For a long time doing Bible study on a Mac meant getting Accordance Bible Software, a couple of lesser known programs without a lot of support for current Bible translations and resources, or installing something like Parallels software to run Windows Bible study software on a Mac. Today, there’s a number of great Mac Bible study programs that run fine on OS X.

Search the Mac App Store and there’s still not a lot of quality there, but that’s alright. Go directly to the source and download the programs below that don’t show up in the app store and start enjoying some excellent Mac Bible study software. To make this list, the program must run as a real Mac app, not a Windows app using emulation software like WINE.

Here are the 5 best Mac Bible study programs in alphabetical order.

Accordance Bible Software

accordance Bible software

Long the standard for Bible study on a Mac, Accordance 11 from Accordance Bible Software offers a rich, powerful package with everything a user might need or even want in Bible software. Some of the best features we get with Accordance include:

  • A true Mac program without any Windows code ported over using WINE or some other overlay
  • Speed with power in one package
  • Excellent search features
  • Original language study
  • Extensive options for screen layout

Learning to use Accordance will take some time, but the company offers some free training to help new users. Mastering Accordance takes time because it’s not simple to figure out. For example, entering a Bible verse may take the user to that verse, but it may not, depending on how the user enters it. Sound confusing? It can be.

Also, sometimes the program displays one verse at a time or it shows the verse in context of a few verses or a chapter or more. The user must learn how to change the settings to make it show what the person wants to see.

Despite the complexity, Accordance is a great program. It offers all of my favorite features in a single, powerful Mac Bible study program, including a feature filled notes tool, lots of top-flight digital content and quick and powerful navigation.

accordance bible lands photo guide

One lesser known feature includes some of the best multimedia content. The company produces what they call the Bible Lands Photo Guide with pictures taken on site in Israel. There’s also a nice collection of artwork centered around Bible topics and passages.

The program relies on Dropbox for syncing user content, which isn’t idea. However, it’s available if needed. The new iPad app also syncs via Dropbox or direct sync over Wi-Fi, but this requires a manual connection between the Mac and iOS app while they’re sharing the same network.

Accordance doesn’t come cheap. They sell Collections starting with the Starter Collection at $59.90, but it doesn’t include a lot. There isn’t much multimedia content and only has the ESV and KJV plus a few older public domain translations. We only get is the IVP New Testament Commentary plus a few public domain commentaries and references. The other Collections include:

  • Bible Study – $199
  • Original Languages – $299
  • Essential – $499
  • Advanced – $999
  • Ultimate – $1,999

Of those, the real bang for the buck is the Essential Collection, if you can afford $500. If not, start with the Original Languages Collection and upgrade as soon as you can afford to. Accordance also offers payment plans.

Buyers can get it directly from Accordance or from the Mac App Store for $50, but I don’t recommend that route since it’s not updated as quickly as the version they sell on their site.


Bible Study from Olive Tree

Olive Tree Bible Study App

Olive Tree’s started in mobile Bible software early on, but recently Harper Collins bought them. The company still keeps their mobile apps fresh and now makes a Windows and Mac version. It’s one of the few decent Bible apps available in the Mac App Store.

Olive Tree’s Mac Bible Study program runs on Apple OS X and provides Apple fans a great native Mac app that runs quickly.

The library of digital books available from Olive Tree makes this an intriguing solution. However, it’s not just a simple book reader. Multiple features make it an excellent option for users. Here’s a few of the reasons I put it on this list of the best Mac Bible study programs.

olive tree bible study app resource guide

First, the program runs with speed, offers a healthy library of books, and uses a simple user-interface. The Bible Study app from Olive Tree quickly shows users content about a given passage in the Resource Guide, which opens on the right side of the screen. It lists all the resource in a user’s library that include information about the passage displayed on left. Users can customize what it shows. See the customization option in the screenshot below.

olive tree resource guide preferences

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the Resource Guide tab from inside Preferences and there’s a link to the company’s online store where users can buy more books. The bookstore opens inside the Olive Tree Bible Study App window. I like that the store’s there if you want it, but it stays out of the way until you do. There’s also a link on the at the bottom of the Library sidebar on the left.

olive tree store inside bible study app

Olive Tree’s Bible Study App includes all the basics expected in a Bible Study program including…

  • Simple and complex search
  • Easy navigation in books
  • Notes features
  • Syncing to backup notes, highlights, and bookmarks

olive tree quick details

One more useful feature shows up in the lower left corner of the app. Hover over a hyperlink and the information that link points to shows up in the Quick Details section. In the example above, I hovered over the word Prophecy in 1 Corinthians 13:2 in the NASB with Strong’s Bible. It quickly showed the Strong’s Dictionary entry for that word. There’s a tiny scroll bar that lets you move up and down in longer entries. Unfortunately, it’s not resizeable.

