As a writer who spend so much time on our computers working on books, novels, assignments, or any other type of project that requires using my skilled fingers, I always seek the best writing tool that can help us produce the best results.
Fortunately, there are countless writing apps that offer tons of helpful writing tools and features. But not all of these apps are free of charge, in fact, most apps that offer sophisticated, extra, features are paid apps that can break the bank.
This is where free writing tools come into play, providing acceptable, sometimes fantastic writing features that help you write high-quality projects without having to spend money. One of the most popular, free writing tools is FocusWriter, which has several helpful features that many writers download it for. Of course, FocusWriter is not flawless, so I'm not just covering the great features offered by FocusWriter, but also the drawbacks that might be a deal-breaker.
So, should you download FocusWriter? Find out the answer while reading our unbiased FocusWriter review!
- What FocusWriter Is
- The pros of FocusWriter
- The cons of FocusWriter
- Whether I think you should use it
Table of contents
There is actually another tool that I recommend more called Atticus. It's not just a great writing program built for authors, but it's also the best book formatting platform on the market. If you want to know why it's our favorite, check out our comparison of the best writing software on the market, of which FocusWriter ranks #10.
What Qualifies Me to Review FocusWriter?
This is an excellent question. The bottom line is that I've been in the publishing industry for well over 10 years, and I have a lot of experience working with various writing tools like FocusWriter, Scrivener, and a lot of others.
Plus, I've worked with hundreds of authors, many of them well known, and have a decent sense from what they've told me, and what others in my audience have mentioned in surveys, about what book writing tool they like the most.
So with that, let's take a closer look at FocusWriter.
Pros: Where FocusWriter Stands Out
FocusWriter flaunts many appealing features that make it stand out among other writing apps. Here’s what I like the most about FocusWriter:
1. It’s Completely Free!
Everyone likes free stuff, including writing tools! It’s always a plus when a writing app is free of charge since not everyone can afford getting a sophisticated, paid writing tool like Ulysses or Scrivener. So, all you need to do to use FocusWriter is to install it on your PC, and you’re all set!
Remember, free writing tools are free for a reason, you can’t expect them to offer the same tools and features that other paid apps do. FocusWriter (as I'm going to cover) has multiple appealing aspects that can make it a reliable writing tool, but I would make an unfair comparison if I compare it to other paid apps because it will never have the same features they do. So keep that in mind before making any judgment on the performance of FocusWriter.
2. Minimalistic UI
One of the first things that you notice when you open FocusWriter is its minimalistic, clean writing environment that is free of distractions. You can only see this clean, white page that doesn’t feature any buttons or tabs. Moreover, full-screen mode hides even the clock of your PC so you can deeply focus on your work. This software has a super customizable environment, as well as several capabilities that normally a standard writing tool offers, but with none of the distraction sources.
FocusWriter is an absolute winner when it comes to providing a relaxing writing environment that encourages creativity—this is a dream of all writers! Plus, if you’re the type of writer who doesn’t enjoy or feel awkward writing in an empty environment and want to add some fun, FocusWriter enables you to make the UI as attractive and fun as you like. You don’t have to write using the UI FocusWriter offers by default if you think it’s too simple for you.
So, FocusWriter can definitely be your computerized paper and pen—whenever you feel like taking notes, writing a project, or even writing down your own thoughts, this software will allow you to do this without distracting you with unnecessary tools, tabs, images, etc.
3. Helpful Writing Features
You’ll find almost all of the writing tools expected from a standard writing app at the top of your screen. But FocusWriter does not make them visible before hovering over it with your cursor. This is actually pretty smart from FocusWriter—you get to use all of the writing features you want without being visible until you need them to be, which gives you the clean writing environment you need to focus on your work. Additionally, all of the paragraphs and sentences you write can be grayed out.
Many writers prefer to know how many words they write, especially when they have a word count goal that they want to hit. FocusWriter enables you to keep track of your word count to ensure you always hit your daily goals in writing. Like the other feature, this feature is invisible because FocusWriter is trying to provide you with the most clean writing environment.
4. Cool Selection of Themes
FocusWriter has a nice selection of themes, ranging from Tranquility to Old School. And the best part is, the themes can be easily customized or created from scratch. The Old School theme is great for writers who like minimalistic designs, since it provides you with a super simple writing environment to help you focus on writing.
You can also add some colored pages and background images if you want, which can make your overall writing experience less boring. FocusWriter’s themes offer the majority of features to help you format your work, such as indentation, italic, bold, alignments, and headings. You can access them through shortcuts, which you can customize, or simply the menu bar.
Don’t like any of FocusWriter’s themes? No problem! You can always customize your entire environment and change your margins, fonts, text background color, line-spacing, among other things. Even better, FocusWriter allows you to use any image you want to make themes by yourself!
Cons: Where FocusWriter Falls Short
While FocusWriter has a lot to offer, it still falls short in a few aspects. Here’s what I don’t like about FocusWriter:
1. Flaws in the UI
The user interface has some flaws—FocusWriter assumes that some writers would like to write several headings using one size, which is normally not the case. After typing one heading line, your text doesn’t automatically reverse to normal.
While FocusWriter provides you with the basic feature to help you format your text, it still doesn’t offer other features like bullet points and numeric lists. It would be much more helpful if FocusWriter provide and support them, even if it’s possible for you to enter things manually.
The Final Verdict: Should You Download FocusWriter?
When compared to paid software, I do not recommend that you get FocusWriter when compared to the many other software out there. In particular, I recommend Atticus as not only the best writing software, but the best formatting software as well. Not only is it priced on a lifetime guarantee so you will never have to pay for updates, but it's available on virtually every platform.
That said, FocusWriter is hands-down a good free tool that can help you write books, novels, assignments, or simply write down some notes or thoughts. But I don’t suggest that you use this app to write large projects, instead, try to use it to write smaller projects like a short assignment or a short story.
When compared to Atticus, which enables you to store your work in a single spot and in the cloud, FocusWriter seems to offer you the minimum features to help you work on short projects. But again, I would be making an unfair comparison since Atticus is a paid software, while FocusWriter is not.
For writers who like to work in a peaceful environment, FocusWriter does a great job at eliminating distractions—it gives you a clean, white page to do your work and hides any writing tools that may be distracting to you. It also offers great themes like Old School that helps you focus even more on your work. But for those who like their writing environment to be more fun, you can customize basically everything in FocusWriting and build your own, perfect UI. And the best part is, you can enjoy all of these wonderful features offered by FocusWriter for free!
Overall, FocusWriter is a super simple writing tool that can be helpful when writing short projects, but I think it’s not the best tool you can use. However, since FocusWriter costs you $0, it might be a good idea to download and try it to see if it meets your expectations. So, FocusWriter doesn’t give you many reasons to download it, unfortunately.