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22 Best Writing Apps: The First-Choice Writing Tools in 2021

Different kinds of writers—authors, bloggers, and freelancers, etc.—require different writing apps that have features best suited for the type of writing.

Therefore, finding the best writing apps is a unique undertaking for each writer. The market is flooded with lots of writing tools but finding the best writing software for you takes a lot of effort.

But if you’re reading this article, it means you have decided to research before committing to a particular tool.

Right decision!

For your convenience, I’ve compiled a list of the best writing apps that can make you a better writer and help increase your productivity (Hint – Grammarly and Scrivener topped the list).

Since the apps are very different in nature and can be used as complements, the numbering has been done randomly, although I’ve deliberately placed some of the best at the beginning of this list.

22 best writing apps the first choice writing tools

The Best 3 Writing Apps 

Grammarly

Scrivener

ProWritingAid


The Best Writing Software

1. Grammarly

Attribute: Best Overall Grammar Checker.

grammarly free

Grammarly is the go-to grammar checking app for writers, especially freelancers.

It performs rigorous checks on your text—whether it’s for typos, punctuation and spelling mistakes, or readability. 

But it isn’t a basic grammar checker. Grammarly comes with multiple other editing features that help you with things like passive voice, long or complex sentences and also offers broader vocabulary, among other capabilities.

Once the checks are done, Grammarly furnishes you with writing metrics and readability scores.

That’d be enough to convince most writers.

But that’s not all… it has its own plagiarism checker that scours online and offline sources, looking for similar texts to yours.

Supported Systems: macOS, iOS, Windows, and Android.

Pricing: Grammarly offers both free and paid plans. Grammarly Premium (for individuals) starts at $11.66. You can get Grammarly Business for as low as $12.50.


2. Scrivener

Attribute: Best Book Writing Software.

scrivener overview

Just like Grammarly owns the grammar checking terrain, Scrivener owns the book-writing software field.

Developed by writer Keith Blount (about 14 years ago), this is what a tailor-made author’s app looks like.

Scrivener is the full package as far as book writing is concerned. It has features that make it a combination of a typewriter, ring binder, and a scrapbook.

It is equipped with all the features to take your book or any other long-form writing from conception to the last full stop of your draft. It comes with features such as the corkboard, outliner, inspector, pre-set formatting, templates, file importing, metatags, automated document listing, and many other important book writing features.

Scrivener is perfect for writers in many genres; for example, it can be used by novelists, scriptwriters, academics, lawyers, translators, journalists, and students.

Supported Systems: macOS, iOS, and Windows.

Pricing: Scrivener has 4 pricing plans. Scrivener for macOS is at $49, iOS costs $19.99Scrivener for Windows costs $45, and the bundled plan for both macOS and Windows, which is $80.


3. ProWritingAid

Attribute: Excellent Tool for Self-editing

prowritingaid

ProWritingAid is one of Grammarly’s best competitors in the Grammar checking category, and what you get from this tool is pretty close to Grammarly.

Plus, it is more affordable than Grammarly.

It’s an excellent proofreading and grammar checking software that improves your writing in terms of grammar, style checking, and overall quality.

ProWritingAid helps strengthen your writing by analyzing it and providing in-depth reports on areas such as ambiguous sentences, grammar, transitions, abstract words, overused words, and other important elements.

ProWritingAid also provides articles, videos, and quizzes that improve your learning curve and make writing a bit more fun and interactive.

Supported Systems: macOS and Windows.

Pricing: ProWritingAid has free and paid packages.  Its monthly plan costs $20. And the yearly and lifetime plans cost $79 & $399, respectively.


4. Microsoft Word

Attribute: Best Word Processor.

microsoft word

For decades, Microsoft Word has been the most popular writing tool around the world. Functionality and preferences aside, it is still regarded as the best word processing software ever.

In fact, I believe that most of the word processing apps don’t just want to emulate MS Word’s features; they want to be better.

