Four Distraction-Free Writing Environments For Mac Compared [Video]

Bakari Chavanu 06-08-2014

If you want to increase your writing productivity From Idea to Final Draft: How to Increase Your Writing Productivity You don't have to be Stephen King to be a productive writer. Using the right applications and writing tips, you can get more writing done with less frustration, and finish what you start. Read More on your Mac, one sure fire way to do so is to use full-screen mode in a distraction-free text editor program.


Open webpages, scattered Finder windows and the bells and whistles found in many applications can distract us from getting writing done. The following short video compares four Mac writing applications that include useful features for writing in full-screen, or what is known as “composition-only” mode.

Not only is entering full-screen quicker than having to close all other distractions, it’s also an excellent feature for helping you focus on writing.

Focus On Writing

The video above covers four applications, each previously reviewed in MakeUseOf. They include the popular text editor and project management application Scrivener Your Guide To Scrivener Read More , the Markdown-supported writing environment Ulysses 3.0 Ulysses III: A Clean Stylish Text Editor for Writing and Managing Documents When it comes to writing on a Mac you're no longer limited to Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. Programs like Ulysses III make writing more manageable, providing only the most essential tools you need. Read More , Apple’s word processor, Pages Pages 5.0 for Mac Includes Smart Inspector Panel, But Less Features There are plenty of lightweight and easy-to-use text editors for Mac users, but for projects requiring desktop publishing features, Apple's recently overhauled Pages is still a good solution. Read More , and the minimalist text editor Byword How to Get a Distraction-Free Computer in 10 Easy Steps Your attention is consumed by distractions. Remove them to increase your focus and productivity. We show you the most common computer-related time suckers and how to disable or block them. Read More . I have compared each of their full-screen, distraction-free modes in action to give you an idea which one fits in with your writing workflow.

Each of these programs has its unique features, but only Scrivener and Byword allow you to open and view other applications while in full-screen mode. Pages and Ulysses on the other hand open full-screen mode in a separate Spaces desktop, and as a result don’t allow other applications to share that space. These applications don’t prohibit the viewing of other programs on a second screen, should you have one.

Let us know what you think of these applications, how you use full-screen mode, and what other features in this area would be helpful to you as a writer.


Do you use distraction-free full-screen writing techniques? How else do you get work done?

Download: Scrivener ($45.00), Ulysses 3 ($44.99), Pages ($19.99), Byword ($9.99).

Image Credits: Via Flickr

Related topics: Blogging, Writing Tips.

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  1. Bud
    August 28, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Have been using the 'BEAN' app and has NO 'bells and whistles, very basic, yet functional on my Mac.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      August 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      Bud, I’ve heard of BEAN, but have never tried it. Thanks for pointing it out.

  2. OGenius
    August 28, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Excellent choices of apps @Bakari, but I would also add Write ( which has an amazing UI with features such as keyboard swipe selection, Markdown preview, exporting in PDF format, email as HTML, send as SMS and so much more. You should take a look at the Mac, iPhones and iPads versions. We also covered it for the French community of Mac users.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      September 1, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      OGenius, thanks for your feedback. I don't think I’ve had a chance to check out the Writeapp, so thanks for letting us know about it.

  3. michel
    August 6, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I'm curious: why did you leave out Word?

    • Bakari Chavanu
      August 7, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      I didn't intentionally leave out Word. I rarely use Word for writing purposes, and thus totally overlooked it. I use Word only when clients and other users need me to edit and send documents using the app. Now you have me curious about Word's composer-only feature. I'll check it out.

  4. Daniel Smith (@theGoalSmith)
    August 6, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    I also quite like the Hemingway app $5 on Mac or win, nor as full featured but has markdown support, distraction free writing mode and helps a little with making your content more readable.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      August 7, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      Daniel, thanks for the feedback. I'll look into Hemingway.