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Best Free Creative Writing Software For Mac

Best Free Creative Writing Software For Mac

















































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The best free software for writers 2016

If you’re an aspiring novelist, this free software will help you commit your ideas to the page

Better than Microsoft Word

Writers tend to make a very big deal of their tools, whether those tools are delicate pens or ancient typewriters. Increasingly, though, they’ll talk about their software. Even the most genteel literary event can soon devolve into a fist-fight between fans of Scrivener and Ulysses (both of which cost around £27, US$40, AU$54).

Word is the default tool for many writers, but the latest version – Microsoft Word 2016 – will set you back £109.99 (US$109.99, AU$149) for the non-commercial edition. That’s almost as much as the full Microsoft Office 2016 suite, and a hefty price for cash-strapped wordsmiths.

There’s often a better option for those of us starving in garrets: free apps. Come with us as we discover the best free apps to turn your talent into something tangible.

FocusWriter’s extremely pared-back design might not appeal to everyone, but it removes all possible distractions

1. FocusWriter

Block out distractions and get on with some serious writing

Available for Linux, Windows and OS X, FocusWriter is designed to eliminate distractions so you can actually get on with the job of writing. To that effect it enables you to hide other apps, customize the way your text appears on screen and keep track of your progress. If you’re feeling particularly old-school you can even add typewriter sound effects.

It isn’t for everyone — it looks pretty daft on a 27-inch monitor, for example — but it’s a lovely little app with a very modest footprint that stops you keeping an eye on Twitter all day.

WriteMonkey is a streamlined text editor, but still packs all the features you’ll need

2. WriteMonkey

A text editor that cuts down on distractions, not features

We’re big fans of Markdown, the text-editing language that enables you to format, annotate, classify and link as you type with the minimum of fuss, and the superb WriteMonkey makes good use of it.

This free program delivers an incredibly stripped-down user interface that’s considerably more powerful than it looks. There’s an excellent outliner, automatic syntax highlighting and file organisation, and although Markdown takes a bit of getting used to, you’ll be very glad you made the effort.

Celtx is an excellent free alternative to premium scriptwriting software Final Draft

3. Celtx

Scriptwriting made simple — ideal for solo writers or small teams

Hollywood scriptwriters swear by the famous Final Draft software, but if you’re yet to sell a script then you might prefer an option that doesn’t cost any money. Say hello to Celtx. an online scriptwriting platform that’s designed for small creative teams and includes a solo screenwriting package — all for the excellent price of zero.

You don’t get the extensive collaboration tools of the paid-for products, but for straightforward scriptwriting it’s well worth a look before considering a scriptwriting tool that costs real money. Take a look at Trelby too — more on that in a moment.

Writer is part of the open source LibreOffice suite, and packs almost all the features you’d expect to find in a premium word processing program

4. LibreOffice Writer

A fully-featured alternative to Microsoft Word, completely free

LibreOffice is a free, open source alternative to Microsoft Office, and that means its Writer word processing app has many of the power features of Microsoft Word without the accompanying price tag.

Create your own ebooks with Sigil, which exports documents in EPUB format

5. Sigil

Designed specifically for creating your own ebooks ready to publish online

Many writing apps concentrate on print, but of course we’re Kindle kids now and many authors publish direct to ebooks. There are lots of ways to do that, including exporting from your favourite word processor, but Sigil is designed specifically for ebook editing; it isn’t something that’s been bolted onto an existing print-focused app.

It offers WYSIWYG editing, runs on Windows, Mac and (some) Linux, enables you to check imported documents against the EPUB standard and can sort out formatting and fix your editing too. It’s also expandable via plugins to add even more features.

Trelby is a free screenwriting tool that makes it easy to track characters, scenes and locations

6. Trelby

A powerful multi-platform screenwriting tool for budding playwrights

Trelby is available for Windows and for Linux, and it offers a very powerful screenwriting tool for free. It enforces standardized layouts, includes a character name database to avoid calling your hero Shooty McShootface, imports and exports in all the formats you could need, and has a built-in PDF generator

You can compare different versions of the same script, create scene, location, character and dialog reports, and work in draft, WYSIWYG or fullscreen mode to suit the way you work. Don’t even think about buying Final Draft without checking Trelby out first.

