Best Free Word Processor

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Introduction
If you don't have a lot of space on your hard disk, or you simply wish to create word processing documents without installing an entire office suite then you've come to the right place.  The following list contains reviews of free word processors, that load in a jiffy, with capabilities near those of an office suite word processor.  Essential features like font formatting, paragraph formatting, file saving to .txt, .rft or .doc will be assumed.  These reviews will focus on what makes the program unique as free ware often tends to put a special twist on the normal run of the mill software.  Online word processors are generally excluded from this category.  Older or discontinued formats maybe removed from review.  
 
If you are looking for an office suite then click: Best Free Office Suite and take a look at Gizmo's Freeware List of Best Office Suites.
 
NOTE: The Comments section of this category is for brief feedback and input.  Suggestions for new releases or updates for review are encouraged.  For more detailed discussions, please submit those comments in our Forums section.
 
Discussion

JarteJarte

Everything about Jarte breathes lightweight and fast. Created by Carolina Road Software this word processor is offered as a free version, portable version and optional upgrade to the "bells and whistles" version Jarte Plus ($19.95 US).  The program downloads as either a regular install or a portable version in a zip file.
 
Jarte boots quickly with a Welcome document and blank document already tabbed. The layout is a bit shocking for diehard word processor users.  Thinking back, so was changing from the MS DOS style of Word Perfect to the Windows GUI interface of MS Word many years ago.  That's not to say Jarte is the future, instead it's more of a twist on the present.  Absent of the usual button bars in most word processors, Jarte uses a slate looking bar with gel like buttons (see picture) for a cleaner look.  The trade off is using menus and short-cut keys instead of cluttered buttons.  The default layout (called Compact) can be changed to Minimal or Classic views.  When learning to navigate the Compact layout, turning on the labels is helpful.  Minimal layout will remove the graphics and provide a traditional text menu bar.  Classic uses a different layout for the buttons and provides better labeling, and an icon menu for various actions.  There is an option to turn on button labels in Compact layout if you need them.  My personal favorite is the Classic layout.  In this layout it's easier to set bars for reference tools like dictionary and thesaurus and set a search bar; or both.
 
Individual documents are opened in tabs that become labeled with the file name once saved.  This makes working on multiple documents simultaneously easier than using short cut keys or a Window menu to navigate between documents.  I found this to be true as I used Jarte to write the reviews for this category. Some of the features, like the dictionary, thesaurus, and help link use online resources.  Spell checking must be manually invoked in the free version by pressing F7 or finding it in the edit menu (Compact layout) or the Spell button in Classic layout.  Automatic spell check is available in the paid version.  For files accessed frequently, like templates, use the "favorites" folder to find and open faster. 
 
What makes Jarte unique is changing the status quo when it comes to word processing by changing the interface and providing a cleaner more playful environment.  
 

WordGraph

WordGraph is physically one of the larger programs.  The installation is fast though.  I tried following one of their download links which took me to Soft82.com.  This site tried to install a download program so I canceled it and tried the Mirror 1 link.  This took me to Majorgeeks.com and installed painlessly.  
 
Unfortunately WordGraph does not setup a desktop icon by default, so I had to dig the program out of the Windows programs menu.  When the program opened I was surprised by the GUI layout.  There are toolbars of quick buttons, but they are more colorful and smoother than most traditional older styles.  The program opened in Outline layout view using a point ruler instead of a U.S. standard ruler.  Also the ruler is on both sides of the document instead of the left side only.  When I tried to get help on the ruler I encountered another challenge, a message that said "The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows. However, you can download a program that will allow you to view Help created in the Windows Help format."  The missing file is WinHlp32.exe.  So I went to the Microsoft website using the provided link, followed the instructions and installed the update.  The help file now works, unfortunately there is no help regarding the ruler or many other functions.  
 
