Writespace: provides a distraction-free writing environment from within MS Word

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Writespace provides fullscreen writing on MS Word within a distraction free environment, replete of any distractions such as the Word interface itself and/or any other windows or elements on your screen.

This free program is similar to text editors such as Dark Room and Q10 in that it provides distraction free writing, but different in one important respect: it offers integration with MS Word, albeit an imperfect integration that does not sustain any formatting done in Word.

It provides it’s own spellchecking function (for English, French, Spanish and German), and offers a number of other functions via keyboard shortcuts, such as find, goto line, mousewheel zoom, the ability to drag and drop to resize margins, and multi-monitor support.

I must admit that I’ve always been curious about programs that offered distraction-free writing environments, except for one thing: I like my word processor. I use MS Word for work and personal projects and know it quite well, and I want many of it’s features as well as the ability to share documents with collaborators in Word format.Which is why I find Writespace so intriguing.

Imperfect integration: unfortunately, however, the integration with Word is imperfect in one simple respect: while you can switch back and forth at will between Word and Writespace, doing so will cause any text formatting done in Word to disapper. Rather disappointing, but understandable in that tracking which parts of the text have what Word formatting would be a complete hassle to manage, especially for a complex document. And in any case you still get your text inside Word and can save it as a Word document and can manipulate and format it later once the writing is done.

More notes on this app as follows:

  • Keyboard (and mouse) shortcuts: CTRL+Mousewheel – Zoom in/out, CTRL+F – Search, F3 – Find next, F4 – Options Dialog, CTRL+G – Go to line, CTRL+M – Toggle between monitors. ESC- Exit to Word, CTRL+S – Save.
  • Spellchecking: for English, French, Spanish and German (define your language in the settings). Note that this is Writespace’s own spellchecking function separate from that in Word (although it behaves exactly in the same way).
  • Writespace screenshot ribbon2Installation: download, unzip, and run setup.exe. Next go to the “view” menu and find the Writespace button on the top right. Clicking the button will trigger the Writespace environment, while “Esc” will send you back to Word.
  • Formatting: not supported, and will do away with Word formatting when editing in Writespace. If you need to format your text do it after the writing is complete.
  • Customizable: font size, color, and background can be customizable in the settings.
  • Available as a standalone app: as well as a plugin for other text editing programs.

The verdict: a very interesting program. Writespace is purposely simple and economical in terms of features, but the real question is: does this sort of program work? Do these programs really help and inspire writers?

There is, somewhere, a creative writer within many of us, and judging by the mere proliferation of these types of text editors the distraction-free page might well help bring focus and inspiration. If writing without clutter sounds exciting to you, and/or sounds like it can help you give birth to the words and sentences within, then by all means download and install Writespace. And while you’re at it why not share a thought or two in the comments section about you’re experience.

Version Tested: 1.4

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Requires Word 2003 or Word 2007 as well as the MS .NET framework 3.51 (this is preinstalled in Vista, Windows 7, and many XP installastions).

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 6 megs).