Skip to Content
Skip to Table of Contents

← Previous Article Next Article →

ATPM 3.05
May 1997




How To


Download ATPM 3.05

Choose a format:

Review: Three by Five

by Mike Shields,


Product Information
Published By: BCSoftware
Retail Price: $99
[3by52 graphic]

Need your thoughts organized? For any reason? Three by Five, by BCSoftware, provides you with computerized 3x5 cards, as the name implies. So, as with all software, the first thing I did was open the box. I know, I need a new joke here. But, I’m going to keep using this one until you all like it.

Surprisingly, I was greeted with only one installation disk. Installation was quick and smooth, as always. The reason I was surprised? This program does so much, no one should be without it!

For those readers with long memories, this software used to be Corkboard, when BCSoftware was MacToolkit. It was so named because as you create, edit, shuffle, and arrange your cards, they get “pinned” to a virtual corkboard (you can change the pattern if you don’t like the default brown cork).

[3by53 graphic]

The first time you start up the program, you’re greeted with a category window and one stack of cards, ready to go. At this point, nothing is on them. Double-clicking gives you a blank corkboard upon which to tack your cards. There are four types of cards: text, label, picture, and movie. Plus, you can create your own card types, yielding virtually limitless possibilities. New cards are generated by key command or by clicking an icon button on the right hand column of the upper window.

A Text Card has a bold heading and a short description beneath, in plain text.

[3by54 graphic]

A Label Card has a bold heading with no description area.

A Picture Card has a header and you can import any image saved in PICT format.

A Movie Card is similar to the Picture card, except you import QuickTime movies. I wasn’t able to test this one, because I don’t have any movies to import (ironic, isn’t it?).

Included with 3x5 are some Templates for Custom Cards, such as the record template, and the Rolodex template. Plus, you can create your own.

3x5 allows you to do all sorts of wonderful things to individual cards after you’ve created them. You can change the color, font, size or style of text and you can customize the background color of related cards to group them visually.

[3by55 graphic]

If you get tired of the corkboard view, you can display your cards in outline format. This is especially useful for preparing presentations, speeches, etc. 3x5 allows you to define relationships between the cards you create in outline mode. Use this feature to create an Org. Chart with pictures!

As with any piece of good software, 3x5 stands on its own. However, when I used 3x5 as a complement to Final Draft (reviewed in 3.03), it really began to shine. For those who are just tuning in, Final Draft is a screenplay formatting application. 3x5 allows you to import your script’s sluglines and put them in text cards. Conversely, you can create Text Cards in 3x5 and export them to Final Draft. I think I’ve found a new way to write a screenplay. You can easily move cards around. You don’t like this scene here? Move it so it follows the car chase in Act II. There’s also a flash card feature which shuffles your cards. Just for fun, I shuffled the cards for my current screenplay. Suffice it to say, the movie was radically different.

In conclusion, with or without Final Draft, 3x5 is a valuable tool to help you get your thoughts (or life) organized. Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned how well the manual is written. I didn’t need it to write this review, so I really don’t know! A true example of plug and play software, in the finest MacIntosh tradition!

[apple graphic] Copyright © 1997 Mike Shield, Reviewing in ATPM is open to anyone. Contact for more information.

Reader Comments (19)

David Reid · May 17, 2001 - 01:01 EST #1
I suspect BC have abandoned this wonderful application as it no longer shows up on their site.
anonymous · August 6, 2002 - 16:52 EST #2
This is a great piece of software that I'd love to see updated for OS X.
Mike Shields (ATPM Staff) · August 13, 2002 - 18:36 EST #3
Unfortunately, both of you are correct. They seem to have folded this fine piece of software into its current versions of Final Draft, starting with Version 4.0. The stand alone product no longer exists :(
anonymous · April 28, 2003 - 13:09 EST #4
Please make a Mac OS X version.
Mike Shields (ATPM Staff) · April 28, 2003 - 14:47 EST #5
As much as I'd love for there to be an OS X version of this software, the fine folks at Final Draft have decided to fold it into their screenplay creation software of the same name. A timely visit to their web site to send an e-mail and register your wishes may do wonders. They can be found at

Thanks for reading!
Marion Lee · August 7, 2003 - 21:21 EST #6
I agree with all the comments above on the wish for a OS X version!
I still have research files written in the 2.0 version which is barely compatible with OS 9.2. Unfortunately, the software got lost in a recent move. A desktop Mac got upgraded to OS X. I can't even provide the serial number of the old software, let alone open my files. I'd be grateful for suggestions and a remedy. Thanks.