But they haven’t been successful in that endeavor, and they still lurk a mile behind Word.

It is pretty obvious that Word has evolved as a writing tool; it is no longer as simple as it was when we started using it back then. Word has added a lot of features for almost all kinds of writing projects. It also has dozens of new advanced features for integrating and configuring images and graphics, as well as a wide range of text formats, mailing capabilities, among several other practical formatting resources.

MS Word’s UI is clean and easy to use, the tool is Flexible, has great tools for collaborating, and has excellent formatting features that ensure that your document comes out on paper exactly how you designed your word on your screen.

Supported Systems: macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS.

Pricing: If you buy Word as a separate Microsoft Office package, it’ll cost you $139.99.

But it’s also available in Microsoft 365 packages.


5. Focus Writer

Attribute: Excellent Free MS Word Alternative.

focus writer

I love MS Word; It’s my first love, and I’m not the only one in love with this software.  

But we know that there are apps that are trying to steal our heart, trying to end romantic attachment to Word. Out of the many free MS Word alternatives, I’d say that Focus Writer is leading the pack.

As a matter of fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a paid tool. Just imagine, it’s available on Windows, Mac, and Android.

One of the tool’s goals is to provide distraction-free writing, so unlike MS Word, it doesn’t have an interface stuffed with all sorts of features. It has a minimalistic and clean interface that is geared towards eliminating the clutter that terrorizes writers who use word processors with rich formatting features.

But that distraction-free writing comes at a cost—the app is starved of essential editing features, and that makes a bad candidate for writing a second draft or any draft of long-form writing. I’d recommend using it only when writing the very first draft.

Supported Systems: macOS, Windows, and Linux

Pricing: Free


6. LivingWriter

Attribute: Fast Developing Tool

livingwriter

LivingWriter is a writing tool that’s constantly being improved. If it were an animal, I’d say that it is mutating to adapt.

On the current writing software terrain, it’s not a tool that should be “slept on.” It comes with features that are perfect for multiple genres. It can be used for both fiction and nonfiction writing projects and has features that cover story elements, general notes, goals and targets, document sharing, and stats.

Just like its competitors, LivingWriter has options for switching between light and Dark Mode. Plus, it also helps you write distraction-free by switching to the focus mode.

As I said, LivingWriter is constantly being improved by the developers, and it has moved from being only a web-based app to having iOS and Android applications. It also boasts full integration with Grammarly and Canva integration, and it’s claimed (by the Living Writer Roadmap) that its desktop apps are about 90% complete (If you’re reading this article some months later after the publishing date, then they’re already out).

Supported Systems: Web, iOS, and Android.

Pricing:  Living Writer has a yearly plan that costs $96 (billed once a year) and a monthly plan at $9.99 per month.


7. Hemingway Editor

Attribute: Best App for Impactful Writing

hemingway

The Hemingway Editor—which is also called Hemingway App—is a minimalistic software that helps writers put out content that is both readable and impactful.

The Hemingway app analyzes your writing and provides reports on things like adverbs, passive voice, phrases and words with simpler alternatives, hard-to-read sentences, very-hard-to-read sentences, and other “lexical atrocities.”

For me, there hasn’t been a single check that left no flags, mainly because of adverbs. Stephen King once said that “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.” 

The Hemingway app seems to have taken this to heart.

Supported Systems: macOS and Windows

Pricing: The web-based version is available for free, but the desktop apps (for Mac and Windows) cost $19.99.


8. Ginger

Attribute: Best App for Multi-Lingual Essays

ginger

This is another excellent alternative to Grammarly.

“Sire, we have found you another worthy adversary!”

Ha-ha.

Not only is this app good for proofreading English texts, but it also excels at translating texts in Spanish, French, German, and many other supported languages.

As a grammar checker, the tool focuses on things like verbs, adverbs, confused phrases, frequently misspelled words, and so on. It also has a customizable dictionary, a text-speech feature, and a personal trainer.

