5 Web-Based Tools for Any Browser That Every Writer Should Use

Aaron Couch 04-09-2012

As writers, there are a lot of tools at our disposal. And since I’m also interested in technology, I’m constantly finding applications and techniques that are helpful. However, even though there are a lot of helpful apps and tips, our brains and browsers can get bogged down. There are endless browser extensions for writing and endless ways to do things that occupy our minds.


Instead, I’ve decided to focus on some basic things that, no matter what kind of writer you are, you’ll likely need (with maybe one exception). I wanted to keep it simple by providing only web-based apps. That is, tools that don’t need to be installed in a browser and will work across all platforms. The categories these fit in are distraction-free writing, blogging, research, note taking and creating time blocks.

Distraction-Free Writing

Let’s face it, writing can be distracting. Since we’re right at our computers – the source of distraction – it can be quite easy to be distracted. There are several distraction-free applications which we’ve covered on MakeUseOf Write In Peace With These Distraction-Free Editors I have felt it. Visual clutter – thanks to menus and other markup features – have often cemented my writer’s block. So, I have tried out quite a few distraction-free text editors in a grand... Read More , but two that I really like are Writer and QuietWrite.


writer tools

Writer is a product from Big Huge Labs that is super simple. To get the full benefits of it, I recommend creating an account. From the website you can print, export to PDF, download as a text file and email it. Of course there are the obvious features of saving, creating a new file and viewing the word count. There are quite a few preferences as well. You can change the text and background colors, line spacing, font and typing sounds.

web based writing tools



5 Web-Based Tools for Any Browser That Every Writer Should Use QuietWrite

QuietWrite has been formerly mentioned on MakeUseOf and I feel it is hands down the best online text editor and distraction-free writer. It is simple, yet has many features tucked away. The “header” that you see at the top of the page, slides away once the cursor is taken out of its range. This allows you to focus completely on what you need to write. I will point you to the direction of the article focusing on all of its features. It is quite the gem!


Of course, not all writers are bloggers. However, it is becoming more and more common to see everyone with a blog. So likely, if you write, you also blog.

Zemanta Bookmarklet

5 Web-Based Tools for Any Browser That Every Writer Should Use Zemanta with Editor


If you haven’t heard of Zemanta, I am honored to introduce you too it. It is probably one of the best, if not the best blogging tool available. There’s a lot it can do, but basically it is a tool that allows you to add related articles, photos, in-text links and suggested tags right in the blog’s writing platform. Currently it works for WordPress, TypePad, Moveable Type, Joomla, Drupal, Tumblr and Blogger.

Of course, it’s available as a browser extension too and having an account definitely has its perks, but it’s nice to be able to quickly drag and drop the bookmarklet right into the browser bookmark bar and use it on any computer (if you need to). The fact that it doesn’t require an account to use is nice too, it’s just a little less personal in a few ways if you take that route. All it all though, the bookmarklet is a great option if you want to try it out without the extension.


No matter what you’re writing, there usually is some level of research involved. It can be quite a tedious task to save everything and find it again.

Evernote Web Clipper Bookmarklet

web based writing tools


Thankfully, there’s a solution to this problem – Evernote – a cloud-based note application focused to help you remember everything. It’s quite popular, so likely you’ve heard of it already – especially if you read MakeUseOf a lot.

The Web Clipper is just one feature of Evernote and as you’ll find out, there are a lot of ways to use it Do You Need More Evernote Use Ideas? Here Are 3 Ways I Use It Evernote is, without a doubt, a multi-faceted tool that can help you accomplish a lot, but when you have that kind of breadth in options and input channels, there’s a chance you could get overwhelmed.... Read More . To use it, you do need an account and, like Zemanta, it does have browser extensions available. It’s brilliant for saving web articles, links, full web pages for various reasons. That’s the great thing about it, you can use it however you want!

web based writing tools

For more awesome information on it, I highly recommend Mark’s article on Evernote 5 Cool Features That Prove Evernote Is Still A Kick-Ass Service With all the hoopla surrounding Google Drive, and everyone going nuts over Dropbox, I think one other service is being sorely neglected - Evernote. Our Evernote coverage has been rather sketchy of late, and I... Read More . It will really help you get a grasp on it. There also will be a complete MakeUseOf Guide on it coming out soon. Although I don’t know when exactly, I do know it will be awesome, so keep checking for that!


