Typed brings a touch of Zen to a minimalist Markdown editor

App icon for Typed from Realmac Software

This seems to be the week for great new text editors. First, we had Desk (US$29.99), a new minimalist Mac writing environment that works great with many blogging platforms including WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Facebook,and more. I liked its totally distraction-free UI, the ability to use Markdown and some built-in text ornamentation tools interchangeably, and one-click quick publishing to WordPress. Today Realmac Software launched Typed ($19.99), a very similar Mac app with some features that may be more attractive to some writers and bloggers than Desk.

As with Desk, launching Typed opens a minimalist interface - essentially a blank piece of paper onto which you can type. That piece of paper comes with an inspirational quote about writing on it that disappears once you've started typing. On the left side of the "paper" window are three buttons that only appear when you hover over them.

The topmost button looks like a capital T and allows you to select your paper color - white, sepia, or black - the typeface, and whether or not you want a responsive layout (i.e., have the layout and text size respond to being slimmed down to iPhone or iPad width).

The middle button, a pair of glasses, gives you a preview how your text will look in a web browser. Links appear underlined and are active, headings are in the correct size, and strong/emphasized text looks the way it should. A left arrow takes you back to the editor when clicked. I found the typography of Typed to be quite nice, although it really only makes a difference in the editor; previews always appear to be in the same set of fonts.

Finally, the bottom button is a share button. Clicking it brings up a list of things you can do with your document - copying it as HTML, sending it via Mail, sending it via Messages, zapping it to another Mac or iOS 8 device via AirDrop, or even using it in different apps via Extensions.

At the top of your document is the title, and of course a way to save the current document. iCloud Drive is supported in Typed, and the app creates a folder especially for Typed. Other than that, Typed provides a running word count for statistics - click on it, and you can see how many characters you've used as well.

Typed makes more use of menus than does Desk, although you can pretty much use the default settings and be set. Preferences are pretty minimal - you can select from one of eight interfaces, each of which has its own UI sound effects and music associated with it.

That music only appears when you're in "Zen mode". That's turned on with a menu selection or by typing Command-Y, and puts the app into full-screen mode. You can have transparency turned on (just slightly) to see your Mac's wallpaper if you wish, and there's also a soundtrack that will play as you type (it can also be toggled off to work in complete silence).

Unlike with Desk, which has a built-in way to work with many content management systems (CMS), Typed pretty much just lets you save in a native Markdown format or export as HTML or RTF. This can be handy when using a CMS that accepts either Markdown or HTML as formatted input. Just copy what you've entered into Typed to paste as Markdown, export as HTML if that's the way you swing, or copy as HTML if that's what your CMS wants to see.

Like Desk, Typed is very minimalist and quite nice if you don't want distractions while writing. Typed is $10 less expensive than Desk, but doesn't include the very useful one-click publishing feature. If you want calming sounds during writing (I don't), they're available in Typed. Desk's pop-up menu for selected text makes it easy to add ornamentation or links without the need to either remember a Markdown shortcut or use the menu bar -- that's something that is missing from Typed. Also missing is the ability to drag and drop an image onto Typed to publish it to a content management system, another handy feature of Desk. Here, you're going to need to upload the image separately and then add an image reference link.

The bottom line? Typed is a really well done Markdown text editor that's perfect if you need Markdown or HTML output with a minimum of fuss. If you want to publish directly to your favorite blog with one click, spend the extra ten bucks for Desk.