Quabel – An Online, Distraction-Free Writing App

Justin Pot 22-09-2012

online writing appTry a simpler way to write. Quabel is an online text editor that stays out of your way and lets you focus.


The number of simple text-only, full-screen text editors that let you write without being distracted is kind of staggering, and all too often nothing sets these programs apart from one another. So what makes Quabel different?

It’s web-based, for one, and automatically backs up your work as you write. It lets you set goals based on wordcount or the time it would take to read out loud, and shows you a simple progress bar as you go. It color-codes any HTML you type, helping you avoid errors. And it lets you export your work to multiple file formats.

Writing, Simply

Head to Quabel and create a document. You’ll need to sign in to save, but you can use the site without doing so. Once you create a document you won’t see much other than a space for writing:

online writing app

Simplicity is the idea. If you have an account your work will automatically be saved as you go, meaning you won’t lose data.


There’s a toolbar up top, which you can use to access the settings, and a wordcount below that also calculates the time it would take to read your document:

online writing application

This is great if you’re writing a speech or need another way to think about the length of your article. You can adjust the math used to calculate this; more on that below.

Set your browser to fullscreen and you can quickly get to work. If you prefer white text on a black backdrop (I do), turn on night-time mode. This is much easier on the eyes, for me.


online writing application

As I said before: there is no formatting. There is, however, code highlighting for HTML:

online writing application

If you write for the Internet, and a freak like me, you might use HTML as you write to save time later. Code highlighting helps you avoid mistakes by showing you which tags are and aren’t closed properly.


Confused? You’ll see a tour when you first open the site; it will quickly show you where everything is.

Settings & Goals

You can tweak Quabel a little. Click the gear in the top toolbar and you’ll see your options:

free online writing application

There are two distinct document styles; choose the one you like best. This is entirely about personal preference. That window also allows you to tweak the math behind the reading and speaking time statistics in the wordcount toolbar.


You can also set your goals for a particular document:

free online writing application

A bar at the top will show you how close you are to reaching your desired goal, so set this as accurately as you can.

Exporting Your File

Do you want to use your file elsewhere? Just click the export option. You can choose between four formats: PDF, DOCx, ODF and plain text.

free online writing application

Emailing to yourself and printing are also an option.

Alternatively you can publish your document to the web. You’ll get a link for sharing with others, and any HTML you used while writing will format correctly.

online writing app

You could use this preview function to test code as you’re writing, if you write with code (am I the only one who does that? Let me know in the comments).


Of course, there are some limitations. formatting is basically non-existant – this tool is entirely for writing. And while the basic version of Quabel will always be free you need the full version to save more than 5 documents at a time. As of this writing the full version costs $2 a month.

Similar Tools

Focuswriter is kind of like this, only for the desktop FocusWriter - Minimalist, Distraction-Free & Beautiful Text Editor Read More . It runs on Linux, Mac and Windows alike. Alternatively you can check out this list of distraction-free text editors Write In Peace With These Distraction-Free Editors I have felt it. Visual clutter – thanks to menus and other markup features – have often cemented my writer’s block. So, I have tried out quite a few distraction-free text editors in a grand... Read More , which includes links to Windows, Mac and Linux clients.


Quabel is a great way to write, especially if you find full-featured word processors to be mostly distracting. I do.

But I want to know what you think. Would you consider using an online minimalist text editor? If not, is that because of the lack of features or a general dislike of web applications? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Related topics: Text Editor, Writing Tips.

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  1. Renerio
    December 22, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Quabel has been discontinued as of this posting (although you can still login). It's a sad day.

    • Justin Pot
      December 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      That is sad, this was a nice app. :(

  2. DR
    February 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    There are plenty apps, that are even more minimalist that that. There is dType and Write for Android for example.

    • Justin Pot
      February 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      I'm pretty new to Android, so I really appreciate the recommendations. Do you know of anything more minimalist than this which are web-based?

  3. Maxi3w
    February 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I like the idea of Quabel, but not knowing any html and the lack of font choices does put me off. The feature that tracks the time for a presentation I can see would appeal to many that have to do a lot of those. But, for me, it would need more customization for my purposes. Yet if I am at a point in my life where presentations are a must, then I would use it.

  4. Curtis C.
    September 24, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Nice found!

  5. JeffEdFish
    September 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I would consider using a minimalist editor but for the lack of features. I would consider using minimalist editor to which one could add required elements that suited me - ie highlighted text, font size, word count, etc.

    • Justin Pot
      September 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      A sort of Firefox of editors, where you can find plugins to add features you want. Not a bad idea, but so far as I know there's nothing like that out there. Let me know if you find it.

  6. Vishal Mishra
    September 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Yes quabel is really nice, there are minimal distractions and night mode is really good i needed that sort of feature.

  7. josemon maliakal
    September 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Wow..thats nice one

  8. bonioloff
    September 24, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Great web-based app, but Does it have client app for device like iPhone?

    • Justin Pot
      September 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      Not yet. Might be part of their plan, though; maybe they'll show up and let us know.

      • Aaron
        November 19, 2012 at 9:26 pm

        Sorry for the slow response. I'm one of the creators of Quabel. Right now we have not decided whether to release versions for iPhone and/or Android because we are not sure if people want to use their smartphones for text processing. However, the iPad is on our agenda! Cheers!

        • Justin Pot
          November 19, 2012 at 10:21 pm

          Thanks for showing up and filling us in!

  9. Joel Lee
    September 24, 2012 at 3:04 am

    If Quabel had a session-based word count tracker that could be manually reset, I would totally use it. So far, WriteMonkey is the only distraction-free tool that I've found that sports that feature (other than Scrivener, which isn't free).

    • Justin Pot
      September 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      I'm pretty sure FocusWriter's word count is session-based, Joel. Have you tried it?

      • Joel Lee
        September 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm

        I recently tried the latest beta version of FocusWriter and really liked it, but I couldn't find a resetable word counter. The closest thing I found was a daily goal count that automatically reset itself once a day. Did I miss something? It'd be a great surprise if it had one!

  10. HLJonnalagadda
    September 23, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Cool! I was using ommwriter for Windows. Thanks for suggesting an online alternative as well. BTW, ommwriter is awesome.

    • Justin Pot
      September 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      I should probably check out ommwriter. For some reason I thought it was Mac only.

      Having online alternatives to your favorites is good when you're without your computer for whatever reason, so I like to offer alternatives.