50 Of The Best Writing Apps For The iPad
by Ashley McCann
The best writing apps for iPad, like any concept of ‘best,’ is subjective and further based on need and circumstance.
Are you a poet drafting when inspiration strikes? A student taking notes and writing essays? A novelist that usually uses a desktop, but needs their new iPad Pro to do work on the go?
While the idea of writing more than a few hundred words on an iPad may seem crazy, using the iPad as a powerful portable writing tool allows you to take advantage of inspiration whenever and wherever it strikes. And with iPad screens now approaching 13″ and capable of supporting USB connections to enable standalone keyboards, it’s easier and more comfortable than ever to draft a masterpiece while away from your desk with the help of an app, an iPad, and a good idea.
50 Of The Best Writing Apps For The iPad
Developer description: A pleasant, focused writing experience combined with effective document management, fast syncing and flexible export make Ulysses the first choice for writers of all kinds.
Developer description: Draft a blog post, write that story or complete a school report wherever you are. Use Markdown to format text with easy keyboard shortcuts, subtle syntax highlighting, word counters with live update, and much more.
Developer description: 1Writer provides a distraction-free writing environment. You can create and edit plain text or Markdown files. It does have many features including inline Markdown preview, word count, dark theme, TextExpander support, insert photo, an extra keyboard row, and many more.
4. Scrivo Pro for Scriveners & Writers
Developer description: You have a story to tell, article to publish, class notes to take, whether it’s today’s journal entry, tomorrow’s thesis or a future bestseller novella. Scrivo Pro can help you organize your writing, research, generate ideas, and remove distractions so you can focus on the most important thing: writing.
5. Hanx Writer
Developer description: Hanx Writer, created by Tom Hanks, recreates the experience of a manual typewriter, but with the ease and speed of an iPad.
Developer description: Ideas strike wherever you are. Be prepared with StorySkeleton, the best story-mapping and organizational tool for iPad and iPhone. Create the structure for your project with StorySkeleton’s snappy and finger-friendly interface.
Developer description: Storyist is a powerful writing environment for iOS that lets you create, review, and revise your work wherever inspiration strikes.
8. Story Planner
Developer description: The outline is one of the most powerful weapons for a writer. Now you can easily outline your stories wherever you are thanks to Story Planner, the best story-mapping and organizational stories tool ever.
Developer description: Tailor-made for creating long manuscripts, Scrivener banishes page fright by allowing you to compose your text in any order, in sections as large or small as you like. Got a great idea but don’t know where it fits? Write when inspiration strikes and find its place later. Grow your manuscript organically, idea by idea.
10. Textilus Pro Word Processor
Developer description: Textilus Pro is a great word processor app for students and business people, also being excellent for writing reports, papers, blog posts, journals or ebooks! Textilus Pro can help you organize your research, generate ideas, and remove distractions so you can focus on the most important thing: writing.
11. Verse – Write Poems, Song Lyrics and Compositions
Developer description: Write poems, song lyrics, haikus or even odes and more with Verse for iPad and iPhone.
12. MLA Writer – MLA Style Writing Tool
Developer description: View, edit and create MLA documents with MLA Writer. MLA Writer is the first step for a modern Writing tool for iPad and iPhone that aims to support 100% the standard MLA style. MLA (Modern Language Asociation) specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and using the English language in writing.
13. Guided Essay Writer
Step-by-step guided essay-writing directions written by a college English professor and includes explanations and examples to help you write a college-level essay including the following: introduction paragraph, supporting paragraphs, and conclusion paragraph. Includes essay-writing tips to help write a successful, organized essay.
Developer description: Notes with more creative freedom and better organization. Captured at any spot on a page and draggable around the place, organized in the world’s most natural hierarchy, and synced across devices with your favorite cloud. Freedom but clear structure.
Developer description: Pages is the most beautiful word processor you’ve ever seen on a mobile device. This powerful word processor helps you create gorgeous reports, resumes, and documents in minutes.
Developer description: Werdsmith turns your iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch into a portable writing studio, so you can write any time, any place. Hundreds of thousands of writers rely on Werdsmith to capture their ideas and work on their novels, screenplays, stories and articles.
Developer description: Say goodbye to writer’s block. Unblock makes writing easy, with professionally designed writing exercises to get you through even the toughest obstacles.
Developer description: Editorial is a plain text editor for iOS with powerful automation tools and a beautiful inline preview for Markdown, TaskPaper, and Fountain documents.
