Best Mac apps for blogging

23 August 2014 by Steve Blum
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I came for the logo, but stayed for the app.

It’s easy to take tools that work so well you barely notice them for granted. I want to recognise a few that have made daily blogging a joy. Byword, MarsEdit, Linode and WordPress top the list.

When I stepped up posting in 2012, it quickly became clear that Blogger, my original platform, wasn’t going to give me the degree of control over the end product that I wanted. I remain a fan – it’s a painless platform that just works – but I’m a geek and Blogger won’t let you get under the hood and tinker. My web host was GoDaddy, which also just works – up to a point – but isn’t painless. Every interaction was a battle to keep from being charged for something I didn’t want.

Start with simple, end with simple. Simple.

After some research, it became clear that WordPress offered the best compromise between power, customisability and a shallow learning curve. I’d love to devote weeks to learning, say, Drupal and Ruby on Rails, but that’s not how I make my living. On the other hand, I do want to build proficiency with Linux – or at least stay even – so a barebones host with great documentation and support, like Linode, fit the bill. I can mess it up any way I like, a freedom I’ve taken full advantage of.

I went through a dozen or more different blogging applications, trying to find the right combination of simplicity and power. IA Writer was an early favorite, but a flawed implementation of Markdown kept me looking around. I finally found Byword, which turned out to be perfect. I can post directly from it, it handles Markdown to the limit of my ability, the user interface is crisp and clean and it works the same on OS X and iOS.

So I write in Byword and post from it on the fly. Otherwise, I use MarsEdit to work offline, both on new posts and existing content. It has HTML and Markdown tools and it doesn’t do any hidden text conversions. The closest app I’ve found to it on iOS, Blogsy, massages and standardises my code, which I probably need but I don’t want – I like to make my own mistakes.

Other workhorse programs – BBEdit, TextExpander, Interarchy and Apple’s Preview – are vital parts of the workflow too, but those are apps I use all day long for everything, not just blogging. That’s for another post.