Scribus is an excellent free alternative to magazine industry standard Adobe Indesign

7. Scribus

Write and design great-looking magazines and books

If your words’ appearance is as important as their meaning, give Scribus a go: it’s a free, highly-rated desktop publishing application for Linux, OS X and Windows that’s capable of producing entire magazines (a little like a cut-down version of Adobe InDesign).

It’s been kicking around — and regularly updated — since 2001, and while it’s a little tricky to use at first it offers professional-grade publishing with layered, multi-page documents and good colour management support.

We wouldn’t want to make a 400-page book in it, but for shorter works it’s very clever.

Hemingway is a web-based text editor that highlights possible weaknesses in your writing

8. Hemingway

A streamlined text editor in your web browser

In addition to paid-for desktop software for Mac and Windows, Hemingway is available as a free web app. It’s well worth bookmarking: it’s designed to highlight long, complex sentences and common grammatical errors, and its use of colours makes it abundantly clear how clear or otherwise your text has become.

It’ll spot excessive use of unnecessary adverbs, and it can ensure that instances of the passive voice have been marked to alert you to their use. Hemingway is a really good tool for anyone who needs to communicate with maximum clarity. And we deliberately wrote this paragraph this way to annoy it.

Evernote isn’t a word processor, but it’s a great tool for collating ideas and jotting down notes whenever inspiration strikes

9. Evernote

Gather ideas together throughout the day so they’re ready to use later

Evernote isn’t much cop as a writing app, but it’s an absolutely superb research tool. We’ve used to organise all kinds of content including old photos of locations, snippets of overheard dialog, PDFs of scanned documents and all the little ideas that pop up when we’re out and about.

The basic Evernote app is free on Windows, Mac and mobile and offers cross-platform syncing and up to 60MB of new uploads per month; if that’s not enough the Plus service is a very reasonable £19.99 (about US$30, AU$40) per year.

Don’t forget about other note-taking apps either: Microsoft’s free OneNote is superb, and if you’re a Mac/iOS fan Apple’s Notes app is handy to have, especially when you can get Siri to add notes for you.

User Freemind to organise your thoughts before you begin writing

10. Freemind

Organise your ideas and defeat writer’s block before it can strike

Here’s another app for writers that isn’t strictly for putting your words on the screen: Freemind is all about mind mapping, and it enables you to record all the leaps and bounds your imagination makes whether you’re plotting a potboiler or trying to organise complex threads of an investigation.

It’s not something we’d necessarily recommend for mind mapping beginners — it looks a bit like a desktop publishing app having some kind of breakdown — but if you’re an experienced intellectual explorer it’s a lot tidier than a wall full of index cards and sticky notes.

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When tackling writing projects, you need the best writing environment possible to get the job done.

Fortunately for Mac users, there’s no shortage of writing tools available for long and short form writing projects. A good writing environment provides cross-platform access, collaboration features, and multi-format support. In addition, you may want to use a program that can assist you with all stages of the writing process, from brainstorming, drafting, to final edit.

Scrivener ($45)

For long form writing projects, such as manuals, research papers, and books, I prefer to work in Literature and Latte’s Scrivener ($45). It provides a format for managing research, outlining content, and drafting and exporting documents. This is a writing environment that makes it relatively easy to setup and manage chapters and sections of a writing project, allowing you to skip around and work on various sections of your document. It also provides an excellent distraction-free writing Four Distraction-Free Writing Environments For Mac Compared [Video] Four Distraction-Free Writing Environments For Mac Compared [Video] If you want to increase your writing productivity on your Mac, one sure fire way to do so is to use full-screen mode in a distraction-free text editor program. Read More environment Four Distraction-Free Writing Environments For Mac Compared [Video] Four Distraction-Free Writing Environments For Mac Compared [Video] If you want to increase your writing productivity on your Mac, one sure fire way to do so is to use full-screen mode in a distraction-free text editor program. Read More .

Scrivener allows you to categorise your writing, notes, webpages and media files under a system of folders and subfolders. All content is kept packaged in a project file where it can be saved on your Mac or a cloud service, such as Dropbox and Google Docs. There’s no iOS version of Scrivener, but it does include features for exporting and syncing drafts to iOS word pressing apps.

