Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Writing, Simply, with

It’s been a while since I’ve indulged in a little tool fetishism in this space. So, this time around, I’m going to share one of my favourite tools with you.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that I appreciate simplicity. Especially in my software. I’ll let you in on a little secret: for a good chunk of the writing I do, a word processor is overkill. I can get be more than comfortably with a text editor and Markdown.

I also like working in a simple, unadorned, and distraction-free environment. As I do more and more of my computing on the web, I’ve been exploring a number of web-based text editing and distraction-free writing tools. Three have really stood out for me.

One of those three editors, I’ve been impressed with Typerighter for well over a year. It’s a wonderful writing tool created by Garrick van Buren. Let’s take a look at it.

Simplicity Itself

Typerighter’s creator modestly describes the tool this way:

Like a blank sheet of paper - has one feature - Save

Well, it has a few more features than that, which I’ll look at in a few moments. But like any good tool, Typerighter does one thing and does it well. It’s a text editor, plain and simple. Very plain and very simple. You get a gray background and text. Nothing else.

All you have to do is create a new document and start typing. Typerighter automatically saves everything. No bells. No whistles. Just you and your words. Typerighter doesn’t get in my way while I’m working, which suits me just fine.

Typerighter and Markdown

Unlike a word processor, Typerighter doesn’t offer any formatting. That suits my way of writing. If I need to, I can import my work into a word processor and add it later.

But you can use Markdown to add formatting. Just insert the formatting symbols as you type, which is great when you get into a writing flow. You won’t get a WYSIWYG view of your formatted work in Typerighter, but the formatting is there. It’s easy to automatically convert your work to HTML. I’ll talk about this soon.

Downloading Your Work

Remember that with Typerighter, your writing lives on your web. So how do you get your documents on to your computer? Well, each document that you create in Typerighter has its own URL. For example:


You can save a document as a text file by adding .txt to the end of the URL and then pressing Enter. Your browser will download the text file to your computer.

If you’re writing in Markdown, just add .html to the end of the URL and then press Enter. Doing that creates what’s essentially a web page, which (again) you can download to your computer.

What About Typerighter’s Other Features?

There are a few. You can take advantage of snippets, which are are little commands that either perform an action or insert some text into a document. There are snippets that let you save a file, insert a date, display the word count, and even download your document as a text file. There’s even a snippet for inserting three-letter airport codes into a document.

Getting access to Typerighter

You can try Typerighter for free, but if you want to use it you have to pay a one-time fee of $5. That, plus one cent for each existing user. When I wrote this post, the fee was $8.07.

What does that get you? Your own password-protected sub domain — for example, Think of it as your own little instance of the application with its own storage. As for the storage, it’s pretty much unlimited. Remember, you’re creating text files, which don’t take up much space when compared to a comparable word processor file.

There’s also a Pro version of the tool. For $90 a year, you get the ability to organize your writing using hashtags. If you’ve used Twitter, then you know what a hashtag is — a word with a # tacked on to it. For example, writing. Think of it as a way of classifying and grouping documents, and making them easier to find. For me, it was a no-brainer to sign up for a Pro account. It’s paid for itself.

And the hashtag feature lets you publicly share your writing. I discussed that in a previous post.

Anything Else?

One feature that I’d like to have is the ability to work offline. I’m not always connected and I’m not always working on my main laptop. I’d like to be able to work without a connection and then synchronize my work with when I get back online.

Being able to do a bulk backup of all of my documents would be a nice feature, one that I’d be willing to pay a little extra for. There is a link at the bottom of your main Typerighter page, labeled your archive feed, which lets you download all of your work as one file. But that’s kind of messy, in my opinion — the feed is peppered with XML tags, which many people don’t understand. Luckily, I’m familiar enough with XML that this doesn’t intimidate me.

Final Thoughts

A number of people don’t like distraction-free editors or even the idea of them. Others don’t like web-based writing tools. Others still don’t like writing in an application that’s not a word processor. And that’s OK.

I’m not one of those people. As I mentioned at the start of this post, I like to keep things simple wherever possible. Typerighter does just that. It’s me and my words. I don’t need to worry about anything else.

Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.

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