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Best distraction-free writing programs

I am not a writer, but as many other mortals a lot of times I need to write long documents or put my ideas alltogether. For anyone who works with a computer and needs to write text in a non-distracting environment these tools will be very useful.

These programs usually are full-screen and only let you see the text you are typing, and usually plain text (without any formats). It might sound simple or even ridiculous, but I am more productive when I stop receiving notifications and being tempted of clicking on that little red number showing unread email or any other procastinators.

Here is the list of distraction-free software for both Windows and Mac.

Distraction-free software for Mac

This is the environment where I use this kind of programs the most.


I used WriteRoom for free a couple of years ago, now the product has evolved and is commercial but surely the most complete of all.


It comes in two flavours Ommwriter Dana I and Ommwriter Dana II. The first one is free, the second one is commercial, but you can pay the amount you want, minimum $4.11 I do use this program as my personal choice. Here is a video, and also lets you understand what all this programs are about:

Other programs

I haven't fully tested these ones, but they do the same:

 If you need to write a whole book, with images, chapters and so on an interesting tool is Scrivener (site, trial download)

Distraction-free software for Windows

If you are looking for a distraction-free writing software for Windows, have a look to:




Reset iTerm preferences to default

If you have messed up your iTerm application preferences you can aways return to the factory settings by deleting your iTerm preferences file. Just delete the following file:

rm ~/Library/Preferences/net.sourceforge.iTerm.plist

This will delete your profiles, very useful when you have remapped keys and you can't remember how to go back.


SVN merge for Mac OS X

If you want to merge branches in your projects using a Mac OS X, you'll probably miss how straightforward is to do that with the TortoiseSVN client.

Mac has many SVN-fashioned clients where you can fall in love when you see the GUI, but when it comes to do a merge it seems that all they have forgotten to include support for it. I haven't seen any free or comercial application for Mac that integrates all the subversion commands in the same tool without pain. You need always a couple of tools and sometimes use the terminal commands (I do this the most in Mac).

Returning to the specific svn command merge, here are the only tools that you can use to accomplish that task:


Graphical subversion client with diff and merge tool.


Multiplatform utility for merging and comparing: (not SVN specific)


Guiffy is a normal diff/merge application, you don't need to use Subversion, but it comes with support for CVS/SVN.

And that's all. I've spent many hours looking for more apps, but I haven't found any helping me with the merge integrated with SVN. If you find anything let me know and I'll add it to the list.

UPDATE (Added SmartSVN)

SmartSVN (commercial)

SmartSVN is the most complete solution for Mac I've seen. It runs on Windows and Linux as well. Although it is not a Cocoa application and doesn't accept things like drag and drop it does everything you might need, and speaking about merge:

  • Merge
  • Merge from 2 sources
  • Reintegrate branches

The application allows to create several projects, browse them (very clean and neat), see the logs inside the context, see diffs, resolve conflicts, tags, branches, logs, filters... everything!!!

I don't understand how this application isn't more popular, since is the missing app for advanced mac developers and works on any platform.

If you find anything interesting please let me know and I'll add it in the list.


Textmate: Plugins de PHP, Smarty y Subversion

TextmateTextmate es sin duda uno de aquellos editores para Mac OS X de los que hacen quitarse el sombrero. Como muchos otros editores, Textmate también soporta plugins (Bundles les llaman) y se pueden instalar un montón de ellos.

Para los programadores y webmasters que trabajan con PHP hay dos Bundles de especial utilidad: los que permiten Autocompletion para Smarty y Autocompletion para PHP. Para instalarlos simplemente hay que ejectuar en una terminal:

mkdir -p /Library/Application\ Support/TextMate/Bundles
cd /Library/Application\ Support/TextMate/Bundles
svn co
svn co\ Smarty.tmbundle

Si tenías Textmate abierto, pues simplemente hay que ir al menú Bundles -> Bundle Editor -> Reload Bundles

Plugin SVNMate TextmateUtilices PHP o no, no hay persona humana que pueda dedicar su tiempo a la programación un mínimo de tiempo y no utilize un sistema de versionado de código. Si eres de los amigos de SVN, recomiendo instalar el plugin SVNMate para ver en el drawer los iconos del estado de los ficheros. Algo que nos permite rápidamente ver el estado de nuestro proyecto :)

SVN diff TextmateInstales o no este plugin, Textmate ya lleva incorporado un cliente svn similar a TortoiseSVN, pero para Mac, claro. Para acceder al menú SVN simplemente utiliza la combinación de teclas:


Para ver el listado de Bundles oficiales de Macromate, visita la URL:


File List: Utilidad para renombrar ficheros en lote para Mac OS X

De la mano de Many Tricks nos llega esta excelente utilidad gratuita para renombrar archivos en lote llamada File list. Nos permite hacer las tareas básicas de renombrado de ficheros, como cambiar la extensión, cambiar mayúsculas/minúsculas, añadir un número secuencialmente en los ficheros, reemplazar las apariciones de un texto, hacer tareas de ordenación o crear nuestras propias expresiones regulares... y siempre nos permite previsualizar el resultado final antes de hacer "el mal".

