If the internet were a metaphorical jar of dirt, out of the many you will prod in the soil once you dip your hand in, you will encounter countless writing apps, in many forms, shapes and sizes. Out of the many that stand out as the top-level writing apps however, one app stood out from the rest for me, and it was a geek-minded Markdown app, built for web developers like me:
Meet Mou. Developed by Chen Lou, creator of many great small apps, Mou is dubbed as exactly what it was built for. It’s a Markdown writing app, with geeks like you and me, thought of in mind. It is a premiere writing app for those who like HTML, and even more if you love keyboard shortcuts and actions.
Mou is my favorite app for thinking. And it will stay as my favorite writing app, no matter what. Why?
What I Love:
- Mou is simple. No toolbars, sidebars or status bar underneath — Mou is clear of clutter, you only see what you need to see, and there are no distractions between you and your content. What you see is what you get, and Mou delivers it one-on-one.
- Mou is customizable. You can change the editors’ font options, theme it through Mou’s surprisingly simple syntax, and even style the preview pane through CSS — similar to that of MarsEdit’s “live preview” feature, and it’s perfect for writers who want to see what their writing will look like in its final product.
- Mou is a Markdown app built for web developers — it even says so on the website. Aside from the basic syntax-highlighting, auto-bolding and italicising of Markdown elements, the app features more web-savvy actions like converting to HTML, inserting HTML comments and inserting HTML entities (like <’s, &’s and spaces). Even if you’re not a Markdown expert, or you’ve never used Markdown at all, don’t fret: Mou still works great and with Mou’s easy to-learn features, you’ll be writing Markdown like John Gruber.*
- Mou is perfect for keyboard-shortcut geeks! Since Mou is full of handy actions, Mou comes with memorable keyboard shortcuts (or even customisable if you’re that of a geek like me) for almost an abundance of its many features. Out of all I adore however, my favorite of Mou’s would be its “Copy HTML” feature. It’s so darn useful, I can’t even write anything without it now.
- Exporting is another of Mou’s great features. If you export your file as an HTML file or a PDF, it will be exported as to how the Live Preview looks like. This feature becomes a billion times better if you’ve applied your own styles, which in turn is fully customisable and looks just the way you want it to look.
- Enhanced Lion Support. If you have Auto-Correct enabled, you can hit “Esc” to show a list of words to fill in. Autosave is standard in Mou, which is awesome. And there’s Versions. It’s more powerful than you think.
- Out of all the writing apps I’ve ever used, Mou has one thing that beats many of them: A live, typewriter-esque, keypress sound. Most of you will cringe, and for those who do, it’s optional. For those who will fill wells of nostalgia and for those who adore the sound of productivity at its peak, then you will love it. It’s the little things that make an app stand out from the crowd.
I Didn’t Like These:
- The icon. Sure, it represents wholly the app’s name, and it is in fact, unique and memorable, but it doesn’t quite fit right next to the other great-looking apps with great looking icons in the Launchpad. Perhaps if The Iconfactory or Soft Façade had the time?
- Mou’s Full-Screen mode is terrible on a 27″ display. Legibility is at all, the worst, and unlike many of the other writing apps, the text isn’t columned, nor centered. But, on an 11″ display however, Mou is perfect. That is, of course, if you adjust the text big enough and moved your head far from the display. Perhaps a later update should fix this.
- The Live Preview panel is quite annoying on the side. I’d love the ability to separate it from the actual writing, very much like that of MarsEdit’s. Though, the Live Preview panel can be hidden, but toggling back the panel squishes the text you’re working on and you’d have to resize the window. Not so good.
- For some reason, when I switch to a non-monospaced font in the editor, the text jiggles around a bit. It is quite annoying, and sometimes, people aren’t always in a mood to write monospaced.
Anyway, if you’re looking for another writing app that’s worth the time checking out, try Mou. Even though it’s not as cross-platform just like its top-level competitors, iA Writer and Byword, Mou still beats both for geek-minded simplicity. Oh, and typewriter sounds.