[Windows] Focus completely on your work with WriteMonkey, a clutter-free and portable writing application

WriteMonkeyI would like to say that when I sit down to write something, I get into the “Zone”. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. I can become very easily distracted. So I went looking for a writing application that could help me stay on track. What I came across was word processing program WriteMonkey. In short, this is writing program with a stripped down interface. Although it may not have all of the bells and whistles of OpenOffice of Microsoft Office, it was surprisingly robust for a small, portable writing application.

WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DOES IT DO

Main Functionality

WriteMonkey is a portable writing application that takes up your whole computer screen when it is open. All of your toolbars are hidden, allowing you to completely focus on your writing. When you need something, all of your toolbars and options can be easily accessed through right-click or hotkeys.

Pros

  • Stripped down writing application that allows you to focus completely on your writing
  • Completely portable
  • Very fast and stable (never crashed)
  • Full-screen even hides your task bar (full-screen can be toggled on and off)
  • “Info bar” located at the bottom of the document (can also be docked at the top) is customizable. Can be changed to display word count, time, file name and live notices
  • Offers statistics such as word count, number of characters, paragraphs, sentences and word frequencies
  • Offers a visual progress bar for writers who need their articles to be a certain length
  • Time your writing to see how long it takes to complete your work
  • Offers many standard word processing features: word look up, spell check and “type replacements” (define a short trigger that will automatically be replaced with the correct corresponding text)
  • Turn on typing sounds that sound like a real typewriter
  • Offers typewriting scrolling so the words you are typing always appear fixed at a pre-defined vertical position
  • Can set the number of seconds between auto saves
  • Offers multi-monitor support
  • Can be integrated with Firefox
  • Offers quick links to Thesaurus (eng), Google Images, Urban Dictionary, Wikipedia, Answers.com, Reference.com, English Dictionary, Poetry.com, IMDb, Big Huge Thesaurus and Wordnik

Cons

  • It will take time to adjust to the look and feel of this program
  • Lacks that polished feel of Microsoft Office or OpenOffice
  • Requires .NET Framework 4.0

Discussion

WhiteMonkey ScreenshotIf you could not tell by the “pros” list, I love this program. It has a ton of features all packed into a small portable program. Although WriteMonkey lacks a few features and the polished feel that you get with Microsoft Office, it more than makes up for it.

The thing that I love most about WriteMonkey, and the main reason to use it, is how it helps you focus more on your writing. The program cuts out all of the distractions that come with using other word processing programs. All of your toolbars at the top have been removed, and when the program is in full screen, even your task bar is hidden. When it is in full screen mode, you can’t simply hit “minimize” to close the window. You actually have to toggle the full-screen off and on. This may be annoying at first, but it does a wonderful job at keeping you on track.

Although your toolbars are hidden, they can easily be accessed by right-clicking anywhere on the document. Here you will find your standard options: cut, paste, spell check, undo, save, open, etc. You can also use the “lookup” feature. This is a handy feature that allows you to select a word and then get information about that word from different sites like Google Images, Thesaurus, Answers.com, Wikipedia and more.

The program is very customizable as well. For example, you can choose to display a progress bar and Info bar. The progress bar is great for writers who have to make their articles a certain length. You can set a certain word count, and it will show your progress as you work towards it. The info bar can be used to display a number of things which you choose. This does include your word count, current time and the name of the file you are working on. It can also be moved to the top or bottom of your document.

Overall the program has too many features to cover, but let’s see if we can’t cover a few more that stood out to me. WriteMonkey can be integrated with Firefox and does offer multi-monitor support. You can choose how often the program auto saves your work, right down to the second. It even offers you a ton of helpful statistics: your word, sentence, character and paragraph counts, as well as statistics on word frequency. Heck, you can even give the program the old “typewriter” feel by turning on typing sounds and typewriter scroll, which keeps the text you are writing centered vertically and scrolls the rest of the text.

CONCLUSION AND DOWNLOAD LINK

WriteMonkey is a program that is designed to cater to “hardcore” writes. It lacks some of the user friendly options of Microsoft Word (like its polish), but that is perfect for people who just want to focus on their writing. If you are looking for a good portable writing application, or a program that can help you stay focused, I suggest you give WriteMonkey a try.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 2.4.0

Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8

Requires .NET Framework 4.0

Download size: 6.56 MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/44

Is it portable? Yes

WriteMonkey homepage

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8 comments

  1. Mr.Dave

    WriteMonkey looks promising, I’ll give it a try. Thanks, Justin — your writeup got me interested!

    A similar program, that doesn’t require Dot Net at all, is ZenWriter. I got this from GiveawayOfTheDay a year ago, and use it when I need to focus on my writing. I checked their website just now, and found a new version. Best news is it looks like it’s FREE now, donations accepted (it used to cost only $9.95 anyway). Worst news is the site doesn’t have much going on, but maybe they’re more focused on Facebook as a front-end to their customers.

    Like WriteMonkey, it runs full-screen, hides it’s sparse toolbar, offers typewriter clicks, spell check. It doesn’t offer formatting — it’s aimed at getting your ideas into a file so you can clean them up later. It has several choices of soothing background music, several background pics (or none). I set it to a dark forest setting and zone out on my writing. Might be a matter of taste when it comes to choosing ZenWriter or WriteMonkey.

    ZenWriter is at: http://www.beenokle.com/zenwriter.html

  2. Rob (Down Under)

    @Ashraf:
    Methinks he has to change his changelog
    His 4.X partly covers him, but the 4.0 needs changing.
    When I TRY TO RUN the latest WriteMonkey, it insists that I download and Install 4.5 (not 4.0)
    And it ain’t easy to install (for quite a few users).

  3. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @Rob (Down Under): This is what their changelog says:

    – changed: Writemonkey is now targeted to .NET Framework 4.X and is compatible with Windows 8 without the need to install older .NET version 3.5. That also means that users with older systems who don’t have .NET 4.0 installed must upgrade their machines.

  4. Rob (Down Under)

    Actually it needs .NET 4.5
    I believe I already had 4
    This is listed in my Add/Remove ‘programs’ –
    Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client Profile
    Which I believe is NET 4
    . . . .
    I have gone through a couple of hours of frustration trying to get 4.5 installed (see my earlier post).
    Eventually I said ‘stuff it’, and downloaded WriteMonkey 2350, which needs NET 3.5 or higher.
    I am not all that impressed.
    It is still possible to do what he wants (full screen, etc), whilst more closely following Windows conventions.
    . . . .
    Rob
    PS If anyone is having similar problems installing .NET 4.5 and would like a list of some things to try, yell out. We are no orphans, having problems installing NET 4.5

  5. Rob (Down Under)

    I am not one of those that say beware the .NET downloads, HOWEVER –
    The NET framework 4-5 is required.
    The program does detect when it is not present, and navigates you to the MS download page.
    When you try to install it into XP Pro SP3 , you get this ‘error’ –
    Blocking Issues:
    The .NET Framework 4.5 is not supported on this operating system.
    Warnings:
    Setup may not run properly, because the Windows Modules Installer Service is not available on this computer.
    . . . .
    Have I mentioned that years ago in my VB6 programming days I was a fan of MS ?
    Have I mentioned that these days they give me the sh..s
    . . . .
    I am debating with myself as to whether I try to solve the hoops that MS (probably deliberately) throws at XP users.
    Or do I just get an earlier version of WriteMonkey