ZenWriter 1.42 - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

ZenWriter

CNET Editors' review

If your job involves writing or editing, you probably need a word processor to get it done. Microsoft Word can cost hundreds, so a free alternative is nice. Zen Writer is a stylish program that will save you cash, but you'll sacrifice most of the features you need in productivity software.

True to its name, Zen Writer gives you an open, peaceful place for organizing thoughts. The customizable music and backgrounds produce a calming effect. You can add a typewriter sound effect to your keystrokes and it even saves your work automatically. It's a fun environment for brainstorming, but it won't match other options like OpenOffice or LibreOffice for productivity. Most of the features you need aren't there. There are only five fonts, and you can't bold, italicize, or underline. There are also no graph, list, or image options, which other word-processing programs have built in. This program just gives you an open space to write in and nothing else.

Zen Writer probably works well for fans of minimalist note-taking environments. Setup is a breeze and it's more pleasant than the blank, white background you may be used to. However, it doesn't offer enough to be a good standalone option. It doesn't save files in DOC format by default or include other productivity software, which means it won't work for essays or presentations.

Publisher's Description

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    4.4 stars

    out of 7 votes

    • 5 star: 4
    • 4 star: 2
    • 3 star: 1
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 0
  • Current version:

    4.2 stars

    out of 5 votes

    • 5 star: 2
    • 4 star: 2
    • 3 star: 1
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 0
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-5 of 5

  • 3.0 stars

    "Everything you'd expect, but not really."

    January 31, 2013  |   By yroeht

    Version: ZenWriter 1.42

    Pros

    -streamline design
    -immersive writing experience
    -autosave
    -features import/export feature
    -polished interface capable of autohide
    -impressive range of customisation

    Cons

    -deletes italic/bold/underline. There is a special kind of frustration that comes with re-doing every line of typographic emphasis in a **** word document.

    -after prolonged use, will fail to auto-space when typing something within an existing sentence. i.e. if I were to type 'automatic spacing' before 'auto-space', the sentence would come out like this: will fail to automatic spacingyping something ...

    -the aforementioned import/export feature is limited to .rtf and .txt formats, knocking microsoft documents out of the window of convenience. The average user will end up having to save their zenwriter document as .rtf before copy-pasting it into a word doc in order to utilise features lacking in the former. Excessive program solidarity =/= user-friendly design.

    Summary

    A great program held back by some debilitating flaws.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Simple, very easy to focus"

    December 13, 2012  |   By Ukefox

    Version: ZenWriter 1.42

    Pros

    Easy to set up and use
    Helpful with the writing experience
    Very calming and customizable

    Cons

    None that I've found

    Summary

    Now, I will say that when I downloaded this, I had the unfortunate issue of my hard drive having a major meltdown. I can't blame zenwriter for this, but it took me awhile to trust it again, the event gave me trust issues. However, it had worked very well for the week or so I had it before my computer decided to hate me. If you shut off the TV or any other distractions, it's very true to it's name. It's easier to focus, easier to get some headspace, and in my case, the typing sound encouraged me to keep writing to keep it going. To create a storm with the droplets sound or a novel with the type writer effect, I loved both of them.
    It's also nice to customize your background to one of your own photos (if you're a photographer or artist like me) and you can edit what's playing. If you don't like the songs, upload your own, or even better, the sound of a rainstorm or a fireplace to create an even more calming experience.
    It's a simple but effective program, it's better than the glaring white background of many writing programs.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "I absolutely LOVE this product!!!"

    November 15, 2012  |   By Alphaman21

    Version: ZenWriter 1.42

    Pros

    - It's full screen, shutting off all distractions of my computer's cluttered area
    - It allows full customization, from the background, to the music, text style, and even the typing sounds!!

    Cons

    I don't really have cons, they are more like suggestions,
    Personally, I would love to see 3 things that would help perfect this tool:
    - Thesaurus
    - Dictionary
    - Rhyming Dictionary
    These things would tremendously help this product out,
    Because despite how truly amazing this device is,
    I found myself looking to go back to my desktop to pull up a dictionary because one was not available,
    So, that's the only thing that takes away from the truly Zen experience

    Summary

    As stated before,
    I absolutely LOVE it!!!
    It's truly amazing,
    I love everything about it and I can't wait to see where else they might go with it,
    But if it does go farther,
    I would love to see those 3 things I suggested show up,
    It would complete the Zen experience for me

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  • 5.0 stars

    "No distractions"

    November 8, 2012  |   By Wosloy

    Version: ZenWriter 1.42

    Pros

    Spell checks, offers and lets you import your own music, lets you change the background to any image (will fade for you), wide variety of fonts and lets you use your own installed ones, auto-saves, lets you bold, italicize and underline text with the standard shortcuts, FREE. Microsoft offered me a free word processor as well, and it has an ad that flashes every ten seconds :|

    Cons

    Haven't found any yet.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Clean, Simple, to the point text editor"

    November 6, 2012  |   By Timmedavis

    Version: ZenWriter 1.42

    Pros

    -Simple, clean, and easy interface
    -supports text sizing, bolding, italics via shortcuts
    -continuous saving

    Cons

    -none really, save location could be a little more straight forward but once you figure it out isn't bad.

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ZenWriter