Mac, iPad and iPhone users who frequently write reports, social media posts and other material need the features and assistance iA Writer provides that other Markdown apps don’t. Find out why.
<figure class="image pull-none image-large"><span class="img aspect-set " style="padding-bottom: 62%"><img src="https://www.techrepublic.com/a/hub/i/r/2021/03/12/e3d8cf8e-8843-4adc-b954-dff505b4bc0b/resize/770x/e06057d6f9fcf1bc2819bed99614171d/istock-1290690912.jpg" class="" alt="typing" width="770"/></span><figcaption><p> Image: iStock/scyther5 </p></figcaption></figure><p>If you're a Mac or iPad user who regularly drafts copy, authors reports, produces blog and social media posts or otherwise writes material professionally, iA Writer may be the most helpful application you didn't know you need. This fact remains true even if all you usually compose are email messages, Google document notes and Microsoft Teams posts.
What are the benefits and features of Markdown apps like iA Writer?
Because iA Writer uses Markdown, the lightweight markup language that simplifies formatting, you can write text that can be used in multiple locations — a common need when preparing product, service, advertising, marketing, technical and financial performance information. This means you don’t have to suffer repeated frustrations when importing your text within various applications (including Word, Pages and Adobe products), cloud programs (such as CRM, financial and ERP platforms) and web services (Ghost, Medium and WordPress among them).
iA Writer is not unique in that respect. Common features of popular Markdown applications include the ability to export to HTML, Microsoft Word, PDF and and rich text file formats, support for common Markdown language text-formatting code (such as single asterisks for italics, double asterisks for bold-face type and the pound symbol for headings), iCloud file-storage compatibility, Dark Mode support and cross-platform (Mac, iPad, iPhone and even Windows) compatibility.
What are alternatives to iA Writer?
iA Writer includes all those capabilities, similar to competing products from Bear, Byword, MacDown, Marked 2, Markdown Pro and Ulysses. But iA Writer’s combination of a simple-but-elegant user interface, an easily navigated organizer for locating and storing files, customizable menus, basic time-saving templates and optional focus elements that help improve writing help explain why I’m increasingly encountering other media mentions and authors admitting to a dependence on the app. iA Writer adds a unique blend of additional features in a way that genuinely assists the writing process.
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How do I use iA Writer?
Writers, and professionals who must regularly draft text for work, know how easily distractions derail the process. iA Writer helps with that problem by encouraging and assisting writers with maintaining their focus. Although the program features simple menus and exponentially fewer options than, say, Microsoft Word, iA Writer’s Focus Mode (Figure A) makes concentrating on your writing and minimizing distractions automatic. Regardless, the program’s writing-focused features still provide a wealth of helpful options—automatic highlighting of unrecognized words, multiple exporting capabilities, PDF previews, common formatting choices, multiple view settings and seamless cloud storage integration to name but a few—that assist the writing, creative, operations, production and publishing processes.
The app also assists in improving the actual quality of your writing. With the ability to quickly enable highlighting adjectives, nouns, adverbs, verbs and conjunctions in different colors automatically as you type, repetitive and unnecessary words readily become apparent.
Why’s that important? As an eager English major sporting a still-fresh B.A., a seasoned journalism mentor once prohibited me from using adjectives and adverbs in news releases. I was perplexed. Wasn’t that part of the point of a promotional announcement, to play up the drama? But he taught me a lesson that would repeatedly prove true throughout my career: The best communications are short, sincere and free of extraneous text.
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The program itself is low load. The app requires few CPU cycles and little memory. I don’t even recognize iA Writer as placing any load on my Mac, iPad (whose iA Writer presentation is shown in Figure B) or iPhone, so quickly does it load and respond to typing and comments. It’s footprint is tiny. Yet, everything I draft—from client reports to news articles to blog posts—comes more easily.
Thanks to iA Writer’s simple interface that focuses on and prioritizes writing, I find my attention better concentrated and my production more efficient. Because iA Writer uses an easy-to-read monotype font, by default, my confidence builds after typing just a few sentences. The New Yorker recently commented on this phenomenon, noting how the font’s equal spacing of each letter and punctuation mark generates a sense of progress not found using formats that don’t dedicate equal space to each character. Admittedly, it’s weird, but a true sense of progression results.
Fortunately, you can experience iA Writer with no commitment: A free trial of the program is available for Mac users. iPadOS users, however, need to pony up $29.99 for the iPad app. But, to be fair, you receive both the iPadOS and iOS version when purchasing the program from Apple’s App Store. Just be prepared to pay another $29.99 for the Mac version. So far, the two purchases are the best investments I’ve made and are helping me get 2022 off to a pleasant, productive start.
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