Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blacking out Microsoft Word

I hate Microsoft Word. It is fussy and irritating, and too often tries to do "helpful" things you don't want it to - unless you spend ages working out how to turn off all of its irritating automated functionality. Also, as a Mac user, it is the most unstable piece of software I use on a regular basis, and has been over many years and updates.

So thank god for Hog Bay Software's WriteRoom text editor. I was initially attracted by its retro green-screen user interface, which blacks out your entire monitor, leaving only a column of green text in the centre and NOTHING ELSE. Bliss! It is sold as a "distraction free writing" environment and it is that: a blank slate to scribble on when you need to write something that actually requires some thought, all rendered in soothingly muted colours.

But more than that, it is a really simple and effective text editor. I thought it was all about aesthetics, but when you're writing the last things you want to worry about are fonts, paragraph formatting, spelling, tiresome talking paperclips and all that other automated shite MS Word tries to force on you.

It's what a word processor should be: like a typewriter with a screen, or like a pen and paper that creates something legible. And, of course, you can always use Word to tart it up into a nice-looking letter or formatted document afterwards if you want to.

(There is also a version for PC users, called Dark Room.)

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