WriteMonkey review

An almost perfect tool for writers. No buttons, toolbars or other distractions - just words on a page

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Our Verdict

An almost perfect tool for writers. Its interface is pared-back, but still packed with little touches that make it easier to commit your words to the page.

For

  • Can be run from a USB stick
  • Gives you only what you need
  • Customizable status area

Against

  • Options menu isn't clearly organized
  • Steep learning curve

When writing, it's all too easy to get distracted and operate far below your optimum performance. WriteMonkey aims to rectify this by providing you with a distraction-free working environment that lets you concentrate fully on what you're doing.

Download WriteMonkey freeIf you're used to full-fat word processors like Microsoft Word, WriteMonkey will seem very strange at first; the interface is sparse and empty, and you might feel that you are missing out. In reality, this is far from the case - all the tools you need are there, they're just well-hidden. This is a sparse-looking, yet deceptively powerful, distraction-free word processor.

WriteMonkey options
WriteMonkey offers simple text-editing options via a right-click menu, but its main interface is simply a blank page against an equally blank background. Unlike FocusWriter, there's no way to switch this backdrop to a potentially distracting photo

User experience

It's a bit weird to start with, to say the least, and anyone accustomed to a plethora of menu and toolbars who jumps into WriteMonkey is in for something of a surprise. However, the whole point is to encourage and enable you to focus on words and nothing else. The lack of screen furniture means you won't be distracted by thinking about whether you should make use of the various formatting options your word processor offers; you're just meant to get on and write. Of course, those options are available for when you need them, but you have to look for them in the context menu.

The program is described - quite beautifully - as 'zenware', and this is quite an apt label for it. It's a simply wonderful experience once you settle into WriteMonkey's different approach to things. The interface is not completely barren. At the bottom of the screen there is the all-important running word count (essential for any wordsmith), a subtle little clock, and access to the Scratch Pad, which can be used to switch between files, and use bookmarks and headings. You can tweak this information area to display other details too, but that's up to you.

WriteMonkey extra features
WriteMonkey's extra options are few and far between, but it does include some essential tools for writers, including word count

We liked

There's a lot to love about WriteMonkey, and the simplicity which is at its very heart is precisely what makes it so great. Its stripped back restraint really is something to behold, and for anyone whose job it is to write, it could prove to be a real boon.

As an added bonus, WriteMonkey is a portable app, so you can stick it on a USB drive and use in on whatever computer you happen to find yourself at. You're likely keep discovering plenty of things to increase WriteMonkey's appeal further as you work with it - such as support for Markdown and CSS.

We disliked

WriteMonkey isn't for everyone. Some people will fall into it easily, while others will struggle. If you're adept with keyboard shortcuts, the transition from the likes of Word to WriteMonkey will be easier, but otherwise there's something of a learning curve.

Alternatively, you could make use of the solitary context menu which is accessed with a quick right-click. As this is the only menu, it's very lengthy and there are no helpful submenus to keep things neatly organized, so you may struggle to find the options you need quickly to start with.

WriteMonkey look up definitions
Getting to grips with WriteMonkey is much easier if you're comfortable with keyboard shortcuts. Its layout has little in common with Microsoft Word and other mainstream text editors

Final verdict

Download WriteMonkey freeWriteMonkey near-perfect tool for writers. Everything has been brilliantly thought out with writing in mind. This may seem like an obvious thing for a word processor, but so few developers get it right that WriteMonkey really stands out.

Specifications

Developer: pomarancha_

License: Freeware

System requirements:

  • Operating system: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10
  • Processor: Not specified
  • RAM: Not specified
  • Disk space: Not specified

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