I am always looking for ways to improve my productivity and writing creation process. I use 3 computing platforms, many different devices, and I still like to use a pen and notepads. So you can imagine that when someone asks me if I would be interested in reviewing a new tool I jump at the chance.
This is how I came across the cross-platform (macOS, Windows, Linux) application Write! $24.95.
I want you the reader to know that the creators of Write! made an account for me to review the product, but in no way influenced my opinions or views.
Installation and Set-Up
The first thing you should do is make sure you have a Write! account. When you install the application you’ll need that login information to register with your account, it also acts as the cloud sync service. The application costs $24.95 with cloud access and updates costing $4.95 a year.
When I first run the application on two different Mac’s I got an error
I clicked OK and restarted the application and the error disappeared, your experience may be different, but it appears that everything worked fine on my machines. I have reached out to the developers and provided information that could give some answers.
The first thing I always do with applications is drop in the preferences and see what I can do to make apps feel like home to me. Write! has some interesting options that I want to cover here and explain some of my choices.
I set this to 4 pixels so that even on the highest resolution screen (I mostly use an iMac 5k) I can easily see where I am in the document. I also opted to stay with the nice vibrant cyan/blue color. Again, very easy to see at any resolution and color theme.
Speaking of color themes, I also really like the ‘Light’ and ‘Dark’ themes built into the application. When I am in brightly lit rooms I like to use the ‘Light’ theme to combat glossy screen reflections. Since I get my best ideas late at night, I usually switch to the ‘Dark’ theme as to make it easier on my eyes and those around me.
I have left the spellchecker on for now, but I do find that more often than not I end up having to train the dictionaries due to the technical nature of my writing, this is not really a fault of Write!, but it can get annoying to have the Red suggestion tip appear slightly below the words.
Create new documents locally
It is nice to have the option to default to either local storage or the cloud, personally, I like to have them be in the cloud where I can access across devices without complication or fuss. You could do this another way of course and use something like Dropbox or iCloud. Honestly, the built-in sync has been working great for me, so I just have the app set to create documents in the cloud.
I do have autosave set for 1 minute, there is nothing worse than those sudden OS crashes to ruin a beautiful piece of work!
There are some cool things that I really want to highlight. I am a programmer by professional and therefore love it any time I see concepts from code editors appearing in writing applications. There are three great features that really stand out to me in Write! that help me navigate my documents easily.
This right sidebar gives you a zoomed out view of your document, highlighting the currently viewable area in the editor. You can move up and down the document by either clicking and dragging the view-able area up and down, or alternatively, you can click on the part of the document in the map that you want to scroll to. This is extremely useful for long documents! In the screenshot I have it set to ‘Wide’ but you can also choose from ‘Medium’ and ‘Narrow’. You can easily show/hide the panel with a shortcut, on macOS, it is Command /.
This is a great view for seeing the layout of a document, I can very quickly switch sections based on the tags, like H3, H2 etc. It also helps me spot mistakes quickly. For example, if I have a section that is not showing on the outline it is more than likely I forgot to mark up a title. To navigate to another section all you need to do is click on it in the outline.
This is another great feature from many code editing applications. This feature gives you the ability to collapse a section of the document and later unfold it as required. You might be wondering why you would want to hide part of a document, the main reason would be to focus on the areas you are currently interested in. Using this review as an example, once I had finished writing the introduction and preferences sections, I no longer need to see them and therefore I folded them up.
This can produce a strange artifact in the navigator though, you will notice that by folding the section it still shows the space taken up in the navigator. Personally, I feel this is the way it should work as I can still get a feel for how large an area is taken up by that folded text.
When writing there are a few features that can help you be more productive and creative. For example, the ‘Focus’ mode will dim all text except for the current paragraph you are working on, I like this a lot as it helps me really tune in on the part I am currently writing.
When you right click something in the text editor you get a rich menu of tools to work with, this saves you from going to the application menu all the time. These tools include formatting text and applying styles, to editing colors and checking grammar with Web look up.
Writing Length Reference Tool
One feature I have never come across in any other writing application is the quick access reference for document lengths. For example, with a couple of clicks, I can check the suggested length for Twitter, Social Networks, Emails, Short Stories and Books to name just a few. This is a great feature to keep you on track for respecting reference rules that users might be expecting when reading your documents. I would love to see this taken further and used as targets while you are writing.
Write! has something called ‘Sessions’. This provides the opportunity to have any open documents act like a group, by creating or switching sessions, you can alternate between groups of open tabs (documents). Great for research purposes. I like to use them as a way to keep open a series of productivity documents including a task/checklist and project notes. By using sessions I can check what I still have to get done and write the document without ever having to leave the application to switch to my task tracker.
Once you have finished creating your new masterpiece you naturally reach the time to publish. Write! offers built-in support for Medium, WordPress and Write! platform.
First, you choose the platform, fill in the appropriate options and publish, yes it is that simple! If you publish to the Write! platform you can manage those documents via the Web control panel after you login to your account.
There is a lot to like in Write! For me, it provides a comfortable writing environment with some of the best features of programs I use every day on the Mac. On Windows and Linux it is by far one of the better applications I have used, not only because of the features but also the way the application looks. So many times I have found writing applications that offer a great experience but look like something designed in the 90’s, this is particularly bad on Windows and Linux. So for me, it was a refreshing change to find something that did not offend my designer sensibilities combined with a level of productivity that make it a daily use app.
A couple of times I did find the program a little slow, I am going to speculate that the application uses a common practice of wrapping a Web written application in a wrapper on the desktop, for those that are not familiar with this terminology, it enables developers to write cross-platform applications using Web programming. I know it cannot be the hardware as my machines are all Intel i7 CPU’s with 32GB of ram and plenty of speed.
One area that keeps me using another tool as part of my writing is mobile, I would love to see an iOS version for the iPad and iPhone. This is very often a big part of my workflow when writing. A win for the Microsoft based tablets is that I can use the desktop Windows version.
I would also like to see the ability to drag and drop images from my machine to a document and have the image appear inline ready for upload rather than just a URL link to the file.
So is Write! my application of choice for writing? On Windows and Linux it is easily yes, the cross-platform and cloud sync make it an easy win for me. I do not need the power and over complexity of Word, I just need to write and publish without having to overthink everything.
On macOS, it is only beaten by Ulysses for me due to my comments above regarding images and the curious choice to not use the OS built-in dictionary. For example, I had to teach the dictionary that iOS, iPhone, and iPad are indeed words, something the system already knows and should be taken advantage of.
For the price, Write! is a must try for anyone serious about writing and finding themselves looking for an application that gets out of the way when writing whilst being helpful when needed.
This review does contain an affiliate link for Write! if you are interested in purchasing, this helps me keep providing you great content without throwing annoying adverts at you like most other sites.