Sunday, November 14, 2010

Use WriteMonkey for distraction free writing

I am writing this article using WriteMonkey. It's a free, little app for Windows that helps you write without any distractions. Usually, when you write something, all the formatting and other things distract you. You keep worrying about the color, size and setting of the text. But WriteMonkey leaves you alone.

Here's a screenshot of me writing this post:

You can change the colors too, if you like.

You may argue that Notepad is the best, as it doesn't distract either and comes with Windows. But, WriteMonkey is different. As you see from the screenshot above, WriteMonkey, by default covers the entire screen with a simple, single color, and has just plain text. The desktop won't bother you either.

But don't let the look deceive you. It is actually an almost fully featured text editor, somewhat like WordPad, that comes with Windows. The only difference is that the settings a very much hidden away. You can in fact change all the stuff you see on the screen.

Just right-click anywhere on the screen and you'll see a long menu.

You'll find, other than Preferences, options to save, change basic formatting stuff and even print out your text. For now, let's click Preferences and look into the various settings you can change in there.

In the first tab, you can change some visual stuff. You can change the color of the background and the text. You can modify the font and do some other things. In the second tab, Screen Elements, you can control the things that appear on the screen. I find the progress bar pretty useful. After I enabled it, I see a word count at the top, and the name of the text that I am typing. All this is customizable, though.

I won't explain other options in detail. You can check them out on your own. I'd like to say this though, that the last tab in Preferences, 'Misc' has a really interesting option you can enable. You can toggle on typing sounds. There are two schemes, Old Typewriter and Click Keyboard in this stable version that I'm using. And I love it!

In the right-click menu, you can also click Progress to see how much you have written. It shows the word count, number of sentences, characters and if you have enabled it, even the time and work remaining. Pretty useful.

There is also a spellcheck function you can access from the menu, or by pressing F7. Oh, and press F1 for a complete list of keyboard shortcuts and text markup rules. For more help, you can even check out the WriteMonkey website (linked to at the bottom) for more help.

Download WriteMonkey from here . It's a zipped file, so you can extract it to any folder. Just click the 'WriteMonkey.exe' to start the app. You can even copy the program to a flash drive. Like any other portable program, you need to copy the entire extracted folder, though. I put it in the Program Files folder on the hard drive, and created a shortcut in my Start Menu, just like a desktop app do.

Unfortunately, WriteMonkey is not (yet) available for Mac and Linux. But if you look online, there are supposedly a lot of alternatives available.

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