Awesome Writing Apps

If you enjoy writing and have a Mac, you have to check out these apps.

Ok, I'm not a writer. At least not at heart. I still remember one fateful day in 3rd grade the day I learned that I hate to write. I was in Mrs. Brown's class and we had a daily journal assignment. It was probably as simple as writing 1 paragraph of what we did the day before. I wouldn't do it. I couldn't do it. I sat there in class without writing a single thing. She made me stay in during recess to finish it. I still didn't write anything. So she made me stay after school. Still, I didn't write. I tried to explain why I couldn't, how nothing came out right. After lots of stubborn fussing, and exclamations of "I can't!" on my part, and lots of firm prodding and encouragement on her part, I somehow started writing. I remember that I wrote about riding my bicycle at the park across the street. I think I fell and skinned my knee. (I was probably picking at the scab instead of scribbling in my notebook.) I also wrote a bit about my grandma who lived with us, and about my trip to the dentist. Mrs. Brown was impressed that I knew how to spell 'anaesthesia'. (What can I say? I was genius at putting letters together… just not multiple words.) Being forced to write when I felt like I couldn't was a pretty tragic experience for me. And it didn't just happen that once. It continued on through the rest of my schooling career. Paper after paper in middle school, high school, and college tormented me. It also tormented my mother who tried her best to coach me through it. I'll never forget spending my lunch hour in her classroom trying to finish a paper that was due later that day. I was stressed because nothing was coming out right. Mom was frustrated because I shot down every suggestion she gave me, saying it wasn't good enough. I guess she just couldn't take it anymore and flat out cursed at me. "#^@!, Nathan! Just write something! It doesn't have to be perfect!"

So, I'm definitely not a writer. But I'm trying to write more. I like the concept of writing that idyllic lifestyle of sitting in a café with a moleskine notebook or MacBook, sharing ideas on important subjects by combining eloquent words in creative ways. The more I read blog posts, non-fiction books, best-sellers (and audiobooks) the more I become enamored with the idea of being a writer, especially if it includes adventures like Bill Bryson's excursion along the Appalachian Trail. I just really hate the practice of writing. I am drawn to rules and structure, so I tend to edit and correct my spelling, grammar, and punctuation which slows me down. Worse than that, sometimes, if I really get into the flow of writing, it's as if a rip tide pulls me into an ocean of thoughts that I didn't even know were there, and I can't stop writing until I manage to deal with them somehow. So to overcome these challenges, I did what any Mac geek like myself would do I turned to the App Store. There are a handful of apps for Mac, and for iOS devices like the iPad, that are built specifically for writing. I've tried a bunch of them, and here are my favorites.


The original minimalistic writing tool. I found this app over 5 years ago when it was still free. Its simple black interface opens full screen and just lets you write. Awesome.
$9.99 Mac App Store
$4.99 iOS App Store

OmmWriter Dana II

My all time favorite! OmmWriter allows you to become one with your inner Buddha while writing. It's also a simple fullscreen app, but oh so much more elegant. You have 4 or so choices of ethereal, full-screen backgrounds along with soothing ambient music. Optional typing noises can really get you into the rhythm of writing. This is a writing experience you have to try.
$4.99 Mac App Store
$4.99 iOS App Store

iA Writer

My current pick. I wrote this post using iA Writer on my iMac, MacBook, and iPad over a few weeks extended period of time. Thanks to iCloud integration, I can access a single document on all of my devices. But the reason I was drawn to it in the first place was a unique feature: single line focus. While writing, you can enter 'Focus Mode' which fades everything but the current sentence you are typing. This is excellent for those who are easily distracted by grammar, typos, and general clutter, like me. iA Writer is also great for bloggers, since it supports Markdown formatting. That's a geeky way to type in plain-text using special codes like hashtags and stars to easily define titles, bold text, and lists without messing with formatting during the writing process. Oh, and it gives you the more relevant measure of 'Reading Time' in addition to the traditional character and word count.
$8.99 Mac App Store
$0.99 iOS App Store (promotional pricing)


Much like iA Writer, this app keeps gaining excellent features. A beautiful interface with more custom options (font, color, etc.), it is also built around Markdown editing but also includes Markdown Preview so you can see the end result. The disappearing formatting elements fade away while typing, but are there when you want them.
$9.99 Mac App Store
$2.99 iOS App Store (promotional pricing)


An honorable mention, Pages is Apple's solution to word processing and page layout – neither of which Microsoft Word has ever been very good at. While it's designed as a beginner's tool for designing posters, invitations, and beautiful research papers, the most recent version update included a full-screen mode for writing. So, yeah, that's nice, though a bit pricey.
$19.99 Mac App Store
$9.99 iOS App Store