Whether you are a blogger, note-taker, or quality-conscious social media addict, most of the time you’re better off drafting your content in something other than a web form or basic text editor. In this case an app like Write! goes a long way.
If you want to use Markdown, automatically sync between devices, and do it from an interface that feels like it was designed with productivity in mind, this Mac and Windows cloud-friendly word processor is probably worth a look.
The Write Stuff
Write! is a minimalist word processor that’s free to use, but offers some compelling extra features for $4.99 per month if you choose to upgrade to Pro. We’ll be focusing on the Pro version for much of the review, but we’ve also covered the free version toward the end of the article.
Take one look at Write’s interface and you’ll see exactly what the developers are going for: a productive environment in which to type at length, with little in the way of menu items or distractions to get in the way. Microsoft Word this is not, with barely anything but the name of your document and its content visible while writing.
Like most productivity-focused apps these days, Write! was designed with cloud syncing in mind. In order to download even the free version, you’ll need to supply an email address and password; and you can use these credentials to login and send documents to your own personal online storage by hitting File > Send to Cloud. Of course, you’ll need Pro in order to do this — but you’ll get a seven-day trial when you download the app in order to try it out.
Cloud syncing support includes a neat “unlimited undo” feature, which allows you to close a document, retrieve it elsewhere and command/ctrl+z (depending on whether you’re running Mac or Windows) to revert to a previous version. If you use Write! a lot then you’ll soon build up a considerable library, and you can quickly find what you want using the neat search-as-you-type feature to comb through your documents.
The tabulated interface means that you can keep several documents open at a time, and quickly scan through them like you would tabs in a browser. Writing sessions take this a step further by allowing you to group documents together, and you can then name your sessions to keep them better organized. Again, this could be a killer feature if you’re looking for a way to better organize your writing.
The app also has full support for a variety of markup languages, including the increasingly popular Markdown. If you’ve yet to use Markdown, think of it as a universal markup language for preparing web documents that can be quickly converted to HTML or even printed as-is using easy-to-learn expressions. Write! also supports wiki and textile syntax, and you can even use all three of these markup languages within one document if you wish. If your Markdown isn’t too sharp, you can use the included Markdown Helper under the Help menu to lookup common formatting for all three supported markup languages.
While typing, an “intelligent” spellchecker will scan your writing for errors. Just like markup syntax, you can use several different languages within the same document. This could be a valuable feature for bilingual users, students studying foreign languages, or anyone who finds this limitation frustrating in most other word processors. Auto-complete works alongside this engine, and learns as-you-type in order to suggest similar words based on what you’ve last typed.
This might be more useful on Windows tablets using an on-screen keyboard, as on my Mac it required a tap of the tab key in order to accept a suggestion (after using the arrow keys to scroll through the suggestions). To me, this doesn’t seem that much quicker (if at all) compared with simply typing the whole word — but if you’re using lots of technical terms, it might come in handy.
Whether or not the app is right for you probably depends on how you intend to use it. Write! is better than Evernote for long pieces of writing, because it’s a word processor not a note-taking app. It’s definitely better than using Facebook for drafting long updates, because it’s a native app with a distraction-free interface and not a web form. It’s probably better than using your blog’s WYSIWG editor, because it will work offline if you want it to (and the addition of Markdown support is a bonus).
It’s also probably got the upper hand on other text editors and word processors for large projects, with sessions and fast syncing allowing you to keep related documents together and recall them all in an instant if you need to.
A Few Extra Touches
In addition to these core features and minimal aesthetic, Write! also includes a few other notable touches that are worth mentioning. At the bottom of the screen you can access what are dubbed “productivity counters” — a statistics-based approach to gauging your productivity. This includes fun metrics like “words per day” and “characters per minute” but you can also restrict certain documents to a particular length, reading time or A4 pages if you have a limit you need to stick to.
The icon for this section updates based on what you’re typing, so a short document starts off as a Tweet, and longer documents enter the realm of social (up to 850 words), articles (around 1500 words), short stories and so on. The app gives you handy tips about these documents, like the fact that Facebook cuts off articles that are over 850 words in length, and emails under 160 words are more likely to be read. It’s a nice touch, and if word count matters to you then it’s handy having it just a click away.
As a Pro user you also have access to preset styles, which you can apply to your document with just a click. If you’re exporting to markdown or plain text, these count for very little beyond giving your work a little extra elegance while typing; but if you’re printing your document then this feature could be handy if you want instant style. The included Dark Mode could also be an oft-used feature if you prefer to work after hours.
If you need to quickly get your work up on the web, then you can do so using the Publish Document feature found by right-clicking your document’s title. This is handy for quickly sharing your work using Write’s servers, providing you with a link that you can pass on to others.
Write! includes support for a healthy range of documents and formats, and you can import .TXT, .NFO, .HELP, .INI, .CFG, .CONF, .PDF, .RTF, .MD, .MDOWN, .MARKDOWN and .ODT documents, and write to .PDF, .TXT, .RTF and .MDOWN locally.
Made for Windows, Now in Beta for Mac
Mac users will probably pick up on the fact that the app was made with Windows in mind, particularly considering the app looks like a Windows 10 app. There also aren’t any menubar options for File, Edit and so on in the usual place at the top of your Mac’s screen — these are instead pinned to the app itself, accessible by hitting the menu button (presumably this is to keep the app even more distraction-free).
If you’ve used OS X for a while this can be a little jarring, but most common features can be accessed via keyboard shortcuts anyway. Write! only works on OS X (in beta) and Windows at present, but a mobile version would be nice.
Write! Pro & Free
When you register in order to download Write!, you’ll get a week to evaluate the Pro version to see whether it’s worth the $4.99 per month to access all included features. If you decide to let your Pro subscription expire, you’ll no longer have access to cloud syncing, session grouping, document publishing, the “unlimited undo” feature, pretty preset styles, and Dark Mode.
You can of course still use Write! offline, use tabs, make use of smart autocomplete and spellcheck, use markup, access productivity counters, and of course the focused and minimalist interface won’t change a bit.
Write! makes a strong case for paying $4.99 for a Pro subscription if you love the features, particularly if you’re looking for something to bridge the gap between restrictive free tools or other apps that don’t quite feel right for drafting medium or long form content.
Have you tried Write! on Windows or OS X? What did you think?