(Digital) Tools of the trade

The following items may be useful to current IDS students in the development, research, and authoring of their thesis.

Writing Software


  • Free, drop-in replacement for Microsoft Office
  • Open source (You can get it for free without stealing it).
  • Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Writing environment using unique full-screen writing to allow you to stay on task.
  • Import all of your sources into the one project to have everything you need at hand.
  • Not free (reduced price for students)
  • Windows, Mac, Linux (beta)

Data Backup


  • Fully encrypted, reliable data storage and backup, essential in areas where viruses, theft and weather threaten your computer.
  • Ability to sync and share files
  • 3GB free storage (must use referral link above, otherwise 2GB)
  • Students pay half the regular price for storage.
  • Free client
  • Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Store files in a single ‘Dropbox’ folder to be uploaded to the cloud
  • Sync files between computers
  • Highly recommended to be used with an encryption solution below.


  • Offline backup, encryption and compression software
  • Runs from a USB device or hard drive
  • Windows, Linux (with Wine)

Data Encyption


  • On the fly encryption
  • Encrypt entire disks, partitions, or make encrypted virtual ‘container drives’
  • Excellent documentation
  • Free, Open Source
  • Windows, Mac, Linux


  • File encryption software for individual files
  • Compress, encrypt, decrypt, store, send
  • Free, Open Source
  • Windows Only


  • See above (backup)

Transcription Software

Express Scribe

  • Allows for speed control of audio file during transcription using keyboard media keys.
  • Free version (Pro version not free)
  • Windows, Mac

TAMS Analyzer

  • See below (QDA)

Reference Management


  • Citations manager, allows you to save citation information, and sync it to Zotero servers.
  • Plug-in for MS Office and LibreOffice allows direct insertion of citations and bibliography (automatically formatted).
  • Available as a Firefox add-on or a Standalone Program (beta – recommended).
  • Free
  • Windows, Mac, Linux


  • Online citations manager, allows you to save citation information and generate bibliographies.
  • No need to install, works from your web-browser.
  • Available free to U of T Students

Qualitative Data Analysis

Weft QDA

  • QDA software allowing you to code documents in .pdf or .txt format.
  • Poor support for PDF formatting
  • Open source (You can get it for free without stealing it; note that development has halted on this product).
  • Windows, Linux (requires compilation)

TAMS Analyzer

  • QDA software
  • Text, PDF, and image support
  • Built-in transcription software
  • Open Source
  • Mac, Linux


  • Professional QDA Software allowing you to code documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, audio, video and pictures.
  • Not free (reduced price for students)
  • Windows, Mac (via Bootcamp or a VM)