There are so many buttons, windows, and gadgets that can distract you when working at a computer. Have you ever tried to sit down and write something while an icon bounces away in your dock? It’s a frustrating experience. Minimalist, full-screen writing apps are great for keeping these distractions out of the corner of your eye, providing a simple, clear environment where you can let your mind roam free.
Before highlighting our collection of these apps, I’d like to point out two things. First, choosing a new writing application won’t make you a better writer, nor will it magically motivate you to write. These two qualities need to come first.
Second, if you’re spending time researching new minimalist writing apps in the time you should actually be writing, some priority adjustment is in order. Send today’s article to Instapaper, and come back to it after you’ve met your writing target for the day!
With that out of the way, let’s move on to take a look at a few simple applications that might help to make writing a more distraction-free process…
Byword recently caught my eye after being featured on AppStorm last month. At $7.99, it is an excellent option and its price is easily justified once you start using it. The writing environent is super-simple. The background is a very light grey tone that is quite easy on the eye, and there are no buttons whatsoever (other than a small greyed out search and expand button). The ideal use for the app, just like with most of the apps in this category, is in full-screen mode.
There aren’t many features to explore, for the most part it’s very basic. There’s a focus setting that is supposed to bring attention to just a single part of the text, and there are also keyboard shortcuts for everything.
There’s even a small text-edit toolbar that you can bring up with a combination of keys, so that you don’t lose concentration by quitting full screen and going into menus. Byword is one of my favorite apps on the category on account of the subtle, beautiful interface design.
WriteRoom has been called the best app in this genre for quite a while now, and it surely deserves its fame. Think of it as Byword on steroids, with the same basic functionality, but also with many useful additions. These include autosave, font selection, background color settings, and word count. These are all small details, but they make quite a difference.
Even though WriteRoom has plenty more features than apps like Byword, it manages to keep the writing environment clean and tidy. Just don’t head into the settings too often – you might be a little overwhelmed!
It has a slightly beefier price tag of $24.99, but the extra features and long-standing reputation may make this worthwhile for you.
Clean Writer is one of the cheapest options in the genre ($3.99), and while it’s not quite at the level of the past two apps, it does deliver on providing a simplistic and distraction-free writing environment. You can choose from a few options of font size, font type and theme (basically, the background), but that’s about all you can do with it.
It also works full-screen and it even has a spell checker. Clean Writer isn’t as pretty as Byword, and it doesn’t have as many options and features as WriteRoom does, but at its price, it’s the app that offers the most value for your money.
Writer is a super-basic text editor. Just like Clean Writer, it is very cheap ($2.99), and very, very bare-bones, much like Byword, except not quite as visually appealing. It has all the usual features – full screen, font selection and word count – but it also adds some useful additions like statistics (time worked, WPM, etc.) and a “pin” feature, where you can make the writer window float on top of any other window.
Grandview takes a step away from the minimalist writing apps that we have seen so far. While not exactly a “text-editing” app, it does provide you with a “minimalist” writing experience. Basically, it is a hot-key activated app that allows you to watch full-screen, each word that you type as you are writing, one word at a time.
So, you write something in the full-screen view mode, and then when you are done, it will automatically be copied to your clipboard so that you can then put it in your text-editor of choice.
It isn’t exactly the most convenient app out there, but it is interesting to try out, at least for a little while to see if you like it. Apps don’t get any more minimalist than Grandview. You can try it out for free on the developer’s site, or buy it for $4.99 on the Mac App Store.
With a slogan like “welcome back to concentrating”, you can’t go wrong with OmmWriter. It seems like a clear winner in many aspects: it’s cheap in comparison to Byword and WriteRoom, it looks amazing, and it offers some unique characteristics.
What you’ll first notice about it is that it doesn’t give you any plain or black backgrounds. No, it actually gives you dynamic backgrounds that are “specifically designed for your concentration and creativity”. To some, this will be an immediate turn-off. Fiddling with backgrounds and sounds is clearly a huge distraction from just getting down to writing. To others, this environment might be very beneficial when set up. I’ll leave that for you to decide…
Dana is the only app that is available free. Well, sort of… Dana I is free, which gives you a few backgrounds and sounds. Dana II has a greater selection, but it goes for $4.99 on the Mac App Store.
There are plenty of apps to choose from in this genre. There are free apps like OmmWriter that give you pretty much all the functionality you may need, but there are also more intricate apps such as WriteRoom that go for quite a hefty price. Personally, I really like Byword for its thoughtfully designed interface.
Have you tried any of these? Do you use a different one that we didn’t get to cover? I’d be interested to hear whether you find them particularly useful.
Now get back to writing!