Note Taking

There are a lot of note taking applications on the web. I mean, a lot. And Evernote is one of them. But sometimes you just want a simple place to jot down an idea and not worry about tagging and organizing it like you do in Evernote.


web based writing applications

The service is aptly named. It simply allows you to write anything you want in as many “sticky notes” that you want. You can sign in and when you do, your notes will be backed up to the cloud.

web based writing applications

You can create as many notes as you want, title them and color code them. You can also add a reminder to be notified when that note will become more relevant – a pretty nice feature – if only real sticky note did that!

Time Blocks

Setting time aside to write is essential, but allocating a set amount of time and taking breaks is just as important. I know for myself, if I don’t set a timer I can just get lost in my writing, or distractions. A timer helps you to keep in mind that this is your writing time and that you’ve set this time aside to write and do nothing else. Then once it goes off, it reminds you that you should take a break from your computer, go on a 5-10 minute walk, get some fresh air, eat something, etc. Without a timer, I’ve often find myself either distracted, hungry, or just with a headache from staring at the screen too long.


web based writing applications is a straight forward website with a very nice and clean interface. It was actually just mentioned in an article on applications to help you keep a time limit by Craig. But I felt it was an essential part of writing and that E.ggTimer is likely the best available. What is nice is you can customize the timer right from the address bar. Just type “[the time you desire]”

5 Web-Based Tools for Any Browser That Every Writer Should Use e

You may be familiar with the Pomodoro technique. E.ggTimer also has a preset for that if you type “” it will time you for 25 minutes and give you a 5 minute break, then automatically start back at 25 minutes again.

Tomato Timer

writer tools

Speaking of Pomodoro, if you want a solid timer dedicated to it without needing a browser extension, Tomato Timer, which has been mentioned before on MakeUseOf 3 Of The Best Free Pomodoro Productivity Apps Read More by Nancy, is perfect for what you need. It has just the right amount of options to help you be efficient, but not too many that you waste time playing with them, or worse, trying to find them. All the information you need to know about how to use it is right on the front page, as well as many of the options. And the settings to change the timer and length of breaks is only a click away.


These aren’t the only tools to use for writing, or even for these categories. But in my personal experience, I’ve found them to be quite helpful to me and all are very easy to use – leaving you more time to write and less time figuring out how things work.

Do you have a favorite web app for writing that wasn’t included here? I’d love to hear about it. Or, if you have an experience you’d like to share about using one or more of the web-based writer tools mentioned on here, I’d love to hear about that too!

Image Credit: Notepad via Shutterstock

Related topics: Blogging, Bookmarklets, Cloud Computing, Text Editor, Writing Tips.

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  1. Maxi3w
    February 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Zemanta is a dream! I am a blogger at and having Zemanta really helps - a lot!. Once I've written a post, I like to add some images and a maximum of 5 related articles and Zemanta does all the legwork for me. Then I just have to choose an image or two and add the suggested articles. I like it that it has a 'search' feature as well just in case you want to pull up something more specific.

    Thanks for the mention of the 'Pomodoro' technique; I had heard of it but didn't fully know what it was. It sounds great, even essential, for us that write a great deal.

    QuietWrite sounds and looks lovely. I'm very big on distraction free editors for my journalling and writing daily - sometimes it can get boring using the same one, so I am going to check it out.

    Just to mention, the MUO Evernote manual is now out :-)

    • Aaron Couch
      February 4, 2013 at 12:57 am

      Thanks for reading and sharing your input! We definitely appreciate your loyalty!

      • Caroline West
        February 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm

        Your welcome Aaron! MUO is definitely stuck with me!!

        I mean, where else can you; Read Reviews, Ask techy questions; Enter competitons; Lean about new software; Download free manuals; Learn from others; get asked your opinions...

        I mean, what more could a techy enthusiast ask for?!! !

