Typewriter: Minimal Text Editor [Freeware]

Written by Joey Daoud

On May 18, 2009

Writing on a manual [typewriter] makes you slower in a good way, I think. You don’t revise as much, you just think more, because you know you’re going to have to retype the entire fucking thing. Which is a big stop on just slapping anything down and playing with it.
Will Self

TypewriterReading the title you can probably guess what this program can do, or more what it can’t do. The above quote got me thinking about the process of writing on a typewriter and I was surprised to not be able to find any program that could mimic that interaction.

So on a whim I ran with this weird idea and turned to Elance, where I found Denis Sokol in Russia and he created this program.

It’s super, super simple and basic. All you can do is type in one direction. You can’t delete, you can’t copy, you can’t paste. You can save and print. And you can switch between black text on white and green on black; full screen and window.

Download Here

The program runs through Java, so it should work on any operating system, but make sure you have the latest version of Java here. Feel free to share, modify, and post the program however you like. All I ask is that you please reference this site with a link either directly to this post or the site (https://newterritory.fitness).

Hope you enjoy and let me know what are you thoughts are on using it.

CC-GNU GPL

This software is licensed under the CC-GNU GPL version 2.0 or later.

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48 Comments

  1. Keonne

    Joey, You need to add a way to get back to the screen that tells you all the shortcuts.

    Reply
    • bob

      Yes please. Can someone tell me what the shortcuts are? 

      Reply
      • MissyVixen

        CTRL+K gets you back to the shortcuts.

        Reply
    • MissyVixen

      CTRL+K will get you back to the shortcuts.

      Reply
  2. Joey

    It’s Apple/Control + K (for keys)

    Reply
  3. Fogus

    Is source code available?
    -m

    Reply
  4. hackett

    Can you increase the font size? It’s great idea, but not worthwhile if the text is so small.

    Reply
  5. Yonathan

    I’m on Windows. How do I launch it?
    There’s no application file whatsoever.

    Reply
  6. Gabriel

    Yonathan (and other Windows users), there’s a .jar file here:
    Typewriter.app/Contents/Resources/Java/Typewriter.jar
    You can drag this out and it’ll run just fine, as far as my limited (i.e. five second) testing has shown.

    Also, this app is damned amazing. It’s like the ultimate in no-mistakes-or-you-die editing 😀

    Reply
    • Tom

      I’m using Windows 8. I dragged out the .jar file onto the desktop, double-clicked it and it prompts me to look in the ap store for an ap to open it with. Am I doing something wrong?

      Reply
  7. jeans

    I tried this with Windows. I think the font default should be Courier rather than Times. Like a typewriter.

    Reply
  8. Erk

    I think the only other thing that this needs is a “force new page” shortcut.
    Like Ctrl+N without the confirmation.

    Reply
  9. Peter

    Awesome, I’m going to go write some PHP code with it!

    Reply
  10. Joe

    Is there a way to copy and paste?

    Reply
  11. Joe

    nevermind, i figured it out.

    Reply
  12. Eric

    It would be great if it made typewriter noises as you hit the keys. Anyone out there done it yet?

    Reply
  13. Yonathan

    Thanks, Gabriel.

    Reply
  14. Joey

    Thanks for all the comments everyone! Fogus, I’ll see if I can get the source code. And Jeans, you’re totally right, it should’ve been Courier. I’ll see if I can change that, or have two versions.

    I know very little about programing (why I outsourced this), I just really liked this idea, so I’d love to see people take it and run with it. Keep the feedback coming!

    Reply
  15. Yonathan

    Would also be nice if there were more font and background colors.
    I would like it to have black font with dark grey background – like I have set in Write Monkey.

    You know, the best of both worlds…

    Reply
  16. Eli

    Writing in this program for a few minutes is really eye-opening. I had no idea how much mindless slop I’ve been hammering out, and how much time I waste in sentence-by-sentence corrections and editing. Really good for perfectionists like me who get hung up on little things, it forces you to keep moving ahead, THOUGHTFULLY.

    Reply
  17. Michael Rank

    I read about Typewriter in John Naughton’s column in the Observer (NB: a British Sunday newspaper) today.
    http://tinyurl.com/oj62xh
    But ironically this quasi-archaic program requires a pretty new computer. It’s not supported by Mac OS10.3.9 – when I try to run it i get a message saying it requires Java 1.5 or later and I only have 1.4 and 1.3. “Updating to a newer version of Mac OSX may resolve this”. (I like the “may”!).
    Incidentally Naughton says his uncle who was the head of a school in small village in Ireland in 1984 and his colleagues had never used a typewriter, which I find hard to believe, so they were unimpressed with the wordprocessing capabilities of an IBM PC they had won in a competition…

    And why doesn’t Typewriter have backspace, as far as I remember the metal version has one…

    (Maybe I need to upgrade Java but as far as I can see 1.5 isn’t compatible with 10.3.9).

    Reply
  18. Ed

    This is a PERFECT tool for writers! I’m going to try it out for the novel I’m writing. I have been constantly plagued by going back over what I’ve written instead of writing more. “First get it written, then get it right.” Thank you for this!

    Reply
  19. Yonathan

    Shame on me. Didn’t even say thank you for this great application after complaining about it’s disadvantages.
    So, thank you very much.
    It helps me write flawlessly. I am not self disciplined, so I need someone or something to stop me from going back and fixing that typo!
    Would be a great thing to implement this idea into professional production tools, like Photoshop, Cubase, and others…

    Reply
  20. Rog

    @Fogus, it’s a .jar file (a java archive), all .jar files can be disassembled or decompiled into the source.