Bible Glo Premium

glo bible premium media

I only include Bible Glo Premium because of the rich media content that the program includes. Also, it’s available on the Mac App Store for only $34.99. The rest of the app looks beautiful, but doesn’t offer as much for advanced Bible study. The media along makes it worth the cost.

Logos Bible Software

logos 6 from faithlife

One of the most complex and feature filled programs comes from Faithlife. That’s the new name of the company that sells Logos Bible Software.

Subscribe to our Theotek Podcast on YouTube in video format or in audio format on iTunes or Stitcher Radio.

Logos recently received a major update to Logos 6 and we enjoyed a live demo from Faithlife’s Sean Boisen on the Theotek Podcast. You can watch the demo below.

There’s too much in Logos to give a comprehensive overview, but let’s start with the first of my three favorite features in Logos, the Guides.

The Passage Guide is what enticed me to first buy Logos 3 many years ago. Use it by entering a passage into the search box (see the red box on the top left of the image below) or from the Home Screen. Logos searches your library for information related to that passage. The Guide searches the following kinds of books by default:

  • Commentaries
  • Journals
  • Cross References
  • Ancient Literature
  • Parallel Passages
  • Cultural Concepts
  • Outlines
  • Biblical People, Places, Things, and Events
  • Media Resources
  • Logos Media
  • Atlas
  • Music
  • Topics
  • Illustrations
  • Interesting Words
  • Compare Versions
  • Sermons
  • Bookstore
  • Gracewaymedia.com
  • Sermonaudio.com
  • Sermons.Logos.com
  • Sermoncentral.com

That’s a lot of content. Your results may not include everything on this list. Only the groups that include books in the user’s library will show up in the results. Also, the last few come from websites.

logos passage guide

The Passage Guide shows the results in a long list, as seen above. There’s an arrow that points to the right when that section is closed (see the red arrow on the left above). Click it to open that section and the program will search those books of that kind.

Users can add other sections by clicking on the Add drop down link in the upper right corner of the Passage Guide window. See the arrow pointing to it in the upper right of the above image.

Other Logos Guides include the Exegetical Guide, focused on original language study, the Sermon Starter Guide, for finding content to put in a sermon or Bible study, and the Topical Guide, which searches the library by topic instead of passage. Find them all from the Tools menu.

logos copy bible verses

The Copy Bible Verses tool seems like a mundane feature to highlight, especially when a Logos user considers the hundreds of awesome tools. Yet, people copy the Bible into their documents for creating sermon preaching notes, Bible studies, books or any other document created about the Bible. This tool makes it so easy.

The Copy Bible Verses tool grabs the verses the user selects or enters into the dialog box at the top of the window. It can copy from Bibles or other books and place the text on the clipboard for manually pasting into another program or it will automatically format it and paste it into certain programs on the Mac.

logos copy bible verses tool

The feature works with Microsoft Word and the following:

  • Textedit
  • Pages
  • Keynote
  • Proclaim (their worship presentation software)
  • PowerPoint
  • LibreOffice Writer

Logos Data Sets give users detailed information about their passages. This makes it easy to understand the Bible and therefore teach the word. One of the newest that came out in Logos 6 is the Factbook. It gives details about people, places, geographical information and more. See it below.

factbook in logos

The above example shows Bethlehem (of Judea). We get media like maps, images and such. Then we find dictionary entries and references to the place in the Bible. You can’t see the other items in the Factbook list related to this entry. We get Hebrew and Greek Lemmas, a list of library search results from the Logos library, community tags, and more.

PocketBible for Mac OS X

pocketbible for mac

Laridian also got an early start in mobile Bible software. I first used PocketBible on a Palm and then Pocket PC PDA. They branched out to iOS and Android. Their Windows program is a simple tool, but they recently did a Kickstarter campaign to see how many users would want PocketBible on a Mac. The campaign successfully got funded and they produced the program.

