Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mac App Review: IA Writer

I love a blank sheet of paper because it represents possibilities and invites you to create. So I'm always looking for good notebooks and my place is littered with them. But when it is time to actually write something creative I inevitably turn to my computer as the convenience of a word processor is just too hard to ignore.

So I'm delighted to see a new crop of editors for computers which bring together the simple, uncluttered elegance of a sheet of paper and the conveniences and a computer.

I'm currently trying IA Writer on the Mac and absolutely loving it. Start it up and it basically presents you with a clean sheet of paper. Go full screen and enjoy a clean and uncluttered writing experience.

There are thoughtful touches all over. Spell check and autocorrect work seamlessly as you you expect from any modern text editor. Linger the cursor at the bottom of the screen and it will show you a word and character count and also an estimated reading time. This last one is a nice touch as blogs are typically written for a quick read so it is nice to see how long it would take to read what I'm writing.

There is also a Focus mode which dims all the text except the sentence on which you have the cursor. In the beginning it looked like a gimmick, but I've found it to be genuinely useful when trying to hammer out a complex thought.

For those who are familiar with Mark Down text, IA Writer provides a full implementation. Even if you don't use mark down you will find IA to be a very capable editor, and if you do use mark down, the implementation is well done.

There is good integration with Dropbox so you can keep your files synched across devices and edit them from anywhere. There is iCloud integration also of course, but I personally prefer Dropbox as it is cross platform.

All in all, an excellent tool for creative writing.

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