Whether you're a professional writer who needs software to create your novel, screenplay, or research project, or someone who simply needs to produce documents, reports, newsletters, and other word-related tasks, then macOS is the right place to be. The selection of quality word processors available is incredible, ranging from minimalist no-distraction apps right up to fully featured office suites.
We've gathered together 10 of our favourites that allow users to get things down on the page quickly and with as little fuss as possible.
For a long time Word on the Mac seemed the poor cousin to its Windows alternative. Microsoft put that right with Word 2016 and has now built on this success with the 2019 version.
As you would expect from a product synonymous with document creation, Word is a powerful app that has pretty much anything you'd need for something as simple as a short letter right up to detailed reports with graphics and charts.
There are handy features like Smart Look Up, which allows users to select a word or phrase in a document and access information about the term from the web. There's also a Resume Reading feature that auto-bookmarks your reading position in a document and takes you back there when you re-open it.
The newest capabilities include the built-in Microsoft Translator for language duties, scaleable vector graphics and 3D images, plus an increased amount of control on how text and images are displayed to you on-screen.
Best of all, though, is the integration with Microsoft's online Office 365, which makes it easy to work on documents in the iOS version of Word or in a web browser.
The standalone software costs £119/$149 to buy as part of the Office Home & Student 2019 package (which also includes Excel and Powerpoint) but we'd recommend the monthly subscription of Office 365. To see how they compare, read our Office for Mac buying guide.
If you prefer the minimalist approach to writing, there are no shortage of apps on the Mac App Store from which to choose. iA Writer was one of the first and remains among the very best.
Its flagship feature is Focus mode, a way of writing that scrolls the text as you type so the sentence you're working on is always at the centre of the screen and greys out everything else. This can also be expanded to include the whole paragraph on which you're working.
Like other minimalist writing apps, iA Writer supports Markdown, allowing you to format text by typing characters rather than selecting from a menu. It also supports Markdown's LiveParse mode, meaning you can write in plain text with Markdown markup on the left of the screen and see the formatted text in one of three templates on the right.
iA Writer will also colour-code verbs, adverbs, nouns, adjectives and conjunctions, making them easy to spot and, if necessary, tweak. There's a document library too, and the app hooks into both Wordpress and Medium.
Another distraction-free writing tool, Byword's main focus seems to be on using Markdown to create web-friendly content. Support for the markup language includes footnotes, tables and cross-references.
Byword also has extensive support for key features such as Split View, Handoff and full-screen mode. And you can use iCloud drive to sync your documents with Byword's iOS app. Plus, it has a typewriter mode that scrolls text as you write, keeping the passage you're working on in the middle of the screen, much like IA Writer.
The app can publish directly to Medium, Wordpress, Blogger, Tumblr and Evernote, so blog posts are quick to go online no matter whether you're sitting with your Mac or on your iPhone.
The layout and design is similar in many ways to iA Writer, albeit without quite the same polish. Saying that, it is a fair bit cheaper, so if your writing is predominantly online, it could be a very useful addition to your collection.
LibreOffice is a free office suite which has many of the features of Microsoft's offering. Writer, as the name suggests, is its word-processing element, and very good it is too. Importantly, it has full support for .doc and .docx files, so you can open those and work on them without a problem.
Wizards allow you to quickly set up memos, letters and even mail-merge documents, and there are all the styling and formatting tools you would expect. An auto-complete feature makes suggestions as you type, though this may not be for everyone.
There are tools to create tables of contents and indexes for longer documents, while a template centre on the LibreOffice website has lots of document templates you can download and use. There are also downloadable extensions that add features to Writer.
LibreOffice lacks the polish of Office 2019 and doesn't have the same features to allow you to easily work on documents on an iOS device as well as your Mac. But as a free tool that supports multiple formats and covers all the basics, it's excellent.
Google pioneered the web-based app method of working, and its word processor Docs has gone from strength to strength.
It's a decent option for working on documents on your own, with the main benefit being that you can work on them wherever you're logged into your Google account, be it on your own Mac, an iOS device, or anywhere you have access to a web browser. But it really comes into its own as a collaborative tool. Multiple users can work on a shared document simultaneously (but only if they've been given permission to do so by the document creator).
Google Docs allows you to see changes others make to the document in real time and colour-coded user IDs make it easy to see who's made the changes.
