7 Apps Every Writer Should Own

Like most writers I know, I have a fondness for paper and ink. Despite this, most of my work is done on a computer or tablet. Specifically on Apple products.

Every now and then, I share a list of my most-used apps for writers and writing. These always tend to be fairly popular posts. They get shared a lot.

This tells me if you want a hot market to sell apps to, writers would be a good place to start. That being said, I don't have any stock in any of these companies, but here are the 7 apps I think every writer should own and use…

  1. Scrivener. Might as well start with the granddaddy of them all, the app I use for the big research projects and book manuscripts. Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve, but that can be mitigated by picking up this easy-to-use course. Regardless of whether you use a training course to show you how to use Scrivener or not, I think this should definitely be an app you turn to regularly. If your experience is like mine, it will increase your output, your speed, and your accuracy.
  2. Word. For the longest time, I claimed to hate Microsoft Word. It was true. But as the years have passed, either I have gotten more patient or Microsoft has gotten better. This is the standard application you must use if you're going to interface with publishers in today's modern world. And I do believe Microsoft has made this app a lot better than it used to be, especially for Mac users. Gotta have it.
  3. Mindjet MindManager. I am a visual thinker. When I discovered mind-mapping, I was like a kid in the candy store. This is how I visualize ideas! It literally set my brain free, allowing me to capture, catalog, and organize my thoughts, concepts, and ideas into logical structures. Mindjet has been pivotal in this process for me.
  4. Evernote. I refer to Evernote as “my backup brain”. Most of us have come to realize we need some kind of external storage system to keep all our thoughts and ideas in. They are not always easily retrievable from our own gray matter, so we need an “external brain”. For me, that means Evernote. It's available on any device I own (MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPhone, iPad… and even my Android. Yes, I have one of those. Shhhh…).
  5. DayOne. I have never been able to keep up a journal – at least not until I discovered DayOne. For some reason, this elegantly constructed app makes me actually want to journal every day. Instant, in-the-cloud backup, and also available on every device I own.
  6. TextExpander. Even if you are an excellent typist, chances are there are sentences, phrases, paragraphs – even entire documents – that you routinely type and retype. This is a total waste of time. Anything you need to type more than once should be a template. You can enter those templates into this app, and then in the future, with the stroke of two or three keys, that entire block of text is instantly “typed” for you. If you happen to be a terrible typist (like me), this app is very nearly a miracle from God. Saves me hours every week.
  7. ByWord. Yes, I know if I want a simple, distraction-free writing experience, I could just use TextEdit. But for some reason that's just not as graceful as using ByWord. Something about the design, function, and simplicity of this program seems to instantly put me in a state of calm. Makes me ready to write. Keeps me focused on what I'm writing. Winner.

Those are my essential apps for the writing life. I bet you have a list of your own. Maybe even suggestions that I haven't ever seen before. I would love it if you shared below.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

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  • Lee Carlson


  • It’s interesting that you mentioned Byword. I remember considering it a few years ago. Maybe I should check it out again.

    Are you familiar with the REV recorder app? I’ve used it along with my Rode Lavalier mic and it’s worked nicely. And at a push of a button, your audio will be transcribed within 24 hours. There’s a fee, but I don’t think it’s a hefty one.

    One hack I use to create content is by opening up Mail on my iPad or iPhone and using the speech to text option to record my thoughts. Next, I email the text to myself so it’s saved. Finally, I reopen it on my Macbook later, copy, paste, and edit. It may be a cumbersome process for some, but it’s free 🙂

  • marisol

    Any similar apps for android users?

  • Saved to Evernote. You have some on the list I haven’t tried. Thanks!

  • Bobbie

    A voice activated recorder to use while driving.

  • Hi Ray,

    Not everyone has or wants an ipad or ipod or whatever you call them. How about giving a few directions on how to run apps on your home PC?


  • If you like MindManager, check out xMind 7. It has a free version that is powerful. Paid version gets you even more, but there’s not a whole lot a writer needs that the free version doesn’t already do. I started using it this year for outlining because it helps me to outline in a very visual way. There’s another one called Freemind, which is open source that isn’t bad, but it doesn’t quite touch MindManager or xMind..

  • I live in the Google World, I use the calendar, and email, and do most of my writing in Dos. For me it’s ideal. By using Google Docs, I have automatic Backup, off-site, Ie their cloud, I can access it on any machine, I can log into my account to, or share the document with an another account I have regular access to. including my Android phone.
    I also use Evernote on both the computer and phone. Being able to save ideas quickly and easily, and having them available both on the Phone and desktop app is essential.

  • Which of these does your editing and grammar checking? Or do we need something like Grammarly?