There sure is no shortage of “simple writing” apps for the Mac out there. Just recently we’ve reviewed (and praised) apps like Grandview and Free, and we’ve also had a few roundups where we’ve taken to compare all the options out there in the “distraction-free writing” app field.
Today we’re presenting to you an app that could fit in with any of the mentioned above, but it has a little twist to it: it imitates the look of Mac OS’s Launchpad to create a very cool native-looking app. It’s appropriately called Launch Write; want to check it out?
Launch Write is as simple as an app can get. It’s a minimalistic writing app with not many features to show off, so there’s really nothing at all to tweak. It doesn’t even let you save or open documents, which makes it essentially just an app for writing and copy-pasting to another place (say, WordPress).
As you can probably guess by its name, Launch Write simulates the Launchpad introduced with Lion, as sort of an emerging, blurry screen accessible from any space or app, and that gives you a clean writing window, free from docks, icons, or other kinds of distracting buttons around you so that you can just focus on whatever you are typing.
When active, Launch Write will use your wallpaper as a background, although for me it kept loading my older wallpaper instead of the current one, a minor detail that seemed like an odd bug. The font that the app uses is really the only major complain I have with the app, as there is no way of changing it and the default one looks bland and square-ish.
The (Lack of) Features
The Launch Write developers take their category of “simplistic writing” perhaps a bit too seriously. After all, they’re also the team behind Grandview, the app we recently highly praised. Launch Write shares most of its older brother’s simplicity, but even Grandview gives you a few more things to tweak. Here’s a list of what Launch Write has for it:
- Keyboard Shortcut: The universal shortcut of CMD+Shift+L will bring up the writing window immediately. Unfortunately, this is the default shortcut and there’s no way to change it.
- Font Brightness: This is basically a scale of grays (from black to white) that you can set to your font, so that your text won’t fade into the background of your wallpaper.
That’s about it. No iCloud compatibility, no document version support, not even document saving/opening is supported. Now, some of you may think this is a disadvantage for the app, but I think it’s actually quite a nice change of pace to give the user less options instead of more. After all, it’s called distraction-free writing.
Launchwrite is not a complex note-taking app or a full-featured text-editor. I’ve been using it as a quick go-to app for scribbling down ideas or for keeping text that I would like to use later. It works as a kind of idea notepad for me, where I just throw ideas around whenever I’m doing other things and don’t want to get too distracted.
For example, I’m checking my email and I remember an idea that I had for this article that I’m writing. With Launch Write, I can just hit CMD+Shift+L and quickly write down my idea without losing too much focus on what I was previously doing. This may not sound like a major necessity at first, but I probably get those moments a dozen times a day, so it adds up, and Launch Write has proven to be an easy enough solution which beats having to go look for Evernote or Scrawl on my menu bar.
Launch Write is also, of course, a great distraction-free writing app, especially if you are writing something where you need to cross-reference things with another app a lot. Having the ability to jump in and out of the app with a simple keyboard shortcut is more useful than you would expect it to, especially since everytime that you open the app it’s ready to receive your input text.
Launch Write is not an app for everyone. In terms of features, it falls short when compared to similar apps in its category, but you have to consider that its real strength relies on simplicity. The speed with which you can bring it up and have it out of your way can make up for some interesting and creative adaptation of the app into your workflow.
The biggest advantage of Launch Write is perhaps its price. While most similar “distraction-free writing” apps go from $5 to $10 bucks, Launch Write instead goes for just $2. Although it might not offer the same functionality than Byword or iA Writer, but for its price it does quite well for itself.
Launch Write probably won’t replace your current minimalistic writing app (if you have one), but if you’re in the market for a simple text-editing app that can let you focus on what you are doing and you’re unsure if you’ll get your money’s worth out of an app like Byword, then this might just do it for you.