Zoho Writer offers many features that you will love

Welcome to Day 20 of my blogging challenge. Today’s post is a hybrid. The first part of this post is what is known as a listicle. I began writing this post as a compilation of writing apps on the Mac that are used for blogging. I decided to use Zoho Writer for this post. As I began using this tool, I discovered many of its features.This second half of this post highlights some of the features that you will love about this app.

Writing Apps I have used since 2016 for blogging

I had purchased a MacBook Pro in July 2016. it was an early 2015 13 inch Retina model, and it really introduced me to this whole new world of writing apps – open source and proprietor y. I have found iAWriter to my liking, I say this as a happy (paid) user for  6 years. However, there is a constant  itch urge eagerness to explore and learn what other options are out there. This meant exploring the Mac Appstore, reading reviews, lists of writing Apps and office suites on sites like Wikipedia. Around 2017 I discovered Markdown, and fell in love with it. Sites like ProductHunt have a running list of offline and online editors for markdown. Many of the apps for Markdown have a Mac version, and it was quite painless to install them. The list below mentions apps that I have used at least for three days, some have versions for desktop, mobile and are accessible via the web.

You can download the PDF version of this blog post by clicking here

February 2022 : Mac is Back!

I started using Linux on Lenovo Thinkpad and on the ThinkCentre (Kitchen Sink) starting January 2022. The writing was taking place on either of these devices. Focus writer and Remarkable Editor- and to an extent Typora were the writing tools I used over the past 6 weeks. Remarkable is a great tool but I was missing iAWriter. I also decided to use plain old terminal and even composed a blog post or two in nano. Last week I dated to venture into Emacs territory. A couple of days ago, I got back my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina. Like always, I reinstalled the Operating System- MacOS Catalina. This was a clean install, and a few of the apps got downloaded and updated with iCloud. But iAWriter, my writing poison of choice, was missing. I also noticed a couple of other apps including VPN were missing. This required a trip to the Mac appstore.   Note the below list includes paid, trialware and open source applications, many of which I have tested and liked or disliked. The latter of course forms the largest component of the below list. I have also used online-only writing tools such as Dropbox Paper and Dillinger. We will take a look at them in a separate post in the future. I have also used many desktop office applications such as Paper and LibreOffice. Finally, online office suites such as Google Docs and Office 365- we will take a look at them as a separate post also.

The List of Writing Apps for Mac

Below list is not comprehensive by any standards. I will leave a link below for some of these apps. In 2016, I had published a Comparison of Note Taking Apps. Looking at the number of options below, perhaps it is time to update that post ! it is simply a large collection of apps that I have used and am familiar with. This is a listicle, which is defined as
Listicle n. a piece of writing or other content presented wholly or partly in the form of a list.
Dictionary.com Writing apps for Mac
Apps for Writing and Blogging in Mac
Bear (Mac) Paper(Mac) MacDown (Mac)
Nimbus Note (Online, desktop and Mobile Apps) iAWriter (Mac and iOs) Zoho Writer (Online, Mac and Linux)
Notes app in Mac Day One (Mac) Mars Edit 4 (Mac)
Simplenote (Mac and Linux) Standard Notes (Mac and Linux) Evernote (Mac)
One Note (Mac) Obsidian (Mac) Typora (Mac and Linux)
Atom (Mac and Linux) Sublime Text (Mac and Linux) Emacs (Mac and Linux)
TextEdit (Mac) Haroopad Remarkable Editor (Linux)
Focus writer (Mac and Linux) Joplin Turtle App
Mac Apps for writing - screenshot from Mac Appstore

Mac Apps for writing – screenshot from Mac Appstore

Writing blog posts using Markdown Editors

Writing in Markdown has its distinct advantages. The basic output is in plain text, formatting is clean, file size is small, and one can export to HTML, PDF or rich text. But, my below workflow was not working out for the following reasons.Till last week, my workflow during the blogging challenge has been as follows: -Record the raw draft in otter.ai, which transcripts from speech to text. -Export the text from Otter, post in Markdown software. -Finalize the raw draft in Markdown -Export to HTML -Paste the HTML format into a tool for SEO and formatting, add additional links and details such as meta description. -Export the final version again to HTML, and paste the final output into WordPress. This was not the best approach, there were formatting issues, and some other headache. The last nail in the coffin was thanks to Copywritely, a tool that I used for the optimizing part. The application crashed one hour into the session, and I lost my work (saving DID NOT help- the browser froze, and the server sync did not work. It was a perfect storm. Previously I used the Ink App, but then moved on to Copywritely once we got the subscription for the latter. Maybe Zoho writer will fill that spot now.
Ink App also has quite useful editing and optimization tools. Blog of Amar Vyas
Ink App also has quite useful editing and optimization tools.