  2. Jim Spencer
    December 9, 2012 at 3:51 am

    I thought I had seen most everything there was to do with writing, having just finished a college writing course not too long ago, but here we go, new resources to check out! I like the "Writer" a lot, maybe for its simplicity. In such a high tech world we live in, I sometimes like to at least pretend I am back in a low tech world. Good article......keep them coming.

  3. Huzefa Kaizer
    December 7, 2012 at 1:53 am

    well, the timer is a very important function and thanks to you that you saved my time as well

  4. Ron Lister
    November 24, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Thanks Aaron, Good Stuff. I use evernote and find it a huge help in researching keeping the info at my fingertips I even use it for personal use like remebering birthdays lol although i'm sure there are a million apps and widgits for that now. I'll have to give those others a try. I'm use Drupal and am curious to see how Zemanta works. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Terafall
    November 6, 2012 at 4:14 am

    I think the Tomato Timer is good enough for me

  6. Peter
    September 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Howdy! Thanks for the article. I'm wondering if there's an advantage to using the applications described in the first section other than the distraction-free real estate. Sometimes I do feel that Word, my preferred word-processing program, does have too many distracting icons, etc., but by going into "Full Screen" view and turning off the toolbars, all such distractions are removed. Any thoughts? Thanks.

  7. James
    September 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    One of the best timer/productivity tools on the net is Workrave. Not only does it notify you when you should take a break, there is an option for it to lock access to your keyboard to force you to stop working. Finally,once a hour or so you will be instructed in exercises to perform to prevent RSI, re focus your eyes and to get you moving,

    • James
      September 10, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      ... sorry, I forgot the title was "web based" and Workrave requires installation.

  8. Paul Girardin
    September 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Thank you Sir for sharing these ... they all will be helpful for me ;)

  9. suvadip mondal
    September 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    i like this article very much :-)

  10. Phoenix Stormcrow
    September 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Because I don't have a steady internet connection, I generally use Focus Writer for for most of my writing, and gedit (with the tag insertion plugin) for html markup on my Ubuntu laptop. But some of these tools could quite usefully be added to my workflow; I'm looking forward to checking them out. Good list.

  11. fatihamzah
    September 7, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Very Helpful, good article thanks!

  12. Shmuel Mendelsohn
    September 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    So much great advice, so little time! Actually, I've often thought about having a cheap, old computer with only Microsoft Word installed on it. That would certainly avoid distractions. But I think that your suggestions are even better!

  13. GrrGrrr
    September 5, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I'm not a writer or blogger, but some of these tools could be used in personal benefit also.

    • Aaron Couch
      October 15, 2012 at 2:54 am

      Couldn't agree more! I use them for both purposes.

  14. Shakirah Faleh Lai
    September 4, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Love to write using offline tools, never use webbased tools.

  15. rama moorthy
    September 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Very useful .. Thanks man...! ;)

  16. Ashwin Ramesh
    September 4, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    another great article! Thank you Aaron!

  17. Vijaynand Mishra
    September 4, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Writer is good and awesome

  18. xbalesx
    September 4, 2012 at 5:16 am

    awesome tools....easy peasy

  19. Ahmed Khalil
    September 4, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Is Arabic language supported in any of these web sites?

    • Ahmed Khalil
      September 10, 2012 at 10:14 am

      I think no body interest to repaly, and i have to reserch my self by give fast try. Thanks

  20. Richard Borkovec
    September 4, 2012 at 4:14 am

    These are all awesome, and I will definitely be trying some of them out. Thanks!

  21. jnaveenj
    September 4, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Clipboard is also a great tool like evernote but its only limitation is its not being able to support OCR.

    • Aaron Couch
      September 4, 2012 at 3:05 am

      Interesting. Thanks for the share! And for reading!

  22. Nguyen Tran
    September 4, 2012 at 2:27 am

    Very very useful, thanks!

    • Aaron Couch
      September 4, 2012 at 3:04 am

      Your welcome! Thanks for reading!

  23. josemon maliakal
    September 4, 2012 at 2:16 am

    thanks is so helpful for bloggers like me :)

    • Aaron Couch
      September 4, 2012 at 2:59 am

      Awesome! You're very welcome.