Whether you’re a freelancer, a small company, an organization, or an educational institution, there’s a Ginger package for you. Ginger also offers a free plan that is pretty decent.

Ginger is available as a plugin for MS Word, MS Outlook, and Google Chrome.

Supported Systems: macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android.

Pricing: Ginger has both free and premium plans. Its monthly plan is $9.99, while the yearly and two-year plans are $74.88 and $119.76, respectively.


9. Vellum

Attribute: Best Book Formatting Software.

vellum

As far as book formatting goes, Vellum is king. This is the go-to app for book formatting, especially for Mac users.

Vellum’s motto is “create beautiful books.”

Yep! That’s what Vellum really does; it creates beautiful eBooks and manuscripts ready for printing.

Vellum helps you turn a simple Word document into a professionally formatted eBook or book material ready for paperback or hardcover printing.

For eBooks, Vellum lets you add an already-made book cover directly to your eBook.

But it is a bit different when creating book files for printing. If you are creating a book for printing, you have to design the cover separately and add it using another tool because Vellum can only be used to create your book’s interior file, not the book cover.

Supported Systems: macOS

Pricing: Vellum offers a free plan (which doesn’t allow formatting) and two paid plans. Vellum eBooks, which is the unlimited package for creating eBooks only, costs $199.99.   Vellum Press. Vellum’s package for creating both books for printing and eBooks is at $249.99.


10. Google Docs

Attribute: Top-notch Word Processor.

google docs

For basic word processors, the battle for the throne is usually between MS Word and Google Docs.

When I discovered Google Docs, I was like, “thank God I don’t have to worry about losing my unsaved work!”

The instant saving feature was and still is a huge plus for most people because accidents happen, and in a split second, you can lose work because you forgot to save.

Plus, Google Docs is an incredible collaborative tool. If you work with teams, then you can have all your work shared using Google drive and work in the same place, at the same time, even though you live in two different worlds.

And that’s not all! It’s a free tool; imagine the sugariness of that fact.

Google Docs comes with features for tracking changes and progress, commenting for revision and group working purposes, styles templates, and other word processing features.

Supported Systems: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows.

Pricing: Free


11. Final Draft

Attribute: Best app for screenwriters

final draft

If I were a screenwriter, Final Draft would be my favorite app.

The Final draft guys even go as far as claiming their app is the app of choice for big companies like BBC, Netflix, Walt Disney, SONY, ABC, and many others.

I would be lying if I said anything other than that for Final Draft, a powerful screenwriting tool.

Final Draft comes with over 100 templates for TV, film, and playwriting, which are very useful when you want to format your script in line with industry standards.

Expectedly, Final Draft comes with index cards. It also has character features and stats for tracking your progress.

Supported Systems: macOS and Windows.

Pricing: Final Draft offers a handsome 60-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee. For existing subscribers who have older versions than Final Draft 11, upgrading costs only $79.99, and for new customers, the app costs $249.99 (currently at $199.99 due to a massive discount).


12. Ulysses

Attribute: Best Writing Software for Apple Products

ulysses writing app

Ulysses is a path-breaking tool for writing apps. In fact, Scrivener was modeled after Ulysses when it was developed back then.

It has sufficient features for word processing that can help write incredible essays and large academic assignments. It comes with a Markup-Based Text Editor, a library for organizing notes and documents, features for setting writing goals, publishing capabilities, and many others.

Ulysses is a good word processing app, but to be honest, I’m not a huge fan. Not because of its features and lack thereof, but because it’s just available on macOS.

Supported Systems:  macOS, iPadOS, and iOS.

Pricing: Ulysses offers a variety of pricing options for different regions of the world. The US plan costs $5.99 per month and $49.99 per year. Then there are plans for other regions (Europe, China, Japan, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia), which are priced using the local currencies’ USD equivalent of the US plan.


