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iA Writer Review – Me, My Words and I

One need not be a punctilious wordsmith to appreciate the clean, minimalistic word processor, iA Writer…but it helps. This app comes triple distilled, retaining only the core features necessary for the writing process. This iA Writer review will focus on the IOS version.

iA Writer Review
9.2 Reviewer
• Simple, clutter free interface
• Import/export to MS Word
• Available for both IOS and Mac
• Reasonable cloud integration and
direct export to Medium and Wordpress
• At present, no true sync with
Cloud storage providers
Bottom Line
If you use the iPad for writing and you prefer a distraction free environment then certainly iA Writer would be a prime candidate. It ticks the right boxes - plays well with cloud providers, can import/export from MS Word and the basic functions needed for the writing process are there.

hardware itself is as useful as a chocolate fireguard without a quality word processing app to match it

For many a writer, the iPad is a preferred tool. The sleek, mobile computing platform is almost custom designed to be dragged between coffee shops. So much so, that I am shocked it does not come replete with an iCupHolder. But the hardware itself is as useful as a chocolate fireguard without a quality word processing app to match it. Such word processors fall into two camps, feature rich heavyweights who wish they were Desktop apps and those who gravitate towards a distraction free interface.

The main productivity heavyweight word processor is of course MS Word, which offers many of the bells and whistles you find on the desktop version. Naturally, there is also the nice advantage of having direct compatibility between the IOS and PC files, .doc and .docx. On the opposite end of the spectrum you have the likes of iA Writer. IA Writer eschews all of the superfluous elements of modern word processors deemed not intrinsic to the writing process. It provides a clean, uncluttered interface to enable the author to be at one with their words. Being marooned with your own text may not always be a good thing of course. Hashtag awkward silence. Let’s run through the design and features first in this iA Writer review.

iA Writer Design

Being marooned with your own text may not always be a good thing of course. #Awkward silence

The interface of iA writer is separated across three screens which are accessed by hitting the corresponding button on the top menu bar. These are,

  • Library, which provides access to a file explorer.
  • Main writing view. This is a menu free, full screen view of your text.
  • Preview. This is the formatted view of your text and is the pathway to exporting it to other formats.

Let’s go through each of these briefly in this iA Writer review. First up, the Library allows you to browse and select any of your saved filed. The file source can also be changed between local storage and cloud storage. So, if you save your files to Dropbox, you can browse your Dropbox folders and select the file you want.

Main Writing view. This is where you will spend the vast quantity of your time tapping out your words. The writer is presented with a white, pristine, full screen and an eager typing prompt. While typing, the top menu bar is concealed and you only have the lower menu bar with spell check that is in view. After typing out your masterpiece in the Main Writing View, you will then switch over to the Preview screen that presents your text in one of three fonts – Modern sans, Classic Serif and Manuscript Mono.

In general, one can say that the Design of iA Writer does not betray many of it’s features. They are concealed as not to clutter the entry screen or diminish focus on the text.

  • iA Writer Review Keyboard
    iA Writer Configurable Keyboard Shortcuts. A fast and easy way for formatting.

iA Writer Features and Functionality

The features of iA writer can be broken down into two areas. The first relates to the writing experience and the enhancement thereof. The second, relates to the back office functionality such as file storage, formats, exporting etc.

Let’s first deal with the former and indeed the raison d’etre of iA writer. In the view menu there are a number of functions that allow you to focus on different elements of the text. For example, with Focus Mode, only the current sentence is presented in black text with all other text greyed out. There is also Night Mode, whereby the background is changed to black and the text white. A major asset that iA writer brings to the party is the hotkeys that lay on top of the on-screen keyboard. These provide direct access to a number of functions such as,

  • Adding quotation marks
  • Changing to Italic/Bold
  • Changing the heading number
  • Movement of text

These enable more efficient use of iA Writer. I should also mention that the hotkeys are completely configurable to the needs of the Author. If you don’t like what is currently displayed then you can simply swap them for another function that you use more often. This is done by holding down on the button until they start wiggling, at which point they can be edited and moved around.

If you use an external keyboard, fear not for there are also bountiful keyboard shortcuts that await you. So, with a Command+Key you can quickly access multiple shortcuts such as making the text Bold, setting Headings or even quickly previewing your work.  Let’s now cover some of the logistical features of iA Writer. First up, the enthralling topic of files, formats and storage. The format used by iA writer is the simple .txt. This is a universal standard that can be read and written by any computing platform.

However, although .txt is the standard format for iA Writer, it is possible to import and export MS Word documents.

It can also export as HTML for reading in a web browser, PDF, or Markdown.

The files can be saved and accessed either locally or via cloud storage. At present, Dropbox, iCloud and OneDrive are supported. Note also that when using Dropbox, the files are not synced with the iPad. However, I understand that in future releases a true sync may be realized to enable offline working.

Version 4.0 of iA Writer was released in November 2016 and this brought some more advanced features to the table. The ability to add images was added and not only that, when you link iA Writer to your WordPress or Medium account the images will also be uploaded.

Addition of images to iA Writer

Another noteworthy feature was the ability to embed text files. This means if you were compiling a large manuscript you could break it down into several files and effectively import those files to compile the full document.

iA Writer Price

IA Writer for IOS is available from the App Store for a reasonable $3.99. Get iA Writer directly from the iTunes Store.(Affiliate Note)

iA Writer Review Summary

There are only three things that need to be said to wrap up this iA Writer review. First it provides an excellent, uncluttered word processor for distraction free writing. Second, it has recently been nominated for App of the year by Product Hunt. Well done guys!

Lastly, Stephen Fry thinks it’s great. Judging by his performances on QI he is clearly never wrong about anything.

If you found this article useful or entertaining, hopefully both!, make sure to share on your social network.  Just hit one of the little buttons on the left and share the joy.  Cheers.


Affiliate Statement:

If you purchase those items through my links I may earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link.

Brendan Toner

Let me welcome you to this alcove of the internet. In this little productivity blog, I detail the trials and tribulations of trying to use my time more effectively utilising the latest productivity tools and techniques. I hope you enjoy the articles, cheers! Brendan Toner, author of Done Before Brekky

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