If you’re a college student, there’s a good chance you’re in the middle of finals week right now. Some classes will have you studying your brains out to cram for an exam while others might have a big research paper due. Now probably isn’t the time to make the switch but for future papers, you might consider using the free software WriteMonkey. It is interestingly heading in a different direction with its feature set than Microsoft Word.
WriteMonkey seeks to provide a distraction-free environment for you to write, “leaving you alone with your thoughts and your words”. It has a minimal user interface so you are focused on the content. My experience is that this is great when you just need to get thoughts on paper. The full screen isn’t exactly great for referencing other materials for your writing but it does help when you are on a deadline or need to motivate yourself. With WriteMonkey, you can also change the screen look to your liking with different background colors and font colors.
With a “distraction-free” interface, you don’t get a whole lot to look at. On the surface, you pretty much just get a place to write. It starts off with a white piece of “paper” and a plain background to cover up the rest of your display so those other things don’t entice you away from your writing. However, You can press F11 or Escape to leave the full-screen interface.
WriteMonkey is a 6.7MB .zip download. It requires .NET framework 4 to be installed on Windows XP, Vista, and 7, and it is included in Windows 8. The application is a portable app, so all you have to do is extract the zip file to somewhere and run WriteMonkey.exe.
Files can be save as a .txt file or .markdown / .md file. To keep motivated, you can start a timer or keep track of your progress as words, characters, paragraphs, or pages typed or as a matter of reading time.
WriteMonkey includes a built-in spellcheck with a dictionary you can customize. You can also highlight words and choose to look them up from several online references.
While the surface interface is pretty minimal, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Right-click anywhere to get the menu. You can see below the number of options at your disposal, with many more buried in preferences, which can be saved as a profile for later.
As you can tell from the menu, there are a lot of various functions and to go along with them there are plenty of keyboard shortcuts to make navigation a speedy affair.
One of the many cool features includes using the Jumps on the side for quick navigation of a long document. It shows structure and allows you to move through the text quickly.
Version tested: 2.4.0
You can download the free WriteMonkey application and find more information for it at http://writemonkey.com/