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ATPM 5.01
January 1999



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Review: Mariner Write 2.0.5

by Christopher Turner,


Product Information
Published by: Mariner Software
Phone: (800) 656-5443
List Price: $69.95 (with box and documentation); $49.95 (download)

A long-standing argument against the Macintosh platform has always been that there is not enough software for it. And one of the long-standing answers for this argument has been another question, “How many word processors do you need?”

If you live in my world, the answer to that question is always, “You can never have too many.” But for most users, one is enough. And here’s your one.

Mariner Write, newly updated to version 2.05, is a lightweight, full-feature alternative to the bloatware mainstay of Macintosh word processing, Microsoft Word. There are millions of Mac users out there who either cannot afford Word 98's resource requirements, or would rather use something else, but cannot find a word processor that boasts the features Word has. MW is here to change all of that.

[mar1 graphic]

Mariner Write 2 is simple enough for any beginning Mac user to utilize, yet has enough features to satisfy the power user on any but the most complex tasks, like a dissertation, doctoral thesis, or lengthy book.

Racing Schooner vs. the Titanic

One of the biggest complaints about Word is its tremendous size and drain on system resources. The Word 98 application itself takes up 5+ megabytes. This is not to mention the various other items in the Microsoft Word folder itself, which quickly runs the total to above 20 megabytes.

The sleek Mariner Write, on the other hand, takes up only 1.2 megabytes of hard drive space. The entire folder in which the application resides consumes only 2.2 megabytes, less than half of what Microsoft Word takes up just by itself. MW is perfect for those with small hard drives. And, unlike Word 98, it can be used on non-PowerPC Macs. As long as you have at least a 68020 processor, and System 7.0 or later, you can use Mariner Write. Best of all, MW runs native on PowerPC machines. It launches so fast on my G3/266, that the splash screen is a blur.

I chose this end of the above paragraph to try Mariner Write’s Count command. There was
absolutely no delay from the time I selected the Document button in the Count dialog box to the results display. This little baby is fast.

[mar2 graphic]

The interface is simple and uncluttered. As you can see in the above graphic, the main toolbar offers easy access to commonly used functions. As with any good Mac program, there are accompanying keyboard shortcuts. Should you desire, you can view fonts from either the Font menu in the main menu bar, or from the pop-up menu present just beneath the ruler in each document.

Showing what a classy operation it is, Mariner Software allows users the option of viewing fonts as they actually appear by merely making a selection in the Preferences dialog. This option is turned off by default.

While I didn’t utilize this feature while typing my review, you can insert graphics as either inline images or floating objects with a text wrap. I have utilized this feature in other documents, however, and it works great. You can use either a PICT, EPS, GIF, or JPEG as your graphic.

Like another favorite word processor of mine, Scorpio, you can change the color of both the text and the background. And as long as your printer can handle color, that’s exactly how your document will print out, as well.

No Word Processor Is An Island

While it does not have built-in translators of its own, Mariner Write makes extensive use of DataViz’s MacLink Plus to open and save documents in virtually any format, from Word 98 to WordPerfect 3 to ClarisWorks 4. MacLink has come with most versions of your system software since 7.5. If you want the latest and greatest set of translators, however, you’ll need to upgrade to version 10. Check out for more info.

I made use of this feature while preparing this review. Though I typed up in my review in Mariner Write, I needed to get it to our wonderful editors in AppleWorks (formerly ClarisWorks) format. A simple Save As brought up the dialog box which allowed me to choose the AppleWorks word processing document option. Opening the document in AppleWorks 5, I found that there were no changes whatsoever to my formatting and text color changes.

[mar3 graphic]

So what about more high-end features? Both footnotes and endnotes are easily implemented in MW. Headers and footers are supported as well. Mariner Write includes both a spell checker and thesaurus, though third-party universal checkers generally offer a greater vocabulary. I found Mariner Write’s built-in checker to be very fast, though I still prefer SpellTools for all of my applications.

Mariner Write 2 is fully AppleScriptable, and includes six scripts right out of the box. A space on the Mariner Software Web site promises more in the future. MW features a great Find/Replace tool that is, you guessed it, very fast. Anyone else see a pattern emerging here? Mariner Write, being the classy Mac app it is, is drag-and-drop savvy, not only within itself, but across other applications as well.

Pulling Into Port

Mariner Write is a carefully crafted, sleek yet powerful workhorse. It has a developer that truly cares about its product and about its customers. I don’t know what the current situation is, but I recall back when I was using version 1.4 of MW. I called the 800 number, inquiring about upgrades, and actually spoke to the guy who runs the company! Sometimes, being small pays off in dividends bigger than profit dollars.

If Apple weren’t already including AppleWorks on every iMac, Mariner Write should be the word processor they ship. While you won’t knock out your doctoral thesis on MW, those letters to Grandma and the next great book report couldn’t find a better creation tool.

Free demos of both Mariner Write and its $20 Mariner Write Lite sibling are available from the Mariner Software site. I encourage you to check out this great Mac-only word processor, and let the Word behemoth slide beneath the waves.

[apple graphic]Copyright © 1999 Christopher Turner, Reviewing in ATPM
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Reader Comments (6)

P Crosby · February 28, 2002 - 15:08 EST #1
I couldn't agree more. I have been using MW2 for a few years now and have never used anything else. It's the perfect alternative to MSWord. I'd recommend it to anyone who needs a great word processor. It's more intuitive than Word and faster to use. I've tried lots of other word processors (Word Perfect, Nisus, et al) and this is the one I still use.
Nick Green · May 24, 2002 - 11:26 EST #2
A good review.

I think, though, that you could do a Ph.D. thesis using MW2 (I'm using the beta of 3 in Mac OS X, having switched from AppleWorks 6), although not having Endnote means you have to do more manually. I did mine in AppleWorks 5, and the integration between the various modules was an enormous help. I think MW3 is way better than AppleWorks 6, though.
Paul Davenport · August 8, 2002 - 14:15 EST #3
As a professional writer, I think Mariner Write is the best word processor around for the Mac platform, ahead even of Nisus. Unfortunately, I only 'discovered' it relatively recently and now rue the years I have had relying on Claris/AppleWorks. I have just bought the version 3 upgrade for OS X and it is even better.
Bye, bye AppleWorks etc.
Brian Moss · January 17, 2005 - 05:27 EST #4
I've used a Mac since 1985 and have just discovered, by accident, the existence of MarinerWrite as an alternative to AppleWorks. Why has it been hidden so well. Don't they want to sell it? I read all the literature: not a word have I seen about it.

I want to change, because my AppleWorks 6 grinds to a halt when trying to access the font menu. Any ideas why this happens.
Brian Moss
Lance Baker · July 31, 2006 - 05:56 EST #5
OK, sounds good but does it show the font menu in actual font styles? And does it use Chinese characters as Appleworks so smoothly does?
Christopher Turner (ATPM Staff) · July 31, 2006 - 15:38 EST #6

Mariner Write does have a WYSIWYG font menu, and does support international characters. As to specific Chinese characters, I cannot speak, but I encourage you to check out Mariner Software's site, and the Write page specifically, for more information.

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