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Text File Nerdery

I hate Word. I hate that we have to use it in the corporate environment. I love Markdown and use it more and more everyday. I have even started sending it to users in my company and let them deal with it. My preference today is Byword. I love the simple interface and the speed. I hate the term distraction free writing environment” but that is truly what it is.[^1] I looked at all my documents and noticed the large discrepancy in file size. I decided I would run a few unofficial tests to compare writing tools on my mac.

For the tests I used a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro with 4 GB of ram.

Alfred Search Image

About this Mac

To create the test I used a TextExpander snippet from Brett Terpstra to generate the 3 paragraphs of Lorem Ipsum text for consistency.[^2]

Each document had 318 words and 2159 characters. The applications I tested included Word for Mac, Pages, Byword, TextEdit included with Lion and Mou. There are many more that I could have tried but these were all available on my machine.

Versions

  • Pages: 4.1 Pages 09
  • Word: 14.2.1 Word for Mac
  • Byword: 1.5.1
  • TextEdit: 1.7.1
  • Mou: 0.7.1 beta

After running the TextExpander snippet I saved each item out to my desktop only using the name of the application as a reference. Nothing else changed. Below are the sizes for each application.

File Size

  • Pages (.pages): 114,330 - 115 KB
  • Word (.docx): 112,184 bytes - 115KB on disk
  • Byword (.md) : 2,159 bytes - 4KB on disk
  • TextEdit (.rtf): 2,466 bytes - 4KB on disk
  • Mou (.md): 2,159 bytes - 4KB on disk

Then I was curious what the overall time was for each to start up from not running to a blank page. For my unofficial startup time test I loaded up the application in Alfred and hit the return key at the same time as the stopwatch. This is far from scientific but wanted to get a general idea fast things were.

Startup Time in seconds

  • Pages: 4.1
  • Word: 7.5
  • Byword: .5
  • TextEdit:. 5
  • Mou: .5

I was not surprised at the startup time of the applications. Word and Pages are much larger applications that allow some sophisticated layout options. The reality is we almost never use them. For example I never use any of the math functions included in Word. I am sure there are a few people who may need this, but I am willing to bet it is about .01 percent of the population. What I was more surprised was the actual file sizes. I knew the big programs would be larger but I did not expect them to be almost 29 times larger. I would imagine most people don’t care about the size of their files, but with today’s smaller SSD drives depending how how many documents you create it could add up to a significant difference.

This very basic test just proves to me what I already knew which is using these other editors can have a huge difference in the overall experience.

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