git clone 'git://github.com/joostkremers/writeroom-mode.git'


writeroom-mode is a minor mode for Emacs that implements a distraction-free writing mode similar to the famous Writeroom editor for OS X. writeroom-mode is meant for GNU Emacs 24, lower versions are not actively supported.


writeroom-mode can be installed through the package manager from Melpa. If installing manually, make sure to also install visual-fill-column.


writeroom-mode can be activated in a buffer by calling M-x writeroom-mode RET. By default, writeroom-mode does the following things:

The last three effects are buffer-local. The other effects apply to the current frame. Because writeroom-mode is a minor mode, this isn't entirely on the up and up, since minor modes aren't supposed to have such global effects. But writeroom-mode is meant for distraction-free writing, so these effects do make sense.

All these effects can be disabled or customised. In addition, there are several more options that are disabled by default but can be enabled in the customisation buffer.


Global Writeroom Mode

Activate this option to automatically turn on writeroom-mode in any buffer that has one of the major modes in writeroom-major-modes.

Border Width

Width of the border around the text area. Disabled by default, see writeroom-global-effects to enable the border.

Fringes Outside Margins

If set, place the fringes outside the margins. writeroom-mode expands the window margins, causing the fringes to be pushed inside, which may be visually distracting. This option keeps the fringes at the window’s edges. Unset it if you prefer to have the fringes close to the text.

Extra Line Spacing

Increase the line spacing. Can be an absolute value (the number of pixels to add to the line) or a number relative to the default line height. Disabled by default.

Fullscreen Effect

Effect to apply when writeroom-mode activates fullscreen. Can be fullboth, which uses the entire screen (i.e., window decorations are disabled and the window manager’s panel or task bar is covered by the Emacs frame) or maximized, in which case the Emacs frame is maximised but keeps its window decorations and does not cover the panel.

Global Effects

List of global effects:

Each option can be enabled or disabled individually.

Major Modes

List of major modes in which writeroom-mode should be activated automatically. Use in conjunction with global-writeroom-mode.

Maximize Window

Maximise the current window in its frame, i.e., delete all other windows.

Restore Window Config

Restore the window configuration that existed before writeroom-mode was activated. This is primarily useful if you use writeroom-mode in only a single buffer, since the window configuration that is restored is the one that existed at the moment when writeroom-mode is called for the first time. Disabled by default.


Width of the text area. Can be specified as an absolute value (number of characters) or as a fraction of the total window width (in which case it should be a number between 0 and 1).

The mode line

By default, writeroom-mode disables the mode line. Because the mode line can actually contain useful information, this may be impractical. For this reason, it is possible to use a customised mode line, which allows you to display information that is indispensable to you (e.g., the modified status, the file name).

If, for some reason, you need to look at the full mode line, you can use the command writeroom-toggle-mode-line. This command makes the mode line visible in the header line (at the top of the window). Calling it again hides the mode line. This command is bound to s-? (s is the super key, i.e., the Windows key on PCs, the ⌘ key on Macs), but it can be rebound by putting something like the following in your init.el:

(with-eval-after-load 'writeroom-mode
  (define-key writeroom-mode-map (kbd "s-?") nil)
  (define-key writeroom-mode-map (kbd "<some-key>") #’writeroom-toggle-mode-line))

The first define-key disables the binding for s-?. Substitute your preferred key binding in the second line to bind writeroom-toggle-mode-line to it.

Multiple writeroom-mode buffers

It is possible to activate writeroom-mode in more than one buffer. The global effects are of course activated only once and they remain active until writeroom-mode is deactivated in all buffers. Alternatively, if you use writeroom-mode in multiple buffers with particular major modes (e.g., text-mode, markdown-mode), you can use the global minor mode global-writeroom-mode. This function enables the global effects and activates the buffer-local effects in all (current and future) buffers that have a major mode listed in the user option writeroom-major-modes (by default only text-mode).

When global-writeroom-mode is active, the function writeroom-mode can still be called to enable or disable writeroom-mode in individual buffers (regardless of their major mode, of course). Calling global-writeroom-mode again disables writeroom-mode in all buffers in which it is active, also those in which it was activated manually.

Adding global effects

It is possible to define your own global effects and have them activated automatically when writeroom-mode is activated. For example, you may want to add your own font or colour effects, or replace the default fullscreen function with one that works in an older Emacs version. To do this, write a function that takes one argument and that activates the effect when this argument is t and deactivates it when it is nil. Then add this function to the user option writeroom-global-effects by checking the box “Custom effects” and adding the function to the list.