Choosing Between The 12 Most Popular Writing Apps

Stephen Fry Kindle books quote Infographic

When we asked the students on our creative writing courses what they considered to be the best writing apps, we didn’t really expect it to spark a huge debate.

But that’s exactly happened here at The Writers’ Academy, which probably says a lot about the ridiculous amount of apps and software aimed at helping writers do their thing.

Seriously, there are hundreds of writing apps out there. Have a look for yourself and you’ll find that there’s no real consensus on which are the best, either.

So in this post, we’ll look at 12 of the most popular paid and free writing apps, and help you decide which is the best fit for you (and settle/escalate a few arguments).

Best Writing Apps Infographic

Brand New Writing Apps

The apps listed below are those we’ve picked out as the best available today – but we can also keep you updated about new writing apps released every month.

You can sign up for Writers’ Academy updates, and get our picks for writing app of the month, as well as monthly lists of upcoming writing competitions and deadlines:

The 12 Best Writing Apps to Choose From

For those of you too busy (or lazy) to read our take on each, here’s our final list of the best apps for writers available today:

1. Zoho Writer

2. ProWritingAid

3. Scrivener

4. Evernote

5. yWriter

6. Fade In

7. LibreOffice

8. Ulysses

9. Writer

10. AP Stylebook

11. Day One

12. MindNode

If you’re still with us, let’s see if we can find you the perfect writing app to suit your particular needs…

1. Zoho Writer

Best easy-to-use word processor

Zoho Writer is a free online alternative to Microsoft Word, with a very sleek and easy-to-use interface. Sign-in either online or on mobile, and you’re off and running right away. It’s a versatile piece of kit, with a variety of formatting options. You’ll probably be most impressed by the hefty collaboration features though.

And if you’re worried you’re already too committed to Word, there’s even a handy plug-in that ties the two together!

(Available as a free online tool, or for download via the App Store or Google Play.)

Zoho Writer's online word processor

2. ProWritingAid

Best proofreading and editing tool

Enter your written work into ProWritingAid and you’ll receive a level of feedback far beyond what you’d expect from an automated tool.

More than a simple grammar checker, the editing software provides thousands of style suggestions to help improve your writing. Plus there’s also the usual spellcheck features, and a great plagiarism checker with the Premium version.

(Available in free and premium versions, which can be accessed either online or via a desktop app.)

Example of ProWritingAid's writing analysis

3. Scrivener

Best paid word-processing software

Fire-up Scrivener at the start of a writing project and you’ll find you can close pretty much everything else. It’s designed to take you through every step of the writing process – note-taking, research and editing as well as the actual writing itself.

There’s a reason Scrivener is so popular with writers: it’s a comprehensive tool that’s as much about project management as word processing. Take the time to get familiar with it, and you’ll be rewarded with an embarrassment of features at your fingertips.

(Available for purchase as a desktop program or as an IOS app.)

Outliner and corkboard features on the desktop version of Scrivener

4. Evernote

Best for note-taking in any format

It’s right there in the name. Evernote allows you to take ‘notes’ in a variety of forms – be it text, webpage, excerpts, pictures, voice memos or more. These are all instantly synced to your account so you can access them across all devices.

The 60MB of free monthly storage on offer is actually plenty if you’re just taking notes in plain text, but if you push the limit you can upgrade to the very reasonable premium version for some extra space and functionality.

(Available for free or premium download on desktop or via the App Store and Google Play.)

Example of Evernote's note templates

5. yWriter

Best for chopping and changing

Working on your latest novel? Type away into yWriter and see your work automatically broken up into chapters and scenes, letting you focus on just writing.

That may not sound like much, but it becomes VERY useful as your word count starts to climb higher and higher. It also tracks your changes by saving daily log files. When it comes to editing, simply drag and drop chapters, scenes, characters and locations to re-organise as you see fit!

If you find yWriter useful, consider supporting creator Simon Haynes at Patreon so he can continue to keep this software free!

Interface of the latest version of the yWriter writing software

6. Fade In

Best screenwriting software

Enter the latest draft of your script into Fade In and see it formatted into proper screenplay styling as you type. It’s the most feature-rich software of its kind, with a wealth of custom and layout options, real-time collaboration, bookmarks and much more.

It’s also the only professional screenwriting tool that lets you insert images straight into your document. The whole package.

(Available for desktop purchase or via the App Store and Google Play.)

Fade In screenwriting software

7. LibreOffice

Best free open-source office suite

Writers will be most interested in the great word-processor, with its support for older file formats and old-school layout. Downloading the LibreOffice package will also give you access to spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and math-formula software too!

The fact that it’s open-source will also appeal to the security conscious and programmers among you. A fantastic free alternative to Microsoft Office.

