My search for the perfect writing app continues, but with less urgency since the popular and free Bean was upgraded to run on macOS Sierra, and the Mac’s Notes app has become something of a mini-word processor that syncs well everywhere.
Remember, there is no shortage of good writing tools for Mac users, but I’ve become more enamored with apps that work everywhere you want to be, which is to say, Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Two popular Mac writing systems, Scrivener and Ulysses are now iOS, too, but today is all about Bear.
Bear With Me
Bear is one of those new breed Mac writing tools which has fewer writing features than traditional word processors, yet just enough tools to be clean, light, useful, faster, easy to learn, and mostly uncluttered. Yes, there is a Bear for iPhone and iPad but certain tools and functions as well as multi-device support requires a subscription (get used to subscriptions; more are on the way).
I found Bear a pleasure to view, and easier to use.
Because Bear is somewhat minimalist in nature it doesn’t take much effort to master, yet it becomes something of a bridge between mini-word processor, markup editor for programmers, and minimalist notes app with a few attachable features with the subscription version.
- Markup Editor – 20 programming languages
- Previews – see what you write
- Photos – drop in photos and images inline
- Cross-Note Links – keep notes organized by note
- Todos by Notes – easy to manage tasks
- Export – PDF, DOCX, JPG, HTML, etc.
- Focus Mode – think distraction free
- Plain Text – which makes notes transportable
- iCloud Sync – see the subscription
There’s much to like here. Bear comes with multiple themes and typical Mac smart data recognition options that include email addresses, colors, standard URLs, etc. There’s a custom shortcut bar on the iPhone and iPad versions for one-tap formatting, and hashtags to use to organize notes and find topics.
Other useful options that all such notes or writing apps should have include a simple formatting bar, and statistics for words, characters, read time, and total paragraphs.
In other words, Bear has plenty to like and even more if you don’t mind the subscription model, which, to be fair, is modest on a monthly basis, but adds up over time. Because Apple added a subscription option to Mac App Store and iOS App Store apps, expect to see more high quality apps adopt to a monthly or annual upgrade fee.
My jury is still out on subscriptions for apps. For some, I’m willing to pay without a blink. For others– Mail Butler, I’m looking at you– I do so begrudgingly because one function isn’t found elsewhere. Otherwise, if you want a better than minimalist writing tool, Bear is a good place to look.