13. The Novel Factory

Attribute: Excellent App for Novelists

the novel factory

There’s no shortcut to writing a good novel. Novel writing software is designed to help you write faster and tidier, but it does take you through all the necessary stages.

This is a fabulous app with a lot of practical features for almost every step in your novel building process.

The Novel Factory takes your novel from the creation of a premise, plotting, creating characters, up to the last word in the story plot’s resolution.

With the Novel Factory, you can create the synopsis, create scenes that fulfill the intended narrative, sketch your characters, create the story’s settings, plot your story, et cetera.

You can write anywhere; using the web version of The Novel Factory, you can write on any internet-enabled device, from anywhere, whether it’s your favorite café, the train station, in your van, park, etc.

Supported Systems: Windows

Pricing: The Novel Factory is a paid tool but it offers a 30-day free trial. Its basic plan costs $7.50/month and is billed $75 annually. The standard package is at $20/month and is billed $198 annually.


14. Write Or Die

Attribute: Best for Productivity Purposes.

I always say that, for me, the name of this app encapsulates my life.

It’s either I write or die!

When you set goals in Write Or Die, you receive incentives, stimuli, or penalties depending on your performance. If you’re a sloth like me, you really need this.

It gives you the extra push since the penalties—which include erasing current texts—are designed to help you pick up speed and increase productivity. At times, those punishments can trigger the Usain Bolt in your fingers and make you go into overdrive.

Supported Systems: macOS, Windows, and Linux.

Pricing: Write or Die has free and paid plans. It costs $10 for macOS and Windows and $1 for iOS.


15. IA Writer

Attribute: Simplest Writing App

ia writer

IA Writer is a distraction-free writing tool that’s ideal for short essays.

It has a very simple user interface that only uses plain text. To help you eliminate distractions, IA writer has a full-screen mode that fades out everything but the line you are typing.

Supported Systems: This IA Writer app is available on Windows, Android, iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Pricing: IA Writer is a Paid tool (apps for each supported system are purchased separately.), and there are free trials for some plans. 

The desktop app for macOS costs $29.99 (has a 14-day trial), apps for iOS & iPadOS are at $29.99 (there is no free trial offered), the Android app costs $4.99 /year or $29.99 one-time payment with a 30-day trial, and the Windows desktop app is at $29.99 & comes with a 14-day trial.


16. Write! App

Attribute: Distraction-Free Word Processor 

write! app

Write! App is another minimalistic word processing app that is sleek and practical at the same time.

It’s an app tailor-made for distraction-free writing.

There’s no denying that Write! has a good-looking UI and works well, but it’s the distraction-free writing features that convinced me to add it to this list.

And it comes with other features that help in formatting your document, spell checking, Autocomplete, publishing, syncing, and other important tasks.

Plus, it won’t cost you an arm.

Supported Systems: macOS, Windows, and Linux.

Pricing: Write! has simple pricing plans. Apart from the cloud access fee, there’s just one plan. Write! App only offers a lifetime plan which involves a one-time payment of $24.95.  For students, Write! offers a discounted price of $9.95 for students. Then there’s that optional fee for cloud access which is $4.95/year after the first year of purchase.


17. Freedom

Attribute: An Incredible Tool for Focused Writing 

freedom

Freedom wants the best for you as a writer. So Freedom, on your behalf, blocks distracting sites and applications to let you focus on the most important thing—writing.

This means that you’re done—temporarily—with detours from apps, websites, and social media.

If you’re like me, you really need this app. Don’t you hate it when a 2-minute scroll on Twitter turns into 2 hours of surfing the internet?

If you’re worried about how such distractions affect your focus and productivity, then you have to start using Freedom.

It’s not an expensive tool; in fact, the “cost of freedom” has never been lower, literally.

Supported Systems:  Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, ChromeOS.

Pricing: Freedom costs $6.99 per month, $29 per year, and also offers a $129-lifetime plan which can get as low as $64.50 when discounts are offered.


