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I bought a licence for iA Writer ages ago, but never really used it that much at first. I was looking for a writing application as I was planning to start writing a eBook.
So I looked around at the various options, there was Ulysses, Bear Notes, Evernote and iA Writer.

I knew I wanted a Markdown writer because Markdown is becoming a universal way of writing content on the web now. Not only is it used for things like GitHub, but now blog posts can be written in it, and even eBooks can be written using Markdown.

So this excluded the idea of using Evernote for a writing application. It is a great note taking application, ideal for keeping notes, ideas and plans together and the search in Evernote is amazing, but the writing and formatting within Evernote is not as good as it could be, hopefully it is something they add soon.

I did have a look at Ulysses for a bit, I downloaded the demo version and explored using it. Some of the features I really liked, like the word count target and the focussed UI when you are writing are both great features. I did find having to buy a monthly licence a problem because I was already paying for a yearly subscription to Evernote, getting another subscription on top of Evernote just for a writing application? I just couldn’t justify the cost to myself.

Then I looked at Bear Notes as I thought it would be both a replacement for Evernote and a writing application. It seemed great on paper, I could create notes as I did in Evernote, I could write quickly and easily using the Markdown features Bear supports, it seemed ideal. But after a while I found that it was becoming a mess, well the way I was using it. With out the structure of Notebooks, and Stacks that Evernote gave you I soon had things all over the place and I found that I missed the powerful search that Evernote provides.

In between going from Evernote to Bear and back again, I had a look at iA Writer, it was cheaper to buy than Ulysses. There was a one-off payment, no monthly subscription so if I bought it and didn’t use it much there was just the one payment instead of having a subscription for a service I didn’t use.
It had versions for Mac, iPad and iPhone all synced through iCloud. All my content was stored in my iCloud account, which I liked and the UI was well thought out.
So I paid for a subscription licence and installed it, then used it a couple of times and then left it. I suppose I got caught up in the online hype of Bear, so went onto trying that out.

After going back to Evernote I remember that I had iA Writer installed so I fired it up and found that solved a lot of the issues I had. Again it had the Markdown support, I can export to WordPress directly so I can write blog posts in iA Writer. I can tag things and use folders, so I can use it for more than blog posts, I can write the long form in it (I’m currently writing my Angular book using it) I can export in different formats if I want. The syncing between devices is really good. As soon as I stop writing on one device I can carry on using another device to continue on the same file. It works really well on iPhone, iPad and Mac. It is really good.
I can export directly into WordPress and/or Medium if I wanted to, I can export to PDF and Word formats as well, which makes my blogging workflow a lot smoother.

Having all your content stored on your iCloud account is a nice feature, so if for any reason iA Writer stops, I have all my content for any books or blog posts I’ve written stored as Markdown files in my iCloud account.

So in the world of writing application I think iA Writer is a hidden gem, it might not be getting the praise of Bear Notes or the large number of users as Evernote, it still a very good alternative.

Post Author: Stephen Adams