(Available for desktop download, but there’s also a ‘Viewer’ version for Android.)

Some features and layout of LibreOffice Writer

8. Ulysses

Best for blogging, simplicity and all-round design

Open up Ulysses either on Mac or mobile and right away you’ll be struck by the lovely, minimal interface. Its simple, text-only editor is perfect for writers who’d rather focus on content over layout and formatting. If you’re writing material for a WordPress blog, you’ll be pleased to find you can publish work there (and to Medium) directly from within Ulysses!

(Available for purchase for Mac or on the App Store.)

Demonstration of the UI on the Ulysses writing app

9. Writer

Best for distraction-free writing

Simple name, simple function. This Android app strips away all the extra bells and whistles of other writing apps to avoid distractions. It’s a clean, no-fuss space to write, store it and view some simple stats like word count and estimated reading time.

Like Ulysses, it also has support for Markdown – so take the chance to get familiar with that very handy text format if you’re not already.

(Writer is available exclusively on Android.)

Example of the statistics on your writing provided the Writer app

10. AP Stylebook

Best for journalists

Journalists can now have their Associated Press Stylebook in convenient digital form, online or on mobile. This means you’ve got the benefit of receiving ongoing updates, so you’ll be notified as entries are added or changed by AP editors. You can also submit questions directly, so you never have to worry about being out-of-date with the latest best practices again!

(You can pay to subscribe to the AP Stylebook Online via their site, and also download a free companion app for iOS.)

Example of style guidelines from within the AP Stylebook online app

11. Day One

Best for journaling

You can combine all your various ‘log’ apps with a journal with the powerful Day One. This nifty app lets you supplement your journal entries with the pictures, weather, location and activity data stored elsewhere on your device.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg feature-wise too. Setting reminders, sharing and publishing, calendars, timelines, filter and search functions… pretty much any function you could possibly demand from a journal app is contained here.

(Available for purchase via the Mac Store and App Store.)

Example of the navigation and features within the Day One journal writing app

12. MindNode

Best for mind-mapping

This very cool app has a constantly expanding canvas, so you can brainstorm endlessly. You can adorn branches of your map with your own photos or the app’s own bank of stickers. If you’re using it for productivity, take advantage of the ability to sync any tasks with your other ‘to-do’ apps, or upload interactive versions of your document to the MyMindNode servers for collaboration!

(Available for purchase via the Mac Store and the App Store.

Example of a mind-map created with the MindNode app

More Writing Resources

This is by no means an exhaustive list of writing apps, but we’ve tried to bring you those we’ve found most useful here at The Writers’ Academy.

And if you’re interested in more resources like this, visit our Writing 101 page for lists of writing competitions, blogs and bags of creative writing advice.

We’d love to hear your thoughts too. What’s your own writing app of choice? Have you used any of those on our list? Let us know below.

39 thoughts on “Choosing Between The 12 Most Popular Writing Apps

  1. Scrivener. Much for the reasons mentioned in the above. It is handy to have research and ideas close by when writing. The nature of my writings entails lots of names, locations, coffee shops and offices. Scrivener helps keeping it all in order.

  2. I’ve used Scrubbed and Evernote. I plan to check out Fade In and MindNode. Wonderful article on writing apps.

    1. Hi Belinda, glad you found it useful – I think you’ll definitely get something out of the two you mentioned, both are great apps. Scrubbed isn’t one we’re familiar with, do you have a link to somewhere we can check it out? – Danny

  3. Great article, thanks! I’m still looking for the best writing app where you can add photos, graphs and other images for non fiction picture books.

  4. Before I discovered Scrivener, I found WriteItNow the tool of choice. The work and timeline created in WINow was easily transferred to Scrivener while keeping it as a database and resource. Next novel will be Scrivener only.
    For editing, I can’t go past Stylewriter. Expensive but worth every penny. Final polish with PerfecIt.

  5. I’d also recommend checking out Notebook, a note-taking app from Zoho. I work at Zoho so I may be a little biased, but I really think Notebook has a fun, beautifully simple experience. It’s available on the iOS, Android, and Mac; there’s also a Chrome extension. I use it all the time to save inspiring quotes and write little scenes that end up becoming stories in Zoho Writer.

  6. Thanks for the review and recommendations. I’ve been a Scrivener user for years and can’t imagine writing without it. I tend to use Grammarly more than ProWritingAid. I love that Grammarly shows me when I’ve used both Canadian and American spelling. I’m looking forward to trying KM Weiland’s new product. Her workbook is already a great tool.

    1. Glad you found it helpful Kristina, let us know if you try any on the list that were new to you. There’s still time to enter our competition for a free copy of K.M. Weiland’s tool by the way (you’ll see we updated the post with details and a link to enter!) – Danny

  7. Hemingway is essential for assessing readability too. You can usually ignore a few flourishes, since the app recommends plainspeaking prose, but it’s useful for figuring out how objectively dense your writing is.

