Productivity
Brought to you by

App Directory: The Best Word Processing App For Mac

Word processing apps are one of the longest-established categories of software, but developers are still finding new ways to make them better. While traditional word processors opt to pack in as many features as possible, smaller developers aim to perfect the simplicity and ease of writing so you can get more done. That brings us to Write 2, our new favourite word processing app for the Mac.

Note: If we were including web apps, Google Docs would likely be the winner. It has the simplicity and straightforward operation that we like, and offers fantastic collaboration and sharing features as well. If you prefer working in the browser, be sure to consider Google Docs as well.

Write 2

Platform: Mac

Price: $7.49

Download Page

The feature list is well explained by the developer himself:

Write 2 is not designed to replace Word. Period. But it is fast – very fast – and has a lot nifty features that will make it your tool of choice for your daily writing tasks:

* iCloud, Auto Save, Versions, Resume (suppressible)
* Paragraph Highlighting, Typewriter scrolling, Zoom View

* Templates, Sophisticated Styles, Annotations, Comments
* Header and Footer (MLA) incl. Templates, Page Numbering
* Word Count and Statistics, Support for Tables, Substitutions
* Read and Write Support for Word and OpenOffice Documents

Write 2 offers all the important features of a great text editor. It even works with Microsoft Word, though it was never designed to replace it: the ao, was to create a very simple yet powerful word processor and that’s precisely what you get. Though plenty of features exist, from templates to styles to gestures to iCloud support, they all stay out of your way until you need them.

While creating text documents is a breeze, working with images could be a bit better. The app wasn’t designed for multimedia documents, but we’ve all included a picture or two when necessary. In fact, Write 2′s manual (which pops up the first time you use the app) is full of images. You can insert graphics no problem, but positioning them isn’t as simple and intuitive as the rest of the app. You need to utilise tables in order to get things to work. I feel that if you’re going to offer image support, it ought to come with at least a little flexibility.

The image issues are indicative of what might be a downside for some others: it’s not a super-capable document editor along the lines of Word and Pages. The app is designed to be a word processor, not a document Swiss Army knife. If you need something with endless capabilities, this is not the app for you.

There are many takes on what a word processing app can or should be. While we always include the competition in our app directory posts, it’s especially relevant here.

TextEdit (Free) was our previous top pick, but Write 2 offers more features that make it easier to write. It’s also designed to be a Word Processor rather than a simple TextEditor. We still think TextEdit is great, however, so if you don’t want to pay the measly $7 to purchase Write 2 you already have TextEdit for free. Many of the features are the same, and Write 2′s advantage is partly in its user interface and organization (but that isn’t to say it doesn’t offer additional features as well).

Bean (Free) is very similar to TextEdit and aims to be be a simple, no-frills, free word processing app. While we’re pretty fond of Bean, TextEdit is a little more ahead of the game with handy extras such as autosaving and document versioning.

Microsoft Word (from $189 for the whole Office suite, depending on the licence) is the dominant player in word processing circles. Some consider it feature-rich; if you don’t play with layouts much, you might find it bloated. Nonetheless, it’s what most people use these days to handle their document creation and it can handle very complex tasks and layouts, so it’s definitely worth considering even if it might be a little more than you need.

Pages ($20.99) is Apple’s word processing app for its iWork suite. Strangely, TextEdit feels more like a word processing app than Pages, as Pages really focuses on layout. If you’re going to be doing more complex documents with lots of images and styles, Pages is a solid choice. If you’re just typing, it often feels like overkill.

NeoOffice (Free) is an open-source office suite that provides an app called Writer for word processing purposes. It’s a pretty straightforward text editor.

FocusWriter (Free) offers full-screen word processing that’s designed to be very simple and distraction-free. It’s goal is to provide you with nothing but the ability to write. While it’s one of our favourites, there are many other word processing apps with the same goal. If you’re looking to ignore everything but the page and your words, this is the kind of word processing app you want to use.

iText Express (Free) is another great, free option. It’s a simple word processor that also provides a side tab to help keep your documents organised and easy to navigate.

There are far too many word processing options to list here, and we’ve probably missed some good ones. If you’ve got a favourite we didn’t mention, be sure to post it in the comments.

Lifehacker’s App Directory recommends the best applications and tools across multiple platforms.