The experience does get better.  WordGraph is intended for more advanced users than many of the other WPs.  This program is actually from an Office Suite so you will find many of the same features.  A cool feature I appreciated are the buttons for things like superscript/subscript, special characters, date & time and highlighting.  I was always bothered having to dig for those features in other WPs.  Being able to tile multiple documents horizontally or vertically is a nice feature. Although the margins are shown in millimeters, when you move the mouse over one of the margin settings it shows the U.S. equivalent of inches.  For security WordGraph has the ability to scramble the text and lock the document.  The software company touts word art and math equations but I didn't find anything outstanding in either of these features.  Use of the Math Equations/Expressions requires installing their Spreadsheet program Accel.  Another feature missing from the troublesome help file.  There is an upgrade available for later download, however this requires downloading a zip file, unzip the file in a directory then copy the files into the original SSuiteOffice directory and paste to overwrite the existing files.  The process seems a bit cumbersome to me.
 
What makes this program unique is the appearance and layout.  Many functional toolbar button choices often not found in WP programs.  
 

AbiWord

AbiWord

AbiWord uses the traditional word processing GUI layout.  The program is a bit dated since the last release 4 years ago.   AbiWord touts being open source and cross platform similar to MS Word.  The goal of the program is to function on multiple platforms.  To that credit, most other word processors are Windows platform only.
 
The download and install process for AbiWord is easy and comes complete with six different install types: typical, full, full with file associations, minimal, full plus downloads, as well as a custom install where the user can pick and choose between which functions and features to add or remove from the installation. In under thirty seconds the program is installed and runs upon completion.
 
At first look, there is very little that appears to make this program unique, aside from being cross-platform.  I did manage to find the Extra toolbar.  This toolbar adds buttons I typically miss in a word processor; lining, super/sub scripts, paragraph spacing, line spacing, and head/footer buttons.  Another feature I like is being able to change the ruler measurement from inches to point, centimeter, or pica using the preference menu.  AbiWord has a dictionary and a reference section, but no thesaurus.
 
Sharing documents is possible with the integration of AbiCollab Web service in the latest version (2.8.6). This feature is especially welcome for scenarios such as remote collaboration.
 
Related Products and Links

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Best Free Text Editor
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Quick Selection Guide

Jarte
4.5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Clean fresh looks, task oriented, various layouts.
No grammar checking.
http://www.jarte.com/
5.0
2.97 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP to Windows 8

Jarte 5.0 can be installed directly over earlier versions of Jarte. All existing Jarte settings are preserved.

WordGraph
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Advanced features, additional command buttons, tile docs, custom ruler
Hard to setup help file, help insufficient, updates cumbersome
8.10
14 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000 - Win 8

Update 8.12 available. Exports to multiple formats. Dual monitor compatible.

AbiWord
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Custom ruler, Extra toolbar with cool buttons, cross platform
Help section is lacking, outdated look and feel
http://www.abisource.com/
2.8.6
7.94 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Open source freeware
Windows 2000 to Windows 7, Linux, Mac OS X

Supported formats: OpenOffice.org documents, .doc, .docx, .rtf, HTML web pages

Editor

This software category is maintained by volunteer editor joeguru. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.

 
Tags

word processors, wordpad replacement, text editors, best free, light-weight word processor, wordpad, letters

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Comments

by Colleen (not verified) on 21. May 2011 - 15:13  (72438)

I had to start over with a new hard drive and can't afford Microsoft Word right now. I need the best free program that will allow me to create documents (up to 50 pages), open and edit Word documents I have already created, and save as a .doc or .rtf.
I tried open office, but all of my pre-existiing documents open as "read only" which does not help me. They were created with Word 2003.
Suggestions?

by wesman on 24. May 2011 - 20:16  (72623)

I have had the sinking feeling that comes with being forced to start anew. And the headaches that are associated. But fear not, this website is here, and at least as it relates to Word documents, this category has you covered.

Really, given what you require, any of the fine software mentioned here will suffice. I tend to suggest Jarte and Abiword. In your case, since you mention Word 2003, Abiword may be more to your liking, as Jarte employs a clickless mode of operation absent from Word 2003.

Cheerio!

by supanut on 2. June 2011 - 9:58  (73095)

AbiWord is outdated.
Latest stable 2.8.6 is from October 2009.
Latest DEV version is only available as a source code.

by David N (not verified) on 2. June 2011 - 15:21  (73120)

I've used Abiword and like it. What is source code? Is that newer? I looked and all I can find is 2.8.6. Is that source code something stable that I can use?

