groovyTip: Use Focus Mode in Word 2016 for Mac to Reduce Distractions

Digital clutter blocking your muse? Try this built-in feature for Microsoft Word to regain focus.

In a world where distraction is just a mouse click away, minimalist writing apps like iA Writer and WriteRoom have been gaining immensely in popularity.  But for those of us who already know and love and have a paid license for Word 2016 for Mac, buying another barebones word processor can be a tough sell. Fortunately, you can get a very similar distraction-free writing experience in Word 2016.  Word 2016 for Mac’s focus mode is a recent addition, which you can quickly use to hide various commands and user interface elements such as the scroll bar. You won’t get the exact same experience as iA Writer or similar apps, but you definitely get the benefits of a cleaner interface that lets you focus on your thoughts and getting them down.

Using Word 2016 for Mac Focus Mode to Reduce Distractions

You can launch focus mode two ways: (1) go to the View tab then click Focus, or (2) click the focus mode icon on the status bar.

Once in focus mode, all you will see is your blank document and a dark background. Even macOS interface elements such as the menu bar and Dock are hidden from view.

Commands and settings can still be accessed; just hover your mouse pointer at the top of the window to view them. When you are ready to leave focus mode, press the <Esc> key or hover your mouse pointer at the top, then click Exit.

If you find focus mode a bit too much, you can use more subtle options for reducing distractions, such as hiding the ribbon. To collapse the ribbon, click the arrow at the top right.

Word 2016 for Mac also supports the full-screen mode feature in macOS, when you click the maximize button.

Focus Mode is quite nice though, especially when you are working on that important document late at night and those creative juices are flowing. But for users who prefer a balance, there are several options available in Microsoft Word and macOS.

How do you reduce your distractions while writing? Share with us in the comments.



  1. John Svirsky

    July 17, 2017 at 4:02 am

    I am using Word for Mac 16 v 15.36. I bought it as part of Office Professional. And focus does not show up either in view bar nor status bar, how can I get it back. I love the black borders when typing. Thanks in advance

  2. Marie

    November 8, 2017 at 11:41 am

    While I appreciate focus view, I’m losing my mind because my Word installation (Word for Mac, 15.39) keeps switching to Focus view on its own. How do I prevent this?

  3. Yohanan P. Goldman

    September 12, 2019 at 6:48 am

    Just downloaded the update version 16.16.14 and no focus button appears nowhere. On my MacBook it does appear on the Word 2019 vers which I bought recently. What does this disappearance mean ?

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