The word-processing app market is flooded with alternatives, most of them already very well established like the popular options of Pages or Microsoft Office’s Word. There’s even a whole other market for super simple or “distraction-free” word processors, which we’ve covered before.
However, there’s not really an in-between alternative. Something that mixes a little bit of both worlds: that feels lightweight and simple, but also has the primordial features and the customization of a full-fledged processor. I’ve just described an app called Write. Want to check it out?
The interface of Write, at first, looks a whole lot like that of Pages, and that’s because they’re pretty much identical. In the center of the app you have the main area where your pages are located, and above them you have two toolbars, a smaller one with settings related to the font and text formatting; and another where you can find the usual features like printing, opening files or revealing the inspector.
Unlike Pages though, Write is a lot more understandable at first sight, and there aren’t many buttons lying around, just a few key ones. That’s where the beauty of Write lies: it’s simple, yet quite functional. It’s also very affordable. Write goes for a mere $5.99 on the App Store.
While Write may look like a very simplistic word processor, it actually has plenty of features, they’re just hidden behind certain menus. For example, the “Info” button on the toolbar will bring up a page where you can easily modify certain aspects of your document: change the margins, view document information, modify the header and footers, and have access to a few statistics like the frequency of certain words through the document.
The usual stuff that you would expect from an app like this is also included, like spell check, find and replace, and of course, all of the text formatting options that you might need, from fonts and hyperlinks to indentation, lists and tables. A handy toolbar on the bottom gives you quick access to a few of these features, and also displays the words, characters and pages of the document.
Write has the ability to save files in a number of formats, including .doc and .pdf, but also as Rich Text Files and Open Office documents, although strangely not as a Pages document. You can also easily print or create a PDF of your document by using one of the dedicated buttons on the menu toolbar. Reading documents of certain files, is a different story, though.
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Because of all the formats available for word processing documents, the compatibility that these kind of apps have with the files from other file types is pretty important. A word processor is not going to be very useful for you if they always break the original formatting of .doc documents or if they can’t open .pages files.
With Pages I wasn’t ever too happy with how it handled files with .doc or .docx extensions (which are arguably the most used file types still), most of the time when they had images or some sort of formatting other than plain text, I would get compatibility errors as soon as I opened the files. In the end the documents would open with only a few differences, and they would still look pretty much identical to the original one.
Unfortunately, Write isn’t much different, in fact it’s kind of worse in this area. It can save files in pretty much any popular format available and do so just fine, but at the time of opening files with complex formatting it doesn’t always go so well. I tried opening a bunch of .doc files, and while for the most part they were fine and readable, most of the formatting in them was broken and very far off from the original document. This is one area where Pages shines a lot over this app.
Maybe it’s just me and my old-ish slow computer, but I have to think long and hard before opening a .pages or .doc file, because I know that opening Word or Pages is going to take a long time and it’s probably going to have an effect on my computer’s performance. Especially Microsoft’s Office apps, which are very complex and have tons and tons of features that 90% of the time I do not need nor use, and that only end up making the app heavy and slower to load.
For being quite a lightweight app, Write doesn’t leave behind features like full screen Lion support or any other primordial features of a word processor. It is missing some stuff, but for the most part it has everything that you might find essential, and you really can’t go wrong with the price.
Overall, Write is a very well-done, affordable and simplistic alternative to the popular word processors. If you are only going to be using your processor to occasionally create simple text-based documents, but still want some basic formatting features, then this might be a wise purchase for you instead of going the full way and paying $20 bucks for Pages or even the ridiculous $120 dollars for Office for Mac.
For creating documents, Write is an amazing alternative. It’s really stellar if you are only going to be using basic tools for formatting your documents, but as far as replacing Pages or Word and their capability to open documents from other file types, then it falls a bit short. What do you think?