D

by Anupam on 2. June 2011 - 16:16  (73126)

Source code is the code behind of the program, which will be programming language in plain text. You will have to compile the source code, to get an executable. Unless you are familiar with the process, its a difficult task. Its a thing for the programmers, not for general users, who are not familiar with all this.

by billga (not verified) on 5. June 2011 - 15:32  (73283)

In Open Office 3.3.0 with a read only document open you can open a copy for editing. Hit the edit file button. You will be asked if you wish to open a copy for editing. This works well with downloaded odt files from Google Docs

by Gary Morris (not verified) on 11. June 2011 - 15:54  (73643)

Portable Atlantis Nova 1.0.0.71 is one of the smallest (you can make it less than 500kb), but way more effective at reading most word prior to 2007. And this one is portable!!
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Office-tools/Text-editors/Atlantis-Nova.shtml

by wesman on 13. June 2011 - 14:17  (73738)

Without source code, programs are not possible. While there is newer source code, it is just that. It is not something that can be readily used. 2.8.6 is the latest usable version. Hope that clears up any confusion.

Cheerio!

by Ahmed Rezk (not verified) on 15. June 2011 - 7:01  (73821)

Yes, me too! i was searching for a free light word processor that has a simple interface and strikethrough feature! and i finally found it. thumbs up PolyEdit :)

by erik11 (not verified) on 7. July 2011 - 13:06  (74933)

Over the years I have tried most of the minimalist word processors mentioned here and more than a few of the alternatives to Word including OO and Libre O. I have tried Jarte a couple of times and cannot stand it. I don't like it's layout or the way it feels. I have tried text editors and they seem too rigid for me. The way the processor feels is very important to me since I want it to be an invisible connection between me and the printed word.

I find myself always coming back to Atlantis Nova. It is small, very fast and feels familiar. I have never had a crash with it and it has handled some very large files. I find it ideal for keeping journals and writing medium length technical articles. I can change styles and experiment to my hearts content and not get into the mess that I can create with Word styles. And it does not have a heap of stuff that I will never use.

It is portable. I keep it and a pile of writing on one of my USB sticks and it is just there when needed.

It has page numbering which I find very valuable in my journals and justification. It also can insert date and time with a single click - also very useful in my work.

Some things it does not have such as multi-column capability, footnotes and endnotes can be worked around or its big brother Atlantis can be used. Tables are harder. However, if you are serious about using these features in a large production such as an illustrated textbook then Word or a comprehensive program such as Indesign is the way to go.

But they do not have the feel of Atlantis Nova and it is very satisfying to be able to produce text with such ease using such a small program.

erik

by JonJay (not verified) on 12. July 2011 - 14:42  (75305)

I'm changing to Windows 7. I need a word processor that will accept my old Works (.wps) files. It says here that Abiword does, but it won't. Any suggestions?

by wesman on 12. July 2011 - 18:57  (75330)

One workaround is to convert the format of the file. Take a look at this:http://bizgrok.com/help/msproducts/

Also, have a look at the software in our other category:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-office-suite.htm

Cheerio!

by jafd (not verified) on 15. July 2011 - 16:02  (75555)

Hello,

A bit beside the point here, but have been using good old PC-Write since '86, to get my thoughts from brain to screen to disk (Nowadays just use it to turn out the .txt, copy and paste to OpenOffice for the formatted product).

Am wondering if there's a work-alike program out there, using the same F-key commands, etc. Would be nice, also, if it did copy-and-paste without going thru the Windows clipboard, and could search-and-replace for CR/LF's

Thanks for your patience with this old codger.

by supanut on 12. August 2011 - 9:16  (77524)

Atlantis Nova is no longer free!

by MidnightCowboy on 12. August 2011 - 9:44  (77525)

It's still listed as freeware at the Softpedia link we provide above.

by kiana (not verified) on 19. August 2011 - 22:14  (77985)

uuggghh these word processor suck cuz dey are old fashined and dont open to any of the rtf files

by garth on 19. August 2011 - 22:24  (77986)
by Michael Connor (not verified) on 19. August 2011 - 22:54  (77990)

Polyedit Lite opens .rtf files;

Several of the others listed do as well;

Go here http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/word-processor-replacement.htm#Quick_Selection_Guide

and look at the supported formats.

