[Poll] What macOS writing app would you use if you could?

  • Microsoft Word
  • Pages
  • Nisus Writer Pro
  • Mellel
  • Google Docs
  • Ulysses
  • Scrivener
  • NeoOffice
  • LibreOffice
  • Something else

0 voters

I am required by circumstances to use Microsoft Word for writing final drafts of documents. I would rather not. I would rather use Pages. I think.

But there are options out there. If you have, or could have, freedom to use any software to write final drafts that you are creating to give to your job, a client, a publisher, etc., what would you choose? Up to 3 choices.

I’ll keep track of the Something Else responses, below, for a while:

  • iA Writer
  • Email compose view
  • TeXShop -> LaTeX
  • TexPad
  • TextEdit

Old school: WordPerfect, WordStar, Wang, ed, XyWrite, ATEX


My current writing app of choice is iA Writer.


Email compose view. :slight_smile:

Ugh. This is a tough one. Final drafts of one page memos are different beasts that final drafts of what I call publication-quality documents.

I’ve chosen MS Word if for no reason than it is the standard app for memos where I work. I am truly agnostic at that point and could just as well do TextEdit->RTF but then no one else would listen to me (b/c they’d wonder what to do with an RTF or Pages file).

Otherwise, TeXShop -> LaTeX as the alternate for the real quality stuff.

And this is to be macOS right? Or do you want to split the macOS/iOS discussion?


It sort of hangs on what a final draft needs to be, as well as the document size. I’d say that except for letters (for which Pages is great) my final drafts are done in Scrivener, but it is a draft and I wouldn’t submit anything in Scrivener directly, but would run through a real word processor to touch up the formatting.

My final drafts have to be in Word. I write mostly in Scrivener and then export to Word. For simpler pieces, I just write in Word. That’s fine with me. I tried using Pages for a while, but every now and then I’d forget to export to Word and send the Pages file by mistake, which momentarily baffles my mostly-PC-using colleagues. That’s no big deal if it’s somebody in my department, but I’d rather not make that mistake with people who may not know me and might resent my wasting their time with a careless mistake like that.

I love Pages, it’s really clean looking and a breeze to edit.

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Runs on macOS and iOS. It speaks LaTeX and Markdown.

Final Drafts … Any particular style or format needed?

Is my question still relevant? In the past if I needed APA styling I’d use Word with a suitable template. …epub, tables and numbers?

I use mainly pages, sometimes google docs, if all else fails I use Word through Office 365. It depends on the project I am doing.

Often times, I can save a document I am typing in Pages as a Word of PDF document.

Pages and Smart Annotations with the Pencil have been revolutionary for my editing process.

See https://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=51585 for an extended discussion.

“Something else” = iA Writer in my case. Did previously favor Ulysses and, before that, Scrivener. Still have all three but iAW is daily driver at least for now, especially since I’ve really glommed onto the plain-text/Markdown thing (real MMD, not MDXL).

Edit, 2019-05-07: When I wrote the above, I was knee-deep in iCloud sync issues that since have been remedied (I hope). Do once again favor Ulysses for long-form stuff but with the caveat that, for shorter stuff and/or things that require vanilla Markdown or MMD, iA Writer is my go-to. (My problem with Scrivener is of my own making: too easily distracted by its RTF-ness; I still admire it a great deal and use it on occasion.)

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None of Ulysses options work for you? Ulysses does more than XL. Not intended to be an attack.

I’m pleased that you have found an app you appreciate.

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Understood, but even the Ulysses folks will tell you that only Markdown XL gets you the whole gamut of Ulysses features — and, in any event, I prefer MultiMarkdown, an option Ulysses continues not to offer.

Also, I prefer a more transparent approach to default file storage — i.e., non-proprietary files with normal appearances in the Finder without the need for export (note that I said, “default file storage”; I do know about the External Folders feature but, again, you don’t get the full feature set that way).

To be sure, there are very sound technical reasons for why Ulysses does things differently, and I respect those reasons; but, as a result of these differences, it simply doesn’t meet my peculiar writing needs.

Ulysses 15, in particular, is an amazing app; and I’ve enjoyed writing in Ulysses for nearly a year now; but it’s no longer best for me. That’s all I’m saying.

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Why so complicated don’t forget TextEdit that comes with Mac OS

Thanks for the response.

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You make a good point; and, if Apple ever decides to build any degree of Markdown support into TextEdit, that’ll be a game-changer.

Good news. Markdown is plain text – so you can write markdown documents in TextEdit right now! Save as plain text files (use the .md extension for compatibility) and open with Marked 2 for preview.

TextEdit on the left / Marked 2 on the right – best of all worlds


Oh, absolutely. I just meant for those who would rather have it all in one app—certainly intended to cast no shade on the excellent Marked 2.

Someday, I’d like to see MultiMarkdown in Ulysses. Most of my needs are already handled in Ulysses’ Markdown XL:

  • headers
  • bold
  • italics
  • dividers
  • links
  • images
  • Lists (ordered, unordered)
  • block quotes

According to this link, the features that MultiMarkdown adds to basic Markdown are:

  • footnotes
  • tables
  • citations and bibliography (works best in LaTeX using BibTeX)
  • math support
  • automatic cross-referencing ability
  • smart typography, with support for multiple languages
  • image attributes
  • table and image captions
  • definition lists
  • glossary entries (LaTeX only)
  • document metadata (e.g. title , author , etc.)

The one feature I’ve personally wanted in Ulysses is tables. For now, I can create Markdown tables with another app and copy/paste it into Ulysses. I can see how other writers would want some of the other MultiMarkdown features.

In a March 12, 2019 blog post, The Sweet Setup has its own article for best writing app.

There’s a whole other series of articles for writing apps:

In the end, it all depends on the size and scope of the project. I’d go Scrivener if I had to do do a large writing project. My writing app for journaling remains Day One. Google Docs would be my preferred choice for collaborative work. But my default writing app is Ulysses for almost everything else with Pages for final touchup before converting to Word.

I’m just thankful that the Mac and iOS platforms have a wide variety of apps targets for different audiences.