Word processors are like pantyhose. Everyone has a favorite brand. Bad analogy? Even men have a favorite brand of pantyhose, and probably a favorite word processor.
From Microsoft’s gargantuan Word monstrosity, to Apple’s anemic but well-priced TextEdit, there’s a word processor out there with your name on it. Provided your name is Bean.
Word processing is one of what used to be called killer apps for personal computer users. Then came email and web browsers, and suddenly every Mac came with a bare bones word processor. That’s what TextEdit in OS X is—basic.
I have a toddler with peanut butter covered hands all over my Mac’s keyboard, so do you think I’m a kidder? I hope it’s peanut butter. It doesn’t smell like peanut butter. In fact… I’ll be back.
Word processors have style, character, flavor and purpose. Bean is no different, but different. Bean is lean, uncluttered (some would call that a total lack of redeeming features; I call it focus).
Bean is also fast and very easy to use. If you bought Microsoft Word and tend to get lost trying to figure out how to format a document, then try Bean.
How can it hurt? It can’t. Bean is so lean it doesn’t even come with a price tag. It’s free.
I like a number of the basic features in Bean. There’s a live word count. As you type, the number of words changes while you watch. Even Word doesn’t do that. The Get Info panel shows even more statistics.
Do you like sliders? No, not the greasy spoon sliding mini-cheeseburgers from White Castle, but sliders on Mac software? Bean has sliders. That alone makes it better than Word which doesn’t have sliders. The Bean sliders let you change various settings.
Bean also does autosaving, comes with a page layout mode, and an alternate colors mode for those of you who learned your word processing back in the early Precambrian Word days. White text on blue background.
This is a word processor that the software developer calls lean, some would call bare bones, others would say, “hey, this works just fine for me; better than TextEdit, less filling than Word, and it tastes great.”
By the way, it wasn’t peanut butter. It started out as peanut butter, but it ended as what looked like peanut butter but definitely is not peanut butter any more. The fragrance should have been my first clue.
As a point of clarification, Bean can also be called a Rich Text Editor, if anything, to avoid any association with Microsoft’s Word, which is commonly considered the Word processor of choice among those who haven’t tried Bean.
Bean reads Rich Text format documents, exported by nearly any other word processor. It reads and writes .txt files, .webarchive format, .html files, and the terrifically under appreciated .bean format. Word can’t do that.
If reading, writing, importing and exporting various word processor file formats is what you yearn to do on Saturday evenings, then Bean will present a challenge. It reads Word documents in .doc format, .docx format. the .odt Open Document format, and the old 2003 Word XML format, .xml.
Unfortunately, the fun stops at just writing, and ends with other features you may find useful. There’s no footnotes, no columns, no pre-defined text styles.
Bean doesn’t do everything but it runs on Tiger and Leopard, and it runs fast on both those ancient and rapidly aging PowerPC Macs, as well as the svelt, fast, and lusty Intel inside Macs.
Did I mention that Bean is free?