Tom Lewis · April 4, 2004 - 19:35 EST #7
I've been using NovaMind as a replacement. It is actually a fully featured Mind Mapping application, but they have recently added screenwriting support, which makes it perfect for my needs. Seriously cool piece of s/w (I'm looking forward to their 2.0 release with FlexiBranches too).

Isaura Barrera · June 25, 2005 - 12:54 EST #8
Please, please make this available for OSX!! I have a pack of cards looking woefuly at me and I can't use them as I'd like! Seriously, I found this a really useful product and would like to continue to use it without giving up my MAC OSX platform.
fred fonebone · January 28, 2006 - 13:14 EST #9
A truly great product that I still use, even as it clunks away in "Classic" mode. Unfortunately this is yet another example of a software company that wanted to make a product that "does it all." Microslop is great at this. The old Word 5.2 (sighhhhhh!) was a great program. But the geniuses at Microslop decided it had to be more than a word processor so they kept adding more and more "features" that bogged it down - was it a word processor? a page layout program? a web page publisher? a dog polisher? In essence, by trying to become everything it became nothing, at least nothing I wanted to use. Same with Three by Five. I use Final Draft. It's a great word processor for scripts. I use Three by Five. It's a great tool for organizing information and stories. But I can't recall more than once or twice when I actually used the two in conjunction. And now that they've been merged I probably will never use them for all the things they were best at. I dunno. I wish software developers would get off this "1 program for everything" kick.
Veronica Honer · January 28, 2006 - 21:09 EST #10
it was amazing. i pray that someday it will be available for a PC. i love it. i miss it. i would buy it in a heartbeat.
ATPM Staff · January 28, 2006 - 23:09 EST #11
Veronica - you're suggesting a 9+ year old product that has apparently long since stopped being developed be ported to PC?

Well, maybe it will, but that's none of our interest here since ATPM is strictly a Macintosh venue.
Douglas Adamson · August 27, 2006 - 22:14 EST #12
Keep me posted! Or "carded!" Considering to use to keep re "Arizona Education Standards" from taking over my house. Endless Paperwork.
Thank you!
Chris Gordon · April 24, 2007 - 19:02 EST #13
To this day! I still use 3x5. It still fires up on my G5 and I am running the latest Tiger OSX. I double click and OS9 fires up and BAM, I am in 3x5. I never upgraded, I am running the same program with the same serial number for about ten years now. This is the most stable program EVER!!!!

However, an OSX version would be nice.
Loz Mac · November 19, 2007 - 17:39 EST #14
The frustrating thing software developers forget is that people (writers) invariably develop their own peculiar way of manipulating a program. Fred Fonebone ".. now that they've been merged I probably will never use them for all the things they were best at"is spot on. This product should have been kept alive and moved into structural rather that word processor land.
Veronica Honer · March 18, 2008 - 15:37 EST #15
I have left the dark side and came back to Apple. I am still praying for a new version. Nothing comes close.
Tom Rosbrow · March 20, 2008 - 18:35 EST #16
I agree with everyone. This is the most useful program I've ever had for writing and teaching, though it is a pain to go in classic mode. I just bought a new leopard based computer, but will save my g4 so i can go into old files with 3x5. I don't understand why no equivalent program has been devised..I keep searching a couple times a year.
Tom Rosbrow · March 20, 2008 - 18:41 EST #17
Are there any programs that have similar functions to 3x5? All the index card programs I've seen are clunky and static- can't move cards around on a board and link them, etc. Instead i use omnioutliner which at least has flexibility and ease of use, but not capacity for brainstorming or visualizing and creating links, and seeing quotes usefully. Very frustrating.
Austin Sanders · May 16, 2008 - 23:22 EST #18
Try Mindola's super note card. It really is quite good.
yayabiko · July 23, 2008 - 07:23 EST #19
Closest thing I've found to this would be PowerCard. More of a project mgmt app than a writing app, but same idea none-the-less.

Add A Comment

 E-mail me new comments on this article