Review - WriteRoom 1.0
by , 9:00 AM EST, October 31st, 2006
If you spend long hours writing and would prefer a distraction-free option to Microsoft Word, BBEdit, or even Apple's TextEdit, Hog Bay Software's WriteRoom may hold the solitude you are longing for.
Hog Bay Software promotes WriteRoom as a distraction free writing environment, and they are correct. This application is closer to a typewriter than a word processor. It doesn't have lots of editing and formatting tools - in fact, you can't even apply format styles like bold or italic to your text.
WriteRoom's interface is truly minimalist. When using it in full-screen mode, you don't have a menu bar, your Dock is disabled, and you can't see your Desktop. This app is designed to do everything it can to help keep you from getting distracted while you write. It even auto-saves your document so you don't have to stop long enough for a quick Command-S.
If you are familiar with old-school text editors, like WordStar or AppleWorks running on an Apple //+, WriteRoom looks strikingly similar. You get a colored background (black by default) and colored text (green by default). The effect looks like an old monochrome display. The look is retro, but in a good way.
If working in full-screen mode is a bit more than you really want, WriteRoom supports a windowed mode, too. When you need to get to your menus, just slide your mouse pointer to the top of your display and the menu bar appears.
WriteRoom supports the basics: Cut, Copy, Paste, Print, Find/Replace, and Spell checking. If you are looking for more, it's time to move on to TextEdit.
When you are done working in WriteRoom, you can copy and paste your text into a different application, export your document as a text document, or simply quit the application. The next time you launch WriteRoom, your document will re-open.
As an example, I wrote this review in WriteRoom. When I finished, I copied the text and pasted it into Taco HTML Edit so that I could add the extra HTML tags I wanted to include.
Despite its bare-bones features, WriteRoom is customizable. The preferences support changing the text and background colors, text display font and font size, and lets you choose to open the application in a window or in full-screen mode.
The downside is that WriteRoom only takes over your primary display. That means multi-display Mac setups still display part of your Desktop when WriteRoom is in full-screen mode. Also, you can't choose alternate displays for WriteRoom's full-screen mode.
The Bottom LineIf you use WriteRoom for what it is - A distraction-free writing environment, and not a full-on word processor - you will be pleased with the results. For anyone that wants more from the program, look somewhere else. But if you want a writing environment that eliminates as many of your Mac's distractions that it can, WriteRoom can be an amazingly useful tool.
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