My search for the ultimate word processor– a writing tool– has taken me from the classic WriteNow to Bean to various and sundry digital writing tools that seek to remove the complexities of word processors in favor of digital paper.
Personally, I don’t want to get into the argument of word processor vs. notes vs. distraction free writing apps for the Mac, mostly because I use all three, and have tried more than my fair share of whatever puts human thought onto digital paper. Think of what you see on the Mac’s screen (and, increasingly iPad screens) as digital paper. Think of the app as the digital pen.
Here is where pen meets paper– digitally. It’s an app called, well, Paper. Here’s what it looks like on the Mac.
Paper is devoid of the basic components of modern writing tools. There’s no toolbar, no sidebar, nothing that looks familiar unless all you use is a pencil and paper. Hit the keyboard and start writing. What you get is what you just wrote.
Paper isn’t devoid of tools, though. Just devoid of toolbars, floating tool palettes, and anything that resembles a typical word processor. Write first, process later.
Beyond the stark look of digital paper, Paper handles RTF– Rich Text Format. So, keyboard shortcuts are your friend. It also does Markdown and exports to PDF, RTF, and even HTML.
Think minimalism. Think feature restraint (a new age buzzword for fewer features). Think free? Think again. Paper is free to try, free to use, but if you want what all of us eventually want– features– those have a price tag.
Actually, two price tags. One for Personalization options. $9.99. And more Writer’s Tools. $9.99.
Paper is something like WYSIWYG– what you see is what you get– but you don’t see much without the tools but what you get is what you write, and without the typical learning curve and distractions of the traditional word process.
If simple is beautiful and less is more then Paper is as close to digital paper and pen as you can get this side of handwriting with a pencil and a piece of paper. Or, Pencil on iPad Pro.
What I have trouble with is the price tag to write with tools. More than a dozen notes apps are free for Mac users. One of the most comprehensive Mac word processors, in the traditional sense, is Mellel; barely double the price tag of Paper.
Yet, whatever floats your boat. For many writers, the tools to write are too complex, have too much of a learning curve, and offer too many tools that are too difficult to use. For others, simplicity and elegance is key, and that’s where Paper shines because all it does is let you write.