Save time and hassle writing clean-formatted text with Byword 2

If you need to draft clean, uncorrupted copy on a Mac, try Byword 2. The elegant little Markdown-compatible writing tool might become your new favorite app.

Image: Byword

If you regularly author and edit text and need a small and fast app that helps maintain focus while producing clean-formatted text for memos, email messages, websites, blogs, notes, and other such common purposes, try Byword 2. The lightweight, Markdown-compatible program simplifies writing on a Mac.

SEE: 44 simple ways to sharpen your writing skills (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

At just $10.99, Byword offers considerable value. In addition to presenting a non-distracting window (Figure A) in which to work, the program makes it easy to author and edit text. Byword supports using Markdown shortcuts and copying text to rich text and HTML and permits exporting files to PDF, and an iOS companion app (a separate $5.99 purchase) enables synchronizing file development on iPhones and iPads.

Figure A


Professionals unfamiliar with Markdown text-formatting syntax should invest a few minutes learning about the practice. Created in 2004, Markdown's goal is to produce text that can be published just as it is; in other words, users shouldn't need to add tons of formatting instructions, programming tags, or other extraneous information.

To simplify learning Markdown practices, such as how to wrap text within double asterisks to apply bold to the font, Byword maintains a Markdown syntax guide. The corresponding shortcuts are quick, often intuitive, and easy to learn and, once committed to memory, they permit performing common formatting tasks on the fly, whether you're drafting emails, memos, notes, blog entries, or other copy.

The program imposes no intrusions and possesses a handful of more advanced features but none that overcomplicate the basic, simple tasks you're actually working to complete. The program does automatically count words and characters discreetly at the bottom of the screen, which I found convenient and helpful.

SEE: Software usage policy (Tech Pro Research)

Byword supports converting Markdown text directly to rich text for pasting directly into any rich text editor, like Mail. Byword also supports Copy to HTML functionality, as well as publishing directly to Medium, WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, and Evernote, as well as other services. A Markdown preview is available simply by clicking File and selecting Preview Markdown (Figure B).

Figure B


Users can sync files using Dropbox and iCloud. Files are set to store automatically, by default, using iCloud.

The program's few preferences are straightforward and easy to adjust. For example, users can quickly switch to Dark Mode and set margin width, font, and text format.

Don't underestimate the ease and convenience with which Byword permits creating quick and clean text. If you frequently write email, notes, and other communications, you owe it to yourself to check this app out. I'm glad I did, as it's becoming a regular staple of daily use.

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