As a born-again Markdown worshipper, I’ve been using it primarily when I write in Evernote.

Just a quick aside. Can I say before you read any further that this post is mainly relevant to Apple users? I don’t use Windows these days, and haven’t looked into Windows equivalents.

OK. If you’ve read an earlier part of this series, you’ll know that Evernote has been my long-term idea and background info capture, structuring and writing environment for blog posts.

That’s a rambling way to say I use Evernote for my blog posts from beginning to end.

Markdown works perfectly within an Evernote record.

Markdown in Evernote

But I’ve also been trying writing with Markdown in Google Docs, TextEdit, TextWrangler  and OmmWriter, just to see if it makes more sense in another app.

But what if there’s something better still?

While reading up on Markdown, I found out about text editors that made a better and clearer job of handling it.

There was a fair amount of choice on OS X – as I’m sure there is on Windows.

iA Writer stands out

This is one of those apps that seems to get almost universal praise, so it was my first stop – especially as I discovered there was a great offer on OS X and iOS versions.

The OS X and iOS apps share documents via iCloud or Dropbox, so you can start a document on one device and continue it on another.

The screen is minimalist, uses a typewriter face, and only a typewriter face, but it has some genuinely useful features such as a toolbar with word and character counts and even a Reading Time estimate.

iA Writer Toolbar

The toolbar disappears when you write, but pops up after you’ve stopped. So it’s not a distraction yet doesn’t demand extra keystrokes to check on progress.

I’m finding I particularly like the app maximised on my 11″ MacBook Air. It’s like OmmWriter, but without the New Age trappings.

iA Writer and Markdown

When you type some Markdown formatting, the iA apps do just that little bit extra to make looking at the document and understanding its formatting and structure that much easier.

Bullets and numbered lists are outdented, like the headings, to indicate they’re part of the Markdown formatting.

Writedown displayed in iA Writer

Focus is my favourite

I guess the thing I like best about iA Writer is its Focus Mode. It greys out everything but the sentence you’re working on. And keeps that sentence in the centre of the screen.

Focus in IA Writer

I really like Focus because, in one swoop, iA Writer keeps me focused on what I’m writing, but also allows me to write within the context of the surrounding sentences. Genius!

So I’m using iA Writer for my ‘S*** first drafts‘, as some people have it. As I said before, I don’t use the more advanced and complex parts of Markdown (MultiMarkdown). I do that kind of stuff in WordPress if I’m blogging, and generally in Word if I’m writing for clients.

From a workflow point of view, I’d rather stay with Evernote, but at the moment I’m finding iA Writer such a productive way to churn out words, I’m using it for just about all my first drafts – online and offline.

iA Writer is one of those apps that just seems right.

Do you use iA Writer? Or have you tried it? What do you think?

Thanks to mpclemens for the image of the wonderful old typewriter.