Scrivener supports exporting documents to all major platforms, including Microsoft Word, and even the Kindle ebook format. Scrivener however is not a desktop publishing program like Word and Pages. It’s a popular application for writing writing novels, as well as plays and scripts, and non-fiction projects. We have previously published an article about advanced techniques for using Scrivener Power Up Your Writing Workflow: Make Better Use Of Scrivener Power Up Your Writing Workflow: Make Better Use Of Scrivener When it comes to getting a research paper, ebook or novel completed, Scrivener can help you stay organized and motivated — that is, if you know how to use some of its best features. Read More. in addition to our free PDF beginner’s manual, Your Guide to Scrivener Your Guide To Scrivener Your Guide To Scrivener Read More .

Pages ($20, free with new Macs)

Apple’s classic iWork Pages ($19.99) program is billed as both a word processor and desktop publishing layout software. It can easily handle simple reports, resumés, newsletters, fliers, and even entire book manuscripts.

Pages is not cluttered with lots of buttons in the toolbar, but that doesn’t mean it’s not packed with features. The latest current version (5.5) displays tools according to a selected element in a document. For instance, when text is selected, the font, body, and alignment tools are appear in the sidebar. Likewise, when an image element is selected, the image adjustment, and object arrangement tools appear. Though this approach means the tool sidebar is no longer floating off to the side as in previous versions of the application, it does reduce redundant mouse clicks in order to get the appropriate tools.

Advance features include 2D and 3D chart templates, tools for creating footnotes and endnotes, and tracking changes made to a document. Pages automatically saves previous versions of a document which allows users to revert back to or copy from previous drafts. Pages documents can be exported to PDF, Word, and even ePub for ebook publication. The online and iOS versions of Pages (previous version reviewed here iOS Pages Turns Your iPad Into a Desktop Publishing Device iOS Pages Turns Your iPad Into a Desktop Publishing Device If you are using your iPad like a laptop computer or notebook, Apple’s iOS version of its word processor, Pages ($9.99), is exclusively designed for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. In its most recent. Read More ) mirror the features of the desktop client, providing nearly seamless workflow and collaboration between writing environments.

Unfortunately there are a group of older users who are still waiting for Apple to add features they removed from previous versions of Pages, and the App Store reviews very much reflect this. Regardless, Pages is still simple and user-friendly word processor for newcomers.

Microsoft Word ($140 as part of Office for Mac 2011)

For good or bad, Microsoft Word 2011 ($139.99 for the Home Edition) is still the industry standard for writing platforms. The Word version for Mac probably has the fullest range of feature and tools for both writing and desktop publishing, though compared to Pages, Word may appear cluttered and somewhat challenging to use.

Like it or not, Word is still widely used on both the Mac and PC. It includes a wide range of document templates — from newsletters and brochures, to reports and resumé layouts. The application’s toolbar includes text formatting tools, dozens of data and table formats, and SmartArt graphical templates for inserting various types of 3D charts that pull data from PowerPoint, Excel spreadsheets and Outlook mail. Word also supports Pages documents, if you need or want to work in both environments.

As with Pages, the online and the recently released free iOS versions of Word make it a cross-platform program for writing collaboration and writing in different environments. Unlike with Pages, Microsoft’s online version of Word and its other office suite of applications require a monthly subscription, whereas the iWork suite is available to anyone with an iCloud account.

LibreOffice (free)

If you’re looking for a free writing environment that includes many of the features found in Pages and Word, LibreOffice is worth a download. While its user interface is somewhat dated, and is not as attractive as Pages, it is a cross-platform application that includes tools for formatting text, spell checking, inserting images and tables, and creating footnotes. Writer documents can also be exported to PDF and HTML, and it supports Office and Lotus 123 formats.

However, Writer does not track changes made to a document, and it doesn’t have a corresponding online or iOS client. The program also doesn’t include templates for various types of documents, but a basic set of templates can be downloaded and installed. It might not be the most robust writing environment, but it gets the job done.

Note: You might be scratching your head when considering the differences between LibreOffice and OpenOffice, but generally speaking LibreOffice is making some of the best progress in terms of innovation and code optimization – but you be the judge !

