If Small Is Beautiful, And Less Is More, Then Why Does Getting Less By Paying More Seem Wrong?

An altogether too large chunk of my day is devoted to slaving over a hot keyboard. Naturally, I have plenty of writing tools, keyboard shortcuts, and more than enough apps for any job that awaits me on my Mac’s screen. That also means I’m willing to try out new writing tools; mostly because I believe that nothing improves without change.

I’m beginning to suspect that I’ve been caught up in the latest writing trend. Less is more. Within the past few years Mac users have been exposed to new writing tools– I hesitate to call them word processors in the same vein as Microsoft Word or even Apple’s Pages– that purposefully limit the features, focusing only on the few you really need.

The latest to cross my eyeballs (literally) is iA Writer. The highlight is that Writer is a minimalist writing tool. Minimalist usually means it has a price tag, but fewer features than you’d find with many free word processors.

There’s a Focus Mode which limits what you see while you write (one sentence at a time). A Full Screen mode which takes over the Mac’s whole screen so you won’t be distracted by incoming email, tweets, pokes, or wall postings.

iA Writer

iA Writer has a few other functions you won’t find with most inexpensive writing apps. There’s Auto Markdown to format your text (good for bloggers). Reading Time tells you how long it will take the average reader to read what you wrote. And, there’s the requisite word and character count.

Typical Mac-like features exist, too, including iCloud sync, Autosave, but no settings for font controls or document formatting. It uses plain text files instead of Word .doc files.

See? Less is more. You get less but you pay for the privilege. iA Writer has a nominal price tag (you’ll spend more at Starbucks), but doesn’t compare favorably to Bean, a well featured word processor for the Mac that comes without a price tag.

The trend in our digital toys is toward less is more, basic usability versus complexity and learning curve. iA Writer fits in that same genre. It’s not more, it’s less, but if that’s all you need, then that’s what counts.