Our quest for the ultimate writing tool continues with Bean, a stripped down and superfast word processor. Most of the applications Apple bundles with OS X are great, but TextEdit simply isn’t. As a document viewer, it’s very handy to have in the absence of Adobe Reader or MS Word. It supports RTF, HTML and even .webarchive files. As a word processor, we’d rather write with a sharp stone on the pavement.

That’s where tools like OpenOffice.org come in, giving you commercial standard features that TextEdit can’t – features such as word count and print view. However, OpenOffice.org is pretty cumbersome, installing a suite of tools and requiring Java to run. Bean is the ideal compromise. With a disk footprint of just 8MB compared to OpenOffice.org’s 400MB, it’s small – starting up in less than a second on our test machine.

It lacks a full word processor’s more advanced features, but Bean handles all the same files as TextEdit in an interface that’s easy to understand and looks great. It’ll even export PDFs.

Bean’s selection tools are a revelation, with options for choosing by font style, ruler and even colour, making it easy to handle large documents in this small program. With features such as live word count, autosave and page layout mode you won’t feel deprived. Although, as we’ve been using Scrivener recently, we did miss having the full screen mode.

OUR VERDICT

We’ve found ourselves using Google Docs a lot lately. Bean gives you the same simplicity, power and lack of clutter at the same price: nothing. We’re switching and, for the sake of a quick download, so should you should too.