Ulysses ($45)

Soulmen’s Ulysses III is advertised as “a smooth writing experience” – and that certainly could be the case for many users. Ulysses is a clutter-free writing environment that also provides tools for managing multiple writing projects. It’s not a desktop publication program, but it includes support for Markdown Learning Markdown: Write For The Web, Faster Learning Markdown: Write For The Web, Faster Markdown is essentially a syntax language for formatting text as you write. It’s fast, and built for people who write for the web. Read More. An iOS version of Ulysses will be released soon, and documents can also be synced with the iOS app, Daedalus Touch .

Ulysses provides a distraction-free writing platform Four Distraction-Free Writing Environments For Mac Compared [Video] Four Distraction-Free Writing Environments For Mac Compared [Video] If you want to increase your writing productivity on your Mac, one sure fire way to do so is to use full-screen mode in a distraction-free text editor program. Read More that includes a typewriter scrolling feature in which the current line of typing stays positioned at the selected top, middle, or bottom of the document. Its two left panels can be hidden, and the software supports full screen mode typing. With Ulysses, documents are not saved in the Finder, but instead they are kept together in a library, organized by writing projects and individual “sheets.” The Ulysses library can be saved to iCloud, Dropbox, or anywhere in your Mac Finder.

For text and header formatting, Ulysses includes a handy sidebar of Markdown attributes for applying to selected text. It also keeps track of writing related stats, including character and word count, and supports export to PDF, Word, RTF, TXT, and ePub.

Write ($10)

The note-taking and Markdown Mac client, Write ($9.99), is similar to Ulysses, but it allows for managing and syncing documents and folders in multiple locations, including iCloud, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Documents and notes can also be tagged and starred, and there’s support for Markdown.

Write includes typewriter mode, as well an option for fullscreen distraction-free writing. Notes or documents can be share shared directly from Write to email, AirDrop, Messages, Twitter and Facebook, and there is support for HTML preview. And as you might expect, there’s also an iOS version of Write Write App: A Beautiful iOS Text Editor With Markdown Support & Dozens of Actions Write App: A Beautiful iOS Text Editor With Markdown Support & Dozens of Actions Writing apps for the iPad and iPhone are plentiful. We’re lucky enough to live in a time when developers are coming up with new ways to edit text using unique features in new apps. This. Read More that can either sync through iCloud or Dropbox. Check out a 7-day trial version of Write to see if it fits your needs.

MarsEdit ($40)

If you’re managing various blogs, the long established blogging editor MarsEdit ($39.99) provides support for WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, TypePad, Movable Type, and several other programs. I use MarsEdit for drafting most of my articles for this very website, mainly because its features are faster for embedding URL links, images, and header formats.

MarsEdit provides options for typing in WYSIWYG mode, as well as HTML and Markdown editors Write, Edit & Manage Blog Posts Faster With MarsEdit for OS X Write, Edit & Manage Blog Posts Faster With MarsEdit for OS X While WordPress is the quintessential blogging service, writing blogs directly in its text editor is not always user friendly. That’s why I use MarsEdit for composing and uploading all of my blog posts. Read More. You can manage and edit uploaded blog posts from within MarsEdit, and if for some reason the application crashes, your current draft is automatically saved.

Plenty of Options

There’s hardly no shortage of writing environments for the Mac. Others include the blogging apps, Drafts. and Blogo 2 (reviewed here Blogo 2 Is The Mac Blogging App You’ve Been Looking For Blogo 2 Is The Mac Blogging App You’ve Been Looking For One thing I’ve noticed Windows switchers complain about about is a lack of a solid OS X blogging client. That’s about to change – Blogo 2 is out, and it’s very, very good. Read More ), my favorite journal writing app, Day One Keep a Digital Diary with Day One for Mac OS X and iOS Keep a Digital Diary with Day One for Mac OS X and iOS Everyone has a story to tell. It’s not always a story in need of an audience, sometimes a story just needs to be told. You may want to continue the journal you started when you. Read More. and iBooks Author for ePub publications How To Write Your First Book In iBooks Author How To Write Your First Book In iBooks Author Apple recently introduced iBooks Author in a live presentation at the Guggenheim in New York. The software is aimed at textbook writers and publishers, but it can just as well be used for producing cookbooks. Read More. Each of these applications offer unique features for particular writing and collaboration needs.

Let us know what you think of these writing platforms and which ones you prefer.

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