Apple has a wonderful television commercial highlighting iPad Pro and iOS 11, where a child asks the question, “What’s a computer?” Honestly, I know school age students who ask, “What’s a typewriter?”
My day job has me working with hundreds of Macs and PCs and helping many hundreds more teachers, staff, and students. The school where I work is more modern than most, but still has a few relics from the past. One of them is a typewriter. Yes, we have students who have no idea what a typewriter is or how to use it. They may recognize the keys (qwerty, of course), but the thought of putting in a piece of paper and manually moving keys to print one letter at a time is totally archaic.
Here’s how to bring a bit of yesteryear to your Mac.
For those few Mac users who want a touch of the ancient past– as in the last century when our communication devices were analog in nature; or totally mechancial– Winston is the way to go. This cleverly designed little app is free and does one thing. It lets you type on your Mac kinda sorta mostly as if you’re typing on a typewriter.
You’ll see what looks like paper on the screen and hear plenty of sounds that bring back a little mechanical history mixed with into a digital environment. See? Typewriter, meet Mac screen.
Don’t worry about learning how to use Winston because it isn’t packed with features. Think of it as a combo writing app that harkens back to yesteryear with typing sounds and a focused environment, mashed up with some of the benefits of digital writing on a Mac.
For example, unlike a mechanical typewriter, Winston wraps text back around to the next line automatically. There’s a built-in text cursor. While it comes with animations and sounds you can turn them off with a few clicks from the control button.
You get a variety of typesets, extra sounds, different papers to view on the screen, and different backgrounds; all of which can be mixed and matched to your requirements.
What you won’t find are all the accoutrements of typical word processors. Just sit down and start writing. Save the file wherever you want (which makes it useful if you use iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive).
Even the built-in fonts are relics of the past and absolutely basic. Classic, Medium Weight, Bold, Modern. That’s it. Sounds are typewriter-like, too, and include Classic, Light Touch, Heavy Touch, and Loud and Clanky. Even onscreen paper has a few styles and ranges from pristine and white, to crumpled to a pleasant sepia tone.
Winston is free so there is nothing to not like. Think of it as a free digital trip back to the past so you can remember what it was like to type on a typewriter but without all the mess.