automatically publish the assignments to the web so that anyone can subscribe to them.

If it sounds confusing, don’t worry — to help users getting started, this app come with a short PDF manual.


Schoolhouse is like a GTD tool for students, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be useful for non-student users. I find that this app is very useful to manage my writing projects.

2. Genius

One of the biggest traumas of school that still carved in my memory was studying for tests. I was always a “math kind of guy”, so memorizing too many facts and dates always scared me.

I wish I’ve encountered Genius back then. This small app will help anybody with their study skills, particularly how to memorize things easier.

You start with a new blank window. Then, by clicking the ‘+’ button, you can add a question. Insert the answer next to the question.


Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only] 02b genius new subject

After all of the questions and answers have been inserted into the Genius window, you can save the window and start the learning process. Click the green “Study” button, and Genius will pop up a window with a question and the answer while dimming out the other parts of the screen. It will ask you to memorize them.

Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only] 02c genius start studying

Genius then will ask the question again and you have to write the answer. It will alternate between new facts and questions. Genius organizes your information and carefully chooses questions using an intelligent “spaced repetition” method that’s based on your past performance.


You can use Genius to study foreign language phrases, vocabulary words, historical events, legal definitions, formal speeches, marketing points, religious texts, or anything else you need to memorize.

3. ProVoc

It’s always nice to learn a new language. But there’s one obstacle that usually stops almost everybody from learning any language: memorizing the vocabularies.

Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only] 03 provoc s

ProVoc is a free vocabulary trainer that makes learning a language easy. Just download the application and the vocabulary pack(s), and you are ready to go. There is a mountain of vocabulary packs available ranging from German to Dutch to Polish to Russian to Arabic.

ProVoc has the ability to export to an iPod, so you can learn while on the road. You can also print flash cards, use the free Dashboard Widget, and listen to the audio pronunciation of the words.

4. Buddi

The word “student” is often being related to “starving”. This might be an indication that most students are not good in managing their finance.

Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only] 04 buddi

To help with the monetary side, students (and everybody else) can rely on Buddi, a simple and free, open-source money management application. Buddi is Java-based so it can run on any operating system with Java environment installed.

With the financial problem tackled with the help of Buddi, students can focus more on the study.

5. Carbon Copy Cloner

“The dog ate my paper” is a classic excuse for not turning in your assignment. Of course, no teacher will buy it anymore. The modern alternative is “My hard drive crashed and ate everything inside, including my assignment.” But that is also not selling well anymore because we have backup utilities.

Carbon Copy Cloner is one free and powerful alternatives. You can “clone” everything to an external hard drive.

Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only] 05 carbon copy cloner s

6. Bonus tool: [NO LONGER WORKS] is one of the online alternatives for backing up your files. You will get 15 Gigabytes of free online storage on the system (and another additional 5GB for every friend who signs up from your invitation).

Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only] 06 ghost

But is not just about file backup. It is a complete virtual, online operating system. So you will also get an office suite, games, browser and everything that you can expect from an operating system. Why will you need this? Simple — you can access your work and files from any place on earth with just a computer and an internet connection.


One of the new features that I like most is the ability to “side-load” files from web location directly to online storage, and the ability to share them with your friends.

Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only] 06b ghost side load option

The above link will direct you to the page with me as the referrer. If you don’t feel like donating an additional 5 Gigabytes to me, you can go directly to their site.

7. Everything else

There is still so many more applications that can help students to improve study skills and work better. MakeUseOf Directory profiled over 100 tools, covering everything from online dictionaries, chart makers and flash cards to sites for ordering food CampusFood: Order Online from Restaurants Near your Campus Read More from take-aways located near the campus.

Don’t forget to check out articles about online tools for students such as:

10 Online Learning Tools Websites For Students: 10 Online Learning Tools Read More
10 Web Tools To Save Your Butt In School 10+ Web Tools To Save Your Butt In School Read More

We’ve also discussed other free file hosts Top Free File Hosts To Store Your Files Online Read More for free online storage services that can be used by students to keep and share their files.

If you could add more ideas to this short list, be sure to write it down using the comment below.

Related topics: Cloud Storage, Data Backup, Education Technology, Language Learning, Task Management.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Ivar
    January 18, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Does anyone know where I can find the short PDF manual for schoolhouse.
    I can't find it anywhere.

  2. Miguel Wickert
    July 29, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    well done, thanks for sharing. SO, is this service the real deal? Sounds too good to be true? Anyhow, that's not bad.

  3. ashli
    July 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Not free, but a more versatile app since it works on the mac, iphone, ipod, and blackberry. it's cram by simpleleap... It allows you to create custom flashcards and multiple choice tests and share them with others as well as test on your iphone

  4. Melinda Humphrey
    July 11, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    You can also check out this article on associated content

  5. wpshore
    July 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    could someone please remove the very rude "Macs can suck.." - this guy obviously has issues (regardless of how I feel about Macs)

  6. Kate
    July 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Great article, Jeffry! Another great freeware tool is Office Live Workspace from Microsoft--a smart option for storing your files in the cloud. Access your files from any computer with an internet connection, and, with a plug in, automatically back up any of your Microsoft Office files. Check it out at

    As for Mac users, Workspace fully supports Mozilla Firefox on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista, or Mac OS X 10.2.x and later and Safari 3 on Mac OS X 10.2.x and later.

    MSFT Office Live Outreach Team

  7. dude
    July 7, 2009 at 10:08 am

    macs can suck a fat dick

  8. syikin
    July 7, 2009 at 1:10 am

    great article. i'm downloading the ProVoc now and see how good it really is. Thanks for the great tips!

  9. Proteus
    July 6, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Great stuff, but in the further realm of not-Mac-only freeware, Zotero deserves a mention.

  10. jim
    July 6, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    is the title a joke or is the author an idiot? excel at school?

  11. Cheryl
    July 6, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I also want to know if something like Schoolhouse is available for Windows.

  12. josip
    July 6, 2009 at 9:52 am

    @Scott, equation E=mc2 is one of consequences of Einstain's special theory of relativity. Although I cannot see how it's relevant to this article.

  13. joe
    July 6, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Great article but windows equivalent would be great :(

  14. Jeff
    July 6, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I wish I had something like Schoolhouse when I was a student. At the moment there isn't a product I can think of like Schoolhouse for Windows- I'll have to check back to see if anyone finds one.

    Another helpful tool that provides free online storage but is a bit "simpler" than is Office Live Workspace from Microsoft. Yes, it is a Microsoft product, but it works on Macs too because it is web-based. Students can use it to store essays and notes online so that they can access them from any computer, and even collaborate on or share notes with other students.

    MSFT Office Live Outreach

  15. Scott
    July 5, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Well that's going to help with a wrong mark for a start. E=mc2 is not Einsteins theory of Relativity, but his mass to energy equation. Totally unrelated.

    • Chris
      July 7, 2009 at 9:38 am

      While I agree that it's wrong, it's not totally unrelated...

      Anyway, this is one of the less useful 'killer app' lists that I've ever seen. I was expecting a bit more than a planner, a question asker and a backup program.

  16. James
    July 5, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Nice article. Do you know anything like Schoolhouse for Windows?

    • Matt
      July 6, 2009 at 10:41 am

      Outlook + Onenote