There’s a reason the Mac has so many different word processors. From the free and built-in TextEdit on OS X, to Microsoft’s behemoth Word, and everywhere in between, writers have different needs, tastes, and objectives, so the tools of choice are varied.
For Mac users who write for a living the choices tend to range into the commercial realm, with apps that offer features specifically for writers involved in the creation of more complex writing.
At the free end is a long-time favorite which I use often and for multiple reasons. Bean is free. It’s fast. The feature set is elegant (just the right amount of functionality for my needs). And the interface is uncluttered. It doesn’t get in the way of writing.
Bean looks and feels familiar (indeed, it is a modern day version of the venerable WriteNow from the 20th century).
As good as Bean is, it also has limits. Built-in tabs make it easy to edit from one document to another. There’s a layout view, a floating inspector, and a distraction-free, fullscreen writing mode. Bean also has spell check, auto save, and word count, all familiar requirements for writers.
Where Bean falls short full-fledged writing apps such as Mellel pick up the pace.
There isn’t much about writing that Mellel cannot do, including bewilder you with more options than politicians have lies.
Mellel has a familiar, Mac-like word processor look but contains more features aimed a writers, scholars, or anyone who delves into research, and longer, more detailed documents.
Mellel has the standard floating toolbar but this version has tabs, which reveal even more tools.
In fact, tools are what sets Mellel apart from Word and other document creation wannabes. Mellel gives you more control over the document’s layout, including an outline plane which makes it easier to move around a lengthy document.
Mellel also handles multiple columns with ease, including control over embedded images, text flow, and custom headings. Writers will appreciate the ease of working with citations and bibliographies (palettes are your friend).
There’s also a fullscreen mode, dictionaries on a per-language basis, plenty of templates (including custom templates), and the typical assortment of tabs, margins, indents, gutters, and other layout options.
If there’s a complaint about Mellel it’s how little you will learn about all the rest of the features from the 1996 style website. The best way is to download it and give it a try, but you’ll also find the number of features and functions to be somewhat daunting (the lengthy, 400 page PDF manual is a big help, but also daunting, and available only within the app).