Back in the day, when personal computers were green words on a blackish screen, and commands were keyboard driven instead of of point and click, I learned to process words using an Osborne CP/M-based luggable and WordStar. Years later the Mac came along with WYSIWYG and Write Now!, which may have been the best writing tool ever on a personal computer. It was lean, fast, and had just the right balance of features that were used but didn’t get in the way.
Write Now! is long gone but was replaced years ago with a similar word processor called Bean. Some described Bean as The Best Free Word Processor The World Has Ever Seen, while others described it as The Last Mac Word Processor You’ll Ever Buy. It was that good. But that was then and this is now and development on Bean has stopped, so I’m searching for a replacement.
This is a process that may take awhile as there are more Mac writing tools than ever from which to choose, including a well balanced app called Byword, which is uncluttered but capable.
Byword doesn’t come with the tedious toolbars of yesteryear’s word processors. It has all the basics of modern, focused writing tools.
- Fullscreen mode
- Auto wrapping
- Auto pairing
- Spell check
- Grammar check
Byword also features iCloud and Dropbox synchronization so you can carry your work wherever you go with both Mac and iOS device versions.
Choose from a light or dark theme. Accessory elements will disappear as you begin to type, reappear when you need them. Select the font, background, and window size and it all gets saved instantly.
Byword also features Markdown support for HTML and MultiMarkdown documents (Markdown renders strangely, though), and exports in PDF, HTML, Word, RTF, and, surprisingly, LaTeX.
Some items are missing, though. Byword seems to assume shorter documents so there’s no easy way to navigate through longer documents. It’s distraction free, yes, but character and word count would be nice if visible all the time. What about bold face, italics, underline?
Byword’s been around a few years and has promise, but isn’t quite ready for my primetime writing efforts. I don’t mind the price tag, but it would be better with a trial version to check out first.