19. Daedalus Touch
Developer description: Daedalus Touch is the first truly next-gen text editor on iOS. No file lists, no folders, no documents in the classic sense – just paper stacks and an infinite amount of sheets. You navigate by standard gestures, all perfectly mapped and matched to the tasks at hand.
20. Write for iPad
Developer description: Writing. Automated Dropbox/iCloud Syncing. Markdown. Fastest Sharing. Beautiful Design.
Developer description: Chapters lets you create and manage multiple notebooks, each fully searchable and with its own settings. Keep a travel journal, a photo log, a notebook about ongoing work projects, and your own personal diary in one app.
22. PrintCentral Pro
Developer description: The Ultimate File Management, Transfer and Print solution for the iPad. Print to ALL printers (Not just AirPrint Printers). View, store & print email, documents & PDFs, all major cloud servers, attachments, photos, contacts & web pages. Convert documents and images to PDF files.
Developer description: The Perfect App For Writers. Notes + Recordings + Photos + Reminders Perfect for Writing books, stories, poems, reports, novels, and more. Type, record, or type while recording/playing, also add in photographs and capture everything.
Developer description: The amazing 4th edition of GoodReader app is a universal app for all your iOS devices to read and annotate PDFs.
Developer description: Take note of life with Chronicle, a simple journaling app that offers more than bound sheets without overcomplicating the writing experience. Focused writing. Multiple photos per entry that you can move, resize, rotate – your words flow around them.
26. miTypewriter for iPad
Developer description: This is your typewriter on iPad. Features: – Realistic typewriter on your iPad – Email by image or text – Backspace key to erase type – Fonts (Old Typewriter / American Typewriter) – Keyboard layouts (QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, and QZERTY) – Colors (Red/Black ink ribbon).
27. iA Writer
Developer description: iA Writer is designed to provide the best digital writing experience: Keep your hands on the keyboard and your mind in the text.
28. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Developer description: Get America’s most useful and respected dictionary, optimized for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. This is the best iOS app for English language reference, education, and vocabulary building.
29. Smart Whiteboard HD
Developer description: This is an extremely simple Whiteboard that is convenient for your work, life and study.
30. Page: English Grammar & Spell Checker + Translator
Developer description: Ginger’s writing app offers you a better way to write in English. Get everything you need to quickly compose high-quality text that amplifies your message, everywhere you write. Tap into Ginger’s powerful editing tools to quickly review your text for any grammar, spelling and punctuation issues with the world’s leading proofreader.
Developer description: With StoryBoard, you can create interactive, visual stories. Stories can be written, and then words can be replaced with sets of pictures. When your story is finished, it becomes an interactive activity.
Developer description: Characterize is the perfect creator tool for writers, role-players, storytellers, and anyone who needs to come up with original characters on the fly. Pulling from an extensive database of names and vital statistics, Characterize can generate literally quadrillions of new characters!
33. Microsoft OneNote
Developer description: Capture your thoughts, discoveries, and ideas with OneNote, your very own digital notebook. With OneNote you can seize that moment of inspiration, take your class notes, or track that list of errands that are too important to forget. Whether you’re at home, in the office, or on the go, your notes go with you.
34. Microsoft Word
Developer description: Now Word documents look better than ever on your tablet and phone. When you edit or create documents, you can be confident they will look exactly how you want across PC, Mac, tablet and phone. Word has the familiar Office look and feel along with an intuitive touch experience, so you’ll be up and running in no time.
Note: On iPhone, iPad Air, and iPad mini, the core Word experience, including viewing, creating, and editing documents, is free. Or unlock the full Word experience with a qualifying Office 365 subscription. On iPad Pro, you need Office 365 to create and edit documents.
35. A Novel Idea
Developer description: A Novel Idea is the premier tool for plotting your story and recording bursts of inspiration. Use its simple interface to create your characters, locations, scenes, and novels and then link them together to create your story’s plot. Use the Idea feature to quickly jot down your creative sparks.
Developer description: Penultimate combines distraction-free, natural handwriting and sketching with the power of Evernote’s sync and search. Take class or meeting notes, journal your thoughts, or outline your next big idea—in the office or on the go.
37. Thesaurus Rex by Dictionary.com
Developer description: Thesaurus Rex by Dictionary.com revolutionizes the thesaurus for the first time in 160 years. We’ve added modern content and synonyms for new words such as epiphany & stakeholder, plus 30,000 more new entries. Works offline.
Developer description: Sound Curtain is a unique application that masks distracting noise by automatically adapting its volume, pitch and tone in response to the noise around you.
