Six Great Apps for Writing

Six Great Apps for Writing

When you are writing anything that is longer than an email, basic text editors start to feel very limited. But a full word processing app like MS Word can overwhelm you with options - and price tag. Whether you're a full time writer, or you want to work on essays for school, minimal text editors can be a godsend. Here are our favourites.


1. Q10
This free, simple, and yet powerful Windows text editor is loved by many for how simple it is. Q10 works in full screen mode to take away any distractions. There is no menu bar and there are no formatting options on screen. It comes with a spell-checker, and you can enable a word and paragraph count at the bottom of the screen in a discreet strip.


You can make notes, set a timer (which also measures how many words you wrote in each period) and you can customise the background and text colours, as well as set a typing sound - the default is yellow text on a black background with typewriter sounds enabled.

The app is great for writing in a focused manner, with no distractions and, for that purpose, the typewriter sounds paired with cheap earphones work better than expensive noise cancelling headphones.


2. OmmWriter
People either love OmmWriter, or hate it. The app is available for Windows, Mac and iPad, with the desktop variants being 'pay what you want' (minimum Rs.250), while the iPad version costs Rs. 300.


OmmWriter - like Q10 - keeps the focus on the text, with simple, minimal backgrounds and no visible menu. Instead there are just some discreet buttons to one side, which fade out when you type. There are different backgrounds to choose from, and also ambient and keyboard sounds, all of which have been chosen to help you focus on the work.


3. Scrivener
Scrivener is a fairly expensive app that costs $40, but luckily, there's a 30-day free trial, so you can check it out on both Windows and the Mac to see if it feels right for you.

Q10 is our favourite pick for fast, distraction free writing, and Scrivener is a great tool for working on larger projects, where you'll want to outline ideas, and work on parts of the outline at different times.


It lets you generate a full story structure, create a visual outline, and then work on each section as you require. This lets you more easily structure a large work and you can keep research and synopsises tagged as well, so when you move a chapter, the relevant documents can move with it in the notes. Scrivener is obviously not as useful for day to day writing, but if you're sitting in office, dreaming about writing your novel, Scrivener could give you the inspiration you need - don't work on the novel on your employer's time though!


4. iA Writer
This Mac and iOS app costs Rs. 300 on both platforms (the Mac version is on sale) but having extensively used it on the iPad as well as Mac, we can say it's worth the price. The app is completely distraction free, letting you see only the text when you are typing, and the iOS version (iPhone + iPad universal) uses its own keyboard, which gives easier access to punctuation and the cursor.


iA Writer is super-fast on the iPad which is another big point in its favour. Even basic writing apps often show slight amounts of lag while typing, which can completely break the flow of your work. It also doesn't overwhelm you with features, so you can completely focus on getting your work done.

The app also comes with Markdown support and iCloud-backed document syncing between the Mac and iOS versions.

There are several other similar apps on iOS and Mac, and amongst those Byword is our pick, if you are looking for a more feature-rich alternative to iA Writer.


5. Day One
Unlike the other apps on this list, Day One is a journal app. Available on the Mac App store at Rs. 620 and for iOS at Rs. 300, Day One is an elegant and easy to use app that lets you capture your daily thoughts.

It lets you take pictures, sync across devices, and saves weather and GPS information along with your entries. Two handy features are a password lock to prevent others with access to your device from prying at your posts, and a publish feature, which allows you to share select posts to a custom webpage.


Day One looks great, and saves your posts in an easy to browse timeline, while the actual writing happens in a clean, distraction free space. It's simple to use, and you can write long entries with basic formatting - after you're done, it's easy to go back to an entry and add pictures and other elements if you want to as well, or share posts if you like, instead of having to consider all these things while writing. If you are looking for a writing app that works as a good journal, Day One is definitely the best choice.



6. Write: Tablet Notepad/ Journal
If you're an Android user, then Google Docs or Documents to Go are probably the best bets for text editors. If you're looking for something a little more minimalist though, you can try out Write - an app for Android tablets. Write is available at Rs. 200 now, and has a clean interface which shows word count, a good search function so you can find the right notes easily, and it includes a spell-check - this means that you can turn off the default auto-correct. Very useful if your workplace requires British English, for instance.


Writer is an iA Writer-clone that is a free Android alternative to Write: Tablet Notepad/ Journal, but the app hasn't been updated in over two-and-a-half years and many have reported compatibility issues with their devices. We didn't have any problems running the app on our Moto E though.


This app isn't really that useful - it's more of a curiosity. Hanx Writer, released by actor Tom Hanks, simulates a typewriter on your iPad, and lets you write documents complete with old-fashioned strikeouts instead of a delete key.

The resulting text is saved as a PDF file which you can mail to people, and the animations and sounds are all perfectly done, to make you feel like you really are using a real typewriter. You can read our review here.


Which is your favourite text editor, please tell us via the comments.


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Further reading: Apps, Day One, OmmWriter, Q10, Writing, iA Writer
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