iA Writer for OS X Review

This is my first full-on article writing attempt about iA Writer. It’s is a pretty straightforward writing program that enables you to forget about everything else and just put your thoughts down in text. iA Writer is currently available at the Mac App Store for US$9.99.

What struck me as the most interesting when I read through the initial user’s manual was how similar the commands used to control text in iA Writer are to Wikimedia’s commands. Instead of cluttering and distracting toolbars at the top of the window, iA Writer relies on simple text commands to guide the formatting of the document. This takes some time to get used to, but if you’re a distraction-prone writer (like me), you’re more likely to enjoy an in-line editing tool with simple text commands in the long run.

The background of the text document itself is what really made me want to drop the US$9.99 to purchase the app. I’m one of the 5% of the population who suffers from a form of Dyslexia that makes reading black text on solid white backgrounds difficult. With writing as my primary source of income, it’s important that I get everything as accurate as possible before sending my article to our in-house editor for grammar and spelling checks. Reading over what I’ve put down in the article is difficult using the built-in WordPress editor, and having a text editor that defaults to a more natural off-white textured background with slightly grey text makes reading over my work much easier.

By default, as-you-type spelling and grammar checking is turned off, but this is an easy thing to change using the edit menu at the top of the screen. As I’m typing this now, any spelling issues iA Writer detects are being pointed out and auto-corrected with an indicating underline letting me know what was corrected. This distracting line fades as I continue to type. The same goes with grammar errors.

What struck me as most interesting after having used the text editor for some time was the focus feature. If you mouse-over the window, a focus button appears in the lower-left corner (which quickly fades when you stop moving your mouse). After giving this button a click, everything except for the sentence you’re working on is faded into the background, giving you the ability to see exactly what you’re writing sentence by sentence without having to seek out the period. This is by far the best feature of the program, and one that I would absolutely enjoy as a writer.

When moving your mouse across the screen, or pausing during your writing, word and character counters appear. In addition, an estimated read timer lets you know how long the average person would take to read the article you’re punching out. This is a great tool if you’re writing a commercial script or anything that requires reader engagement to be kept within a specific time frame.

iA Writer is a minimalist text editor with a lot going on behind the scenes. Thankfully, all the bells and whistles about the program are hidden from the writer, allowing me to concentrate on exactly what’s most important: writing.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UTZYTXPMBEYVD35YYKJM7N34PQ Karl

    What about Open Office as a free equivilant to this. And it comes witha  full arrangement of things included like a database, writer, spreadsheet, Math equation application to put equations down into writer, and a drawing program. All tied into one package and also available to mac OSX. I have seen through ITunes some remarks that iwriter was not that good. I’m slowly picking up a Mac pro. And will be eventually getting open office for the mac as well. Might be considering i writer as well if it is another small application compared to Microsoft Office Word which is rather large for any computer system that is either windows Based or Mac. Open Office is available to Mac, Windows and Linux variants. 

    • Johan

      You really can’t compare these two applications.

      Openoffice.org is a very complete office-suite, meant to create documents including formatting, imaging, and the development is focused on giving the user as much features as possible.

      IAwriter is the opposite of this: the main idea behind the product is to encourage you to start writing and keep on writing.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UTZYTXPMBEYVD35YYKJM7N34PQ Karl

    What about Open Office as a free equivilant to this. And it comes witha  full arrangement of things included like a database, writer, spreadsheet, Math equation application to put equations down into writer, and a drawing program. All tied into one package and also available to mac OSX. I have seen through ITunes some remarks that iwriter was not that good. I’m slowly picking up a Mac pro. And will be eventually getting open office for the mac as well. Might be considering i writer as well if it is another small application compared to Microsoft Office Word which is rather large for any computer system that is either windows Based or Mac. Open Office is available to Mac, Windows and Linux variants. 

    • Johan

      You really can’t compare these two applications.

      Openoffice.org is a very complete office-suite, meant to create documents including formatting, imaging, and the development is focused on giving the user as much features as possible.

      IAwriter is the opposite of this: the main idea behind the product is to encourage you to start writing and keep on writing.

  • Bryan

    If you’re considering Open Office as an alternative, I think you’re missing the point of iA Writer in the first place.

    It’s a great app, Byword is another great one.