Free Mac Tools That Make Writing Easier
Feb 29, 2012 Clay Johnson

Some tools have been making it easier for me to write lately, and I thought I'd share them with you. Over the course of the last three weeks, I've found them indispensable. They're all free, and all worthwhile.

FlyCut

Flycut is a dead simple clipboard utility that puts what you copy to the clipboard into a stack. This way, you don't have to go back and find where that link was when you copied it, you can just get to it through the keyboard. I've used a bunch of highfalutin' keyboard managers in the past, but this is the one that has stuck with me the longest. To access your clipboard history, you just press shift when you want to paste, and you can flash through your entire history. It's free.

MOU

MOU is a markdown editor for the Mac. Markdown is a text syntax that lets you get straight to writing, rather than worrying too much about formatting. The Information Diet was written originally in Markdown, and this blog is written in Markdown. MOU is a very simple editor that lets you see how your markdown will look as you type it in real time. What's useful is that it also allows you to assign a stylesheet to the editor preview. So as I'm writing this blog post, it looks exactly how it will look on InformationDiet.com.

BetterTouchTool

Better Touch Tool allows you to take full advantage of the multitouch trackpad on your mac. I set up two gestures that have made my life a lot easier. For me, it does for the trackpad what Divvy does for the keyboard. A three finger swipe to the left makes my current window maximize to half the screen on the left, and a three finger swipe to the right puts another window on the right. So if I want to write something, and have a browser window open to reference it, I never have to worry about resizing a window.

DashExpander

DashExpander is a text expander -- you type in an abbreviation, and it expands the text to what you want. I never type in http://www.informationdiet.com, for instance, when I'm typing. I just type in "id.c". This is useful for other things too, like always having links that you want to constantly share on-hand, like links to my amazon page (which is "booklink"). It also syncs with Dropbox which is very useful.

Other free tools I use that I can't live without these days (and that I've mentioned before): Dropbox and Alfred. Of course there's also the recommended tools for a good Information Diet -- but those are more focused on the consumption side than the production side.

Now if there was only a free copy-editor...

Information Diet © 2011 Clay Johnson