Here’s an interesting fact I learned the other day: “Game of Thrones” author George R. R. Martin still writes all of his novels in WordStar. Never heard of it? Neither had I. Apparently, it was released for CP/M computers in 1978 before being converted into a DOS-compatible program years later. Martin refuses to change his word processor of choice, which apparently causes some formatting problems for his publishers when he sends them manuscripts.
When I switched to a Mac back in 2008, I tried out a half dozen word processors before I found something I liked. I tried NeoOffice, OpenOffice, AbiWord, and many more, before finally settling on Bean. Once I found something I liked, I kept on using it…even after new updates stopping coming and development was brought to a halt. So I totally get where Martin is coming from: when you are a professional writer, you get really attached to the program you use for so many hours each day.
Martin’s insistence on using an old word processing program made me wonder if I was missing out an equally appealing older word processor. A bit of looking around, and a frontrunner for my little experiment emerged: iText Express.
What is it and what does it do
iText Express is a colorful intuitive, and refined text editor with simple word processing completely rewritten in Cocoa.
- Read and write various documents including RTF, RTFD, TEXT/DOC/HTML, Unicode, plain text, and LightWayText/iText format files.
- iText Express also allows you to read .epub public domain eBooks
- Uniquely colorful writing app: iText Express allows you to easily put your own special personality on your documents
- iText Express also supports header/footer, footnotes/endnotes, bookmarks, and vertical writing.
- You can embed pictures, movies, and other files (e.g. other text files, spreadsheets, or PDF files) or entire applications within a document
- Write in English or Japanese: great for students or bilingual individuals
- Writing environment can have nearly any background color to suit your mood
- Fewer steps to change formatting than in Word
- Ideally suited for outlines or lists: formatting these types of documents is super easy!
- Hasn’t been updated since 2011 (part of the reason I decided to check it out!)
- Doesn’t load as quickly as some other word processors
- Length of readmefirst manual shows how complex this app can be to use
- Some colored backgrounds can aggravate eye strain
With a somewhat dated website that looks like it could have been constructed on GeoCities, iText Express definitely fit my criteria for an old-school word processor for my little Martin-inspired experiment. But appearances can be deceiving: this word processor has some powerful tricks up its sleeve.
iText Express supports many different word processor file formats, as well as HTML. You can also use it to create and export EPUB files, perfect for writers who want to make ebooks with ease.
I thought the colored backgrounds were a bit hokey, but they grew on me. They can reduce eyestrain (or aggravate it, depending on your color choice.) They can also improve your mood: a blue background can go a long way towards lowering your blood pressure during a rough day at the office, after all. The colorful nature of this app will be divisive: some people will love it, but others are sure to hate it!
Conclusion and download link
iText Express is free, and might be the right fit for certain individuals. It might look a little dated, but some of the features are pretty robust, especially given how long its been since a proper update. It just depends on your personal taste if you will like iText Express or not. Give it a try if you are interested.
Version reviewed: 3.4.3
Requires OS X 10.6.6 or later
Download size: 5.6 MB