The single best word processor for Mac users does not exist. It’s the Bigfoot of Mac apps. It’s the Loch Nest Monster of Mac apps. It’s a Unicorn, a husband with a vacuum cleaner, an honest politician, a snipe. If it’s out there, a few billion people on planet earth have not been able to get a screenshot of it.
Why not? Literally, there are hundreds of word processors available from gargantuan feature overload in Microsoft Word, to the simplicity of TextEdit, to the wannabe word processor in Pages. Here’s yet another one, and this one is pretty good one.
Some who have conducted a similar search have gone back in time to those glory days of yesteryear with toolbars. Others lament the passing of once great and free writing tools which blessed Mac users with temptations of everlasting writing skills. My search, for now, has ended because I realize there is no such thing as the Mac’s best word processor. It’s a desire, not a reality; the inevitable consequence of different strokes for different folks.
I live. I write. For a few years I have used iA Writer on my Mac, iPad, and iPhone. It has just enough features to be pleasantly usable. It is not quite utterly simplistic. It lets me focus on writing and not on toolbars or floating palettes. It syncs my files– notes and documents– between Mac, iPad, iPhone.
Does this look more than vaguely familiar? Yes.
The familiar lefthand sidebar is where you manage notes, files, documents. For features beyond ordinary, iA Writer hands spelling, substitutions, grammar, syntax highlighting of “unnecessary adjectives, empty adverbs, weak verbs, and nominal style” with ease.
There’s no toolbar to worry about or clutter up the screen. On the surface, iA Writer is minimalist, yet it handles Markdown, Word documents conversion, custom typefaces for improved readability, automatic and real-time iCloud sync, full screen mode, and even workflow states.
As for the syntax features, which is more useful than I thought, it comes in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and more. That workflow function lets you adjust color and typeface to specific writing categories.
There are no frills here and you won’t pay a frilly price, Mac or iOS. What you get is a not-quite-simplistic writing tool that is instantly familiar and usable, but with just the right blend of what you need to write and not have to think about the tools while you’re writing.
To be honest about it, iA Writer feels more like Bean Lite than TextEdit; easier to use and with a less traditional interface, but just so, well, usable. Even for Android devices and Windows PCs.
What’s missing? Well, most of the features you’ll find in Pages or Microsoft Word, of course. But iA Writer now has a try-before-you-buy option for Mac users.