Writer: A Smart New Plain Text Editor For OS X [Review]



Now you might think that the world already has enough plain text editors, but those of us who spend all day writing will always disagree.

Writer is a new text editor on the Mac App Store. It’s similar in some respects to applications you’ve seen before, yet it’s also distinctly and subtly different.

Some features are the ones that many writers (myself included) demand in an app like this: full screen mode, and live word count. Check, and check.

But others are features I hadn’t thought I needed before, yet I find genuinely useful. Any document window can be pinned, so that it remains frontmost no matter which application you switch to. Since writing often requires a lot of research and taking notes, this is useful.

Then there’s something called “Smart Window Zoom”. It’s not a command, and you won’t find it in the menus. It’s just something the app does. Click the window zoom button – the green blob in the top-left corner – and your Writer document will zoom, but in a sensible, useful manner. It will usually expand to fill just half your screen, and automatically snap to the nearest screen edge, left or right. People spend money on third-party apps that do this system-wide, but here’s an app that thinks for itself. A really nice touch.

I asked developer Tom Zaworowski where the inspiration for Writer came from. He said:

“My other profession is journalism and Writer stems directly from that. I personally started developing Writer last year after getting fed up with other text editors. It’s a personal project of mine that we kind of turned into an editor for everyone.

“We try to work with Apple’s widgets and controls as much as possible. We don’t rewrite common application parts like the Find dialog or toolbars. We’ve recently submitted an update to Writer with high-contrast mode, customizable fonts and other improvements. It’s now in review so we expect it to go on the App Store soon.”

In summary, then, Writer offers more than meets the eye. You can get it for $10 from the Mac App Store.

[xrr rating=100%]

  • Daniele

    You should try Byword! I’ve heard it’s amazing! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app

  • Al

    I wish I could try a shareware version to try it first before buying :(

  • Gazoobee

    Neat. But I don’t like writing on my computer anymore. It’s too distracting and awkward. Much easier to curl up with Pages on the iPad. If only there was a really stellar Notes app on iOS (although there are many fairly good ones).

  • Gazoobee

    Woah! I have to add that ten bucks is an outrageously high price for something like this. A full recording studio or a video editing suite is only five bucks on iOS but a text editor for Mac is ten? Nuh-uh!

  • Stefp

    Why should we try something you’ve only heard is amazing?

  • gilest

    Turns out you can do that. The developers have a trial version you can get from their site. Hover over the image at the top of this page for the download link.

    (I didn’t notice this while writing the article, otherwise I’d have mentioned it. Anyway, you know now.)

  • poppa1138

    I use iText Express mainly because it’s easy and free

  • roboKaren

    I wish applications like this also offered non app store options, for the folks who don’t want to tithe Apple the 30%.

  • roboKaren

    I wish applications like this also offered non app store options, for the folks who don’t want to tithe Apple the 30%.

  • Ictus75

    It looks interesting, but Pages already offers a full screen mode that blacks out the rest of the screen and shows a word count at the bottom. “Check, and check.” I don’t know if I need to spend more money for the other features Writer offers…

  • chano

    Pretty gouging price when compared to moso (free) or iLife components in the App Store, ot Garageband for the iPad.

  • dawrin

    for those who are saying writer is too expensive, just keep an eye on it. i got mine when they lowered the price to a $0.99 for a day.

  • gilest

    See my reply to AI’s comment, above.

  • freerange

    What? so you think apple shouldn’t be paid for providing a platform to promote and deliver apps? So they can promote them and you go buy somewhere else? The world does not survive on FREE.

  • Rich

    The only problem with Byword is 64bit only. No 32bit version available. Too bad as I would have loved to give it a try

  • mi

    There is a fairly good plain text composer/editor for the iPad : IA Writer. Dropbox integration, some type-friendly keyboard additions (one tap quotes, dash, parentheses, word/letter navigation) and a great “Focus” mode that blocks all but the line you’re typing on and the two prior.


  • Bob Forsberg

    Tithe is 10%…. make it through high school? Why don’t you try Windows 7 and the free apps that it offers.

  • myfreeweb

    Oh. And when they had the low price, I wasn’t able to buy it for using in the future on another Mac.

    Courier, Byword, Hearts (game) and so on… why the hell it’s so hard to open the project settings in Xcode and set the architecture to “universal”? Hey, developers! 32-bit users have money too.