Developer description: Students, teachers, and business professionals use Notability daily to take notes, sketch ideas, annotate PDFs, mark-up photos, record lectures, provide audio feedback and more. It is uniquely designed for each device to provide the best note taking experience at school, at home, and at work. And with iCloud, your notes are always up to date.
40. Write or Die
Developer description: Unless you’ve got a deadline looming it’s difficult to find the impetus to keep writing. Write or Die aims to address this difficulty and help you hack your writing process and get your words out. It’s a new kind of writing application that provides consequences for distraction and procrastination. As long as you keep writing, everything is fine, but if you become distracted, there are customizable consequences.
41. MyScript Nebo – Note Taking for Apple Pencil
Developer description: Structure your notes using titles, paragraphs, and bullet lists. Add interactive diagrams, editable equations, freeform sketches, and annotate pictures. Finally convert your captured ink to a digital typeset document on demand. Nebo documents can be shared as text. Powered by MyScript Interactive Ink – Work better with your Apple Pencil!
42. Creative Writer
Developer description: An endless source of writing ideas, words, prompts and sentences for your writing sessions. Millions of text segments analyzed and clustered into 7 powerful predictive models: Prose (best-selling novels), Dialogues (movies, TV series), You & Me, Lyrics (popular songs, RAP), Romance, Classics (Shakespeare, Goethe, Joyce, Kafka, Proust, Dostojevski, and others) and Quotations.
43. Lists for Writers
Developer description: Lists for Writers is a great addition to any writer’s toolbox. Helpful to both novice and expert writers alike, this app delivers list after list of prompts and ideas for your brainstorming sessions: names, character traits, plot lines, occupations, obsessions, action verbs, and much more
44. Rory’s Story Cubes
Developer description: 9 cubes, 54 images, over 10 million combinations and infinite stories. Shake to roll the cubes. Create a story using all 9 face-up images.
45. Creative Writing Prompts
Developer description: Get more than 1,000 starting lines and creative writing prompts to inspire you and give you ideas for improving your creative writing. Great for students, amateur writers, or professionals who want to free write often.
46. Writing Challenge: Creative Prompts for your Story
Developer description: With Writing Challenge you will enjoy a game with creative prompts to spark your inspiration and master free writing.
47. The Brainstormer
Developer description: The Brainstormer is kindling for creative minds. A tactile tool to randomly combine a plot, a subject and a setting or style, the Brainstormer provides a moment of inspiration for writers, painters, or any creative mind. Combat creative block, spark new ideas and summon up quick subjects for doodling, sketching or journaling.
48. Forest: Stay focused, be present
Developer description: Forest provides an interesting solution to beat your phone addiction. You can plant a seed in Forest. In the following time, this seed will gradually grow into a tree. However, if you cannot resist the temptation and leave this app to check Facebook or play a game, your tree will wither away. With this interesting mechanism, the sense of achievement and responsibility will drive our users to stay away from their phone with no pain.
Developer description: Let Evernote change the way you organize your personal and professional projects. Dive in: take notes, create to-do lists, and save things you find online into Evernote. We’ll sync everything between your phone, tablet, and computer automatically.
50. Ink On – Track word counts, writing time and days in the chair – Inked Voices
Developer description: Write with your favorite tool, be it Word, Scrivener or another platform. Track your progress in Ink On. Whether you prefer to set goals by project, overall or both, Ink On has you covered.
What apps do you use when taking your writing on the road? Leave a comment sharing your tips and tricks below or join the conversation on our Facebook page.
50 Of The Best Writing Apps For The iPad
Whether you are tentatively planning your first ever blog post or are a best-selling novelist working on your latest blockbuster, there are plenty of apps out there designed for writers. But as writers are sometimes known for their procrastination techniques, and choosing the right app could be the excuse for putting off work on your Great American Novel for several days, we thought it would be helpful to provide a few pointers.
All of the apps featured are available for both Mac and iOS, as I feel it’s important that you can work on the move as well as at a desk. In my comments, though, I’m focusing on the Mac versions as that’s the platform on which most people are likely to do the bulk of their writing.
The obvious starting point, of course, is the app Apple gives you for free: Pages. In fact, some might question why you would ever need anything else, so let’s start with this before considering some of the alternatives …
Pages is a deceptively powerful app on both platforms with a superbly-designed user-interface. That’s because the app is intended to look simple and non-intimidating to new users, while offering plenty of features under the hood for power users. It achieves this by keeping the bells and whistles tucked away out of sight until you need them.
