Review: Is the Hemingway App Worth Using for Free?

I am constantly on the lookout for good writing platforms that are tailored to authors. So, when I came across the Hemingway editor app, I decided to give it a try to see how well it works. And although it’s a bit limited, it’s not entirely a bad platform, especially as it’s free to use.

Though, Hemingway does have a $19 downloadable program that you can use directly off your desktop.

Today, this review is focusing primarily on the free Hemingway app, which is web-based. I’ll cover the desktop version once I buy the program and give it a test run.

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What is the Hemingway App?

The Hemingway App is a web-based editing tool that has built-in functions to help you write better content. It’ll highlight areas of your writing with certain colors that belong to specific issues.

For example, Hemingway will highlight terms in green for the use of passive voice. For reference, most editors and agents would rather you use an active voice as much as possible. It simply reads better.

The Hemingway editor will also highlight sentences that are more difficult to read. This is more of a personal preference depending on the target audience for whom you’re writing.

Luckily, the app will also show you a grade level for the content as a whole. So, if you’re aiming for a specific age or scholastic group of people, you can ensure everyone has a good experience reading the content.

While you can use the web-based editor for free without logging into a system, you can buy the downloadable program for $19.

What Can You Expect from the Hemingway App?

So, the Hemingway editor isn’t nearly as robust as some of the other pieces of software out there. It is missing quite a few things that I find important, such as being able to set writing goals or integrations into other systems.

However, as a writing platform, it does have a lot of benefits.

Absolutely Free to Use

One of the biggest points of the Hemingway App is that it’s completely free to use through your web browser. You don’t even need an account or a sign-in. Just go to the website and start typing.

Although you won’t be able to save your work, it’s great if you’re cranking out a blog post or writing a short story. You can write it in Hemingway, edit and fix up the text, then copy it to something else.

Can Turn the Editor On or Off as You Write

Turn off Hemingway Editor

You can turn the editor on and off as you create content. This means you can type without worrying about the system instantly throwing color-coded messages in your face to fix something.

However, I don’t mind fixing things as I go. It helps because I know I’ll probably forget to do it later.

Highlights Difficult Sentences

As I mentioned earlier, the editor will highlight sentences that are difficult to read. The system shows hard sentences in yellow and very hard in red. This gives you a chance to figure out an easier way to convey the message in the sentence.

But as I said, this also depends on your audience and the sentence itself. You may not need to change anything at all if it makes sense in the article or story.

Provides Alternatives to Phrasing

Another cool element to the Hemingway app is how it provides suggestions for certain words and phrasing. Usually, the editor highlights these in purple and provides alternatives to the words.

Like the difficult sentences, though, this is something between you and your audience. Perhaps the more difficult phrasing is exactly what you want in any particular sentence.

Basic Writing Statistics

The app has built-in statistic tracking. However, it’s a bit limited when compared to something like the Reedsy book editing app. Hemingway shows average reading time, characters, words, sentences, and paragraphs.

Depending on the purpose of what you’re writing, this may be more than plenty. Nonetheless, I do like it when I can set writing goals.

Works Alongside Grammarly’s Chrome Extension

Because it is web-based, the Hemingway app appears to work well with the Grammarly Chrome Extension. It’s kind of like having two editors browse your work at the same time.

In fact, Grammarly picks up a lot of things Hemingway seems to miss, such as serial commas and spelling. So, running the Grammarly Chrome Extension at the same time can further tighten your writing.

Copies Headers and Links to WordPress!

From Hemingway to WordPress

Perhaps one of my favorite features of the Hemingway app is how it copies headers and links perfectly over to the WordPress Gutenberg editor. This means you can write an entire blog post in Hemingway and copy it directly to WordPress before publishing.

Though, you’d probably want to add images and whatnot.

It also works the other way. Let’s say you have an old article you wish to spruce up. If you copy it from WordPress directly into Hemingway, all of your formatting will remain. The only things you’ll miss out on are the images if you have any.

Doesn’t Seem to Have a Built-in Spellcheck

As I said, Hemingway doesn’t seem to have a spellcheck ability. This is a bit disappointing considering how it’s supposed to be a “writing app.” It’ll find all of the little nuances of passive voice, simpler phrase alternatives, and striking adverbs. Just nothing for misspellings.

I’m hoping the desktop version at least has a checking capability built-in. If not, it’s kind of a drawback. But like I said, having Grammarly run at the same time finds those spelling issues with no problem.

Tabbing for Indents Does Not Work

Because it’s a web-based app, Hemingway doesn’t allow the tab function to create indents in your content. If you hit the tab button, you’ll move across the different aspects of your browser.

At least that’s how it works on a PC.

This is quite common among most web-based apps, though. So, unless indenting is massively important to you, it’s probably not something that will overly affect you either way.

No Ability to Save Your Work in the Hemingway App

The Hemingway app doesn’t come with a built-in method to save your work. This means you might not want to use it for longer pieces of content or anything larger than a few thousand words at a time.

A workaround for this, though, is to simply copy and paste the text into something else once you’re done editing. For example, I’ll probably use Hemingway to write a chapter of my next book and then copy it to Reedsy.

On the other hand, the desktop version allows you to export the content in various file formats.

Is the Hemingway Web-Based App Something I’d Continue to Use?

While there are more feature-rich apps out there on the Internet, Hemingway might be useful for tightening up the language of various types of content. As it points out, I have a tenancy to use a lot of adverbs and passive voice.

Because something like Reedsy doesn’t have a built-in checking method, I could write chapters of my books in Hemingway and then copy them over once I’m done editing.

That might actually be a great way to use the app. In fact, it may make the job of my editor a lot easier if I fix some of the issues before he or she reads the story.

Another feature that I would consider using is copying content from Hemingway over to WordPress. Since the formatting stays the same, I could write out an entire post while making sure the content is as easy to read as possible.

Currently, I use Yoast SEO and Grammarly. But since the Hemingway app is free, it’s just something else I could add to improve the quality of my blog posts.

Perhaps I’ll set up an experiment to update older blog posts using Hemingway to see if it makes a difference in the on-page time of an article.

Would I Consider Buying the Desktop Version of the Hemingway App?

Although Hemingway isn’t the most robust piece of writing software, it does have quite a few benefits for improving writing quality. And given that it’s only a $19 flat fee, it won’t cost an arm and a leg to use the platform indefinitely.

The only hangup I have is the inability to spellcheck. If the desktop version doesn’t have a spellchecker, I would have to import the article into Grammarly before copying it elsewhere.

This means taking an extra step to publish. Especially since the Grammarly Chrome Extension won’t be able to access the desktop version of Hemingway.

Still, it’s only $19, and I might continue using it to write Despair and other short stories I might put out for Wattpad or Inkitt.

The biggest selling point for me is to use Hemingway while at a coffee shop or other social location. I have no intention of connecting to public Wi-Fi, and the desktop version of Hemingway works without Internet access.

Grammarly Grammar Checker

What Kind of Writing Tools Do You Use?

I’m always interested in finding new writing apps for authors. And as a free and easy-to-use editor, the Hemingway app is among my top choices for quick and short content.

Because it doesn’t save your work, you probably wouldn’t want to write a 90,000-word book through the web-based version. Though, you can export the text in a variety of formats in the desktop program.

What do you use to write your content, whether it’s a blog post or a novel?

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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