If you are a Mac user, its very likely that you use either MS Word, or OpenOffice.org Writer or Pages (from Apple’s iWork) for your word processing needs – to type out letters, documents, to add formatting to them. Without any doubt, all of these tools are great at what they do, and they are designed to be fully capable, and feature laden. However, this comes at a cost – memory and hard disk space. MS Word has so many features, that I really doubt any of you has ever used all of them. All of these word processors are highly bloated, and have way too many features than one needs if he really just needs to create a few documents with simple formatting.
Bean is a free and small word processor for Mac OS X that tries to do away with the bloat that this ‘big’ word processors come with, only retaining the few essential features. I actually tested this out by launching both Bean and MS Word on my MacBook. With only a blank document open in both, Bean took only 17.1 MB of memory, while MS Word took 115.2 MB. The difference is quite clear and significant.
Now before I illustrate the features that Bean provides, I’d like to make it clear – Bean is in no way a replacement for MS Word or OpenOffice.org Writer. There will be times when you will need a feature that Bean does not provide. But for the everyday document viewing/editing and formatting, Bean is more than enough.
This is the default interface for Bean. As you can see by the minimalistic and simple interface, Bean has a pretty limited set of features that makes it so lightweight. Bean is written 100% in Cocoa, which makes it feel native in your work environment. As described by its developers, Bean lies somewhere between the functionality of MS Word and TextEdit.
- Inspector Panel – This is the main panel that provides you with the features you need to formatting text in an official document or letter, to make it more presentable and readable. You can adjust the spacing between characters, lines, inter-lines, before paragraphs, and after paragraphs. Apart from this, there are alignment and indentation setting similar to the ones available in MS Word. Font settings include type, size, and style.
- Word and Character Count – Bean markets this as one of their primary features, because this otherwise seemingly trivial feature is missing from TextEdit.
- Spell Check and Word Completion – Since Bean is 100% Cocoa, features such as spell check and word auto-completion based on a dictionary are available easily.
- Find and Replace
These are just the basic features that I use the most and therefore I included them in this review. Bean has many more features which improve usability and provide it with great functionality as a word processor. In fact, I only use MS Word now when I have to deal with auto-shapes and things like word art. Otherwise, Bean does it all for me. A highly recommended app.