PocketBible doesn’t look as pretty as some of these, but it’s simple and fast. It includes a great search feature and a nice collection of books. The designers paid close attention to the layout tool making it easy to set things up quickly to organize the open books.

Along the left we see a mult-use window called the Study Panel that includes tabs for easily navigating the main features in PocketBible. Search, manage bookmarks, highlights and notes, and quickly navigate to a passage.

PocketBible takes advantage of their built-in Cloud Sync to keep multiple machines or devices up to date with the user’s latest information.



15 thoughts on “5 Best Mac Bible Study Programs [Video]

  1. _e-Sword X_ is available for the Mac. Released 20 March 2015. US$9.99 in the Mac Store.
    Currently, you’ll have to convert the resources from e-Sword (Windows) format to e-Sword4iOS format, but Rick does provide a conversion tool.

    _Eloquent_ is The Crosswire Bible Society’s front end for the Mac. This program is both libre and gratis. Download from SourceForge. (I don’t know if it is also available in the Mac Store.)

    “Best” is a tradeoff of resources, features, functions, and price.
    Nonetheless, between those 7, one should find at least one program that meets most, if not all of the criteria that one has.

    1. Thanks for the heads up Jonathon. I didn’t notice it when I looked again before writing this. I will give it a try. I love e-Sword as a Windows tool. Hopefully I’ll love it as a Mac app too.

  2. Kevin, I hope that you’ve come to know me well enough in our encounters online and through email over the years to receive a couple of points of rebuttal below in charity, knowing that I absolutely do not say anything in a spirit of animosity or argumentativeness. I merely want to try to present a couple of things you wrote about Accordance from a different perspective.

    You refer to Accordance as difficult to learn a few times in your post. Granted, some will say I’m biased since I work for Accordance, but I would actually suggest that Accordance is easier to learn -from scratch- than Logos. What is difficult for many people coming from other software is that Accordance may not work exactly the same way they’re used to in other programs.

    Any professional piece of software is complex enough to have a learning curve. No one is going to jump into Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro and have either mastered in one day. Any professional software program is going to require a certain amount of investment of time from the user to properly learn it. The same is true of programs like Logos or Accordance; but in my experience, most of the people who want to say Accordance is more difficult to learn than Logos are people who are coming to Accordance after using Logos.

    Regardless of whom I work for, I have a significant personal investment in the software from both companies, so I believe that I can speak to this with some level of experience.

    Consider, for example, the interfaces of both programs. Beginning with Logos 4 and continuing today with Logos 6, the company now called Faithlife made the decision to remove the traditional menu system that had been present in previous versions (note that the Mac interface requires menus, but the menus in the Mac port of Logos, a Mono-translated implementation of a .Net Windows application, does not significantly add to the way the user interacts with the program). In Logos 4-6, if a user really wants to get to the more powerful features of the software, he or she will need to use the command line at the top of the application.

    To effectively use the command line in Logos 4-6, the user has to learn/memorize the syntax and keyboard shortcuts for the program. Morris Proctor sells “QuickCard” sets for $25 and mousepads for $10 that lists various shortcuts that a user needs to know or reference to adequately use Logos.

    Keyboard shortcuts are certainly something we’ve implemented into Accordance, and as any longtime computer user knows, shortcuts can speed up the process of using any software. However, the Accordance user does not have to memorize any shortcuts or specific command syntaxes to really access the power of the software. -Everything- is accessible from the menu system in the software. If a user wanted to perform an advanced grammatical search in the Greek New Testament in Accordance, everything is accessible from the menu system. In Logos there is no real menu system. Unless you’ve memorized everything or have a QuickCard or shortcut mousepad, you’re digging through the Help System (I could speak to the differences in the Help systems in Logos vs. Accordance, but I’ll save that for another time).

    Speaking of Morris Proctor, the authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software, he holds “Camp Logos” training sessions that last up to three days (one of these three-day sessions is being held next month near where I live) for anywhere from $225 to $400 based upon the level of training a user wants to receive–an investment on top of what has already been spent for the software itself. Granted Morris Proctor’s services are a separate business entity from Faithlife, but a Logos customer is going to have to really spend quite a bit of money to get fully up to speed on the software.

    Now compare the above with Accordance Training Seminars. Our free seminars cover the entire program in one day. I’ve taught a number of these myself over the years, and while we don’t cover absolutely everything, one day seems optimum so as not to overwhelm the user. If our software is more complex than Logos, why does Logos need three days to cover (in two separate track levels, no less) what we do in one?

