WriteMonkey is one of our favorite writing tools. For starters, it's portable freeware. Free is good, and portability adds flexibility: You can take WriteMonkey along with you on a USB drive and run it on any handy Windows machine. Zenware notes that WriteMonkey has "an extremely stripped-down user interface," but that's what sets it apart from other word processors and notekeepers. That "stripped-down," full-screen interface replicates the inspirational purity of a blank piece of paper. But WriteMonkey is also a full-featured writing tool that doesn't cut corners and even packs lots of cool extras, such as simulated typewriter sounds for the total effect (you provide the leather elbow patches). WriteMonkey receives frequent upgrades and new features. Recent updates include better performance on Netbooks and Windows 8 compatibility.
WriteMonkey is portable freeware that runs when you click the extracted program file and without having to be installed, though its extensive documentation includes several notes about "installing" the program, which involves copying or moving the extracted program folder to the destination of your choice, and updating it, which involves overwriting existing files. WriteMonkey opened with a blank white page in Letter proportions, labeled Scratch, and displaying discreet word and time counters. The old-school font's typeface looks like it came straight off of a mechanical typewriter. But right-click WriteMonkey's page and you'll call up a menu with no fewer than ... well, a whole lot of entries; everything from setup, options, and basic commands to unique features like the Jumps Window, which serves as a central navigation window for files, folders, bookmarks, and just about anything in WriteMonkey. Plenty of assistance is available, too. The Help Card assembles all of WriteMonkey's hotkey shortcuts and markup rules in a highly visible, white-on-black pop-up. Features like Spell Check, Italics, and Export Markup are a click or two away. The Lookups menu's fast reference links are practically indispensable.
We've used WriteMonkey for years now, and its minimalist look actually helps reduce distractions, though the draggable minimized window might be better suited for everyday use like note-taking. For us, its intuitive features and Zen-like purity keeps WriteMonkey "always on top."