Typed for Mac Offers a Buggy and Inconsistent Writing Experience
Once upon a time, there was WriteRoom. Actually no. Once upon a time, there was TextEdit. Then individual developers decided TextEdit had too many buttons, so they began developing a “distraction-free” counterpart. That’s when WriteRoom came along. Ever since, indie developers have found ways to make the existing tools better. Byword and iA Writer brought simplicity, while OmmWriter brought a different environment to the process.
Typed for Mac tries to be minimal, but lacks a lot of the distraction-free elements I am used to from Byword and others. In little areas, it doesn’t provide focus, but rather distracts the user with unnecessary alterations in font size, a colored cursor, and a side menu that pops up when the mouse is moved, among other things.
Typed isn’t ugly, though. It’s rather pleasant, for the most part. In the default white color scheme, you can see your desktop blurred behind the background. Transparency is always a welcome feature in any app, and it adds a nice additional dimension to Typed. It’s something you won’t find in Byword, TextEdit, or iA Writer. That could be because it’s considered distracting. While I don’t see it as a distraction, I don’t think it helps my productivity. I prefer a plain background. The sandy color scheme has a bit less translucency on it, and the dark scheme has none at all, which is appropriate. Thankfully, you can turn translucency off completely in the app’s Preferences, which also stops the interface from lagging so much.
Some elements of Typed’s design are a bit too much. A larger cursor is unnecessary — it takes away from my focus on the current line — and a heading that’s three times the font size of the body is just annoying. The worst part about those two things is there’s no way to turn them off. Typed does have an option to disable the “Responsive Layout,” but the font size ratios stay the same — you can only change the size of everything together. Worse, there’s no “in-between” size. There are just three sizes and six fonts. No customization at all.
In the areas that the design is not over the top, it’s simply not enough. Dark mode, for example, has too little contrast on selected words or phrases. If something is selected and you look away for a second, it’s rather difficult to find it again, especially when it’s something small.
As for the Responsive Layout feature, it’s not really necessary. If you’re in fullscreen — or “Zen” — mode, the window is only one size. If you’re not, it’s unlikely you’ll want to resize the window because it becomes unusable when it’s narrow.
As Apple might say, “Writing is what makes a writing app a writing app.” That makes the question: How much better is Typed than all the other distraction-free editors? Typed is a combination of Byword (interface) and OmmWriter (sounds and “Zen Mode”). In theory, that’s a great idea. Both of those apps are the best in their category — I prefer Byword’s interface over OmmWriter’s, but I like OmmWriter’s unique feature set.
To answer the question, I wrote this entire article in Typed. I have to say, it wasn’t the most pleasurable experience. In fact, it wasn’t even a good experience. I expected Typed to have something unique when it came to writing, but the only thing I noticed when using the app was the unwieldy cursor and incredibly glitchy interface.
At first, I had a hard time adjusting to the large font size, so I changed it. I tried dark mode, but when I went to select something to add a link to it, I had a hard time seeing what I had previously selected. Once I managed to get acquainted with things and began writing, I looked around the menus for shortcuts. There are the usual (CMD + I for italic and CMD + B for bold) and then there are special ones for headings. Heading levels 1 through 6 can be created with CMD + 1-6 and text can be returned to body with CMD + 0. This is nifty, but other than that Typed doesn’t offer any unique shortcuts.
That’s really all there is to writing in Typed. Once you’re ready to export, things get a bit confusing. You can use the share stack in the hover menu to the left or you can use ‘Export To’ in the File menu. I tried the share stack, but it only has a few options: Copy as HTML, Mail, Messages, and AirDrop. More are available if you enable them (CloudApp or Droplr), but if you want to export something as HTML or RTF you’ll need to use the Export To menu, and those are the only two options in that menu.
If you want to export as a PDF (which, let’s be honest, some people still do), you actually need to go to the Print dialog and save it as a PDF, which I think is just silly. Aside from those three formats (HTML, RTF, and the PDF workaround), there are no other export options. Byword offers Word, LaTeX, and even blog publishing natively, so Typed’s offering is meager in comparison.
As for bugs, I encountered a few strange ones while writing in Typed. Once I get to the middle of a line, the line below the one I’m typing will twitch up and down (really annoying, and it happens on every line). Also, the mouse will magically appear on the left side of the screen once in a while and the top bar will appear and disappear when in window mode. These are bugs that will hopefully be ironed out by Realmac over time, but they don’t leave a great first impression of Typed.
The best part of Typed was the sounds, and that’s not saying much, because you can easily find similar sounds in several free Web and Mac apps. I enjoyed the rain scene the most. It was a pleasant soundtrack to have for writing and took my mind off the various bugs I encountered along the way.
The other sound scenes were okay, but I found most of them annoying or too minimal. The sky, rain, and ocean scenes were the best.
Bigger is Better?
In its current form, Typed is simply not worth its $25 asking price. Noizio, a free app that provides you with a peaceful soundtrack, combined with Byword is a far better choice. While Typed doesn’t offer a unique experience, I would have at least expected a consistent one. I found nothing of the sort. Typed is all over the place, from its unappealing custom font, which is a combination of Lato and Gentium Book (both open source), to its strange soundtrack.
My favorite thing about the app was Zen Mode. It made it seem somewhat special. But it’s still not enough, especially for the price. Byword is far superior, especially if you’re running a blog.
That said, one factor clearly in Typed’s favor is that Realmac is an established company with a good reputation, and it offers a 6-month “no questions asked” return policy for software. This, coupled with the 7-day free trial, should make it easier for those still curious about Typed to try the app without too much worry.
What I Like
- Zen mode
- Preview interface
What I Don’t
- Laggy, transparent interface
- Low-contrast dark mode
- Oversized cursor
Typed for Mac ($24.99) is available now from the Realmac online store. It requires OS X 10.9 Mavericks or newer. The version reviewed is Typed 1.0.1, the latest available update at the time of publication.