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Macaw is a WYSIWYG Editor for Macintosh

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating



Macaw web editor

Screenshot from Macaw.co home page
Macaw - confusing icons

Some of the icons aren't immediately obvious to everyone

Screen shot by J Kyrnin courtesy Macaw
responsive design quickly with Macaw

I created a mockup of a website in responsive design in very short order

Screen shot by J Kyrnin - photos © J Kyrnin

About Macaw

Macaw is a new web editor for web designers. It is based on the same style of design as graphics tools like Photoshop. This should make it easier for web designers to use to create decent HTML, CSS, and even JavaScript to pass on to developers or post directly to the web.

The Macaw editor is still in beta, and was only just released on December 31st, 2013. This profile is based on this version released to early adopters on the 31st. Many of the features are still in development and the tool still has bugs. In my testing it was fairly slow in some situations and some of the features were difficult to figure out without documentation. The developers have assured backers that a Windows version is in development, but it is not yet available.

Target Market(s): Professional Web Designers


  • Operating System: Macintosh
  • Publisher: Macaw, LLC
  • Price: $149
  • Type of Editor: WYSIWYG
  • Score: Still in beta so no score
  • Profile Last Edited: January 3, 2014

Macaw Latest Review


  • very easy to create responsive designs with multiple breakpoints
  • shortcut to add placeholder text is really nice and easy to use (type “lorem#p” where the # is the number of paragraphs you want and hit the tab key and that number of paragraphs of placeholder text will appear in your document).
  • generates decent looking HTML
  • allows you to choose what elements, classes, and IDs to use
  • reminiscent of image editors making it more familiar to designers


Many of these cons may be because I am evaluating a beta copy of the software. Check back later for updates as the software is improved and eventually released for sale.

  • slow to respond at times
  • documentation is poor or non-existant
  • extra container elements were added that I didn't expect
  • I never figured out how to change details like meta description or the TITLE element
  • serveral times in testing Macaw got into a buggy state that wouldn't allow me to edit or modify my site in any way
  • no publishing to external sites

I enjoyed using Macaw. I built a 3-breakpoint simple responsive design website faster than I ever have in the past, and that is including the time it took me to figure out how to use the tool. This, in itself, is pretty amazing to me.

It is clear that I was looking at a beta version of the software. There were bugs, sometimes things got painfully slow and at other times clickable items (like class names in the inspector) were not clickable or changeable. That would get frustrating if this were production software, but because it's a first look, they are easy to overlook.

Some of the features I really enjoyed:

  • Resizing elements based on the grids was easy with the shortcuts I learned in their sneak peek video.
  • Grouping elements and then giving the resulting container a name like HEADER resulted in HTML5 semantic code much more easily and quickly than I thought possible.
  • As I mentioned above, I was able to create a responsive design with three breakpoints in a very short amount of time. Once the bugs are worked out, this tool is almost certainly going to be my first stop in creating responsive web pages and sites.
  • I loved the outline view. Like with Photoshop layers,it was really nice to be able to show and hide elements just by clicking the eye icon. This also helped me see how the code would be laid out.
  • I chose a random font from the list that was included, and they automatically added the web font code from Google for me. I could also use my own fonts, but there were a lot of choices (even if most of them seemed to be sans serif…).
  • I love that they have a shortcut to add multiple paragraphs of placeholder text right in their text tool.
  • The CSS and HTML it generates can still be a bit more DIV heavy than I would write, but with the outline tool, it's possible to see that and get rid of some of the extraneous tags.

Some of the things I hope are corrected in the future releases:

  • I couldn't figure out how to build things like lists. That may be coming when they release RTF editing.
  • I also coudln't figure out how to edit meta data like the meta description or the TITLE element.
  • Everything is done in tiny pale text on a black background. Yes, this looks nice and doesn't distract from my design, but I was constantly leaning in on my screen to try and figure out what the icons meant.
  • Plus, as a web developer, I am not intuitively familiar with the icons (see the second screen shot for an example) and if there was tool tip help it was painfully slow to respond. Most of them I figured out simply by clicking on them to see what they did. But a lot of people don't work like that.
  • I had a lot of trouble getting the fluid options that they showed in the demo. I couldn't get my images to be set to a percentage width, nor could I get the canvas to resize.
  • The publishing currently consists of turning your .MCW file into HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files (with images and other media). It then places this in a sub-directory from where you saved the MCW file. There is no file transfer or connectivity to web servers, so you'll have to put your files live manually. Plus, there didn't seem to be any choice in where to save the files, so even if you have a WebDAV server directory set up, your files are almost certainly going to be in the wrong place.

I can't give Macaw more than 3 stars right now because it is still in beta and a lot of features I look for in full-fledged web editors are still missing. But for what it is and the state of development it's at, I have high hopes that it will eventually become an indispensable tool. I am looking forward to seeing how Macaw improves as time goes on. It looks like it is going to be a nice change for web designers who want a visual design tool, but don't want to be stuck with horrendous looking HTML and CSS.

Get Macaw

Macaw is not currently available for download or purchase. However you can sign up for an email notification when it becomes available.

Macaw Tutorials

No tutorials available at this time.

This product was reviewed using a purchased copy of the beta on Kickstarter and information found on their website. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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