Five Best Distraction-Free Writing Tools

Your computer is packed with distractions: blinking icons in the system tray, chiming reminders, your browser icon in the quick launch menu ripe with the promise of internet fun. This week we take a look at five popular distraction-free writing applications.

Photo by Nina Matthews Photography.

FocusWriter (Windows/Mac/Linux, Free)

FocusWriter is a full-screen distraction-free writing application with an emphasis on a clean writing space without sacrificing functionality. The user interface is hidden at the edges of the screen; mousing up to the top of the screen, for example, reveals a toolbar. Don't need or want the interface? Go full screen and ignore it. FocusWriter supports themes: you can use the four included themes or create your own combinations of background images, fonts, and other visual markers. FocusWriter includes a daily goal tracker—work count and time spent writing—spell checking, real-time feedback on variables like word and page count, and tabbed document browsing.

WriteMonkey (Windows, Free)

WriteMonkey is a free, portable, and streamlined distraction-free writing application for Windows. Every function and command in the application is accessible via keyboard shortcut—you can write a document start to finish without ever using your mouse. WriteMonkey supports Markup language for easy in-text bolding, italicising and other formatting tweaks. Segement Focus is a feature that highlights only the passage you're working on, great for writing and editing lengthy text. WriteMonkey also includes spell checking, auto-saving, document backups, and Firefox integration via It's All Text.

OmmWriter (Mac, Basic: Free, Premium: Donationware)

OmmWriter for Mac OS X is a zen-like text editor with a strong focus on writing in a relaxing environment. The default configuration is a pale grey background with a bare tree in the corner. The free version of the application comes with three visual and audio themes—upgrading to the pay-what-you-want donationware premium version unlocks an additional 5 themes. OmmWriter's major functions are available via shortcut key and mousing over the writing space reveals OmmWriter's toolbars and the adjustable boundaries for the writing space.

Q10 (Windows, Free)

Q10 is a portable distraction-free writing tool for Windows. The interface includes nothing but a tiny bar at the bottom that displays the character, word, and page count—you can toggle the bar off for a totally distraction free workspace. There is no GUI toolbar, all functions are accessed via keyboard shortcuts—press F1 while in the application to see the reminder box, show in the screenshot above. Q10 includes spell checking, work tracking, timers and word-count targets.

WriteRoom (Mac/iOS, Mac: $US24.99/iOS: $US4.99)

WriteRoom, available for both Mac OS X and iOS devices, is a barebones writing application with free cloud-based backup and synchronisation via SimpleText.ws. Every GUI element in WriteRoom, such as the toolbar and scroll bar, automatically hided itself when not in use. WriterRoom features a novel "typewriter scroll" feature that keeps the active text in the centre of the screen so you are always focused on the same spot—instead of following the text down the page. You can customise basic settings like the background and font colour in the preferences menu.


Comments

    FocusWriter wins in my mind, by a huge margin.

    No one should be forced to use archaic key combinations to complete.

    Another great package for writing is "Scrivener", which has long been available for Macs, but for which a beta version is now available for Windows.
    http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivenerforwindows/

    I've been testing out the Windows version, and I've been hugely impressed. Definitely worth a look.

    I use Focus Writer on my desktop, it works pretty good and then I use Blacktop on my phone.

Join the discussion!