For example, create a new blank document and you’ll see a pretty clean view (below). By default, none of the formatting or page setup features are shown, just a single row of buttons with largely intuitive functions.
But as soon as you want to apply formatting, for example, clicking the Format button opens up a column offering everything from bold and italics through line-spacing, justification, indents, bullets, links, columns and borders – through to more advanced features like widow & orphan control (ensuring that a single word or line from a paragraph doesn’t end up on a new page). If you want to add tables, illustrations or photos, you can.
Pages uses iCloud by default, so you can create a document on your Mac, continue writing it on your iPad and add the finishing touches on your iPhone. That functionality is baked right in, so you don’t need to do anything special to take advantage of it.
If you’re writing for publication, you can export your manuscript to Word to send it to agents and publishers, or choose ePub to turn it into an iBook. Pages doesn’t, though, support other ebook formats like Kindle’s .mobi – which is one of several reasons I recommend using a more sophisticated app for a novel. But if you’re writing shorter pieces, and want to get to work straight away, Pages is a solid choice.
If you’re one of those people who seems to spend more time choosing your typeface and tweaking app settings than you do actually writing, iA Writer may be your saviour. The app has a super-minimalist UI designed to give a typewriter-style feel.
While you are actually typing, everything else disappears from the screen. No toolbar, no status bar, not even the header strip with close, minimize and maximize buttons. All you see is your virtual sheet of paper and your words.
If you want an even more typewriter-like feel, you can select typewriter mode, in which the text you’re typing stays centred on the virtual page and previous text scrolls upwards. This mode has an additional feature designed specifically for those writers who can’t resist going back to rewrite the paragraph they’ve just finished: text grays out as it scrolls up and away. I know some writers for whom this would be a godsend!
The minimalism of iA Writer continues under the hood: the file format is plain text, and the default location to save files is on iCloud. There are no decisions to make unless you specifically want to store the file elsewhere.
If you love the approach but can’t bring yourself to part with basic formatting, like italics, iA Writer supports Markdown. This allows codes to be used to indicate things like **bold** and *italics* while retaining a plain text format. If you’re not comfortable with Markdown, you do have the option of using the usual CMD-B and CMD-I keyboard shortcuts, and you can also select formatting from a status bar that appears when you mouseover the bottom of the page. (The top bar, too, appears only when you mouseover it.) However, the plain text format means that your Markdown codes will be visible.
The status bar additionally holds a wordcount, that you can change to characters, sentences or read-time.
Markdown supports HTML-style structures, so you also have the option of using things like multi-level headers, bullet-points and so on – with sensible keyboard shortcuts for each – but these are all tucked away out of sight.
By default, you see only the document on which you’re working, but you can show a sidebar with other documents if you need to switch back and forth between them – for example, between different chapters of a novel. But really iA Writer is all about that single-page view, with no distractions in sight.
In my view, if you aren’t writing things with complex structures or which require lots of formatting, and you are easily distracted, then iA Writer is the perfect writing app. It’s you, the words and very little else.
iA Writer costs $3.99 on iOS and $9.99 on Mac.
If you like the core idea of iA Writer but are working on more complex documents or are someone who likes to see an overview of their work – such as a series of novels – then Ulysses is well worth a look. This is essentially a more sophisticated version of iA Writer with asignificantly steeper price: $24.99 on iOS and $44.99 on Mac.
Like iA Writer, it is essentially based on plain text with Markdown – though it actually uses a proprietary file format – and offers many of the same features. It has typewriter mode, for example, but in a more configurable form. For example, you can decide whether or not you want the previous text to gray-out. If you do want this, you can choose between having the current line, sentence or paragraph highlighted. And so on.
That proprietary file format isn’t a big deal, by the way, as Ulysses allows you to export your work to HTML, docx (for compatibility with Word and Pages), PDF and ePub.
Ulysses offers three different views when writing. In the screenshot at the top, I have all three panes showing: Library, Sheets and Editor. You can see under iCloud, I have two different books listed, and I’m editing book 1, 2184. Pane 2 shows two chapters of that book, while pane shows the chapter I’m working on. But switching panes on or off is as simple as CMD-1, -2 or -3. This makes it really easy to jump between different chapters or sections while still retaining a clean, uncluttered view while actually writing.
The app can do pretty much everything iA Writer can do, so I won’t repeat features here, but it offers a lot more configurability. Whether this is a good or bad thing, of course, depends on your viewpoint!
