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10 apps for distraction-free, productive writing

A brief look at ten of the best distraction-free programs for writers and non-writers alike to help with productive writing.

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Using technology for more productive writing sessions

If you are a writer or even just responsible for blogging on your company website, chances are that you use your computer. The downside to using a computer? Constant distractions. From blinking icons, to Facebook notifications, and everything in between, it can be hard to focus on the task at hand. Luckily, there are several distraction-free writing programs that can prove to be useful tools for the writing process.

Some of the most useful tools the programs provide are the ability to keep track of how much you are writing. This enables you to weigh how much time you are spending writing against how much you are actually getting done and in turn, increase your productivity. It can also help you achieve your writing goals.

If you set a goal to get a certain amount of pages done in a week, the tools in these programs will help you get there by alerting you to how many pages you have done and how many you have left to go. This should give you the motivation to continue writing towards your goals. Here are ten of the most effective (in this writer’s opinion) distraction-free programs for writers:

1. WriteApp

WriteApp boasts both a mobile app and a web app. The mobile app is currently available for iOS and Android. They offer both free and premium versions. You can write in fullscreen, distraction-free mode with theming, Markdown and live previews. You have the option to keep things completely private or share. You can even send a text message to the app and they will save it for you. Not bad for a free service.

2. FocusWriter

FocusWriter is a free tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux, that offers a writer a full-screen, distraction-free writing environment. The tools are hidden at the top of the screen, so that if you need them, you can easily access them, but if you prefer to just write without any fancy add-ons you can do that as well.

FocusWriter supports customization in the form of background images, fonts, and other tools. There is also a daily goal tracker which will keep track of the amount of time you spend writing as fell as spell-checking and how much you write. This is especially helpful if you are freelancing and want to keep track of how much writing you are producing in one day, without the distraction of actually stopping to count each piece.

3. WriteMonkey

WriteMonkey is a free program for Windows users that is so distraction-free you can write an entire document without ever using your mouse. Every function and command, should you need them, can be accessed with a keyboard command. This program also supports Markup language for easy formatting. It also has a great feature for editing called “Segment Focus,” which allows you to focus on just the portion you are working with; enabling quick and easy edits, tweaks, and writing.

4. Ommwriter

Ommwriter started out as a Mac-only program, but is now available on iPad and Windows. It is free, but there is a premium version available (the only visible difference being that the premium version has more background and audio options). It is the pinnacle of what I think of as a zen-like environment. It has the option to use many different minimalist backgrounds and soothing music while you write. You can customize the size of your writing area, as well as, font and color.

Also, with Ommwriter, you can save your file as a .txt or .pdf. All of these options are tiny bubbles near the top of the page. I do not find them to be distracting, because they disappear when you are not hovering on them, but some people may prefer an absolute minimalist environment.

5. Yarny

Yarny is my personal favorite and another free service. There is a place to put ideas; things that you have not yet fully developed in to a story. Things like people, places, things, dreams, random thoughts, whatever you want; you can store them in a separate place so they are readily accessible when you begin writing.

You can tag your own writing and use the search bar on the side to filter what you have saved. In snippet view, you can reorder, group, or arrange your writing to fit your needs. And when you are ready to go distraction-free, there is a fullscreen option to allow you to focus on your writing. Yarny works with Linux, Mac (Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, and Lion), Windows (XP, Vista, 7, and 8).

6. WriteRoom

WriteRoom is just for Mac/iPad/iPhone users. It was created as an alternative to Microsoft Word. The reviews for this are really good, but I do not like the black ground with green print, but this is my personal preference and other people love it. And since the app is $4.99, you will definitely want to check out the screenshots and reviews to make sure it is something you think you will like before you purchase. However, it does have a lot of nice features.

It is a fullscreen writing environment so that you can get the distractions out of the way and just write. WriteRoom does not have all the functionality of Word, but it does offer a quick and easy way to get your writing on the page. It offers a word count feature and auto-save. You can also sync it with Dropbox, which is nice if you write on-the-go from your iPad and want to continue on your Mac when you get home.

7. WordPress.com

WordPress yes, you read that right. You can write distraction-free from WordPress. To enable this, click on the “Toggle Fullscreen” button in the toolbar (that’s the second button from the right, in the first row, or you can use the keyboard shortcut Alt+Shift+G). When you turn this feature on, you will see a minimalist version of the toolbar, your title and the post’s content. You can still use your features, but without the distractions. Once you start writing though, the toolbar and everything else will fade away, leaving nothing but your words. You can easily get your toolbar back to check word count by simply moving the mouse around. Very cool and very free.

