Customise FocusWriter To Make It Actually Usable

Customise FocusWriter To Make It Actually Usable

Despite its appealing simplicity, I gave up on using FocusWriter early on in my NaNoWriMo project because I didn’t like the way it rendered on screen. As reader Dave quicly pointed out, you can make the software more to your taste with a little tweaking. Here’s how to do it.

I do think FocusWriter is missing a trick by making its default display 8-point text on a grey background (who on earth wants to squint that much?) and by not making the option to change the appearance a little more obvious. There's a very long word-processing tradition of seeing your font information on the main screen, and while I know FocusWriter is aiming for a distraction-free environment, offering a Themes link on the main toolbar could help.

Anyway, to alter the options, point your cursor to the top of the screen so the menus appear, select Settings, pick Themes and choose Add. I went with 18-point Times New Roman on a white background, and instantly felt much more at home. I don't normally write in such a large font, but when there's nothing else on screen it feels more comfortable.

Having made those alterations, I've now returned to FocusWriter, since its word count abilities have become increasingly important as the novel-writing project has continued. It's still not quite perfect -- there's no built-in Australian or British English dictionary and there's a bug where text suddenly switches into a much smaller font size occasionally -- but it should do nicely up until the point when I'm editing for spelling and consistency rather than worrying about producing lots of words.


  • Regarding Australian English dictionary, I’ve managed to download and install one from OpenOffice and as far as I’m concerned it works quite well. There is a link to OO dictionaries on the FocusWriter website.

    • Or if you already have OpenOffice version 3.x, you can just look for the AU dictionary. If you can’t find it look for dict-en.oxt, unzip it, and find the files called en-au.aff and en-au.dic.

  • With some difficulty, I managed to customise FocusWriter; the default of .. is it 8pt? .. was painful, nay, impossible on the eye.

    I customised the text to be white on a dark background. I thought it was perfect.

    But then it kept crashing. Crashing before I’d even typed a word; did it repeatedly, causing me to lose trust. Who wants to spends hours typing text that may be lost.

    *PS I notice it’s 5 years since the most recent posts, and this word processor hasn’t gotten its act together. Methinks it never will. 🙁

  • I’m using it right now, version 1.4.5 on Linux Mint. Many if not all of these complaints seem to have been addressed – choose your font, etc, using the ‘theme’ options. I’ve got the British English dictionary. Recommended

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