5 Best Content and Novel Writing Apps for Mac (2018)

5 Best Content and Novel Writing Apps for Mac (2018)

One of the reasons why I chose to buy a Mac over a Windows machine was because there are a ton of good blog and novel writing apps available for Macs. Also, the fact that even if an app is cross-platform, it tends to get updates faster on macOS just sweetens the pot. Take Scrivener for example. It’s one of the apps on the list and it received its latest update back in November of 2017. So, if you are a Mac user, you are currently enjoying all the new features that came with the latest Scrivener 3 update while the Windows users are still stuck on Scrivener 1. So, if you are looking for a writing program for Mac, you are in luck as you will have a lot of options to choose from. 

That said, not all of them are made equally. That’s why I am going to give you a list of 5 Mac writing apps which I think are worth your time. In fact, the only reason I am making a list of 5 and not 3 writing apps is because I know that different users have different preferences. The key is to find the perfect writing app for you and stick to it. The more time you invest in an app the better you will be at it, and soon you will not see it as a tool but as a familiar interface which will work as a companion in your writing journey. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right app for you. All right, I think I have said enough, and before you get bored and quit reading the article, here are the 5 best novel and blog Mac writing apps you should try out:

5 Beast Novel and Blog Writing Apps for Mac

1. Ulysses

2. Scrivener

5. Notebooks

4. iA Writer

5. Write! app

1. Best Blog Writing App for Mac - Ulysses

I have said time and again that Ulysses is my favorite writing tool and I love it to death. In fact, all the blogs that you see being published on my website have been written on Ulysses. I have already published a long and in-depth tutorial review of Ulysses in an earlier blog post so I am not going to talk in length about it, however, I will give you a sneak peek into the software by mentioning the features that I love the most about this app. Firstly, I love the user interface of the app. It brings modern and clean writing interface which is free of distraction and makes writing enjoyable. Ulysses is not like your conventional text-editors and uses markdown which is a lightweight markup language used for formatting and enhancing the plain text.

Best Blog Writing App for Mac - Ulysses - 1.jpg

The benefit of Markdown is that you can format the text without having to remove your fingers away from the keyboard and the formatted text can be exported in any format that you desire including PDF, DOCX, rich-text, plain-text, HTML, and more. One of the biggest powers of Ulysses is its organizational prowess. You can create libraries, group, sub-groups, sheets, and use keywords and tags to organize your writing. The best part is that since Ulysses gives you access to all of your libraries at one place, everything you have written in the past is just a few clicks away. Other awesome features include the ability to set goals, see in-line images, keep notes which are quickly accessible, and more. 

Best Blog Writing App for Mac - Ulysses - 2.jpg

Lastly, Ulysses also lets you theme your editor to make it exactly the way you like it. Of course, there is the dark mode, but other than that there are various themes which you can install to give your text a unique look. If you like what you read here, you can give this app a chance as it comes with a 14-day free trial which is ample to decide if you are into the app or not. The only caveat with Ulysses is that recently that app has switched to a subscription-based pricing model. I pay for it because I find it worth the money, but you might disagree with me. If that’s the case, look at the other apps on the list. 

Install: Ulysses ($4.99/month or $39.99/year - special student pricing available)


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2. Best Novel Writing App for Mac - Scrivener

While Ulysses can handle your novel writing needs, there’s an app out there which is more suited for all the novel and book writers out there. Scrivener is the app I am talking about and while it is by far the best book writing software you can find, that doesn’t mean it is limited to do that. In fact, you can use Scrivener for any long-form writing project including books, novels, scripts, a business project, or even a dissertation. Scrivener makes it easier to tackle long writing projects by allowing users to break the project into smaller chunks which are easier to tackle. 

2. Best Novel Writing App for Mac - Scrivener 1.jpg

In Scrivener, you start by creating a project. While creating a project, you can either choose from one of the many templates that come installed with the software (templates for novels, books, different types of scripts, and more), or you can start with a blank project. Once you create the project, Scrivener will launch the project window which comprises of three main parts. The first is the binder which houses the main manuscript, research, and everything else that you want to keep inside the project. The second part is the main editing window where you are going to write. Unlike Ulysses, Scrivener gives you a normal text-editor, something with which we are familiar with. Lastly, there’s the inspector where you can save the synopsis for each document, add notes, comments, metadata, and more.

2. Best Novel Writing App for Mac - Scrivener 2.jpg

The best part about Scrivener is that although you can break the project into smaller chunks which makes it easier to tackle, you can review the whole project at once. To help with that, Scrivener offers different viewing modes including Scrivenings view, Corkboard view, and Outline view. The Scrivenings view allows you to see your complete project in one place while the Corkboard and the Outline view allow you to get an overview of the project. My favorite viewing mode is the Corkboard view because it helps me in visualizing the whole project and understand if I need to add or delete something. 

Scrivenings view

Scrivenings view

Other features include a different section for research, multiple export options (export as manuscript, hardcover novel, ePub for iBooks, or MOBI for Kindle), character research, exceptional search feature, and more. With the latest Scrivener 3 update, the app has been updated to look more modern and refined. Apart from improving all the existing features, Scrivener 3 also brings a number new features including Writing Statistics which can help you in keeping track of your daily writing, the ability to export in MultiMarkdown format, enhanced outlining feature, a new styles system for text system, and more.

Corkboard View

Corkboard View

Look, I won’t deny that Scrivener is not as straightforward as Ulysses and you will need to invest a considerable amount of time to learn it. In fact, I wanted to create a tutorial for the app to help my readers, but the folks at Scrivener have already done a great job with the tutorials. The bottom line is that if you are someone who tackles large writing projects on a regular basis, the time that you invest in Scrivener will surely pay its dividends in the long term.

