January 18, 2014

The only distraction-free word processor you'll ever need

It's Q10. Unfortunately it's for Windows only.

It shows a black full screen and amber text that's dimmed down enough not to blind you when large chunks are on the screen at the same time (you can switch to any color). There are no distracting toolbars, no endless rows of icons that you never click on. It does have all the basic functions you'll need (in mapped key form) - cutting, pasting, saving, find, undo, redo, spell check, etc. It has typewriter sound effects to provide auditory feedback while you type (you can switch it off).

Most importantly, though: no What You See Is What You Get. Formatting, layout, etc., can come later, if they need to at all. If you're not going to be sending or handing it over to somebody, why bother with all that pointless polish? The mind can be in either of two modes, but not in both, during the same writing session — producing language, and preparing it for presentation to others. Substance or style.

Later, you can still open the file in a program meant for formatting. Just about everything reads .txt files.

If it's been awhile since you've used a word processor whose basic features just let you be, rather than interrupting the flow of thought-recording, you'll be surprised how easy it is to put your thoughts down.

At the office, I've started using Vim since you can configure more of the default settings and pair it up with LaTeX for formatting equations and references in journal articles. But when I'm done playing around with its settings, for most things it's going to behave like the one you can quickly and freely download, and have running in no time. I wouldn't mind if Q10 were the only word processor that I used from now on. It's such a breath of fresh air in our technologically stultifying society.

Related post: light-on-dark color schemes to boost productivity.


  1. Interesting fact, George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones) still writes with WordStar 4.0, software from 1987!

  2. I thought the whole point of a word processor was that you'd be handing it over somewhat polished. Otherwise use a text editor.

  3. Today's word processors aren't good at "somewhat" polishing (see printed work from students). And up until you print, they interrupt your flow too much.

  4. domagoj19781/19/14, 3:20 AM

    If it doesn't do pictures it's not usable for engineers.
    I use Word but with restricted styles. I spent some hours to get my styles in line and now I use just a handfull of styles and always have ready to print text. I have no distractions.
    I agree that Word has made a mistake with its default settings, they make it to easy to get distracted, it is too configurable. Like iOs vs Android. iOs just works, Android has too many options i.e. distractions.

  5. theo the kraut1/20/14, 2:18 AM

    notepad++ can do anything that you use Q10 for except for the typewriter sound effects, as least I as I know of. However, you can enable that for the whole win system, eg with
    http://www.nattyware.com/qwertick.php, there are similar tools for all OS.

    I use notepad++ for programming and simple text editing 99% of the time. Else wordpad or open office if more convenient or needed. notepad++ can be configured any way you like,* goes for most programming editors I've used (else it's no programming editor really). I prefer black on white, haven't ever seen green|whatever on black with programmers, except in photos of geek conventions. Kate (www.kate-editor.org) for linux/mac/win is a nice equivalent.


    bare bones, full screen (not my cup of tea with a big screen), you can do away with line numbering and status bar, too:

    bare bones with window bar, resized;

    with bells & whistles:

  6. Holy crap this thing is terrible! It just makes the screen black, with no possibility of jumping to other windows. It's like someone threw a bag over my head. The mouse doesn't work anymore. Even the escape button doesn't work. I had to pull the plug on my PC to turn it off!

    The only thing that sucks more is OpenID.

  7. You can still use the mouse for scrolling, selecting text, etc. The website says that F1 will bring up the "help card" which lists the commands. I.e., the usual Ctrl+S for save, Ctrl+Q for quit, Ctrl+C for copy, as well as some new ones for changing the font and other display options.


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