How to Use Focuswriter
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How to Use Focuswriter

A quick guide to using Focuswriter.Focuswriter is a full-screen writing software. Similar to the Mac software Scrivener and the Windows program Q10, Focuswriter does not allow you to add fancy graphics, format your text nor add attachments and the like to your file.

Focuswriter is a full-screen writing software. Similar to the Mac software Scrivener and the Windows program Q10, Focuswriter does not allow you to add fancy graphics, format your text nor add attachments and the like to your file. All it does is give you a blank screen that blocks out all other screens you may have open on your desktop, forcing you to focus on your writing.

Focuswriter is created by Graeme Gott, who has made Focuswriter available for free on three main platforms: Linux, Windows and Mac here. The following instructions are for Linux, but it should also be applicable both Windows and Mac. To install Focuswriter, just visit the linked website and follow the installation instructions for your platform.


To create a new document, simply double click on the Focuswriter icon on your computer to launch it after installing. Once you’ve done that, you should see a black screen with a blinking cursor. Don’t worry if you don’t see any menus right away; Focuswriter is designed not to show any menus so that you can get to writing straight away.

Once you’ve confirmed that the program is up and running, it’s time to use Focuswriter. To create a new document, you can just press CTRL + N on your keyboard. Otherwise, you can move your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, where the basic menu will appear.

In this screen, you can save, edit and set your preferences. To change a theme, click on Settings > Themes. In this window you can create personalized themes and windows, so if you're the kind who writes back with an image in the background, you can set that in the Background. You can also change the font used for your themes in this section under Text.

One of the features of Focuswriter is an option to set daily goals. This helps writers to be more disciplined in keeping to their writing schedules. To set a writing goal, mouseover to the top, then click Settings > Preferences > General tab. Then choose your desired goals.

For Nanowrimo participants, Focuswriter also has an timer function that lets them keep track of word wars and how much they've written. To access this function, mouseover to the top, then click on Tools > Timers. Once in the Timer menu, you can choose to set the alarm to either Set Delay or Set Time. Set Delay lets you write for a certain amount of time. Set Time presumably lets you know when you've reached the time set. Once it's completed, you'll see a pop up at the bottom right of your screen. Clicking on the little arrow button next to the time brings up a quick statistic of the amount of characters and words written in the time you've set.

For information on how much you've written in the file, just mouseover to the bottom this time. You'll see a panel with your file's statistics, such as words written, pages, paragraphs and characters written. You'll also see the time on the lower right; if you want to set your timer without going through the menu, clicking on the time in the lower panel does the same job.

One of the biggest advantages Focuswriter has over Q10 and Pyroom (a Q10-like clone in Ubuntu Linux) is that you can switch between multiple files easily. At the bottom of the lower panel is a tab with the names of the files that are currently opened in Focuswriter, enabling you to switch between different files without having to leave the window.

To leave Focuswriter, the easiest way is to press CTRL + Q and the program will automatically exit. Before doing so, ensure that all your files have been saved by pressing CTRL + S (as a shortcut). If your file name in the lower tab has a * next to it, that means the file has not been saved, but Focuswriter has an auto-save function that saves your files after a minute or so.

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Comments (7)

This article got me hooked on Focuswriter - I'm actually downloading it as I'm typing this comment. Thanks fro the heads up!

Great info. I don't know about this yet but I will try to see how it can help me with my writing. Thanks. vote up

Ranked #25 in Software

Felicia: Thank you! Rodge: I hope you had as much fun as I did with Focuswriter. I forgot to mention in the article that it allows you to save in two formats: Rich Text (*.rtf) and Text (*.txt), so you do have some options to format your text, but I didn't use it when writing the guide, so I'm not sure good it is.


I have downloaded FocusWriter and like it very much so far. One thing I wish it had but which I can't see is a Zoom function - the text as it stands can be a bit small on a small screen. Bean, which I have been using for a while, has a useful zoom slider at the foot of the page.

Ranked #25 in Software

Hi Chris! I think you should be able to change the font size in Settings > Themes > Modify *if you already have a theme* > Text > Select font size. That's the list of numbers next to your chosen font. Let me know if that doesn't work.

Fernando M. Sassone

You can change font size and its color, but only in the hole document, from the Theme menu. But as I know, you cant change color or size font for a certain word in your document. This is a big limitation. I really don´t understand... one thing is minimalism, but another is nonsense.

Focus writer didn't work for me. No way to increase the font size (theme doens't allow to text as instructed. In my version the word text won't come from the drop down menu). Words are cut and the title suddenly appeared on the middle of the page without me contacting the mouse. That would be a disaster for a writer but a big disaster would be scrivener which can destroy all your data as it has destroyed my files. So, I'm still looking for a software better than Word (which I have)