    If you have jdk installed, you just have to type:
    jar -xvf Typewriter.jar

    Then, you will have all the .class files. To dissamble or decompile them, you could try javap if you’re on *nix etc. or Mocha http://www.brouhaha.com/~eric/software/mocha/ or some other decompiler. Hope that helps.

    Reply
  21. Joey

    No problem Yonathan, glad you like it.

    @Michael – I saw the column, glad you found your way over here. Do you know if it’s in print? I was trying to hunt down a copy of The Observer but all the bookstores have few week old editions.

    And thanks for the tip, Rog. As you probably can tell, my programming knowledge ends around getting ‘Hello World’ on the screen.

    Reply
  22. Michael Rank

    Joey, not sure what you mean by is the column in print? It was in yesterday’s Observer and as mentioned is online at http://tinyurl.com/oj62xh

    Michael

    Reply
    • Joey

      I saw it online. I didn’t know if it was an online only column or if it was in the printed edition as well. I take it it’s in both.

      Reply
  23. Billy

    Thanks for this, been using it this afternoon, really enjoyed being freed from the tyranny of formatting! It’ll be interesting if I can keep using it.

    Reply
  24. Yonathan

    Could you please add Right to Left support?
    My native language is Hebrew, and I want to be able to use Typewriter in a more comfortable way (that is, by typing from right to left).

    Reply
  25. Kelsey

    I read your article about this on ProBlogger- what a great idea. I definitely miss my old typewriter and the sound it makes as the keys are hitting the paper. Maybe downloading this program on my laptop will help me begin that book of short stories I’ve always wanted to write! 🙂

    Reply
  26. Patricia

    Very interesting how it does make you think differently. I used typewriters in high school. I actually have my Mom’s sitting on a desk in the other room. I use it for artwork but not “real” typing. They did have a backspace key. You would back up one space and have to use a sheet film form of white-out, white-out itself (or some typewriter tapes had built-in whiteout on them) to cover your mistake by retyping the same letter. This had to be done before you removed the paper from the machine as they would not match up precisely otherwise. I believe the much older models used a strike-through for a mistakes.

    Reply
  27. Sarah Mae

    I like progress…heck, why don’t you just tell people to get out a piece of paper and actually {gasp} write with a pen (with no eraser, of course)! 😉

    Very clever though! 🙂

    Reply
  28. becky

    I like what I see so far, especially the full screen version. No distractions. Just text on a screen. Cool.

    Reply
  29. Mary Ann Overbaugh

    Not to belittle your effort but having typed on an old typewriter with three carbon copies to correct, why punish yourself by going backward!
    It was horrible, made a lot of work, you could never be perfect and you had smudgy copy.
    I love today and all new shortcuts so bring ’em on baby!

    Reply
  30. Simon Harrison

    I find it ironic that all the “distraction free” editors have become too distracting. The great thing about typewriter is the only thing that you can do with it is write. I actually got quite annoyed with JDarkroom because it wouldn’t let me use the Block cursor. Spent ages searching the Net for a workaround. Thanks so much for this app.

    Reply
  31. Special_K

    Nice idea, it would be even better if the letters came out on the printer as you hit the keys, that would be FULL COMMITMENT! I need something like this to get around data-protection law, so that nnothing can be construed as being stored.

    Reply
  32. Liam

    Nice job, and an interesting philosophical position. One thing this program could really use is a typewriter-style backspace. On a correctionless typewriter, a standard and ugly method of “erasing” characters is to backspace and strike over each one with another character, usually the letter x.

    Reply
    • Nikolas

      What’d be even greater is to add the sounds and the fonts of a vintage typewriter which you get to choose before you actually start typing (so you can’t change it as you go along). Oh, I just noticed, 4 years has passed since this comment and no reply from the admin, well I’ll just say that I’ve been looking for typewriter simulation this whole night and this program is closest thing I found.

      Reply
  33. ilay

    Thanks man. This application helped me alot. I used to work with Dark Room, but something went wrong (probably viruses) and I searched for some new app. This is even simplier, which means better app. This is exactly what was I looking for.
    Peace!

    Reply
  34. baldguru

    First off, I agree that this function should be a built in ‘option’ on all serious writing tools. And promoted as a new ‘feature,’ retro as it may be!

    Secondly, I’d seriously like to see this offered for the iPad/phone. I’d gladly pay for it on my platform of choice! 🙂

    Reply
  35. photographer leicester

    This is a pretty good application… although it’s definitely not without it’s faults. I’m going to stick with it though.

    Reply
  36. Sensuhnastete

    боярский скачать песню мр3 ап.и тигры у ног моих сели http://bhabreti.narod.ru/rubrikator33.html – скачать ключ для гранд сметы net framework 2.0 для x64 скачать

    Reply
  37. SOLEO

    Thank you very much! Excellent program.

    Reply
  38. Matthew Keracher

    This application is very interesting, as well as frustrating.

    I’m seventeen, and as such have only ever lived in a world of Word. Typewriters, for me, seem like a relic of another age. It has only occurred to me now how different my physical writing method is to others. 

    I wonder if I’ll be able to adjust.

    Reply
  39. Eretreo Balans

    It’s like had
    It’s like hardcore mode typing.
    It’s like HRDCRE MDE typing.

    Reply
  40. Crevcatherine

    Can anyone tell me how they got the download to work?

    Reply
  41. Guest

    Wow… we are so used to back&correct that the first feeling when using Typewriter is frustration.. but at the same time is so exiting! I had to slow down the speed of writing and instead increase the time of thinking before writing… 
    It makes you more conscious about what are you doing. 

    I wanted something like this and I hoped someone had developed it! thank you!

    Reply

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