    One more thing…you suggested that Accordance is expensive. Your exact words were “Accordance doesn’t come cheap.” I didn’t see you refer to Logos pricing anywhere in your post. Let me point out a couple of differences between the cost of using both.

    With Accordance, it doesn’t matter whether a person purchases the $2000 Ultimate Collection or the $60 Starter Collection, the user will have access to ALL features of the software. This simply cannot be said for Logos. While they like to promote their software as free, when Logos 6 came out in October 2014, it was only available for those who purchased a base package. It was not available as a “free” upgrade to new users until February of 2015. Moreover, to access ALL the datasets and features of Logos 6, a user has to have purchased at minimum the Gold level, which is $1550 for a new user! And it doesn’t matter if a Logos 5 Gold user waited until February 2015 to upgrade for free to v. 6, the v. 5 Gold base package would not qualify for all features and datasets of v. 6. It would still cost hundreds of dollars to upgrade to a v. 6 Gold level package to gain all features of v. 6.

    When Accordance 11 was released, it did not matter what Collection the user had. A user could upgrade for as low as around $50 or so and gain ALL features of Accordance 11.

    So between Accordance and Logos, which one doesn’t come cheap? I’d suggest that it’s much more expensive for both buy in and to maintain Logos than it is for Accordance.

    Kevin, I don’t want you to think of Accordance as being complex. I am extending to you an open invitation to contact me anytime you have a question, and I’ll even be willing to give you free one-on-one demonstrations via screenshare at a time we can agree on. However, if you ever have opportunity to attend one of our free all-day training sessions, I highly encourage you to come join us.

    1. Correction: in the fourth paragraph from the bottom, what I intended to write was : “…when Logos 6 came out in October 2014, it was only available for this who purchased a v. 6 based package. It was not available as a ‘free’ upgrade to previous users until February of 2015.”

  3. Owning Logos, Olive Tree, E-Sword and Online Bible (OLB) and having tested Accordance, I must say I was surprised that you did not include Online Bible on your list. For me, it is the best Mac Bible software. It has a native Mac version (as well as a Windows and Linux version), and an Android/iOS version. It beats all of the above for price (except Bible Glo), and probably beats them all in terms of speed. Certainly it beats Logos. I have tried Logos repeatedly with the hope that maybe there must be something I was missing. But I always come to the same conclusion — that it is clunky, difficult to learn, and slow. The fact that Logos actually offers classes on how to use its software is all one needs to say. Logos remains, in my mind at least, as a badly ported piece of Windows software that is not intuitiive. One must pay a lot for Logos just to get the functionality of Greek and Hebrew defintions, while that is a standard one-click function for OLB. The standard set of commentaries that comes with OLB costs hundreds of dollars for the equivalent in Logos. The one great fault of OLB is that it does not, alas, allow the user to add different and more modern commentaries. This is where supplemental software like Olive Tree comes in handy. Olive Tree is much more clean and is a true Mac app, as opposed to Logos, IMHO. OLB has also two other features that others lack: It is available in many more languages and interfaces (by far) than any other, and it has special misisonary pricing. Note also that OLB has, in effect, two Mac versions: one is a WINE emulation that gives the user access to all of the rather voluminous user-supplied material on the Windows site. The other is a native Mac version that works much more cleanly and is the one I use, although it does not have access to the Windows library of OLB material. Here are the two websites, followed by the App store link for the OLB mobile app:
    http://www.onlinebible.net (Windows and WINE versions)
    http://www.onlinebible.us/maconlinebible.html (Native Mac version)
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/online-bible/id689283051?mt=8 (mobile version)

    1. Kerby, I would affirm Kevin’s selections even after your admirable defense of Online Bible. Incidentally, Online Bible was the first Bible software I ever owned, getting a stack of 5.25″ DOS floppies back around 1989 or so. So I have a nostalgic soft spot for it, but I can’t imagine recommending it to anyone over these other items that Kevin described.

      Ultimately, Online Bible is seriously constrained. Most of the reference works to go with it are public domain. Does anyone actually -choose- to use Thayers lexicon, which is sorely out of date, over a more modern lexicon?

      There is no way to add the most current academic commentaries that incorporate the latest archaeological and linguistic findings. Offerings pertaining to the Church Fathers and Reformers are very limited or non-existent. There is no real way to compare biblical texts to Dead Sea Scrolls, and there’s no opportunity for textual criticism.

