My word, Byword, you turned out to be quite a surprising little purchase. I picked you up on a whim because I saw the screenshots of your iA Writer-like Focus Mode and clever little pop-up controls for rich text files, but I have ended up calling on you daily for the last few weeks for your far less flashy features: full-screen mode and Markdown support.
Having used apps like WriteRoom and OmmWriter, I knew most of what to expect when I first loaded you up. You full-screen mode, character count, toggle for RTF or TXT saving, and search bar are all pretty standard to me. Your options for light and dark themes and fully customizable fonts are great, but I’ve also seen them before. However, I have to say that your auto-saving skills and completely borderless window, which you received in post-launch updates, came as very pleasant surprises.
A Broad Focus
One of your most touted features, your ability to grey out one to nine lines of text (or an entire paragraph, even), is very interesting, but it can also be a little overwhelming. I just can’t see why I’d want to focus on anything more than a couple of lines or a single paragraph, and I find the extra choices distracting.
Plain Text, Thanks
It’s funny that the very feature that brought me to you, Byword, is the one that no longer sees the light of day. When I initially made my purchase, I thought it would be fantastic to work with rich text files and take advantage of your very elegant magical menus, which simply appear out of thin air with the press of a keyboard shortcut. But then I realized that none of the iOS note apps I use anything but .txt format, but, more importantly, that was all before I discovered Markdown.
Let me just get this bit out: Byword, I love your Markdown support. You may not have in-line Auto Markdown like iA Writer for Mac, but I still love how I can use command-option-P to preview all of my marked down text. This one feature alone has made online writing so much easier for me, since it translates into far less fiddling with the horrific WordPress editor. I haven’t had cause to use your Export to HTML functionality (I’m just not ready to go there yet), but I do love how you let me Copy HTML while I preview my finished pieces.
A Few Small Repairs
The more I write in you and write about you, Byword, the harder it is to find anything to complain about. I suppose I’d like to ask if it would be possible to hide the file name, or at least the file extension of the filename while I write, but that’s just a personal preference.
While we’re on the subject of files, however, I did want to raise a question about why I can’t seem to get you to become my default text editor on the Mac. I’ve set .txt files to Always Open With Byword, but that only seems to work for launching one file, after which point you seem to forget about the whole ordeal and leave the opening of text to TextEdit.
There have also been times where my text cursor has simply gotten lost after you transitioned from normal mode to Focus Mode. I understand that tracking the cursor can be a little difficult when I really get to dancing along the keyboard, but it would help a lot if you could maintain a steady focus. I’d offer you an Appvil, but I’m all out.
That list of complaints went on a little bit longer than I had initially anticipated, but I think you get the point. You’re not (word) perfect, Byword, but you’ve come a long way and have had some very surprising updates since you launched on the Mac App Store.
Your auto-saving, excellent markdown previews, and ninja-like ability to toggle between light and dark themes do a lot to support your $10 purchase price.
So, thanks to you, I think I’ll hold off on that iA Writer purchase I was mulling over and stick to what I’ve got now. I just wished you were easier to rhyme with – that would have made this review a lot easier to end.
Byword was purchased by the author for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.