For example, Ulysses supports multiple versions of Markdown, so if you have a preferred one, you can either select it from the choices offered – or even configure your own. If you choose one of the standard Markdown versions, you can customize it. For example, a hash mark (#) is the standard way to indicate heading level 1, but if you want to use a different character instead, you can.
You can also use various different themes and templates.
Ulysses automatically creates versioned backups of your work: hourly for the last 12 hours, daily for the last seven days and weekly for the past six months. This could be a life-saver if you do something silly like delete a chapter of your novel after deciding against it, then realizing that it would be the perfect event to happen later in the story.
If you are writing for a WordPress or Medium blog, Ulysses can be configured to allow direct publishing in either or both.
You can set wordcount goals and be notified when you hit them – something I find really useful when working on a novel and setting myself a goal of 2000 words per writing session. You can also tag text with keywords, enabling you to search for them later, as well as attaching notes or images.
In short, Ulysses is the app you want if you like the ‘text with markup’ philosophy of iA Writer but are working on more complex documents or want greater customization options.
Ulysses costs $24.99 on iOS and $44.99 on Mac.
I’ve saved my favorite writing app for last! I’ve written two technothriller novels (11/9 and The Billion Dollar Heist), a rom-com (not yet available in ebook form), a travel guide and – most recently – the first two books in an SF novella series, 2184 (which will be free next week) and Replicate. All of these were written in Scrivener, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t even consider writing a novel in anything else.
I’ve written full reviews of both the Mac app and the iOS one, so I’ll simply summarise the key benefits here.
To me, Scrivener is the app that does it all. Want an iA Writer-like distraction-free interface? Scrivener can do that. I have my Composition Mode set to white paper on a black background.
But the beauty of Scrivener is it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Here are all the available preferences for this mode.
As you can see, you can set foreground color, background color, left & right margins, choose the type of scrolling (normal, typewriter, with or without fading) and more.
The configurability of Scrivener is unmatched by anything else I’ve ever seen. I consider myself a power user of the app, but I doubt that even I have ever delved into more than about 10% of the available settings.
One of the things I love about Scrivener is that it’s as useful for planning and editing as it is for writing. For example, when planning a novel, the app offers a corkboard view. You can write notes on virtual index cards, rearrange the cards, stack them, unstack them and so on until you have a plan.
By default, the corkboard looks like one, with a texture background and lined cards. I’m not a fan of either, but Scrivener’s famed configurability comes to the rescue and with a few clicks I have plain white cards on a plain grey background.
Once you’re ready to begin writing, those corkboard cards can be viewed as binder entries:
Again, I’ve changed the default appearance. I use color-coding to indicate the status of each chapter: green for written, orange for in progress, yellow for planned but not written, white for not planned and red for a problem I need to resolve or research I need to conduct. Once I’ve completed the first draft, I set everything back to yellow and then use the colors to indicate editing status.
You can also assign keywords to do things like bring up all the chapters in which a particular character is present, or which takes place at a particular location.
My technothrillers have multiple viewpoints, and I switch rapidly back-and-forth between them. Each time I switch viewpoint, I need to be able to see exactly where I left things. Scrivener makes it simple to do so, either clicking back and forth in the binder, or placing two chapters or sections side-by-side. Or one above the other. Or one free-floating. Again, customization options for the win.
Like Ulysses, Scrivener allows me to set wordcount targets – and it will by now come as no surprise to learn that these can be as simple or as complex as you like. Want a wordcount target for your current session? Go ahead. Want to complete your novel by 26th of April, writing on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons? Give Scrivener your target wordcount and it will automatically calculate targets for each writing session, adjusting them as required.
Need to refer to reference materials while you’re writing? You can have free-floating documents off to the side as you right. Same with graphics, be it a blueprint or a photo you’ve downloaded as inspiration for a character.
Researching things on the web? You can save offline copies of webpages and have them to hand as you write.
Oh, and don’t look for a Save button in Scrivener. The app does allow you to do a CMD-S just to make you feel happy, but by default it automatically saves your work each time you pause in your typing, and it also automatically creates versioned backups.
Once your manuscript is finally complete, Scrivener can output to just about every file format imaginable – including ebooks. Again, you can choose between the simplicity of output templates, or an insane degree of configurable options.
Check out the full reviews of Mac and iOS versions for more. But if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the apps available to you and just want a single recommendation, mine would be: buy Scrivener.
Scrivener costs $19.99 on iOS and $45 on Mac.
If you have your own favorite writing apps, do share them in the comments.