Five Ways iA Writer Outperforms macOS’s TextEdit

Image: iA Writer

Mac users who create text snippets, compose content, write texts and write other notes and ideas usually turn to TextEdit from macOS. While it’s a competent text app, there’s no natural equivalent for Apple’s iOS users, who also commonly use Macs. Information Architects iA Writer is a deceptively simple Markdown-language text-editing app that allows files to be accessed and edited on all Apple devices (Mac, iPad, and iPhone), if a user both wants and purchases the licenses corresponding macOS and iOS. In addition to the program’s ease of use and minimal user interface, iA Writer is a powerful writing program that surpasses TextEdit in many other ways. Here are 5 ways iA Writer provides important features that TextEdit lacks.

1. Full Markdown support

iA Writer provides full Markdown language support, making it easy for authors to stay in the writing flow when writing web copy, news articles, blog entries, social networks and similar content that often includes hypertext language (HTML). There’s no need to lift your hands off the keyboard, break the beat, reach for a mouse, and start right-clicking, copying, and inserting hyperlinks, as is sometimes necessary with TextEdit.

Instead, with full Markdown support, links can be integrated into the natural flow of writing, as seen in Figure A. This year alone I have written tens of thousands of words for corporate web pages, marketing materials, newsletters, informational websites, blog posts and similar outlets and have found such a transforming convenience. With today’s distractions and our short attention span, don’t underestimate the importance of staying in one headspace while writing.

Figure A

Writing style without moving focus with Markdown in iA Writer
iA Writer provides full Markdown formatting capabilities, as well as multiple editing and exporting features.

If you are unfamiliar with Markdown formatting and do any type of writing, whether for work or to better organize your thoughts and plans, you should take a look at iA Branding Guide. By using simple punctuation, such as a single hash mark to format a word or phrase as a title, you can style text as you write.

With Markdown, you can stay in the flow of writing and never need to reach for a style selection somewhere in an ever-changing menu. The same goes for specifying italic (single asterisks around a word or phrase) and bold (double asterisks) styles. With the addition of a few touches, you can stay in the box while seamlessly integrating hyperlinks, emphasis, lists, bullets, and highlights. Convenience is a game changer.

2. Multiple export options

Although I sometimes write content in iA Writer that I never intend to publish anywhere else, I usually write for a newsletter, website, publication, or other medium. While some outlets work directly with a Markdown-formatted file, the endpoint is often WordPress, an HTML newsletter, website, or other source. Subsequently, I often provide publications with PDF and Word documents. iA Writer supports exporting text files to both. The program also supports exporting text files directly to HTML and project files.

When I tried to export macOS TextEdit files, hyperlinks in Markdown format, other headings and styles don’t translate correctly. The native macOS app, instead, generally performs best when writing plain or simple rich text that doesn’t require a lot of formatting or manipulation.

Yet much of the writing of marketing copy, creative content, and other written materials today benefits from features enabled by iA Writer and Markdown formatting. The multiple export options of the program, thereafter, prove necessary.

3. Built-in file browsing

When working with TextEdit, macOS proves a bit disruptive by first opening a window that mimics the Finder. From this file management window, Mac users can then create a new text document. iA Writer, on the other hand, opens a new file by default. And if you choose to open iA Writer with its library displayed, not only does the app open with a new file ready for text composition, but an iA Writer file navigation menu appears next to your open file.

These are subtle differences, I admit. But when you spend most of your day capturing thoughts, content, material, and writing, the convenience adds up. Switching between iA Writer files is also much easier. Mac users stay on top of their thoughts by easily navigating between files and documents in iA Writer.

4. Targeted Editing and Style Checking

I still remember when Microsoft introduced red underlines for text that its Word program didn’t recognize. As a professional author, this technical innovation has been incredibly helpful. iA Writer took the concept even further. The program includes multiple focus options that flag various elements with color coding to help spot errors, confusing passages, and opportunities for improved clarity.

In the program’s Focus menu, Mac users can choose to highlight specific syntax, such as nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and conjunctions, as shown in Figure B. The Focus menu also allows to highlight styles, including fillers, snaps, and redundancies. If you work in a specialized area, the app also supports specifying custom style alerts where you enter your own rules and exceptions using the program’s Preferences.

Figure B

Focus on the current writing when you activate the focus function.
iA Writer lets you highlight many variables while writing to help improve text composition.

The app’s ability to highlight shades doesn’t stop there. iA Writer’s focus capabilities also let you set the scope of focus — the area the app highlights and accentuates as you write — on a sentence or paragraph. These are compelling features that need to be experienced in the middle of writing to really appreciate them. But the app’s ability to focus your attention on the attributes you specify is a nifty feature that allows writers to better direct attention to the content they’re writing, as opposed to the app’s predetermined mechanisms used to collect this writing.

TextEdit, on the other hand, does useful spelling and grammar checking as you type, and even automatically corrects spelling – a feature I’ve learned over time to avoid putting in highlight specific passages, which I think works best for materials I often find myself composing. But the native text app doesn’t offer the many styling and focus options found in iA Writer that prove so effective.

5. Targeted Writing

With a few quick keyboard shortcuts – COMMAND + E toggles the browse library and file list to the current view and is one of my favorites – iA Writer can switch from showing a list of files you’re actively developing to only the text you’re actively composing. With the ability to display a single text file full screen with no other ribbons, toolbars, status menus or distractions present, combined with the ability to activate a single sentence or paragraph, iA Writer excels at limiting your Pay attention to the actual text you’re actively writing.

When Hog Bay Software Writing Room was originally released 11 years ago, its singular focus on text was my favorite feature. You can think of iA Writer as a similar typesetting app, only with the addition of several robust features that sharpen the focus on the copy and text that one writes, while enabling Markdown functionality and several editing options. export.

Priced at $29.99, it’s probably inevitable that the app will become a subscription product. I’ve become so dependent on the Markdown writing program that I’ll gladly pay a monthly fee, though. iA Writer’s minimal yet robust feature set helps sharpen writing, and in today’s business environment, the feature is worth it.