We recently looked at Markdown, a markup format that lets you easily create HTML-formatted text. What can make Markdown even easier to use is if you use an app that supports it. On the Mac, Markdown apps are plentiful. On Windows, not so much. Fortunately, if you’re on Windows, you do have WriteMonkey. WriteMonkey is a Markdown tool, but describing it as such just scratches the surface.
Think of WriteMonkey as a distraction-free writing environment that supports Markdown. If you’ve used WriteRoom, then WriteMonkey will seem familiar to you. When you start it up, you’re presented with a completely black screen, that displays your words without any formatting at all. By default, the only other information on the screen, aside from your words, are a counter, clock, and the name for your file. You can also start a writing timer if that tickles your fancy.
If you don’t like the appearance of the app, you can change the background and font colors, as well as the font and font size. I’m not a fan of a black writing background, so I switched it to a white background with black text.
With WriteMonkey, you can toggle between full screen and windowed mode, and even have focus on just the segment that you’re writing. That will show only a few lines at a time, helping you to focus on what you’re writing.
Don’t let WriteMonkey’s appearance fool you. With a right click, you can call up a host of options, commands, and settings, such as backups, autosaving, spell checking, and find and replace.
You can also preconfigure hotkeys to look up words at different places. For example, by default ALT+5 will open your browser to Dictionary.com, showing the dictionary entry for the word where you had placed your cursor.
WriteMonkey is also a Markdown tool. Hit the F1 key, and you’ll see a list of common Markdown commands. When you’re done, you can output your Markdown text as HTML. Personally, I found it easier to copy my selected text with CTRL-SHIFT-H, which copies your output as HTML. I then paste that into its final destination.
That’s not the only keyboard shortcut available. In fact, you don’t have to use mouse at all if you don’t want to, as all of WriteMonkey’s functions and commands are available via keyboard shortcut.
WriteMonkey also is portable, which means that you could put it on a USB key and take it with you.
WriteMonkey won’t be for everyone. If you like to have visual cues for the options available to you, then you’re better off with a traditional writing tool, such as Word, Live Writer, or Pages. However, if you want a distraction-free writing enviroment that supports Markdown, give WriteMonkey a try. WriteMonkey is free, but if you find that you use it, think about donating to the developer.
Do you have any Windows-compatible writing apps that you like? If you do, and especially if they support Markdown, let us know in the comments.