8. PenZen

PenZen is about as simplistic as they come. Once you click the link, you are taken to a blank web page. You simply click in the web page and begin typing. To fully enjoy the distraction-free feeling though, you will have to maximize your web page and minimize anything else (like toolbars). When you are done typing you can save to a .pdf file or download your writing. The only down side of this is that there are no features, but in a pinch, you can get your thoughts down and save them.

9. QuietWrite

QuietWrite is another app for windows that is simplistic, but effective. It is full screen, but minimalistic. It has an auto-save feature and word count, but there are not many options for customization. You just have to take it as it is.

10. Q10

Q10 is the Windows likeness of OmmWriter (before Omm adapted for Windows). You can enjoy the fullscreen and a multitude of features (just like OmmWriter) along with timed writing sessions and built-in spellcheck. When you open Q10, all you see is a black screen with a goldish-yellow type of text. But you can customize the view according to your personal liking. And there is a writing timer as well.

Nothing beats the easy of having a distraction-free environment readily available when the urge to write strikes and now you have ten great options to choose from and enjoy.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Charity Kountz

    June 16, 2013 at 10:46 am

    This is fantastic! I love the tip about WordPress, had never thought of doing that. I will definitely be trying some of these! Great post Jennifer!

  2. Darry Ross

    August 5, 2013 at 3:53 am

    On Android I would recommend dType — this is a very minimalist distraction-free writing app.

  3. Pingback: Toolkit Tuesday: Content Creation Tips and Tools for Busy Marketers • Belle Communications

  4. Pingback: 5 Tips To Blog Quicker In WordPress

  5. Jenifer

    October 16, 2015 at 5:24 am

    I know this is an old article, but with NaNoWriMo on the horizon I thought I’ve put in a word for Creawriter, which requires only a small donation to unlock full functionality and is very great for distraction free writing. 🙂

  6. Tim

    December 7, 2015 at 9:09 am

    thanks for sharing

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Social Media

New Reddit policy on impersonation mimics other social media giants

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Reddit is the latest social media company to change their policy to protect against deepfake impersonation, because of the harm they can cause.

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impersonation with deepfakes

Reddit is the latest social media company making updates to their rules and policies ahead of the 2020 election. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and now Reddit are all trying to make the social internet a safer place to receive information.

Reddit’s new policy officially bans impersonation with the goal of handling “bad actors who are trying to manipulate Reddit, particularly are issues of great public significance, like elections.”

Deepfakes have become a key topic of conversation the last few years. In the wake of the mass spreading of misinformation during the 2016 presidential election, users have grown wearier than ever of the information they see online. Deepfakes are no longer a niche subject, but an everyday pain point that technology companies are scrambling to control.

In a statement made on r/redditsecurity, Reddit informed users of the change to website policy stating, “Reddit does not allow content that impersonates individuals or entities in a misleading or deceptive manner. This not only includes using a Reddit account to impersonate someone, but also encompasses things such as domains that mimic others, as well as deepfakes or other manipulated content presented to mislead, or falsely attributed to an individual or entity.”

The platform isn’t trying to make a mass change to it’s often humor driven culture. Parody and satire are still allowed forms of impersonation so long as the joke is obvious. Reddit has vowed to always take context into account when looking at cases of user impersonation.

It’s a good sign for society when popular social platforms start taking their role in controlling the spread of false information seriously. Companies like Reddit are in a position to create real change in the way we spread and consume information about major global events.

What’s unclear is how much man power these companies are putting behind their policies. Reddit ends their statement by pointing users to a report form that users can submit if they or someone else is the victim of impersonation. The question users should be asking is how long would it take to get a response or see action on these reports?

Policy changes are great, but if companies are simply throwing them onto their fine print with no resources behind enforcement then it’s not social change, it’s just legal jargon to protect their ass.

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Social Media

Image size is a vital factor into usability of your brand

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Keep all of your social media profiles and products looking their best with the social media image size cheat sheet for 2020.

