Writing tools have been around on the Mac since the very beginning with MacWrite in 1984. Years later there was WriteNow, Word, and many, many other tools aimed at writers. Even today, Apple publishes Pages so people can write without having to buy a word processor.
The past few years, actually since the advent of the Mac App Store, we’ve seen a plethora of new writing tools that range in capability from simple notes apps to a suite of tools to write the next novel using a project app. In between the extremes are dozens of apps and more than a few carry new age buzzwords, including ‘distraction free.’ What does that even mean?
Focus. Focus. Focus.
uFocus came across my Mac screen late last year; one of many word processor-like apps I try out in the never-ending search for the ultimate WriteNow replacement. uFocus’ name should be an example of what is available now, but a harbinger of what is to come.
Distraction free is all the rage here in the 21st century and uFocus joined the parade. Distraction free sounds as if the interface has a minimum of, well, distractions– the typical palettes and toolbars, floating around this or that; or popup options that, for lack of a better word, distract a writer from writing.
Let’s call distraction free writing what it really is. Feature free. Sure, you can smother a pig’s lips with lipstick, but it won’t get a date with your brother. A pig with lipstick is still a pig.
Alright, I’m not saying uFocus is a pig. It’s not. As a distraction free and minimalist word processor it’s quite good but it’s a crowded field of entrants, each with much the same featureless feature list.
- Simple interface
- Text statistics
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Typewriter scrolling
- Fullscreen mode
- iCloud saving; autosave
- Multiple themes and fonts
What uFocus does is open almost every kind of text file, and save files in a file structure; stories, chapters, sections, whatever and however you prefer; all easily accessible from the lefthand sidebar. For what it does, this is quite good.
Keyboard shortcuts are a Mac power user’s friend, and uFocus gives you enough to navigate without having to think (unless you can’t remember the keyboard shortcuts; then those menus that are not there would look inviting, no?).
Jump from one sentence to another. Add typewriter keyboard sounds as you type (how is that not distracting?). Still, uFocus has much going for it in another area. If it’s not features, then it must be usability and here it’s a pleasure. Just type. Don’t think. You won’t be bothered by floating tool palettes or distracting toolbars. Just type and while you type focus on what you see on the screen (it will be the same as what you’re typing).
Personally, I prefer to see what I’m typing and what I just typed (mostly so I can see if I agree with myself). uFocus gets mixed reviews, but mostly good, not bad, and it’s free.