FocusWriter Review – Can It Boost Your Productivity?

P.J McNulty
April 12, 2023 | 7 mins

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When it comes to choosing the best software solution for your writing projects, technology can either be a help or a hindrance. Sure, the beauty of writing is it doesn’t require any specialist tools to do great work. A simple notepad and pen or the most basic word-processing app are capable of getting the job done. But there’s no denying that better and worse choices exist. Sometimes, you’ll want a powerhouse tool with all the bells and whistles. Other times, a minimalist, simple tool will do. A tool like FocusWriter.

FocusWriter is a free solution for those of us who want to hit our word count targets in a simple, distraction-free environment. It doesn’t claim to be able to do everything a writer could ever dream of. Instead, it focuses on providing a clean, customizable place to get your work done without any unwanted distractions. Let’s delve deeper into this FocusWriter review to explore exactly what the software has to offer and if it’s the right option for you. 

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This review of FocusWriter covers:

  1. What is FocusWriter?
  2. Which devices does FocusWriter work with?
  3. What are the key features of FocusWriter?
  4. FocusWriter Pros and Cons
  5. Is FocusWriter right for you?
  6. How much does FocusWriter cost?
  7. Alternatives to FocusWriter
  8. FocusWriter Review – final verdict

Let’s start with an overview of the key capabilities of FocusWriter.

What is FocusWriter?

If you’re like most writers, you probably work in either Google Docs for the convenience of having all your writing in the cloud, MS Word because it’s a default option for a lot of PC Users, or perhaps Scrivener if you’re bought into the idea of having a powerhouse writing app that does it all.

While there are advantages to all of these options, they also come with their fair share of drawbacks. For example, working in Google Docs might be convenient but if you use it in your web browser then a new tab and rabbit hole of distraction is just a click away. Similarly, while it’s great that you can plan and operate your self-publishing master plan in its entirety with Scrivener, it might be a little overwhelming at times.  

FocusWriter offers another way. It’s a downloadable writing app that allows you to work in a distraction-free environment. It is fairly basic in its functionality but still packs in features you’re sure to love, such as productivity targets and timers. It also offers a fully customizable interface, allowing you to choose the user interface most conducive to your productivity. We’ll break down the functionality of FocusWriter in more depth a little later on.

For now, just be aware that FocusWriter offers a distraction-free, customizable writing environment allowing you to hit your targets and do your best deep writing work. 

If you like the sound of FocusWriter, let’s make sure it's compatible with your device and operating system before going any further.

Which devices does FocusWriter work with?

At this time, the latest version of FocusWriter is compatible with Windows or various forms of Linux. It also offers its source code so if you’re technically minded you can alter it to your specifications.

The major drawback for a lot of writers is the lack of compatibility with macOS. However, if you have a Mac and want to use FocusWriter, you have options. Many people choose to run both Windows and macOS via their Mac hardware. Lots of users who have tried Windows on both PC and Mac claim that the experience is better on Mac.

Although most writers probably won’t go as far as installing Windows for Mac just to run FocusWriter, if you already have it set up, you’re good to go. No matter if you prefer Windows, Mac, or Linux, there’s a way to get going with FocusWriter.

Of course, with so many options out there when it comes to writing software, it’s the features that will generally incline you toward one option over another. With that in mind, let’s check out the key features of FocusWriter that differentiate it from the other options out there. 

What are the key features of FocusWriter?

We know that FocusWriter aims to provide a distraction-free place for you to craft your best writing. But how exactly does it set out to achieve that?

Some of the key features of FocusWriter include:

  • Timers and alarms so you can engage in deep, focused writing for a set time
  • Daily writing goals so you can ensure your projects stay on track.
  • Customizable interfaces allow you to choose from plain backgrounds or an image that helps you get in the zone like a nature scene.
  • Optional typewriter sound effects – get the satisfying click-clack of an old-school writing device without having to lug one around.
  • Support for multiple languages to help the international author community 

As you can see, FocusWriter doesn’t aim to do a lot. You can kind of guess that from its name! But if you struggle to stay in the zone during a writing session, it’s an option worth checking out. 

FocusWriter pros and cons

Need a concise summary of the pros and cons of FocusWriter to help you work out if it's the best fit for your needs? We’ve got you covered!

FocusWriter Pros

  • Doesn’t try to do too much – only offers features proven to boost your writing productivity and focus.
  • Downloadable app – no need to keep a distracting browser tab open.
  • Compatible with Windows and Linux (as well as Mac if you have Windows installed)
  • Free, open-source writing software that benefits from regular updates

FocusWriter Cons

  • May not have much to offer if you’ve already invested in a specialist writing software
  • Not suitable if you want a fully-featured app that allows you to plan, format, and publish your book
  • Authors that use Mac and aren’t willing to install Windows can’t use FocusWriter

Overall, we feel that FocusWriter is a great solution if you’re looking for a free writing app that is dedicated entirely to productive writing.

Is FocusWriter right for you?

Deciding on whether FocusWriter is the best fit for your needs comes down to two main considerations:

  1. What writing software do you currently use?
  2. What are you looking to get from writing software?

If you’re currently using whatever writing tool is your default, without giving any thought to the features that will best aid your writing, it’s worth considering FocusWriter. For example, you might find it a more productive place to work than Google Docs.

Second, you need to see if FocusWriter aligns with your aims and objectives for writing software. If you’re happy with something simple and dedicated to doing one thing well, then FocusWriter is worth exploring. However, if you insist on all of the bells and whistles, you might want to look elsewhere.

How much does FocusWriter cost?

One of the best things about FocusWriter is the fact it’s free. You can use the full software without any restrictions at all. FocusWriter even goes further and provides its source code on an open-source basis. 

However, if you like what FocusWriter does, you have the option to tip its creator using either a credit card or PayPal. It’s by no means necessary but is a great way to say thanks and show your appreciation. 

Alternatives to FocusWriter

Of course, FocusWriter is far from the only show in town. There are plenty of other options out there depending on your needs. 

If you’re looking for a tool aligned with FocusWriter’s mission of productive writing sessions above all else, check out our rundown of the best distraction-free writing software here

If you want to cast a wider net and consider fully-featured options including Scrivener, check out our guide to specialist writing software of all types here.

By all means, take the time to weigh up the various options out there, but don’t make the mistake of getting caught in analysis paralysis. Find a good fit for your needs and budget and then pay it no more mind. 

FocusWriter Review – Final Verdict

So what’s our overall take on FocusWriter? 

We can recommend this software for writers who want to focus on their work with the minimum amount of distraction and the biggest boost to productivity. 

FocusWriter doesn’t claim to do everything – but it sure is great at what it does.

For that reason, along with it being free, we give FocusWriter four stars.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this review and you find FocusWriter brings you closer to your goals!

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