Microsoft Word Alternatives – Part 2

In my last article I looked at free Microsoft Word Alternative word processors in the Lean & Mean category. In this installment I want to consider some Lean & Mean word processors that cost money. We are just going to look at a few of the more popular ones



The first few pay for word processors I want to look are billed as word processors, but also as blogging apps. Lets begin with Byword. The creators of Byword bill this app as a Text and Markdown editor. Byword does have an iOS version. You can just write documents and export them into PDF or Rich Text format or you can publish to a Medium, WordPress, Tumblr blog. Here is the main window for Byword:

This is what I call lean and mean. All the commands are in the Menu Bar area. It is designed for what is called “focused” writing. There is nothing in your way, you just start the app and write away. You can purchase Byword on the Mac App Store for $11.99 and on the iOS App Store for $6.99. It seems to work pretty well, but it is a little TOO stripped down for my taste.

Desk 3

Desk 3 is the app I am currently using to do the Macessence blog. You can just write for writing sake with it also. It does regular text editing and has Markdown support. You can export to all kinds of stuff like PDF, RTF, DOCX etc. It also has a more “Focused” writing environment. You can buy Desk 3 for $19.99 in the Mac App Store. There is no iOS version yet. Here is the main window of Desk 3:

A list of your articles and/or blog articles is available as a popout on the left side of the window. The blog posting information and features pops out of the right side of the window. Desk has a light and a dark background for your writing experience. It has a regular Menu Bar, but most of the formatting features are in a right-click menu inside the writing area. I have done a couple of articles on the Desk app on my blog. Check them out if you are interested in this particular app.


This is a very popular app for writers and coders as well. It is quite unique in how it works, I don’t really have the space to explain all it’s inner workings. Suffice it to say, it is billed as a distraction free writing app with Markdown and Html capabilities. You can also do a WordPress blog with the app. You can buy Ulysses from the Mac App Store for $44.99. Yes, that is a bit pricey, but it does a lot of stuff. You can get an iOS version of Ulysses for $24.99. Here is the main window of Ulysses:

There is just a lot of stuff it can do. Because of the price, I would recommend downloading a demo and playing with it a bit before buying. It really is quite sophisticated, but somewhat different in the way it does things so a test drive would be in order.

Mariner Write

Mariner Write by Mariner Software has been around on the Mac platform for a long time. It kind of blurs the line between Lean & Mean and the full-featured processors. Here is a description from their website:

Elegantly efficient and powerful, Mariner Write has everything you will need to turn out great looking documents. Tired of having 4 million features in your word processor? No worries. Whether you’re a professional writer, educator, student or an average sort, Write has just the right amount of functionality needed to be your go-to word processing app.

Here is the main window of Mariner Write:

It does not have an Inspector window. All of the commands are in the Toolbar or up in the Menu Bar. Mariner Writer is a more traditional word processor. It really could be listed with the full-featured processors, but it can go either way I guess. This app is nicely laid out. Like I said, it has been around on the Mac platform for a long time. They have had plenty of time to perfect it and get it right. Mariner Write is only available from their website for $29.95. They do not have an iOS version.

There are other apps out there in this paid for Lean & Mean category of course. You can do a search on the Mac App Store and find a few. These are just a some of the more popular ones to date.


As you can see, there are bunches of alternatives for Microsoft Word, especially if you do not need all of Words bells and whistles. In my next installment I want to cover a couple of full-featured, pay for, word processors.