18. Manuscripts

Best App for Academic Assignments

manuscripts

Manuscript is a tool that is perfect for students and academics.  

And the good thing is that it works with popular word processing apps, including Microsoft Word.

Whether it’s an essay, lab report, dissertation, or a literature review, Manuscript will take you from the planning stage to the last page.

One of the reasons why Manuscript is an excellent tool for academic writing is its citation features. The tool allows you to import your reference library from reference management software such as Zotero and Mendeley. You can also cite directly with popular reference management systems, including Bookends and F1000Workspace.

It also has essential writing features like the outliner, the inspectors, focus mode, and you also have an option of switching to a full-screen mode.

Even with all these capabilities, Manuscript has a simple UI and is very easy to use.

Supported Systems: macOS

Pricing: Free


19. Storyist

Attribute Affordable screenwriting software for macOS.

storyist

Writing is a vast theater. We have novelists, academic writers, journos, bloggers, and many other kinds.

As the name suggests, storyist is an app tailor-made for storytellers; it has features for creating, organizing, and tracking your plot, characters, and settings.

Storyist allows you to set comments, insert images, create headers and footers, and style sheets. If you’re not really good at formatting manuscripts and screenplays, Storyist comes with manuscript and screenplay templates to help you write using a proper format.

Your story can be sketched using index cards that are attached to your manuscript and can be displayed as you write. Storyist recognize that story writing is a flexible process, so it lets you customize and refine your story’s plot, character, and setting sheets.

Storyist is pretty basic and affordable, so it’s a perfect tool for newbie screenwriters.

Supported Systems: macOS and iOS.

Price: Storyist is a paid tool but offers a 15-day free trial. Its license costs $59.99.


20. Day One

Attribute: Excellent Journaling Software

day one

Journaling is an important element of a writer’s life. Writing down random ideas is a proven way of increasing creativity and beating writer’s block.

With the Day One writing app, you write short story ideas, blog post titles, or record your day-to-day writing activities.

You can add photos, audio clips, drawings, or videos to your journal to capture memories and make your journal beautiful.

The tool also lets you sync your journal entries so that you can easily access them across all of your devices.

If you’re not sold on journaling because notebook journals aren’t your cup of tea, this app will change your perception.

Supported Systems: macOS and iOS.

Pricing: Day one offers a free plan and a paid plan that costs $2.92 per month.


21. yWriter

Attribute: For Authors Who Like Crafting their Novel Scene by Scene

ywriter

yWriter used to be an exclusive Windows book writing app, but they have made it available on almost all the major platforms—Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS (which is still a beta version).

yWriter is similar to Scrivener and I remember back then, some people said it was “a Scrivener for Windows.” But unlike Scrivener, yWriter focuses on chapters and separates them as if they were different books.

In those chapters, you can then set up scenes. So, each chapter is treated as an independent section, and the scenes can be sorted separately in different windows.

Once you hit a dead end, you can mark the scene as unused and it won’t be included in the final word count.

yWriter has features for adding scenes, characters, locations, etc.

The app also helps you track your progress by displaying word counts (per file and the total) and keeping everyday log files.

Supported Systems: Windows, Android, iOS, & macOS.

Price: Free


22. Bibisco

Attribute: Excellent Tool for Planning a Novel.

bibisco

I think of a novelist as an architect who also has to handle everything else after designing his building.

They have to design and build the whole novel—create a novel structure, come up with and explain the premise, create and define the and settings, set up the narrative, design characters, determine and add images & objects essential for the story, write & organize chapters and scenes, et cetera.

Bibisco handles all these tasks.

Bibisco lets you export your word using pdf, Docx, epub file type. Plus, Bibisco is a multilingual app; it supports a lot of languages including Czech, French, German, English, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish.

Supported Systems: Linux, macOS, and Windows.

Pricing: Bibisco is an open-source software program. You pay what you think is the right price.