Regards....Mike Connor

by wesman on 20. August 2011 - 0:44  (77998)

As has been said mate, Atlantis Nova is still freeware. Methinks it might be the full blown version of the software you referring to. The basic version of the software is freeware.

Cheerio!

by JudyJudy (not verified) on 2. September 2011 - 21:44  (78915)

I downloaded OpenOffice on my Windows 7 laptop & hate it! Every time I want to view an attachment from my e-mail it makes me download it to see it. Also if I share files, other people cannot read them frequently & also I cannot read picture file attachments (comes up gibberish in my e-mail when sent from a MMS mobile phone text). Sometimes also when I download something (not pdf), it comes up gibberish & even I can't read it.

I have previously used Word but was trying to save some money, but am so dissatisfied that I am considering giving up the $150 for Microsoft Word.

What do you suggest? I also need something I can move my OpenOffice files to.

by locko29 (not verified) on 7. September 2011 - 8:48  (79124)

I am very old and a technophobe. I used office xp for years and was really happy with it but unfortunately, it stopped working, (something to do with vista, I understand). I bought office 2007 but could not work with it, lost my rag and jumped on the disc. Now I have no word processor at all. I only use word,do not really need spell check (due to old-fashioned grammar school education)but a facility for creating tables would be useful. Can any of you clever young people advise me as to a SIMPLE but effective free word processor. I would be eternally grateful but please describe in non-technical terms. Thank you so much.

Locko29

by Jane Lafonzo (not verified) on 7. September 2011 - 9:50  (79129)

Kingsoft Office Suite Free 2012

offer a Full Office Suite for FREE!!!

www.kingsoftstore.com/kingsoft-office-freeware.html

by MCHAL on 7. September 2011 - 14:53  (79140)

I guess you could try this free suite http://www.softmakeroffice.com/ - its word processor seems to handle Word docs quite well.

Also, upon getting to know about the new free Kingsoft 2012 suite (mentioned in the post above), I downloaded it. After giving it some initial try out, I felt really impressed - apparently much improved over its previous edition. So you might as well try it - hopefully, it may suit your needs. Good luck.

Regards.

by wesman on 12. September 2011 - 16:13  (79485)

Please direct your comment to http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-office-suite.htm

The focus of this category is not on full blown office suites.

Cheerio!

by wesman on 12. September 2011 - 16:16  (79486)

Please direct your comment to http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-office-suite.htm

The focus of this category is not on full blown office suites.

Cheerio!

by syntax_error on 13. September 2011 - 0:03  (79506)

"a SIMPLE but effective free word processor" would be WordPad which comes free with Vista.

Just click on the orbital "bottom left of your desktop" and type wordpad.

If you want more just try the ones recommended in this review, starting from the top.

by geebs (not verified) on 17. September 2011 - 0:18  (79745)

I tried Jarte and it was awful! I couldn't find anything I needed, and some things I clicked told me they were only available in the Commercial version and wanted me to buy it.

AbiWord is BY FAR the best free standalone word processor. No competition.

by gizmojo (not verified) on 19. September 2011 - 0:18  (79860)

Something put an ad for Atlantis: The Lost Tales into my Windows Games folder and there was no way to get it off because of how Windows stores its game files, so I used a system image. I am guessing it was Atlantis Nova that did it, but someone might want to test that out.

by syntax_error on 7. October 2011 - 21:56  (81068)

That seems to be a little hard to do at the moment!

Kingsoft Writer is well worth a look, as it also saves in .doc format and uses tabs in the same manner as a web browser does.

However as wesman pointed out you have to download the suite to get it, still only 68 MB.

by Kristy (not verified) on 17. October 2011 - 22:11  (81625)

My vote is for Jarte!

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