IA Writer for Mac

I have just purchased IA Writer for Mac through the Mac Store. $21.99 for a writing program so it had better be worth the money!

It was only released a few hours ago, and I was excited to see if the app that people went crazy over for the iPad was going to live up to expectations on the Mac

How did it shape up? Well lets have a look at how we got here first.

How we got to IA Writer

A few years ago a friend of mine suggested a WriteRoom as the perfect writing tool for the Mac.

I downloaded the app and was pleasantly surprised with the ease of use interface and the soft soothing sounds of the keystrokes.

The green text on the black screen was also a lovely addition, it took me back to the initial days of computer based writing tools (all the way back to my x286).

Once the trial was up I wasn’t able to justify paying $24.99 for the full product and went in search of the next writing tool.

Next up was OmmWriter which retails for $5.99, so $16 cheaper than IA Writer for Mac, and $19 cheaper than WriteRoom. Off to a good start there.

OmmWriter is a great program, however I found that there were are few annoying elements.

  1. I only liked one of the fonts as an option (which is the default in IA Writer)
  2. The large text size was the only suitable option
  3. The background music was lame and quite annoying
  4. The keyboard sounds were irritating

Although annoying, they can all be turned off and you can essentially get the same overall look as IA Writer provides as the default, and only, option.

One of the features I did enjoy was the press of escape on a partially completed word and get a series of suggestions to complete it, although that’s probably just because of my horryble spellign. This isn’t so much of a big deal though because you can just right click inside IA Writer and you have a spelling and grammer option.

An advantage over IA Writer is that you could easily view the word count with a simple flick of the mouse. At the moment when I’m using IA Writer I need to escape from full screen and then mouse over the bottom of the writing window. If I try on full screen I only get the application dock appear. Annoying, but I might just be doing it wrong.

Enough about others, what about IA Writer?

Not bad for a first release.

The Good

  • Simplicity. It’s just about the writing. Unlike OmmWriter that can be customised this is just take it or leave it. Fortunately for me they’ve got everything right in that area.
  • Focus Mode. Frigging sweet! I really didn’t think this would make that much difference but it really enhances your concentration on what you’re writing right now then be distracted by what you’ve written.
  • Easy Navigation. You can move one word at a time, or CMD + right/left arrow key will move you from sentence to sentence. Very nice when in Focus Mode! (this does have a small drawback though as mentioned below).

The Bad

  • As I mentioned above the word count can not be brought up in Full Screen mode. Not a deal breaker, and possibly designed that way, but is a little annoying if you are used to OmmWriter.
  • I’m finding it annoying not being able to move to the beginning/end of the current line with CMD + Right/Left Arrow. I can still skip through words with ALT + Right/Left Arrow though. This does has it’s benefits though (mentioned above)
  • Sounds. It’s quite stupid, but I really miss the keystrokes noices that WriteRoom had. It made me happy to hear each of the characters getting punched up onto the screen and gave me the felling that something was being accomplished.

..and the Ugly

  • Beautiful. IA Writer for the Mac has has just got everything about the layout, typography and colour perfect. It is just a beautiful application to use


I’ve knocked this entire artilce out in IA Writer for Mac and I must say it’s been a pleasure to write. The focus mode is a MUST, and I’m going to have to say that for me it’s worth the money spent.

BUT, at $21.99 you really have to enjoy your writing to part with that kind of money for a glorified text editor.

If you could only get one editor for all your needs (programming, writing etc) then go with something like TextMate.

If you want to get a specific application, but don’t want to part with the >$20 then go with OmmWriter (but turn off the keystrokes, background music, make the font big and get rid of the crappy wallpapers).

If you are willing to pay the money you’re not going to be disappointed. Turnhe things I mentioned above do bother me but I’m sure the guys and gals at IA already have an update waiting in the wings.

I haven’t started using the Markdown features with the exception of the ordered and unordered lists, which is going to cause me to update the CSS on my site and put the list-position: outside;. These look like promising features though to add a bit more spice to the articles viewed through IA Writer.

Congrulations to the IA team on a job well done!

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