FocusWriter An App For Distraction-Free Writing


Table of Contents

FocusWriter is a distraction-free word processor program that hides all the interfaces: menu bar, toolbar, status bar, etc and starts in fullscreen mode to enable the user fully immersed in their work. The program’s primary feature is to focus only on user’s writing productivity and not provide another full-fledged word processor like LibreOffice Writer or Calligra Word Processor.

Installing FocusWriter

Launch Ubuntu Software and type in “FocusWriter”. Click the application name to load its page and then select Install.

Getting to Work

​Once the application is installed, you can launch FocusWriter from the All Apps Overview. The program will be launched in fullscreen mode by default.​There’ll be four types of focus mode (to assist you visually) when you start typing

​Off Ctrl + Shift + `
One line Ctrl + Shift + 1
Three lines Ctrl + Shift + 2
Paragraph Ctrl + Shift + 3
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By default, the program sets the focus mode to Off so you’d have to manually enable one depending on your type of work by using the keyboard shortcuts listed above.

If you find those keyboard shortcuts hard to remember, there is an alternative too. Hover your mouse on the top to expose the menu bar. Go to the Settings menu and hover over the Focused Text option then choose one from the list.

Saving your work

After you’re done with your work, you need to save it so you can resume it with them later. To save your work, press Ctrl + S. The file format for FocusWriter includes:

  • Plain Text
  • Open Document Format
  • Office Open XML
  • Rich Text Format

Saving to Plain Text is not recommended if you’ve formatted your document with some headings or customized some fonts with bold/italic. Instead, let FocusWriter save it to Open Document Format (which is the default file format) to preserve the formatting.

Getting familiar with the Interface

When you launch FocusWriter, the interface elements are hidden by default so users get to fully immerse themselves in their work. The elements are exposed by hovering the mouse over the area around the corners:

  • The top holds the Menu bar and the Toolbar
  • The bottom holds the Tab bar and Status bar
  • The left corner holds the document session
  • The right corner holds the Scrollbar


Themes are the best way to set the mood for the type of work, and there are some additional themes other than the “Writing Desk” theme which is loaded by default on FocusWriter’s first launch. To set another theme, select Settings menu from the menu bar and click on Themes option to open the theme dialog box. Then choose one of the themes for your current session.

Create a new theme

On the theme dialog box, click New button on the right. And on the next window that follows, set your new theme title, text colors, font face and size, window backgrounds (either color or image), borders, line spacing, etc. Once you’re done setting the new theme, it’ll be listed on the “Custom” tab and can further be edited in the future.

​Below is a theme I created for note-taking session with large font and custom backgrounds.

focus writer note taking session

Duplicate theme

This is the case when you really like the default theme but finds the need to make some slight changes. For instance, you’d like to customize the default theme fonts without affecting its backgrounds or vice versa.​On the theme dialog box, select your theme from the list and click Duplicate button on the right. You can now customize the theme like you’d do when creating a new one.

Managing Sessions

The current session when FocusWriter launches up is the “Default” session. You can create a new session by pressing Ctrl + Shift + N. Having multiple sessions allow you to organize your work concurrently i.e., you can write a book on one session while working on another session, an article for your blog. However, the program allows you to only focus on one work at a time, thus, to switch between multiple sessions, press Ctrl + Shift + M and choose your appropriate session from the dialog box.

focuswriter manage sessions

Writing goals

​This feature is useful if you are seriously considering writing as your profession. However, setting the writing goal is not necessary for some cases like the one above (note-taking session).​​To customize your writing goal, go to Settings menu, select Preferences and click on the Daily goal tab bar. Once you’re done setting it up, your new current goal will be displayed on the status bar.

Daily streaks

This is another useful feature that goes hand in hand with Writing goals. Daily streaks allow you to view how much you’ve been productive with your writing skills over a period of a month. A calendar-like interface, it displays your longest streak and current streak and starred date for accomplishing your writing goals. This is one way to keep yourself motivated with your work-in-progress that needs finishing or clearing it from the pending list.

focuswriter daily streaks


Timers helps you to improve your writing skill by getting yourself to think and type consistently without pausing a lot. However, achieving such a goal is quite impossible if you don’t know how to touch type in the first place.​When the timer runs out, a small pop up window will be displayed on the bottom right corner. It briefly summarizes how many Words, Pages, Paragraphs, and Characters you keyed in during the specified duration.

focuswriter notifications

To set the timer, go to Tools from the menu bar and select Timers option.

Additional features

FocusWriter also remembers your recent session and launches it for you automatically so you can continue your work right away. This saves more time and along with that, adding the ability to autosave file changes is much more beneficial too. To enable Auto-saving features, go to Settings menu and select Preferences option. Scroll down and under Saving category, tick Automatically save changes.


FocusWriter is a recommended program for writers (books, blogs, novels, etc) and students practicing essay composition. The program is helpful for setting your mood to your writing context through themes and will boost your writing skills at the same time too.