How to Turn Microsoft Word Into a Distraction-Free Writer on Mac

Saikat Basu 04-09-2017

The sheer number of distraction-free writing tools Four Distraction-Free Writing Environments For Mac Compared [Video] If you want to increase your writing productivity on your Mac, one sure fire way to do so is to use full-screen mode in a distraction-free text editor program. Read More tells you one thing: our attention spans need help. Maybe technology is breeding a generation of workers with massive attention deficits. Then again, maybe technology is helping with that too.


Take Microsoft Office’s Focus Mode for example, which was recently added to Word 2016 for Mac. It’s currently unavailable in Windows versions of Office, but perhaps we’ll see it in the near future.

If you haven’t tried Focus Mode yet, here are two ways to launch it right now:

  1. Go to View > Focus Mode.
  2. Click the Focus Mode icon on the status bar.

As you can see, the effect is immediate. The plain white document layout is displayed on a focus-inducing black background.

Focus Mode in Mac 2016

The Ribbon and even the macOS interface (the Dock) is hidden from view. You can choose to keep the ruler or hide it from the View tab on the Ribbon.

  • Display the Ribbon. You can bring the Ribbon back into view whenever you want to by taking your mouse to the top of the screen.
  • Change the background. You can give the background different colors in Focus Mode.
  • Choose Background and select any one of the background choices from the drop down. Try the more soothing options of Twilight and Polar Night that are easy on the eyes when you work at night. Do note that backgrounds can be applied to your document only in Print Layout view.

Want to exit Focus Mode? Just press Esc or toggle the Focus Mode button on the Ribbon.

Does Focus Mode Help?

Yes, every little bit does. You can customize the Word 2016 view by unpinning and sliding the Ribbon from view. But there is a scientific basis for working on a dark background. The uncluttered interface does approximate the old feel of writing on nothing but a plain sheet.

Do you think that Focus Mode is a nice touch? Or would you use an alternative distraction-free editor instead of Microsoft Word?

Related topics: Microsoft Office 2016, Microsoft Office Tips, Microsoft Word.

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  1. James Hitch
    September 4, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Is not in my version of Office for Mac. Version 15.37 (170815)

    • Saikat Basu
      September 5, 2017 at 7:59 am

      Oh, you might not be an Office 365 subscriber. Come to think of it, I should add it in the above post. My bad.