Install: Scrivener ($44.99)

3. Best Notebook Style Writing App for Mac - Notebooks

I discovered Notebooks when I was searching for a good alternative for Ulysses for a blog post that I was working on. Although I never published that blog post, I fell in love with Notebooks. Notebooks is an app which you can use for either writing small notes or tackling big projects. The app lets you create Books which acts basically like folders. As with other writing apps, you can nest one book inside another to create a vertical organizational hierarchy. Inside the books live all your notes or documents. 

3. Best Notebook Writing App for Mac - Notebooks 1.jpg

Notebooks give you a three-pane window user interface which houses books, notes, and the editor window from left to right. I love the fact that you can color code individual notes. In my testing, I mostly used this feature when I had to reference between notes and the color codes allowed me to easily switch between the notes. I also love the fact that I can write in markdown but whenever I need to see how my formatted text is looking, all I need to do is hit a button. 

Formatted Text

Formatted Text

I feel that the app is best for anyone who is looking for a writing app with great organizational features and doesn’t necessarily tackles long writing projects on a daily basis. It’s best for jotting down notes, doing brain-storming sessions or creating a rough draft of your posts. At least that’s how I have been using this app for the past month or so. You can use this app for long-form writing too, you will just have to get used to its user interface which was a little hard for me as I was coming from Ulysses. 

Install: Notebooks ($18.99)

4. Best Clean and Simple Writing App - iA Writer

I have been using iA Writer for far too long to remember and it still is one of most favorite writing apps. The biggest benefit of using iA Writer is that you are getting a no-nonsense writing interface. When you launch the app, all you see is a big blank page with a blinking cursor. Just like Ulysses, iA Writer also uses markdown for formatting and allows you to export your files in various formats. When it comes to user interface, it offers one of the simplest and cleanest UI you can find on any writing app. There are three panes, which houses your sheets, editing window, and preview window from left to right. 

4. Best Clean and Simple Writing App - iA Writer 1.jpg

You can either choose to edit in the three-pane view or do what I do and hit the ⌘D keyboard shortcut to go into focus mode which not only closes the left and right pane and just shows you the editor window but also grays out all the other text other than the paragraph/sentence (can switch between the two options y going to app’s preferences) on which you are working on to give you a more immersive environment. While You are at it, you can also hit ⌘T shortcut to enter into the typewriter mode which ensures that you are always writing in the middle of the page and all the written text moves up instead of your cursor moving down. Typewriter mode is what really helps me focus as I don’t have to move my head and I can just keep on banging on my keyboard. 

Syntax Control Turned on

Syntax Control Turned on

I also love the Night mode on iA Writer which comes in really handy in my night-long writing sessions. Also one of the best features of iA Writer which is not found anywhere else is “Syntax Control”. The feature scans your document and highlights your adjectives, nouns, adverbs, verbs, prepositions, or conjunctions so you can see if your sentences are balanced or not. Features aside, you know what the best part about iA Writer is? It’s the fact that you are getting all these features for making just a one-time payment of $19.99. If you love markdown and want something which is simple, intuitive, and productive, certainly try out iA Writer. 

Install: iA Writer ($19.99)

5. Best Rich-text Editor for Mac - Write! app

Markdown editors have become so popular on Macs that now it has become hard to find a good normal rich-text editor. And While markdown is awesome, it’s not for everyone. There’s a dearth of good rich-text editing apps for Macs and it was hard to find one which could be put on the list. Thankfully, I found Write! app just a few weeks before, and I really like it. 

5. Best Rich-text Editor for Mac - Write! app 1.jpg

Once you launch the Write! app you will notice that the app looks just like a clean sheet of paper. You will also notice that it doesn’t look like a native macOS app rather it looks more like a Windows app which by the way is not necessarily a bad thing. Apart from the minimizing and app closing buttons which are present on the right and not on the top-left of the app, I have to say, I really dig the looks of this app. When it comes to the editor, while the app also supports markdown, it’s better as rich-text editor. The app utilizes tons of keyboard shortcuts allowing you to easily format the text. If you love keyboard shortcuts, you are going to love Write! app. Another great feature of Write! app is that all your work is uploaded to secure cloud allowing you to sync your work across different machines. Not only that, you can even create personalized links for your documents and share with others so that you can collaborate on your writing project, a feature which is missing on all the other apps that are mentioned on this list. 

5. Best Rich-text Editor for Mac - Write! app 2.jpg

Look, I can go on and on about this app, but this is not the full review and I don’t want to take up much of your time. If you like rich-text editing and want a distraction-free writing app which can help you write without boggling your mind down with tons of tools, Write! app is for you. That said, the app does have a learning curve attached with it so you will need to spend some time learning it before you can utilize it to its full potential. However, if you are ready to invest time in it, you will find the app really productive. 

5. Best Rich-text Editor for Mac - Write! app keybaord shortcuts.gif

When it comes to pricing Write! app will cost you $24.95. But as a promotional offer, the company is giving users 30% discount if you are ready to share their app on social media which is a really good deal if you ask me. If you don’t want to share the app and still want that discount, you can use our offer code APPSNTIPS30 to get the same discount. 

Install: Write! app ($24.95 - Enjoy 30% discount with code APPSNTIPS30)

Read More: 5 Best Email Clients for Mac to Help You Manage Your Inbox

5 Best Novel and Content Creation Apps for Mac: Final thoughts

At the end of the day, these are all just tools and it’s you who will have to get the writing done. That said, the right tools do help a lot. I have created a list of the best five apps and hope that there is one app for everyone here. If you are looking for specific types of writing apps which are not on the list, do let me know by commenting below and I would love to help you out. 

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