Best Free iPad App of the Week – Plain Text

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Plain Text Icon

Who doesn’t like free? And who doesn’t like great iPad apps? When the two come together it’s good stuff. With that in mind, we’d like to share our Best Free iPad App of the Week here every weekend.

This week’s pick is Plain Text, or Plain Text – Dropbox Text Editing to give it its full App Store name. It’s a simple text editor app with a paper-like interface that has just a small number of great features that make it an absolute pleasure to use. In other words, the app does not offer a lot of unnecessary and distracting bells and whistles, but it does provide a number of key features that create an effective and attractive writing environment.

Plain Text has been among my favorite and most-used iPad apps for a long while, and it was included in our list of Best iPad Apps of 2011.

Plain Text for iPad

Here are a few of the things that make Plain Text such a pleasure to work with:

— The paper-like UI is lovely to work with. The off-white page color for notes and the very light grey for the sidebar are perfectly muted and very easy on the eyes even when spending a long time working in the app.

— The app works wonderfully well in both portrait and landscape modes. By default it shows its left sidebar with notes and folders in both orientations.

Portrait mode

— It has Dropbox sync. This is a feature of a lot of good text-editing apps by now,  but none that I’ve seen has Dropbox sync that’s as great as it is in Plain Text. Not only is it automatic and effortless (no onus on the user to do anything but turn it on one time in settings) but it is genuinely instant.  I can write a few new lines in a document in Plain Text on my iPad 2 and almost instantly see a Growl alert on my MacBook Pro saying that XYZ file has been updated.

— It also offers TextExpander support.

— It provides a simple search tool that searches all notes.

Search in iPad Plain Text

— It saves documents in plain text format. This feature, combined with its superb Dropbox support, means that it’s easy to work with Plain Text documents on the desktop with any number of apps. I general use iA Writer on the MacBook Pro, but you can use any desktop app that supports Dropbox and plain  text files.

— It’s easy to toggle to full-screen mode for even more writing focus with just one tap, and toggle back with a single tap as well. It’s also just a single tap to create a new folder or a new document, and to rename a document. A simple swipe and tap in the documents list lets you delete a doc you no longer need. All your common actions are just a tap or two away in its very well thought out UI.

— It lets you create folders and sub-folders.

— Advanced settings let you set things like whether documents are sorted by name or by last modified time, whether to have document titles in all caps or not, and more.

Plain Text is ad-supported but I never found the ads particularly intrusive. You can get rid of ads with a one-time In-App purchase of $4.99. It’s a universal app, designed to run on both iPad and iPhone.

I use a number of very good writing and note-taking apps on the iPad, and I can honestly say Plain Text gets more use than any of them.

Here’s an App Store link for Plain Text.

If you’re after more great free iPad apps, be sure to check out our previous choices for Best Free iPad of the Week.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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2 thoughts on “Best Free iPad App of the Week – Plain Text”

  1. Downloaded! I’ve been looking for an app along those lines for a while now. Something I can write up blog posts and product descriptions in without being bogged down with formatting and layout options which all become irrelevant once it goes into my CMS!

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