October 20, 2017

Distraction Free Reading

Distraction free reading is visual accessibility

You are not alone if you have struggled to keep your focus reading through articles on the web that are bombarded with still and animated ads. For example, reading Why One Millennial Musician Is Working To Save Music Education) is a challenge as shown in the brief animation below.

Animated gif showing distracting ads

Millenial musician article with ads

Readers are easy to use with many benefits

However, there are a surprising number of readers who are either not aware of or do not attempt to apply reader tools built-in or readily available in Firefox, Safari, and Chrome. Through a simple click these tools enable distraction free reading of most web pages by stripping everything but the article’s text and relevant images.

Using a tool's appearance options text can be enlargened, font style changed, and background color modified. As a result readers feel empowered to focus on reading in a calming environment, providing an opportunity to more effectively retain information. Distraction free reading is visual accessibility.  A list of other benefits:

  • You can reduce the text size to print the information that you need to read in a much more compact format, thus reducing paper waste.
  • Print or save the rendered page as a PDF document for filing or reading later with a smart phone or tablet.
  • Use a browser reader to remove busy, animated web pages to show only text and relevant images will significantly reduce the drain on your device’s battery (laptop, smart phone, tablet).

The section below shows how to enable Reader tools including installing an extension in Chrome.

Safari (iOS, Mac) and Firefox (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows)

Safari for Mac and iOS devices have the built-in Safari Reader. Firefox Reader View is also built-in the web browser and works equally well on both iOS and Android devices. Both tools will automatically display for pages that they can successfully reformat. Some pages including multiple column home pages are not suitable for reformatting.

For example go to the NYTimes page: Would Carrots by Any Other Name Taste as Sweet? (Links to an external site.) and apply Safari Reader or Firefox Reader View.

Click Firefox Reader View
Click Safari Reader

Chrome (Mac and Windows)

Google Chrome does not include a built-in reader like Safari and Firefox but installing the recommended Mercury Reader extension (Links to an external site.) provides a button on the Chrome toolbar that provides the same functionality as Reader and Reader View.

For example go to the NYTimes page: Would Carrots by Any Other Name Taste as Sweet? (Links to an external site.) and click  Mercury Reader [1].
Click Mercury Reader

Firefox Reader View includes narration

In Firefox Reader View use appearance options [1] to change the font type, font size, margin width, spacing between lines, and background color. Readers can also choose Narrate [2] to to narrate text and change the speed or choose from a variety of voices.

Firefox Reader View with appearance and narration controls

Millenial musician article - distraction free with larger text


  1. Great blog!!! I totally agree with your points. Yes one will learn when he/she will get interested in it. And changing in text size, font colour and background will help them to focus more.
    The market is totally flooded with le-learning software, we got a list of relevant and comprehensive learning management system which are also savvy.

  2. I have just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the best virtual strippers getting naked on my taskbar.


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