Use Composition Mode in Scrivener to Write Without Distractions

Many writers like a distraction-free environment. OS X lets you put any app into full-screen mode, removing things such as the Dock and menu bar from view. But Scrivener, the powerful writing app, has a neat trick which offers an even better display: it’s called Composition Mode.

To enter Composition mode, click the Compose button on the Toolbar or choose View > Enter Composition Mode (or press Command-Option-F). Here’s what you see. (In the screenshot below, my cursor is at the bottom of the screen to display the Control Strip.

Composition mode

You have several display options in this mode. You can choose the text size; the paper position (left, center, or right); the paper width; and the background translucency. The Control Strip also lets you see a word count and character count, if you write to a specific word count, or if you have that writer’s anxiety of not having written enough words in a day and want to check, every few minutes, to see where you are.

There are also buttons to display the Inspector, access keywords, and to go to a different file in your project. There is also a full pane of preferences for Composition Mode in the Scrivener Preferences (File > Preferences). You can set editing options, paper and background colors, and much more.

When you are in Composition mode, you can still access all of Scrivener’s menus. To do this, move your pointer to the top of the screen to display the program’s menu bar. You can then select any menu items as you would in normal view mode.

To exit Composition Mode, just press Escape, or click the double-arrow button at the right of the Control Strip.

I love working in this mode, because of the lack of distractions, and the quick access to elements that I need in the Control Strip. If you use Scrivener, check out Composition Mode.

I’m currently updating my Take Control of Scrivener ebook, which should be out in a couple of weeks. If you’re a Scrivener user, check it out.

4 thoughts on “Use Composition Mode in Scrivener to Write Without Distractions

  1. Obviously, people are different. I’ve never been a fan of the “distraction free” layouts. On the one hand, I find no difficulty in ignoring borders and margins. Brain research shows how capable the human mind is, in focusing on one element in the field of view (provided others are not moving). On the other hand, my writing often requires moving to other documents and resources, and I dislike having my no immediately visible elements of those resources. I especially dislike any layout, which won’t let me see a window from another program right beside my writing space. I don’t need that all the time, but I consider it essential for efficient work on some tasks.

    However, it appears that I am in the minority, at least among decision makers. New “distraction free” options appear all the time.

    • I can understand the desire to work without distractions; if I’m writing something where I don’t need other windows or documents, I generally use it. But it does depend on the type of writing one does. I find that, even if you can ignore the cruft of an app interface, it’s still in your peripheral vision. Four out of five doctors suggest that this is detrimental to brain health.

  2. Obviously, people are different. I’ve never been a fan of the “distraction free” layouts. On the one hand, I find no difficulty in ignoring borders and margins. Brain research shows how capable the human mind is, in focusing on one element in the field of view (provided others are not moving). On the other hand, my writing often requires moving to other documents and resources, and I dislike having my no immediately visible elements of those resources. I especially dislike any layout, which won’t let me see a window from another program right beside my writing space. I don’t need that all the time, but I consider it essential for efficient work on some tasks.

    However, it appears that I am in the minority, at least among decision makers. New “distraction free” options appear all the time.

    • I can understand the desire to work without distractions; if I’m writing something where I don’t need other windows or documents, I generally use it. But it does depend on the type of writing one does. I find that, even if you can ignore the cruft of an app interface, it’s still in your peripheral vision. Four out of five doctors suggest that this is detrimental to brain health.

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