Do you remember MacWrite on the first Macs, circa 1984? Outside of showing a bomb graphic when it crashed, MacWrite didn’t do much.
However, it did enough to surprise Apple honcho Steve Jobs who had commissioned another word processor for the Mac—just in case. That unique Mac app was called WriteNow, and considered by many to be the best ever Mac word processor.
WriteNow Lives As Bean
I remember WriteNow for the Mac. It was elegant, had enough features, handled documents better than MacWrite, and was blazingly fast.
WriteNow’s history started in 1984 and ended in 1993.
The app was so good it would run on PowerPC Macs, and Mac OS Classic under Mac OS X.
If you remember WriteNow then you’ll be completely at home with Bean. If ever there was WriteNow reincarnated, Bean is it.
Bean is open source (free) and comes with more features than the original WriteNow, but remains very fast, easy-to-use, and uncluttered. In this case, uncluttered doesn’t mean devoid of features.
Bean features a Get Info panel for plenty of statistics, including a live word count. The scale can be changed using the built-in slider. There’s a simple page layout mode, date-stamped backups, automatic backups, and more.
Bean is more than OS X’s built-in TextEdit, but less than Microsoft Word. It opens and reads and exports Microsoft Word documents, OpenDocument, and exports PDFs, and RTFs.
There’s even a full screen and statistics mode, often called distraction free writing.
Full screen means you see what you’re writing and nothing else (except word count and character count) while you’re writing.
The floating Inspector makes it easy to change font and style and size, change colors, spacing and line height and much more. The Toolbar has just the tools that make sense.
Above all else, Bean is fast and familiar, capable but not cluttered, elegant and easy. Since we’re picking the best of free Mac apps this week, Bean gets to the top of the word processor list on sheer usability.
To try Bean is to know it. To know it is to love it. You may need the power and complexity of Microsoft Word. If not, this one is highly recommended.