Time to change the workflow

I began I was looking for a tool that allowed me to: -Write my post -Do basic formatting -Check for wordcount, grammar and typos -Help with optimizing for search engine optimization This sounds like an “all in one” solution and counter to my preference for using Markdown. But I wanted to see how a rich text enabled editor could affect my productivity. Markdown is great, but it is not for everybody. The goal was to put myself in a typical writer’s shoes.

Review of Zoho Writer

I have written this post using Zoho Writer. For gaathastory, we have subscription for Zoho, and I had not really used the apps that Zoho offers to their fullest extent. We have used Zoho Cliq, Zoho Meetings, Mail and Docs (now Workdrive), and to an extent, Zoho Sheets. But the writing app sounded particularly appealing to me. I decided to give it a try. I had composed the above version of this post using Zoho Writer- Mac App
I wrote the below post using Zoho Writer- web version

What I like about the Writer App for Zoho

1. The Mac app is slick

I found the app to be fast, not much of a memory hog, and quite responsive to both mouse and keyboard commands. The app opened in the minimal version, without the toolbars and other bells and whistles. This offered a distraction free, clean writing experience. Dashbaoard of Zoho Mac App Dashboard of Zoho Mac App

2. The sync feature with Zoho Drive is awesome

The desktop app syncs the documents with Zoho Drive. The syncing with Zoho Drive is quite good. When the computer is connected to the Internet, the sync with Zoho Drive is nearly on real time basis. I had a first hand experience of this feature- while drafting this blog post on the Mac App, the battery of the MacBook Pro died. The machine shutdown abruptly in the middle of writing. I lost only the last sentence I was typing!  The Windows app might behave similarly, but since I do not use windows- therefore cannot confirm the features or functionality. While drafting this blog post on the Mac App, the battery of the MacBook Pro died. The machine shut down abruptly in the middle of writing. I lost only the last sentence I was typing, rest of the document was retained and accessible from the web version.

3. Grammar and Spelling Checker

Grammar and Spelling tools are quite easy to maneuver and recommendations are easy to follow. The recommendations for SEO are quite similar to Ink App or similar tools. I simply had to click on the menu, at the top right, and the recommendations popped up. The menu on the left (vertical toolbar) is optional and a user can easily hide them to get them out of the way.

spell checker in zoho writerSpell checker too in Zoho Writer Alternate words suggestions- Zoho WriterThe Spellcheck tool can also suggest Alternative words for better readability

4. Menu in Hindi

I like that the interface can be (partially at least) changed to Hindi.

Lorem ipsum in Hindi Lorem Ipsum in Hindi

5. Dark Mode

I believe that in 2022, an application without a dark mode should simply not exist. Thankfully, that is not the case with Zoho Writer. I composed the majority of this post in Dark mode!

6. Editing and Collaboration Tools

The below screenshot shows the options in the “File” menu. It is in Hindi of course, but the major items are all there- creating a version, duplication, collaboration (inviting others or sharing the file with others), besides commenting and exporting to HTML or PDF, and so on.

Click to see additional images of Zoho Writer

File Menu for Zoho Writer

Wrapping it up: Writing Apps for Mac and Zoho Writer

When I began writing this post, I had planned to write a couple of lines about each of the different apps or tools I had used for writing. The goal was to talk about interface, installation, which features I liked or disliked. The post took its own form, and as they say, I decided to keep things the way they are. As they say, let sleeping dogs lie. (My dog Buddy is sleeping below my desk as I write, maybe that’s why this phrase came to my mind).
Zoho writer is a solid writing tool. I may give it a try for a longer period than intended.

Background: About this Post

I had scheduled publishing a two part series on SaaS (Software as a Service) tools. But that post is getting lengthy- 5,000 words at last count. My goal was to split it into two parts, but for this blogging challenge, the goal is to publish smaller posts. Therefore I will perhaps publish it as a separate “mega” or “epic” post in the future. So we come to the below post instead.The theme of my blog for Sundays is called ‘SaaSy Sunday’. This post is written and published during #bloggingchallenge for the month of February 2022.
Word count: 1600 words, time taken: 2 hours including editing and optimizing.

This post was updated on 2022-06-04