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Writing is often a thankless, solitary task requiring isolation from outside interference. Just when you least expect it, the telephone rings, new email arrives, or an interesting tweet diverts attention from the work at hand. WriteRoom can’t thwart all of life’s interruptions, but it does offer solace from most computer-based distractions with a streamlined writing environment, making it easier to get the words on the (virtual) page.
If you thought Apple’s TextEdit was bare-bones, just wait until you launch WriteRoom 3—there’s just a smattering of preferences and menu-based functions. Gone is all the traditional word-processor cruft, and with it, all your excuses for getting distracted. The app is now completely built for the required OS X Lion (including Auto Save and Auto Resume), offering a remarkable full-screen writing experience with the ability to track writing sessions (or even record them to a spreadsheet) and view ongoing statistics such as character, word, line, or page count.
The real star of WriteRoom 3 is OS X Lion full-screen mode, which removes the distractions and lets the words flow.
New documents can be created in plain or rich text and easily exported to PDF at any time. There are no tools available for fancy page layouts with tables or graphics here, but WriteRoom doesn’t skimp on useful features such as Paste and Match Style (for pasting text without formatting) and plentiful view options like typewriter scrolling, blinking insertion point (or block mode, reminiscent of old-timey standalone word processors), and displaying invisible characters.
WriteRoom 3 also knows how to play dress up, with the ability to create and share unique themes as eye candy for lengthy sessions banging at the keyboard. Aside from the WriteRoom default (white text on a dark gray background), the app can emulate TextEdit, Terminal, or a print document, with other user-created themes available on the company’s website.
Full-screen writing is the real star of the show: choose between standard Lion full-screen (additional monitors are blanked out with gray linen) or full-screen single (main display only). More disciplined users can remain in traditional window mode, with many type formatting options available via contextual menus from all three. Documents saved to Dropbox can sync to the $4.99 universal iOS version, making it the perfect solution for home, work, or travel.
The bottom line. Most of the text in Mac|Life was originally written in Word or TextEdit, but WriteRoom 3 has us in a switcher frame of mind. When it’s strictly about getting words on virtual paper quickly and efficiently without the hassle, noise, and expense of modern word-processing applications, WriteRoom 3 is now the standard by which all other plain or rich text editors should be judged.
Mac OS 10.7 or later
Fast, distraction-free writing tool with minimalist interface and just the right balance of features users can’t live without. Text formatting available via contextual menus for uninterrupted full-screen writing. Dropbox-sync friendly with iOS edition.
No support for pre–OS X Lion systems. Strictly for writing rather than occasional desktop publishing uses. No export to MS Word or other formats (plain or rich text and PDF only).