How to Restore the Old Pre-WordPress 4.1 Distraction-Free Editor

How to Restore the Old Pre-WordPress 4.1 Distraction-Free Editor

Did you update to WordPress 4.1 with its new distraction-free mode, only to find it more distracting than before?

You aren’t the only one. Many WordPress users are less than impressed with the updated feature, and I can hardly blame them.

The new distraction-free editor makes the space you have to write even smaller, and every time you move your mouse something appears and/or disappears. What could be more distracting than things popping up every time you move your cursor?

In this Weekend WordPress Project we’ll cover what the new editor is like and why it is creating disgruntled WordPress users, and show you how to restore the old pre-WordPress 4.1 distraction-free editor without the need to downgrade your version of WordPress.

What Changed?

WordPress 4.1 saw a complete overhaul of the distraction-free editor.

When you now switch to distraction-free mode, the admin bar fades slightly, and every other element of the interface except the text editor box fades out of view. And whenever you move your mouse outside of the text editor box, everything slides back into view.

This is a far cry from the old distraction-free editor, which simply presented a jumbo-sized text box and a limited toolbar for you to work with.

The distraction free writing mode in action.
The distraction free writing mode in action.

How to Get Rid of the New Distraction-Free Mode

You can always just turn off the distraction-free mode, which is simple enough to achieve:

  1. Create a new post or navigate to an existing post within WordPress.
  2. Click on Screen Options.
  3. Uncheck the Enable full-height editor and distraction-free functionality box.

Disable distraction-free functionality

This will stop your editor going into the distraction-free mode, but unfortunately will also stop you being able to use the full-height editor. There is however another solution, which enables you to go back to the previous distraction-free mode.

Using gm-fsdfm.php

Thanks to gmazzap, we now have code that can “trick” the editor back into the pre-4.1 mode. Available as a GitHub project – gm-fsdfm.php – this is the easiest way to return to the old distraction-free editor without downgrading.

Here’s a quick look at the necessary code:

And six simple steps to get it up and running:

  1. Copy the code
  2. Paste it into Notepad and save as a zip file
  3. Go to Add New Plugin in your WordPress dashboard
  4. Click on Upload Plugin
  5. Upload your zip file
  6. Click Install Now

That should be all that’s needed to get the old distraction-free mode back up and running on your site. Try it out by navigating to a new post and toggling the distraction-free mode.


There you have it, a very quick and easy way to restore the old distraction-free mode, without the need to downgrade to version 4.0.

What do you think of the new distraction-free mode? Let us know in the comments below.

Aileen Javier

Aileen Javier A past writer for WPMU DEV