It's not a tool we'd choose for writing a novel or a screenplay, but as a means of sharing ideas, creating documents and reports, drawing up lists, or sharing text used by multiple members of a team - say, boilerplate copy for stories on a website, or posts on a blog - it's excellent, especially as keeping that copy up to date is so easy.
Apple's Pages has always been as much about making your documents look great as it has been about providing you with great writing tools. The latest version, however, is a very competent writing application indeed.
And the best news is, it's free.
As well as support for technologies such as Split View, Voice Over and Force Touch on the MacBook and Magic Trackpad, Pages makes switching between macOS and iOS as easy as it could be. The use of iCloud as storage for documents means you can work on them wherever you have a Mac, iOS device or access to a web browser. But what sets Pages apart from others is its support for Handoff, meaning you don't have to save and close a document on one device before moving to another.
While there have been many additions to Pages in recent versions, one thing that hasn't changed is the best-in-class templates for creating documents easily. Placeholders make it easy to add images from the Photos app, or anywhere else on your Mac, and if you're not happy with the colours or fonts used in a template, you can change those too.
Pages is a fully featured, modern word processor, all of which makes its price (or lack thereof) all the more impressive
Scrivener has an army of fans who use it to write everything from blog posts to full-length novels and screenplays. And it's easy to see why it's so popular, especially now the third major version has been released.
For a start there are numerous templates for novels, short stories, various screenplays (including standard formats for BBC Radio and BBC Taped Drama), non-fiction documents and even poetry.
Each document has a library for documents and their sub-documents, all of which can be colour-coded and kept in folders if you want. There's also a library for research notes. And Scrivener's split-screen mode allows you to have the document you're working on on one half of the screen with your research notes above or below. The corkboard view allows you to see how documents and sub-documents relate to each other and, if you prefer, a separate viewing mode organises them in outline form.
You can create a synopsis for documents which is stored with the document, as well as adding keywords and other metadata. Another panel allows you to add references and another makes it straightforward to take a snapshot of a document and roll back to it later, if you want.
Once you're ready, the Compile feature makes it easy to pull all the documents and sub-documents in a project together ready for printing or export, including to the Kindle eBook format. There's also an iOS version, too, so you can create on the go.
If Scrivener is overkill for your writing needs, Ulysses offers a simpler option. It combines elements of iA Writer, such as Markdown support and distraction-free writing, with a document library similar to that in Scrivener. And it has an iOS app, so you can swap easily between iOS and macOS when you're working on a document.
Whereas in Scrivener, you create a new document for each project you're working on, Ulysses works slightly differently. Its interface looks a little like macOS's Finder and, like the Finder, it provides access to all your documents - but from within the app.
There are light and dark modes and you can customise, for example, colour palettes. Ulysses has a typewriter scrolling mode similar to those in Byword and iA Writer, and also has a split-screen view like the one in Scrivener.
Ulysses has seen quite a few updates in recent years, with new features added all the time, making it a competitive app in an already crowded field.
Blogo is a great application if you want to draft blog posts on your Mac and upload them directly. It has the benefit of looking and feeling like a modern Mac application thanks to its design, and is also available for iOS with support for Handoff.
You can use Blogo with self-hosted or Wordpress.com blogs, as well as with Medium and Blogger. It supports Markdown for writing and editing, but you can also work in rich text. If you prefer, however, you can use the inline HTML mode instead.
There's a basic image editor built in and the Preview allows you to see how your post will look when you post it to your blog. You can schedule posts and a browser extension makes it easy to add web content posts.
The basic version, which is all that many users will need, is free. A subscription-based Pro version is also available, and that adds support for multiple blogs and features like syncing drafts with Evernote and moderating comments.
The Mac has been blessed with several good screenwriting apps, but the default choice has always been Final Draft. But while it's beloved of Hollywood scriptwriters, the £169.99 Final Draft is a hefty investment for us mortals who dream of being the next Steven Moffat or Jennifer Lee. Step forward, Slugline.
At a fifth of the price of Final Draft, Slugline has plenty to offer. It's heavily focused on typing and using the keyboard, rather than mouse, to format for your script. So, for example, type a character's name and it's displayed in all caps, and the script formatted for dialogue. Start a new scene by typing INT. or EXT. and Slugline knows you're about to write action.
Formatting is also done from the keyboard - one asterisk either side italicises text, two and the text is made bold. You can add notes to scripts, create outlines as you go, and hide, rather than delete, chunks of copy.
Slugline documents are saved as plain text so you can work on them on a text editor on any platform. And when you're ready to export, you create a PDF ready to be shared or printed.