OmmWriter Dana: My Second-Favorite Writing Program of All Time

by | Apr 9, 2011

Last year I wrote about the astonishing and great iA Writer for the iPad. This app provides a place to write that’s stripped to the bone, leaving a writer with nothing to do but . . . write.

I use Writer every day, creating most of my first drafts in it with the help of an Apple Bluetooth keyboard. Many mornings find me banging away on the keyboard at the local Starbucks, a black coffee next to me.

During his ascent to the peak of the chess world, it was said that a young Bobby Fischer would take his portable chess board down to construction sites in Manhattan. There he would set up the board and work through chess problems in the middle of the din and bustle of a high rise going up.

Somehow, the need to screen out disturbances—as long as they are within a particular range—helps to focus the mind. I experience something similar at the coffee shop. Between the mild buzz of commerce and the constant arrivals and departures of all kinds of people and the lack of any stimulation from the software, words just pour out. It’s probably my most productive time of the day.

Back at the Office

Unfortunately, I can’t spend the work day with my iPad at Starbucks. Last week, desperate to get some work done on the guest posts I’m doing for the extended launch of A Self-Publisher’s Companion, I remembered a program I had reviewed quite a while ago.

Omm Writer, the work of herraizsoto&co. a creative agency in Barcelona, now has a new version, named Dana.

Compared to iAWriter, Omm has lots of bells and whistles. But compared to anything else, Omm achieves an irreducible beauty and simplicity that can really help your writing.

Two Displays to Aid You

When you boot up Omm you have a very simple and intuitive interface that allows you to:

  • choose from three type styles
  • change the size of your type
  • change the screen brightness
  • change the volume of the background music track
  • change the volume of the keyboard click sound
  • perform file operations
Omm writer for macintosh

A detail of my Omm screen showing menu controls for adjusting music volume. Click to enlarge.

You can also grab the handles on the typing rectangle to resize it or move it around the screeen.

Music is an important part of the Omm experience, and when the program boots up it advises you that it’s best used with headphones. Although I enjoyed the atmospheric soundtrack, in the end I opted to use only the reasurring feedback of the keyboard clicks without music.

I like to use Omm with no background image, which gives the screen a pleasant textured look. Against this background they serif font stands out nicely.

As soon as you start typing, the typing rectangle and the menu disappear from view, leaving only your words on the screen, which has expanded to fill your monitor.

Omm Writer for Macintosh - 2

Ahh, as soon as you start typing, everything else fades away. The screen is actually much larger than this detail. Click to enlarge.

You might know that Twitter is twitting away in the background, that email is pinging in, that Facebook status updates are rolling down your wall, but Omm shields you from all those alerts. Nothing will get through while you’re in Omm-land.

Some of the images available are quite pleasant, and go well with the atmospheric music, but I keep coming back to this plain, almost Spartan, display. When it’s just the words and nothing else, it sharpens my attention.

Omm saves files in plain text, ideal for dropping into a WordPress input window. I’m a happy guy.

This is the best environment for pure writing, copy creation, first drafts, organizing your mind, or any time you really need to focus on something. It will be interesting to see what the wizards at Information Architects come up with when they move Writer to the Mac. Of course, herraizsoto&co. have said they are taking OmmWriter to the iPad, so it looks like we’ll soon have a choice of the kind of nothingness we like best.

You can get Omm from the Omm website.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Greg Holbert

    Too often programs become littered with “functions” that all have the promise of making your job easier, when they mostly just distract you from the original intention of the program. In this case it is the writing! Glad you found a program that allows you less distractions, but gives you more pages in writing.

  2. Patsy Clark

    I don’t understand OmmWriter. If it says to wear headphones. Can’t you just do the talk to text and it writes it for you. I download on MacBook Air and iPad and it doesn’t write what I say when I plug in the USB and wear the headphones with the mic. Am I missing something? I can’t find directions anywhere. I found your blog by googling

    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Patsy. The headphones are just for listening to the music that Omm streams while you write, I don’t believe there’s any voice recognition in the program.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Alain, I loved it. Readers, go check out this post on Alain’s blog, you’ll get a kick out of it.

  3. Amy

    What makes this any different from using notepad, and turning off your twitter and emails, and listening to music while you write?

    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Amy,

      That’s about exactly what it does. Of course, Omm Writer shields you from these interruptions without you actually having to turn them off. And it has a beautiful display with very sharp typography and a variety of soothing backgrounds. It allows you to place the text typing area in the size and position you like, comes with appropriate “white noise” type soundtracks, and it gives you a running word count. Other than that, the same experience, at the same price=free.

  4. Kay

    I just downloaded the Omni on a PC, to compare it to Write Room and Dark Room and Write Monkey.

    I like the black background offered in Write Room, but Omni is cool. I changed the background to grey, so it will do …

  5. Roemer McPhee

    I’ve always written in longhand first, but you’re starting to persuade me.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Roemer, you should try it. I find these tools amazingly productive. If it doesn’t suit you, nothing lost.



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