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image size matters

We can safely say that the one thing social media will assuredly do in 2020 is only get more powerful. As such, it’s important to keep up with the sizing information for social media images to keep all of your profiles looking fresh. Make A Website Hub has the official rundown in their annual Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet.
Twitter:
• Profile Photo: 400 x 400 pixels / Displays at 200 x 200 pixels (a maximum 100 KB file size)
• Header Photo: 1500 x 500 pixels (a maximum 10 MB file size)
• In-stream Photo: 440 x 220 pixels (a maximum 5 MB file size for photos and 3 MB file size for animated gifs)

Facebook:
• Cover Photo: 820 x 310 pixels (a preferred maximum file size of 100 KB)
• Profile Picture: 180 x 180 pixels
• Shared Image: 1200 x 630 pixels
• Shared Link: 1200 x 627
• Event Image: 1920 x 1080 px (Shows in feed: 470 × 174 pixels)
• Highlighted Image: 1200 x 717 pixels (appears on profile at 843 x 504 pixels)

Google+:
• Profile Image: 250 x 250 pixels
• Cover Picture: 1080 x 608 pixels
• Shared Image: 497 x 373 pixels

Instagram:
• Profile Picture: 110 x 110 pixels
• Photo Size: 1080 x 1080 pixels
• Video to Stories: 750 x 1334 pixels
• Photo Thumbnails: 161 x 161 pixels

Pinterest:
• Profile Picture: 165 x 165 pixels
• Board Display Image: 222 x 150 pixels
• Pin Sizes: a width of 238 pixels (with scaled height)

Tumblr:
• Profile Image: 128 x 128 pixels
• Image Posts: 500 x 750 pixels

YouTube:
• Channel Cover Picture: 2560 x 1440 pixels (for desktop), 1855 x 423 pixels (for tablets), 1546 x 423 pixels (for smartphones), and 2560 x 1440 pixels (for TV)
• Video Uploads: 1280 x 760 pixels

LinkedIn:
• Personal Page
o Personal Background image: 1584 x 396px
o Standard Logo: 400 x 400 pixels
o Profile image: 400 x 400 pixels
• Company/Brand Page
o Background image: 1536 x 768px
o Standard Logo: 400 x 400px
o Business / Career Cover Picture: 974 x 330 pixels
o Square Logo: 60 x 60px
o Business Banner Image: 646 x 220 pixels
o Standard Logo: 400 x 400px

Ello:
• Banner image: 2560 x 1440 pixels
• Profile image:360 x 360 pixels

WeChat:
• Profile Photo: 200 x 200 pixels
• Article Preview Header: 900 x 500 pixels
• Article Preview Thumbnail Image: 400 x 400 pixels (Displays at 200 x 200 pixels)
• Article Inline Image: 400 px x Any size px

Weibo:
• Cover Image: 920 x 300 px
• Profile Pictures: 200 x 200px (Displays at 100 x 100 px)
• Banner: 560 x 260 px
• Instream: 120 x 120 px
• Contest Preview: 640 x 640 px

Snapchat:
• Geofilter: 1080 x 1920

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Social Media

Facebook wants to show how “inclusive” it is with new logo

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook has a new logo, but you won’t see any change on the mobile app. The social network giant wants to expand to be more inclusive with this logo

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social network facebook typeface

Facebook has a new logo, but you won’t see any change on the mobile app. It’s easy to think of Facebook as just the social network where you avoid (or start) political debates with friends and family, but that’s just a piece of the picture. The new logo reflects Facebook’s ongoing expansion as a company beyond their original social network.

Facebook’s roots as a social networking company are undeniable. People have been using the platform to connect with family and friends across the globe since 2004. For many of us, Facebook is part of our everyday lives. It’s how we chat with friends across the globe, meet our partners, join communities, and sometimes it’s even part of our work life.

We have seen Facebook take on some big new projects this year including the announcement of Facebook Horizon, a social virtual reality world expected to launch in 2020. Facebook’s identity as a company now expands far beyond the Facebook app.

Facebook is the parent company of 74 companies including some equally popular and well-known apps such as Instagram and Whatsapp. The company operates out of 60 offices world-wide and employs over 43,000 people.

The new logo is part of an effort to create a clearer distinction between Facebook the parent company and Facebook the social network.

According to Facebook, “The new company branding is designed to help us better represent the diversity of products we build, establish a distinction from the Facebook app and communicate our purpose in the world.”

Facebook wordmark gif

The main design differences between the two logos are the font and the color. The corporate logo is designed in all caps using a font designed in-house. The type is san serif and open with consistent letter width throughout.

Unlike the true shade of blue that we all associate with the social network’s logo, the color of the new corporate logo will be fluid. The color will change depending on the environment such as the product it’s promoting. The corporate logo can be depicted as either solid colors or a gradient.
Facebook has been more than just a social network for a long time, now their logo can help them reflect that.

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