Deciding on a Writing Software

Free Writing Software Vs Paid Software

It is wrong to generalize that all paid writing software tools are better than their free counterparts.

In some cases, though, that assertion does hold. Some tools are paid software for good reason—they come with incredible features and offer great customer service.

And… Some free services come with ads (which can be a source of annoyance and distractions) that are a source of revenue for the developers.

All in all, it’s good to give a writing app a try before making any decision. The price tag alone isn’t sufficient for determining good writing software.

Things to Consider When Choosing Writing Software

1. Supported Systems

I find it unnecessary for apps to restrict themselves to a single OS. Unless you tell me that Apple or Microsoft are paying you, it doesn’t make sense to me.

In fact, it feels like some childish ego.

A good writing tool needs to support major operating systems, at least both macOS and Windows. Having desktop apps for these systems is a convenience on its own. But the tool can also have apps for mobile systems (Android, iPadOS & iOS).

2. Usefulness and Ease of Use

Nobody purchases writing software to make their lives harder. NO!

A tool with lots of features does make writing a bit easier. But if those features are more intricate than what they’re supposed to be, then you’re better off without that writing app.

Good writing software is tailor-made for writers and, preferably, made by or with the help of writers. Such software has little to no whistles and bells and is very intuitive.

3. Distraction-Free Writing

When a writer gets their act together and starts writing, there must be no distractions.

Detours that arise from other apps and activities are bad enough, nobody needs more distractions from a writing app. In this regard, a writing tool needs to be tidy and free of unnecessary widgets that can only delay the writing process.

Besides that, good writing software programs also come with focus modes and full-screen writing which help get rid of additional widgets and inessential features.

4. Specificity

Diversity and versatility is a good thing for a writing tool to have. A writing app with so many capabilities makes it easier and cheaper for a writer to handle different projects.

However, good software needs to have some particularity. It needs to be a perfect tool for a specific project or type of writing.

For example, scrivener doesn’t strive to be the jack of all trades. Instead, it tried and has successfully become the best book writing software. This means that authors know that they won’t get any grammar checks, but it will efficiently handle the creative and organizing elements of their book writing process.

5. Cost of Software

Sometimes, fussing over the price tag isn’t necessary. If the tool can give value for money, then you just have to close your eyes and authorize that payment.

But in some rare instances, high cost doesn’t always reflect the quality of the writing software. Take Google Docs for example, it’s free but better than a couple of paid tools.

If there’s a paid tool that someone recommended to you or you find on your own, always look for trial periods and free versions. Use them to test the tool and if you’re convinced that the price tag doesn’t match the quality, DUMP IT. 

What Writing App Do Professional Writers Use?

MS Word and Scrivener are the most popular apps among famous authors. Best-selling authors like J.K Rowling, Steven Kotler, and Stephen King have used or still use MS word.

Todd Henry, Jeff Goins, and Sabba Tahir have all used or still use Scrivener. Todd Henry and Sabba Tahir use Scrivener for drafting but use Word to write.

Final Draft is the most famous screenwriting software that I know. Ben Stiller, James Cameron, Tom Hanks, Robert Zemeckis are just a few of the many famous names in Hollywood that use Final Draft to write scripts.

What Is the Best Writing App for Longer-Form Works?

Scrivener, without a doubt. Scrivener is perfect for long-form works. It helps you put all your researched content, references, notes, and your unique content in one place.

For Novelists, plotting, adding notes, creating characters, fleshing the story, and revisions can all be done inside Scrivener.

Final Words On the Best Writing Software

As I said at the beginning of this read, you have to put effort into finding the best writing software. Don’t just listen to what other people or bloggers are saying.

The writing app has to be tailored for your needs; otherwise, you’ll end up with a white elephant.

Obviously, there are apps other than – Grammarly and Scrivener that are actually good. Go out there and find your writing app! 

About Jessica Majewski

Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories.

She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.