My Top 5 Text Editors for MacOS and iOS

I’ve always been picky about my text editors. Once I discovered Markdown, I started searching for the perfect Markdown editor. I know there are a plethora to choose from, (and not all of the editors in this list support Markdown,) but these are the five text editors I’ve liked enough to use more than once or twice.

5. Apple Notes

MacOS and iOS versions of Apple Notes

It has its quirks, but it’s free and it’s pre-installed on every MacOS and iOS device. It’s quick and easy to create a new note, and it has a few bells and whistles that basic text editors don’t have like text formatting and attachments. Unfortunately, when copying and pasting into other apps, I’ve run into formatting issues. So I use it, but not for any type of actual writing. Also worth mentioning that Notes does not support Markdown.

4. Scrivener

Scrivener on MacOS and iOS

Scrivener is a beast. If you’re writing a book or a screenplay, this is the tool to use. My dad has written a couple of books, and my job has always been editing and formatting. He usually sends his manuscripts to me in Word or Google Docs, with weird formatting and out of place paragraphs or chapters. My first move is to get all that text into Scrivener so I can make sense of it. If you set it up right, it’s easy to move things around and although it takes some time, fixing the formatting is pretty straightforward. Once I’m done with my part, it’s easy to export in a variety of formats for traditional paper publishing, or eBook for Kindle or Apple Books. I wish I could teach my dad to use Scrivener from the get-go, but he’s not a huge fan of technology.

If you are an author, there are a ton of extra tools in Scrivener that makes the entire process more efficient. It’s worth going through the tutorial to really wrap your head around the features. I believe there’s a way to sync documents between MacOS and iOS, but I haven’t had a chance to dig into it.

3. Drafts 4

iOS version of Drafts (I don’t own the MacOS version)

I know—it’s not the most recent version of the Drafts app. And I’m not sure you can still download it if you don’t already own it. But I already have too many subscriptions, and Drafts 5 moved to a subscription model. If you don’t mind subscriptions, it’s currently $2.99/month or $29.99/year.

It used to be my go-to text app, mainly because of the “Actions” functionality. Basically, once you’re done writing, you can do almost anything with that text. I hang on to the old version just for a few custom actions I created, but I rarely use it anymore.

2. Byword

Biword on MacOS and iOS

Byword is a solid competitor in this list. It’s similar to iA Writer in a lot of ways, but the handful of services it can publish to is a bit different.

Publish Services:

  • Medium
  • WordPress
  • Tumblr
  • Blogger
  • Evernote

If iA Writer didn’t exist, I’d be using Byword.

1. iA Writer

iA Writer MacOS and iOS

iA Writer has been a favorite of mine ever since I downloaded it while sitting at a McMenamins in the suburbs of Portland years ago. It syncs via iCloud, has solid Markdown support, and is just an all around great text editor. Like Byword, it supports publishing directly to a handful of services. It’s not super cheap—and you’ll pay for each app separately (iOS, MacOS, etc.) But it is available on more than just Apple platforms. Android and Windows users are covered.

Choosing between Byword and iA Writer is tough, but comes down to personal preference and publish destinations.

Publish services:

  • Ghost
  • Medium
  • Micropub
  • WordPress

Both iA Writer and Byword allow publishing directly to WordPress and Medium. If you’re a SquareSpace user, you can always copy and paste into a Markdown block. While the publish services make things a little easier, they certainly aren’t necessary to get your text where it needs to go.

No matter how many other editors I try, I always come back to iA Writer. I’m curious as to what other people use–is there an editor that isn’t on this list that you live by? Let me know.

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