‘The Best Free Word Processor The World Has Ever Seen’ needs to be replaced. Bean is no longer being actively developed so I’m in the market for a replacement, and that brings up a problem.
Many of today’s minimalist word processors are more like TextEdit or NotePad than Word, and most come with a price tag yet don’t compare in features to Bean, which is free.
What to do? What to do?
My daily search of the Mac App Store brought up a dozen or so popular and similarly priced word processors. Here’s a look at the top four.
Byword – I like this one, if only for the extra cost publishing feature. Byword has an iPhone and iPad counterpart which means you can sync files across all your Apple devices. It has plenty of keyboard shortcuts, exports files as PDF or HTML documents, and the premium feature lets you use Byword to write articles and then publish to WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, and Evernote.
TurboWord – This one comes with the basic features, including distraction free writing, autosave, live word count, a built-in dictionary, and options to export to TXT, RTF, DOC and DOCX, as well as ODT. You get full control over TurboWord’s layout, fonts, and styles in the Inspector, and it handles photos and URL links with ease.
Quick Word Pro – The most expensive of the bunch is Quick Word Pro which seems more feature-laden, and, indeed, has a full-fledged Toolbar. This one comes with most of the same features as the others but excels with a table creator which also does charts. That means it’s more page layout friendly than the others.
XWord – The least expensive option is XWord which looks more like a mini-Microsoft Word with Toolbar and standard word processing palette and font tools. It, too, has fullscreen editing in distraction free mode, date stamps backups, and even allows for pattern matching regular expressions (unusual for an inexpensive word processor), and contains some page layout features.
If I didn’t have to choose I would stick with Bean. It’s free but has even more features than all these minimalist apps. However, if I had to choose a Mac only writing app, I’d go with XWord (there’s no iPhone version), but for compatibility and flexibility Byword is a good choice.