For your words only

by Giles Turnbull

Anyone who has tried to write their masterpiece will tell you that one of the main enemies of creativity is time. Another one is the internet. I speak from personal experience here; writing The Great British Novel is all too often abandoned in favor of exploring a few dull weblogs and reading some dull email.

To really get creative writing done, I need to filter out all the distractions and let the words flow. I need an editor with fullscreen mode.

Recently there was some discussion on 43 Folders about Ulysses, a text editor aimed at writers that includes an excellent fullscreen mode designed for just this sort of situation.

In fact, flicking through the comments on that 43 Folders post, you'll see that a lot of people said they considered the fullscreen mode the best feature of Ulysses - and had been exploring other options for achieving the same effect.

I've been playing around with some simple fullscreen-alikes too.

My TextEdit fullscreen template
TextEdit template as a fullscreen editor

It's simple to knock up a template in TextEdit that is near-as-dammit fullscreen. OK, you still see the Menu Bar, and have to hit Command+Option+D to make the Dock go away, but the result is perfectly good enough. In fact, you could set up almost any editor to achieve a similar effect -- see the TextForge screenshot below.

TextForge as a gentle-on-the-eyes fullscreen editor
TextForge, one of my favorite editors, with a screen-sized window and its lovely white-on-blue editing theme

But as far as I'm concerned, the best alternative is the brand-new, still-beta-but-hey-it-works version of MacJournal 2.7, which includes a superb fullscreen mode right out of the box! Um, disk image. Look:

MacJournal 2.7 in fullscreen mode
Green on black, just the way it Should Be

Delicious green-on-black text; proper fullscreen effect, with no Dock and no Menu Bar in sight. This really does cut you off from the rest of the world; you have to make the conscious choice to hit Escape and go back to the normality of your Desktop. But of course you won't, will you? You'll be far too busy writing.

I've got so many great editing tools now, it's hard to know which one to use


2004-12-14 02:10:43
full screen editing... all well and good and can help you to focus, but its (at least for me) a complete waste of time if you can't control line length. Any more than something like 80 chars or 11 words or so and you're far better of in window mode.

I'm guessing, becuase I haven't tested them, that most of these "tweaks" either give you full screen width or left side alignment. Not nice.

2004-12-14 02:29:15
full screen editing...
I know what you mean; in any window editing mode, I'd hate to have to work with really long lines. But when I'm writing in fullscreen, they don't bother me at all. As long as I can see the words I'm churning out, I'm happy.

The TextEdit template I created gets round this by keeping the text in the center of the screen, using very wide margins. This is precisely how its done in Ulysses, and it works very well.

2004-12-14 07:00:58
Evil Internet
The most valuable thing for me when I am writing is to just unplug the network cable/turn off the AirPort card. Not generally so fussed about full screen mode, although OpenOffice has a reasonable one.