Además permite crear "droplets" que nos permitirán arrastrar un conjunto de ficheros y automáticamente se renombrarán todos sin tener que hacer nada más, siguiendo claro está, los patrones que hayamos configurado para ese droplet. 



Quicksilver goes opensource

The excellent launcher (and much more) Quicksilver that Mac users have been using for so long has been opensourced. This is great news, since more developers can join the product and improve it and extend it.


My hope is that someone will make a cross-platform version, or other projects like Launchy or gnome-launch will add more features thanks to quicksilver knowledgebase. The code can be reached via Google Code.


A free good cross-platform CSS editor

There are many applications where you can edit your Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in Linux, Windows or Mac, but specifically in my Ubuntu I haven't found an application like CSSED (GTK). It supports auto-completion, really useful wizards, color pickers, preview and a long etcetera. You can go directly to the download page and see specific instructions for Gentoo, BSD, Mac OS X (via Fink), Windows ... or if you are an ubuntu or debian user just type in a terminal (or through the synaptic manager):

  • sudo apt-get install cssed


Your Logitech webcam in OS X

Tired of chatting or using Skype without video? For all of us who didn't have an Apple's iSight camera it's possible to use almost any PC USB webcam with Macam. Macam is a driver for USB webcams on Mac OS X. It allows hundreds of USB webcams to be used by many Mac OS X video-aware applications. Macam installation is very easy, you only have to copy the Macam component under /Library/Quicktime in your system. The package also contains a fast video viewer and snap shooter to test you webcam.


Macam can be downloaded from here (official page)

(Article written by Fran Horrillo)


Essential applications for Mac OS X

Recently I installed from scratch a couple of machines, and as long I were needing my applications I generated this list of essential ones:


Free. Quicksilver is a launcher. When you call Quicksilver through the key combination Ctrl+space and you start typing, it suggests an application, document or file that contains that letters you typed in any place. Then you can open it, send it by email, reveal it on Finder and a long long etc... There are a lot of plugins to integrate it with more applications. See the overview for more info

Virtue for Tiger

Free. Virtue completes the missing virtual desktops in Mac OS X. Being a Linux user it is difficult to work without it. There are other applications doing this, but no one like virtue.



Free. A configurable and elegant notify window for incoming email with message preview. In the preferences you can specify for what Mail folders you should be warned when a new mail arrives. Let's imagine you receive tons of mail daily and you don't want to be distracted, then you activate Mail.appetizer only for the folder "Bosses"



Free. Textwrangler is a plain text editor for programmers. It has many interesting features such as syntax highlighting, remote edition (FTP/SFTP), strong search options, diff, encodings, etc...
If you want power there is a commercial version called BBEdit which I recommend. TextranglerHomepage

You can also use Smultron, Subethaedit (both free), TextMateTextMate or Skedit (commercials) just to mention some



Free. Lovely duck! My preferred ftp/sftp client. It has an easy and intuitive interface and allows you to edit remote files in your local editor as if they were in your very own machine. When you save them, they are uploaded back to the server.



Free. Who ever needed word? This is a port of the original OpenOffice with aqua menus and the key combinations for mac. The main problem I find in OpenOffice under X11 is the keyboard usage.



Free. For writing true documentation with LaTeX



Free. More ducks, this is a multiprotocol instant messenger. It works simultaneously with Jabber, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, GoogleTalk and many others... It is a pleasure to do tabbed chat :)



Free. Do you listen music? With SizzlingKeys you can jump between songs without using iTunes. A translucid window will be displayed with the art cover, song, and artist name every time there is a change.

If you go to Yellow Mug, it's worth to download a second free application called SnapNDrag letting you take screenshots and save them in the format you want.



Free. Textpander puts text snippets on the fly whenever you enter their corresponding predefined abbreviations.
E.g: I define ssign as a snippet with my full signature, so wherever I type ssign I'll get:

Best regards,

Albert Lombarte
Fake street 33,

Spirited Away

Spirited away menu

With Sprited Away [author, MacUpdate] you specify the maximum time of inactivity for your applications. When a program has been inactive for such a time it is automatically hidden by spirited away, so you don't have many annoying windows visible on the screen.

If there is any application you don't want to behave like this you only have to exlcude it in the top bar menu (See right image)

Spirited away doesn't have Dock icon nor interfere visually in any other place