A look at FocusWriter distraction free text editor on GNU/Linux

Mike Turcotte-McCusker
May 6, 2018

Writing has always been something I enjoyed throughout my life, and nowadays I practically write for a living. You’d think that being a professional writer, I might have some kind of hyper-focus when I sit down to write...

But sadly, I openly admit to being easily distracted. Thankfully, there are different tools I utilize sometimes to help mitigate that issue; one such tool being FocusWriter.

FocusWriter is a cross-platform tool available to be easily installed on multiple GNU/Linux distributions, as well as Windows and Mac OS.


Installation in GNU/Linux is fairly straightforward, with many distributions carrying FocusWriter in their repositories, as well as Debian, Fedora, and OpenSUSE users can get the program from here.

Windows and Mac users can download the text editor from the official project website as well to run or install it on their devices.


FocusWriter isn’t super powerful, nor is it deeply extensible, but it’s not entirely special feature-less either, with the FocusWriter website listing its features as:

  • TXT, basic RTF, Docx, basic ODT file support
  • Timers and alarms
  • Daily goals
  • Fully customizable themes
  • Typewriter sound effects (optional)
  • Auto-save (optional)
  • Live statistics (optional)
  • Spell-checking (optional)
  • Multi-document support
  • Sessions
  • Portable mode (optional)
  • Translated into over 20 languages

The program opens the editing interface in fullscreen on start. All you see on start is a blank text document and a wooden background; no menus, buttons or other interface elements that may get in your way.

How do you interact with the program then? How do you exit it, load documents, or change some of the default options? All you need to do is move the mouse cursor to the top of the screen and move it back down a bit afterward.

Doing so displays the menu bar which you may use to interact with the application. You find save and load options there, options to change the format of text, or switch to a different theme. All of these options are accessible through keyboard shortcuts as well. While you need to know what those are before you may use them, it is usually faster to use the keyboard than moving the mouse to display the menu and to select the option from there.

My Experience with FocusWriter

FocusWriter is very simple and straightforward as you can see, but it serves its purpose and it serves it well.

One of the biggest helpful things for me when it comes to really buckling down and focusing on writing, is to remove myself and my usual distractions. So, I’ll change rooms, and then I’ll break out FocusWriter to do the same thing so to speak, inside my screen.

One of the downsides to FocusWriter though from my own perspective, is the lack of formatting tools.

Granted, if you were to put too many things on the screen at once, it detracts from the very principle of the application. However, I think that at least adding the absolute basics, like text position, font manipulation, and bullet lists, would be extremely helpful. Just my two copper however, and I will still recommend anyone who may find this sort of thing useful, check it out.

Now you: Are there tools you use, to help keep yourself from losing focus or increasing productivity? Let us know in the comments!

A look at FocusWriter distraction free text editor on GNU/Linux
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A look at FocusWriter distraction free text editor on GNU/Linux
FocusWriter is a cross-platform tool available to be easily installed on multiple GNU/Linux distributions, as well as Windows and Mac OS.
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  1. Gerhard said on May 7, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    MT-C: “One of the downsides to FocusWriter though from my own perspective, is the lack of formatting tools.”

    FocusWriter is essentially a writing tool, providing “a simple, distraction-free writing environment” (FW website). Text formatting is a separate process imho. LibreOffice Writer is my text formatting tool. Unfortunately its default (open document) format is not widely used, thanks to MS and the Sheeple.

  2. Fred Finster said on May 7, 2018 at 1:48 am

    ICE Coder text editor https://icecoder.net can be used in chromium browser offline or online Code editor awesomeness …in your browser
    Sorry for misspelling icecoder.net URL
    https://www.facebook.com/ICEcoder.net/ Facebook page for ICEcoder

  3. Fred Finster said on May 7, 2018 at 1:27 am

    FocusWriter Version 1.6.12
    Released on April 14, 2018,
    under the GPL version 3.

    Being a personal computer user for 40 years. I have enjoyed using VI text editor on Unix and Linux computers. This simple VIM article will now help me use Vim as a word processor, too!
    Short Helpful article on “How to use VIM as a word processor”.

    VIM Keyboard shortcuts cheatsheet
    ps. but you shouldn’t ever need to move your fingers from the home row. Once you get fast in Vim, every other editor will feel like sludge sliding downhill.

    Thanks for taking time to write an article to share your writing work flow.
    7 cross platform text editors, Vim is in this list.
    What could possibly be more cross-platform than a browser? ICECoder runs inside a Chrome tab, providing a lot of the power of other editors on a ubiquitously available platform. http://icecorder.net

    pss. Yes FocusWriter keeps one Focused without distractions. I like vi, because I don’t have to reach for a mouse to move the cursor to a piece of text I need to modify.

  4. Buzz Buzzard said on May 6, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    An interesting read. I use LibreOffice Writer almost exclusively, it’s a great piece of software.

  5. xplorer said on May 6, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Yes. I use: AsciiDoc, the Asciidoctor ruby gem, Visual Studio Code + AsciiDoc extension + “Code Spell Checker” extension.

  6. mungo said on May 6, 2018 at 2:29 pm


    1. Zenoian said on October 8, 2018 at 2:16 am

      For me, who is a ‘hired gun’ of a writer, it all comes down to one simple thing = = FONT Size, and the inability to move the document around. Maybe I over looked a setting. But I went through ever help or settings menu is has, and it does not address font size I can find. Being so, I am looking for another similar program.

      1. JN said on August 24, 2019 at 7:09 pm

        One can change the font size, though it’s not obviou how. You need to get the theme menu up and customise a theme (perhaps after duplicating one of the existing themes). The theme customisation options include font type and font size.

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