    Also, for worldbuilding with science fiction/fantasy, any kind of wiki could help.

  8. The link to the entry submission for the competition doesn’t work for me for some reason. Is there an alternate way to enter the competition?

  9. I’m a little late to the party, here, but I’ll weigh in: I used Writer for a long time and loved its simplicity–but then I got burned. It doesn’t have an “undo” or “revert” feature, so if you accidentally delete portions of your work, you’d better hope you have a backup! Unfortunately, I did not, so after that incident I moved on to Note Everything.

    Writer hasn’t been updated since January 2012, but a new developer has picked up the project and the app “Writer Plus (Write On the Go)” from Easy4U Ltd. may be a better option–I see their version has undo and redo options. I personally need better/more convenient backup/syncing options, so for now I’ll stick with Note Everything, which has a free supplemental app that you can use to import and export to Google Drive. But I will be checking out some of the other apps on your list as I am considering upgrading!

  10. I have heard so many positives about Scrivener that I am finally taking a serious look at it. Everyone who has used it talks about the many features it offers and improves organization.

    1. I used Scrivener loyally for years. Then one day it didn’t recognize my project file. It wouldn’t load the backups either. After a few hours of working on it, including re-installing, I finally got it to recognize the project file – and all but one of the seven chapters of my book were blank. But it gets worse – I wrote to support about it, and they were on vacation. For two weeks! So I went to the forum, in which several wrote that the scrivener file structure was fragile. No one whose files disappeared were able to restore them.

    1. Hi Sumit, no problem with The Marshall Plan at all, it just didn’t quite make our list of 12! Do you mind letting us know why you find that software so useful? I’m sure other readers would find it helpful too. We’ll be reviewing this post on a regular basis so it may well be that we end up reviewing it in the next update. – Cheers, Danny

  11. Several apps used here I value, like ProWritingAid. As I do a lot of blogging, I migrated to using the free NotePad ++ (Windows). Its a simple text editor with spellcheck. This allows me to focus on the writing and avoid the extra code issues with some word processors when I post afterwards.

    When I started more long-form projects, I continued to use it for similar reasons, only migrating to LibreOffice when its time for formatting. Or InDesign if its going to publication.

    If people are interested, I did a 2-part article on the tools and resources I used to publish the first book.

  12. There should be a mention about Quoll Writer! As far as I can see it’s free alternative for Scriviner. I’ve started using Quoll few days ago and it’s kind of feature rich but easy to use and simple at the same time. I’m also glad that it’s relatively bug-free and support my native language good enough.

  13. I love Evernote very much – 900 notes with 1000 words on average! Never thought I could generate so much content… It’s like an external hard drive for my brain!
    But recently I found a reason to write even more stories. I started to write for my 9yo son. The app that motivates me to write is StoryTold. It’s not an empty page with blinking cursor, but a huge motivational engine for parents, making my stories “worth reading” for my son.
    With Evernote I CAN write,
    with Storytold I’m ACTUALLY WRITING

    1. Hi James. Can you tell me more about Storytold? I did a search for it, but had no luck. Do you have a link to learn more about it? Thank you!

  14. That was useful, but I’d also recommend Storyist – which is like a slightly simpler version of Scrivener, specially tailored to the needs of novelists. It’s still powerful, but takes half the time to learn.

  15. Thanks, that was really useful. Not a long time ago I explored for myself powerful plagiarism checker called Unicheck( It helps to detect similarities in your writing, comparing your work with other files from the web and its internal database.

    As for me, it’s important not to repeat someone else!

  16. I recently created a web app for writing your first novel. It’s called Edward ( It has some really unique features to help you stay organized and is easy to learn. Definitely worth looking into if you want something more fiction-friendly than Microsoft Word but don’t know where to start.

  17. I found many of the comments interesting but one thing that stands out for me is: Doesn’t anyone simply use MS Word for standard fiction, non-fiction writing?

  18. My little contribution to this very useful list…

    I am using TwelvePoint ( on my iPad, I can edit and publish directly no other device needed. I create my theater plays with it and it is super reliable.

    There is also a version for Mac on the App Store.

  19. iA Writer for any and every writing needs. I’m actually a bit surprised it didn’t make the cut. To me iA Writer is writing itself, a simple and perfect digital typewriter, with nothing but a blank canvas and your words to fill it with. Of course it’s not a full blown text editor, but it has powerful exporting tools, syntax analysis and it produces simple .txt files, so you can be sure they can be opened by anything, anytime, anywhere. Plus, it just looks beautiful.

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