The quest for the perfect writing tool

Jason Snell, writing on Six Colors:

In trying out different writing tools on iOS, I’ve discovered that I actually have a checklist of features that I want. And of course, the frustrating thing is that different apps check different boxes, but none of them do it all!

I’ve been through the same thing last year, in my quest for the perfect text editor. It took me a while to find what I wanted:

So I kept looking. I was looking for an app with a fair amount of speed, a satisfying way of managing files, a few Markdown-specific tools, decent enough looks, and not trying to be a replacement for Apple Notes, which I still use and love as my go-to notes app.

I now use Drafts. I even explained recently how I use the app and what Drafts actions and shortcut I use. Reading Snell’s article, I completely understand why he doesn’t use it: the lack of a file syncing option through Dropbox or iCloud Drive. I get it: I think this is precisely the reason why I stopped using iA Writer in the first place, as I kept accidentally creating new entries in the Dropbox folder synced to my blog. Drafts creates this separation that I need to avoid creating new posts from unfinished drafts. Like I said last year:

Drafts is working for me, and it may not work for you. The journey of finding the best app for yourself is what’s interesting, and there are so many great apps available, especially on the Mac. I could still use iA Writer, and probably be happy with it, but again, I am a curious tech enthusiast, and trying out all those new apps was a satisfying, energising process.

My main conclusion reading Snell’s piece on which iPadOS writing app use, and reading again my own posts on why and how I use Drafts, is that MacOS, iPadOS, and iOS are incredibly rich app ecosystems. You can spend hours and even days just trying new apps, configuring them just the way you like it, looking for that gem that fits your workflow perfectly, and even having the luxury to be able to choose among several good options.

I use a Windows PC for my job, and even if my workflow is completely different from what I do on the Mac, the app situation is terrible in comparison to what you can find on Apple devices,1 and I’m not just talking about writing apps here, but many other daily apps like todos, mail, and calendar apps. From my experience, you can find a one or two decent options, but that’s pretty much it.2

  1. I would also say the same thing about Android. I used to have an Android phone back when I worked at Xiaomi, and before that too, and, to give just one example: good luck finding a good calendar app that is not Google’s.↩︎

  2. iA Writer has a good Windows app, but I think it lacks the polish of the Mac app, and some features are also missing. I may give it another shot soon to see if it improved since the last time I tried it. Currently I use Notepads.↩︎