Focuswriter – A Distraction Free Writing Environment

In this world of authors, bloggers, students, poets, etc there hath risen a number of word processing applications: some of em full fledged with bazillion options catering to every conceivable need of those who use it and more.

But with growing options and features came the unavoidable nuisance of clutter which led to confusion, frustration and worse, consulting the manual.

The growing need for simplicity spawned minimalistic text editors. One of them, Focuswriter, got my attention during my search for one such application.

Download and Install

Focuswriter is a freeware and  is available  for Linux, Windows and Mac OS. It also doesn’t require any external frameworks to be installed .

Get Comfy

The first thing I’d recommend that you do before typing anything in Focuswriter is create a comfortable environment for you to work in. Just like you arrange your most comfortable couch the way you want it to be before you watch a movie, Focuswriter lets you create themes that would be perfect for what ever mood you are in.

Go to settings > themes where you can add new themes and manage existing ones. You can set the background, color, margin, etc of the workspace and edit the font settings.

create theme

Create your own theme

Configure Focuswriter to your preference and save it as a theme. You can now use the theme of your choice as and when the mood suits you: a dark theme for a thriller story, a techy look for a tech article, a zen theme for a poet, etc.

theme list

Choose an apt environment to work

You can create different sessions in Focuswriter and assign each session its own theme and also configure options specific to the session. Go to file > sessions to create a new session.

Set a Goal

Often authors and students with assignments face deadlines to submit their written work. Focuswriter lets you set goals, in this context, how much you write per day or how many minutes you spend writing each day, that keeps you motivated and helps you meet your deadlines.

To set your goals,

  • Go to settings > preferences.
  • Under the General tab specify your daily goal.
set goals

Goals – A motivation

The Timer is another tool for which I found a couple of uses.

  • You can set your daily work schedule using the timer
  • The timer can also be used as an alert mechanism to inform you to take a break at regular intervals when using Focuswriter for a long time.

You can set timers by going to settings > timer or from the bottom right corner of the screen. You can specify the alarm to occur at a specific time or after a particular delay.

timerset

Set timer

Once the timer is complete, an alert window pops up informing you of the number of words, pages, paragraphs and characters you’ve typed within the duration of the timer.

alert

FocusWriter stopwatch

I think this tool needs a bit of refinement. You need to configure the timers every time you start the app. Focuswriter doesn’t save your previous timer configurations.

The UI

ui

Focuswriter UI

The UI is uncluttered with all the options hidden away leaving you with nothing except the workspace. Move your mouse to the corners of the screen to access the options.

At the top you’ve got all the basic text editing options, just what is necessary to take care of all the needs of a writer. No flim flam. Additional text formatting options are available in the format menu

toolbar

Just what is necessary. Nothing more

At the bottom you can access the files you have opened and the timers you have set. Focuswriter gives you the word count, page count and the number of paragraphs you have written. If you can’t see them, enable them by going to tools > preferences > statistics tab.

page count

Choose what statistics to display at the bottom of the screen

FocusWriter also shows you how close you are to achieving the goal you have set for the day, at the bottom of the screen, which is useful as a motivation factor, especially if you are writing dreary assignments.

goal per

Goals – A motivation

One thing you should note is that Focuswriter doesn’t automatically split the content into pages. You have to do it yourself by specifying the word, character or paragraph limits.

set page size

Set the page size

You also get other necessary options under Preferences, viz, toolbar configuration, manage shortcuts and a voice from the past, the Typewriter Sound, that gives you a feel of using a 19th century typewriter. It was interesting at first, but I found it annoying after a few paragraphs and I disabled it.

Cons

Focuswriter lets you save your files in only 3 formats, .txt, .odt and .rtf.

I find the need to manually set the page limit in Focuswriter a bit of a hassle especially when i want to print directly from the app.

Conclusion

The distraction free appearance of the app, the ability to set your own theme for writing and the option to set goals for writing are the main reasons that endeared me to Focuswriter. I reckon i’d be using this app for a while.


Summary

FocusWriter is a simple, distraction-free writing environment. It utilizes a hide-away interface that you access by moving your mouse to the edges of the screen, allowing the program to have a familiar look and feel to it while still getting out of the way so that you can immerse yourself in your work. It's available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, and has been translated into many different languages.

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  • Jeremy

    And there is dType on Android. It’s pretty much like FocusWriter without the bloat.

  • Kristian

    Been using FocusWriter for a year or so now, first on Ubuntu now is my preferred word processor on Windows too.

    Sometimes my tinkering on customizing takes over. Some brilliant themes already made Rain drops, sky-paper, leathers, zen-paper really good…or make your own theme

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