Editing text? What options do you have? Well, there’s the old go-to, Word, which has become bloated over the years; the newcomer Pages, which can’t make up its mind if it wants to be a page-layout utility or a word processor; and then the built-in TextMate, which is a tad too simple in most instances. While those three aren’t the only text editors for the Mac, they seem to the most popular.
Pagehand is a new word processing application that has just entered the market. It sports a number of interesting features yet to be seen in the go-to text editors on the Mac. For instance, instead of coming out with another new format to have to deal with, it simply creates and edits PDF files, so you can easily e-mail the files without having to convert them or run a compatibility check. Plus, anyone can see the fonts you’ve meticulously picked to show how important your dinner party or company volleyball tournament is.
The main window is presented with three main zones, all with a minimalistic air about them. First is a toolbar that switches depending on what actions you would wish to preform. It’s similar to Word 2007 for Window’s “ribbon,” but I found it a bit easier to use, once you get used to it.
A two tabbed pane on the left side allows access to fonts, colors, effects, etc., similar to Word for Mac’s Toolbox and Page’s Inspector.
Finally, there is the actual document, which sports an easy to edit header and footer options along with a simplistic margin and tab controls.
The Ribbon-like Toolbar
Selecting an icon from the toolbar will exchange all of the original icons for the specific function’s related tools. For instance, selecting Columns will cause all the options to disappear, showing you just the column related settings. While frustrating at first, getting used to clicking the main document window to bring back the original toolbar is a tad easier than working with Word 2007 for Window’s “ribbon.” However, I found for those who like to constantly adjust these features, jumping around these different toolbars can be a little confusing.
It also isn’t very obvious which buttons will cause a new toolbar to appear, and which ones will simply adjust a feature directly, for instance, Spell Check. For a program that is trying to be very minimalistic, redundant buttons, like Character and Paragraph, simply highlight the sidebar.
From my criticisms, it would seem that I’m not much of a fan of this toolbar. However, the option to customize it to such an extent to remove these non-essential buttons and even show just the text of the options is a welcome feature not found in many applications.
On the left side of the window is an Inspector/Toolbox like pane that allows for quick and easy editing of the Character Styles, Fonts, Colors, etc. and access to the Paragraph settings for adjusting alignment and spacing. I really enjoyed using this easily accessible sidebar, much more so than the normally crowded-with-icons toolbars that infect most higher end word processors. I’ve never found it as easy to adjust superscripts and subscripts, make fractions or get a clear picture of what font I was choosing.
While there is no version tracking, web addresses and emails are automatically hyperlinked and the application includes a number of useful “ornaments” which are similar to symbols. It even includes ways to enter letters with accent marks if you aren’t that familiar with the Option/Alt + Letter shortcuts to write like a French or Spanish native. When you are done, you can even export the document to .doc/.docx formats.
Minimizing Your Workspace
With the growing trend of making your Mac as minimal looking as possible (we’re absolutely huge fans of Minimal Mac) there are a number of ways to make this application as simple looking as possible. For instance, you can hide the ruler, sidebar and the toolbar, or simply turn the icons to be text only. In no time you’ll have a distraction free workspace.
Upcoming New Features
Pagehand is a relatively new piece of software and several planned updates are on the way. For instance, they plan to include the ability add and edit images, footnotes/endnotes, text boxes and much more. Whilst not the most mature piece of software, it is very stable and is ready to replace your current word processor.
As stated in their help guide, “Pagehand is optimized for people who are thinking about what they are writing.” While some of the features are not as intuitive as I would like, the layout of the sidebar is extremely well done, plus the application isn’t bogged down with rows and rows of icons.
I enjoyed writing this article in Pagehand, and feel that this has become one of my got-to-have applications on any Mac I work on. To say the least, I haven’t touched Pages or Word since I downloaded this application. I encourage you to get Pagehand from pagehand.com and give it a try.