      I didn’t see the NIV or a Nestle-Aland/UBS Greek text, unless I just missed them. The omission of the latter is a really serious deficiency in my opinion.

      To gain access to the best titles for the Online Bible, you have to purchase a CD; but the last time I bought a computer that came with an optical drive was in 2008. This means no late-Saturday-night add-on purchases to find that final piece of information you need.

      I have no doubt that Online Bible is of great benefit to many computer users, especially those on a limited budget. However, it simply does not have the resources and capabilities expected of Bible software in 2015. A slightly larger investment in even the lower base packages of the other platforms Kevin suggested would better serve students of the Bible who prefer to work with digitized texts.

    2. Glad you mentioned Online Bible. I use the native Mac version and when I need quick searches and quick Strong’s reference, it is often my go to. But as THISLAMP mentions there are severe limitations and when I know I will need to go deeper, I choose Olive Tree or Logos. Since I work a lot with German and Slavic languages (and occasionally others), I love the various languages in Online – although it is difficult to get recent versions. But the price is great. But in the area of various languages Olive Tree is even better. And this is where Logos is non existent unless you go with the German version where you need to start from scratch and pay a huge amount of money. I also started with the floppies for Online Bible.

  4. I’m making an initial search of what program I would need to write my own NT paraphrase while comparing existing versions. I have over 600 translations and paraphrases in my collection, and have some large three-ring notebooks where I’ve recorded interesting variants on verses as I read them. I’m gradually concocting my own personal paraphrase without going to the original languages. I retell the verse in question after comparing many renderings. I could continue doing it this way, substituting entering my rendering into a text file rather than on paper, but thought maybe I could find a program with several versions where I could 1) add other renderings and 2) add my rendering where my “version” could be extracted in its entirety at any point. Any suggestions?

    1. If the only thing that you are looking for is multiple translations, then any of the major Bible study programs will work. Almost all of them have a number of translations to choose from. For the most cost-effective option look at e-Sword.

      1. Thanks. The main requirement is to ultimately be able to extract only my paraphrase (in the notes or wherever) as a word, text and/or pdf file, after having typed it in verse by verse while consulting multiple translations. I don’t know if the programs all have that capability.

        1. In that case take a look at Bibleworks. It saves note files as RTF files easily editable in most word processors including Word.

    2. Years ago I switched to the free software The Word Bible Software (theword.net), and I have never gone back. It is very flexible and easy to create your own modules as well as insert pictures into the modules. Just love the program! My Bible study system is to make my own commentary module (or book module as desired); I copy the original text of a chapter into the module and do grammatical analysis, including the strong´s numbers as well as the TVM. I can easily copy in comments from my books and commentaries. And you can make your own comments at will. Right now I have a 300mb illustrated Bible commentary module that syncs across my devices in Dropbox. I also have Bibleworks and Logos, but in my opinion there´s no comparison as to versatility and ease of use. And there is a large repository of free and paid modules out there. True, it is not as commercial as Logos, but my main interest is flexibility in Bible study, not reading books. My goal is to diagram, comment and illustrate the whole Bible, and this program allows me to do so and to use it as a teaching tool at the same time.

  5. Find your post in 2016. Thanks Kevin for the post.

    I had only tried 2 of programs in your list – Logos and Olive Tree. To be honest the Logos interface design look so bad and confusing. In my opinion one of the reason why we want to use computer for bible study rather than the conventional way is because we assume it is easier to do search, comparison, and organization compared with “pen and paper” method. We assumed with this we would spend more time in understanding the scripture rather than sorting materials out and lay out them in front of us.

    Complicated interface would only add unnecessary step to this process – so now instead of dig in directly into the Scripture we have to figure out how to operate the tools.

    I would humbly suggest for the Logos programmers looking it from a “common people” point of view. I am sure there are ways to simplified things.

    My background is building economic models in computer that will be run through Monte Carlo simulation. So i understand to it is a challenge to make programs/models as simple and as straight forward as it could be without sacrificing clarity. I hope Logos (or any bible-software companies) will think about is, so at the end, through them, people’s love for bible studying could be improved.

    PS: for the record – i finally settle to “pen and paper” method :D.

  6. Can someone point to a 2020 equivalent version of this article. I notice that some of the apps listed here are no longer supported by the Mac OS now released. So where are things now?

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