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Writing With Fewer Distractions

One of the major problems with the default WordPress editor setup, is the small size of the edit pane. So here is how to fix it (if you ask us nicely, we might do it for you 🙂 ).

If you have not changed your WordPress settings, and you are not one of our newer bloggers, editing a post might look like the picture below:

Default Edit Window

I think we all have to admit that it is a pretty busy looking window. One thing you can do is to collapse any of those rectangular window panes that you are not interested in at the moment (but want to keep around). If you look towards the bottom of the window, there is a “Comments” pane with the cursor showing near the right-hand end of its title-bar. If you move it over the title-bar of the “Revisions” pane below it (the very bottom pane), the little downward-pointing triangle will appear. Clicking on it will collapse the pane so only its title-bar is showing. If it is already collapsed, it will expand it. It is a minor thing, but it does reduce clutter (distractions) a little.

The first major step we will take is to completely hide any of those window panes (technically, they are called “widgets”) we simply are not interested in using (we can always get them back!) and make the ones that we do leave showing, move down and under the edit pane. That will allow the edit pane to expand horizontally and, as you can see from the above picture, make it much wider.

In the upper-right corner of the window, just below where it says “Howdy…”, there is a tab hanging down that says “Screen Options” (it has a little downward-pointing triangle after the words). Click that tab, it is a link. The browser window will be refreshed with a new rectangle showing and the rest of the contents pushed down to compensate — even more clutter, but it will be temporary. The top part of the window should now look something like the following picture.

Edit Screen Options

At the top it says “Show on screen” and below is row (or perhaps two if your window is a bit narrow) of check-boxes labeled with the names of all the available window panes (with the exception of the edit pane). Only the ones that are checked will be displayed, the rest will be hidden. Just remove the check-mark from any you are not interested in seeing. The only ones I personally leave checked are (left to right in the above picture):

  • Categories
  • Tags
  • Excerpt
  • Comments
  • Revisions

I just do not change the default values that show in the other window panes and I do not need to be reminded all the time what they are. Many bloggers also do not set categories or tags on their posts. If you don’t, then by all means click on those check-boxes to remove the check-mark (if they are checked).

Now the real magic is in the last two lines of the above picture where it says “Screen Layout”. There are a pair of radio buttons labeled “Number of Columns” (“radio buttons” are ones where only one can be checked — the analogy is to pushbutton-tuning radios one sees in cars). Click on the left one to set the number of columns to 1. Once you have done that, click on the “Screen Options” tab again (it is hanging down from the bottom edge of that window pane near the right-hand end). Your browser window should now look something like the following picture.

One Column

Now click on the bottom link in the left-hand side-bar labeled “Collapse menu”. That should result in yet another dramatic change to your browser window so it appears as follows (just the top part shown).

Collapsed Menu

We now have one last thing to do. To start with, adjust the size of your browser window so it is set as you normally like to work. That might be partly the width maybe the full height of your screen. Or 3/4 the height of your screen — whatever you are comfortable with.

Then move the cursor so it is over the lower-right corner of the edit pane. Hover it there and it will change into “resize” cursor. You may have to move the cursor a little to find the spot where it changes. What the resize cursor looks like depends on your computer and its settings. Mine looks like the bottom and right-side of a small box with a downward and to the right arrow pointing into the corner of that box. In any case, once your cursor changes, click and hold your mouse button down and move the cursor to the bottom, right corner of the window. The edit pane will resize as you do this. You cannot change the width of the edit pane, but its height will change. Let go of the mouse button once the edit pane fills the available area of the window. You should now have a window similar to this.

Large Edit Pane

Not quite “Distraction-Free Writing”, but not bad!

There are two vertical scroll bars on the right of this window. You are probably used to both of them, but just as a reminder. The inner scroll bar changes which part of the document (post or page) you are editing can be seen in the edit pane. That is, it scrolls the edit pane. The outer scroll bar changes which part of the whole page you can see. If you want to preview your post, save it, set the categories, etc., just scroll down in the window (outer scroll bar). Doing so will result in it appearing similar to the picture below.

Below the Edit Pane

That is it. If you do not like the result, you can simply reverse the above steps or tweak the settings to suit your own personal preferences.

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