One thing I do on my Mac more than anything else is write. On average I write about 10,000 words a week, and some weeks, I double that. And that isn’t even counting email and other kinds of communication. That’s why a great text editor app is imperative to my every day workflow. Without it, I couldn’t do my job.
When considering text editor apps, the first thing I look for is cross-platform support. It is vital that I can start writing something on my Mac and then pick up where I left off on another Mac, or even an iPhone or iPad. While I don’t do much writing on my iPhone, I do like to jot down quick ideas, sentences, and thoughts whenever they pop into my head. As for iPad, I have been known to close down a coffee shop or two with nothing but my iPad Air 2 and a great keyboard case in hand.
And as you’d expect, I also look for things like Markdown support, flexible export options, and solid document organization.
That being said, these are currently my top picks for best Mac text editor apps:
All your thoughts, organized to perfection
I fell in love with the layout and interface of Ulysses about a year ago. However, it wasn’t my full time text editor until recent updates added vast improvement across all platforms, including iPhone (more on that below).
Speaking specifically of the Mac version, there are several beautiful themes and preview options to choose from. But my favorite part of all versions of Ulysses is the organizational structure. Everything is organized into sheets and groups. For example, I have a group of sheets for App Factor and groups of sheets for other projects. Inside those I can have as many sub-groupings as I’d like.
For really long documents, Ulysses lets me jump to subheadings in just two clicks. I can export a million different ways, set goals, view statistics on different groups and sheets, and so much more. I’ve found tagging articles and setting word count goals greatly helps me stay on track when it comes to deadlines and making sure I’m writing a good blend of content for App Factor. Ulysses also has an option for direct publishing to Medium.
It’s worth mentioning that Ulysses is currently only available for Mac and iPad, BUT the iPhone version is in public beta and should be available in the App Store fairly soon (it’ll be a universal binary, so if you already own the iPad version, you’ll just receive an update).
I’ve been using the iPhone beta for a few months now and find myself constantly launching it in order to scribble down article ideas. For some reason, if I start a sheet for a topic idea, I’m more likely to actually act on it. After I do that, I stick the idea in Trello too so it doesn’t slip through the cracks.
Ulysses has been my main text editing app for several months now and I couldn’t be happier. It offers the flexibility and customization I need without being overly complicated in ways other text editors are.
Before I started using Ulysses on a regular basis, Byword was my go-to text editor app on all my devices. One of the reasons I love Byword so much is because it’s powerful yet doesn’t overly complicate things with features and options you won’t use.
Simply launch Byword and start typing — and of course Markdown is supported. You can also switch between themes and change the editor font to virtually any font you’d like. To my knowledge Byword is one of the only text editor apps for Mac that uses system fonts, which means you don’t only get a handful of options, but every option you have installed on your Mac.
Byword allows you to sync via both iCloud and Dropbox, whichever you prefer. I have always used iCloud and never ran into any issues. And when you’re ready to publish, Byword can instantly publish your stuff to Medium, WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, and Evernote for only $4 (one time in-app purchase).
If you don’t need the organizational structure and metrics that text editors like Ulysses offer but need your text editor on all your devices, Byword is hands down your best option.
Rough Draft is the only app I’m including in this article that doesn’t currently have an entire eco-system between OS X and iOS. My main reason for this is because the concept of rough draft intrigues me.
The text editor itself isn’t anything out of the ordinary. If anything, it still needs some work. That being said, the way Rough Draft handles error correction and drafts is one of a kind. The idea is to get your thoughts out and then go back later to fine tune and revise. This way you can see all your edits as you make them, and if you need to, you can easily revert to a previous version of a sentence or word.
Rough Draft also allows you to insert placeholders where you think you want to later include images, videos, quotes, or anything else. This all goes back to the idea of worrying about the words first, not the structure.
If you need excellent Markdown support, and other powerful features all-in-one, Rough Draft may not be for you. But if you want a text editor to help you stay focused on the words first, Rough Draft may be just what you need. I’ve been using it on articles I’m having a particularly hard time with and it’s doing a good job of helping me stay focused.
Rough Draft is completely free to try and a one-time purchase of $15 will unlock export, which strips all your edits out of your final draft.