Review: Bean Word Processor for the Mac

Quick and Easy to Use

Bean word processor
Bean word processor. Courtesy of Bean

The Bottom Line

Bean may be a basic word processor, but the developer gave it the time and concentration necessary to make the core features work with aplomb. Everything works just the way you think it should. This lightweight application doesn’t require much in the way of system resources, and it has a clean interface that is easy to navigate.

Bean is an excellent replacement for TextEdit, the basic text editor that ships with the Mac. It provides features and services that TextEdit doesn’t even come close to, such as dynamic work and character counts, and its auto save function just might save your bacon someday.

Update: Bean is no longer being updated by the author. The last version was Bean 3.2.5 released March 8, 2013. The lastest version of Bean requires OS X Leopard (10.5) minimum, and I have checked that it remains functional under OS X El Capitan (10.11). The developer's website includes both the most current version of Bean, and older versions for OS X Tiger users, and even those still using older PowerPC Macs.


  • Lean and fast; uses very few system resources
  • Clean, simple, intuitive interface
  • Customizable toolbar
  • Automatic document backups
  • It’s free


  • No footnotes
  • Limited support for styles
  • Limited graphics support
  • Limited compatibility with Word files


  • Live word and character count
  • Inspection panel for text control
  • Auto save
  • Draft and page layout modes
  • Supports multiple file formats
  • Adjustable view scale

Bean, a free word processor from James Hoover, is an elegant, lightweight word processor. It’s not enough to make you consider throwing away Word or any other full-featured word processor, but it just may make your life simpler. Bean is for those times when opening and waiting for an application like Word to launch involves too much waiting. Bean launches quickly and is immediately ready for you to start working, without making you suffer through guides, assistants, wizards, and other allegedly helpful tools that seem to be a requirement of full-fledged word processors.

Instead of a long wait and lots of clutter, Bean is quick to greet you with a simple blank canvas, and an elegant toolbar that you can customize to fit your needs. You can view a document in draft mode or the default page layout mode. Page layout tools are fairly basic; you can create columns, but not insert tables. You can add images, although only as inline graphics. There are no hierarchical styles, although Bean does support basic styles. Text adjustments allow you to control the spacing of characters, lines, inter-lines, and paragraphs (before and after). You can make font selections from the Inspector, a handy panel that shows all the characteristics of selected text, or information about the style you’re currently applying.

James Hoover created Bean to meet his own needs as a science fiction writer. Bean doesn’t have any interesting science fiction features, but it does provide some useful tools for writers, such as dynamic character and word counts, paragraph and page counts, and the number of lines and carriage returns in a document. My favorite things about Bean are its display of character and word counts at the bottom of a document window, and its auto-save capability.

Bean is an unqualified hit for note taking and writing tasks.

Published: 2/5/2009

Updated: 10/20/2015