If you’ve used a modern version of Microsoft Word. Then there’ll be no learning curve when you switch to Writer – the word processing component of WPS Office Free.
This free word processor looks and behaves almost exactly like its premium counterpart. Moreover even has its own equivalent of OneDrive, offering 1GB free cloud storage.
Its selection of pre-installed templates gives you everything you need for common document types. Moreover you can easily create your own for bespoke tasks.Eve It’s compatible with every text file format you can think of, including current and legacy versions of Microsoft Word dating back to Office 97.
WPS Office Writer is supported by discrete ads, which can be removed by upgrading to the premium version, but they’re barely noticeable and no features are locked behind a paywall. Overall, WPS Writer is very impressive. Moreover in our opinion it’s the best free word processor available to download today.
(Image credit: The Document Foundation) 2. Libre Office Writer
All-singing, all-dancing word processors for any text-based work
Operating system: Windows, macOS, Linux
Excellent format compatibility
Document template galleries
Support for plugins
No ads or paywalls
LibreOffice is a fork of Apache OpenOffice. And the two offer very similar word processing apps. But LibreOffice receives more frequent updates and has a more lively userbase. So we’re inclined to lean in its favor.
The word processor, Writer, is a feature-packed analog of Microsoft Word. And packed with all the tools you could need for any text-based work.
The two versions of Writer include wizards and templates for common document types. Such as invoices and letters, and it’s easy to create your own templates for future use as well.For example the word processors also work together with the other office software in their respective suites – so you can use Base to create a bibliography.
Both word processors support all the most popular file formats. And can export documents to PDF without the need for additional software. If you’re looking for a word processor that can stand in for Microsoft Word, either of these two will be a perfect candidate.
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(Image credit: Graeme Gott) 3. Focus Writer word processor
The ideal word processor for first drafts, with no fussy formatting
Operating system: Windows, macOS, Linux
Blocks out distractions
Timers and alarms
Not ideal for editing
If you simply want to hammer out some words without worrying about formatting, you could just use Windows’ built-in Notepad app. But Foxus Writer is full of clever tools that will help you maximize productivity without ever getting in the way.
As the name implies, FocusWriter blocks out all distractions so you can give that all-important first draft your full attention. In normal use, all you see is a blank page – toolbars are only visible if you move your mouse pointer to the edge of the screen – but there’s a killer feature in Focused Text. Which fades everything into the background except the current paragraph or sentence.
FocusWriter also features alerts that are triggered at certain times, or when you’ve reached a predefined word count. So you don’t need to worry about watching a counter (as you would in Microsoft Word). This also makes FocusWriter a good tool to use in tandem with the Pomodoro Technique. Which involves working hard for a period of time that’s long enough for you to work productively, but not so long that you become fatigued.
It’s not great for editing, but for productivity, FocusWriter is hard to beat.
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(Image credit: SoftMaker) 4. SoftMaker Free Office TextMaker
Another great looking word processor, but watch your file formats
Operating system: Windows, Mac, Linux
Can export to EPUB format
Prints multiple pages per sheet
Opens password-protected files
Doesn’t support DOCX files
TextMaker – the word processing element of SoftMaker Free Office – is good looking. Subsequently comes with several handy templates for creating letters and other everyday documents. Moreover the selection isn’t as extensive as some of its rivals’. But you can also make new designs for future use and save them in TMV format.
All the features you’d expect from a modern word processor are present and correct, including advanced formatting options. The ability to create databases for managing bibliographies and footnotes, and a function for tracking changes to collaborative projects.
The only real drawback of TextMaker is its inability to save your work in DOCX format (though you can open and edit these files with no difficulty). This feature is limited to the premium version of SoftMaker Office. Which retails for £48.20 (about US$60, AU$75).
(Image credit: pomarancha_) 5. Writemonkey
Productivity-focused word processing with quick shortcuts
Operating system: Windows
Handy keyboard shortcuts
Only works with TXT files
WriteMonkey is another no-frills word processor designed to help you maximize your output without fussing with editing and formatting. It’s not intended for documents like letters or CVs. But is great for committing early ideas to paper (or screen) so you have the raw material to develop later.
Unlike FocusWriter, which is compatible with all the most common text formats. WriteMonkey only works with TXT files. So you’ll have to convert any works in progress before opening them. Moreover writeMonkey’s hidden controls are trickier to navigate, too – everything is accessed via a large right-click menu, or a vast collection of keyboard shortcuts.
That said, if you’re happy to commit those shortcuts to memory, you’ll find WriteMonkey faster to use than toolbar-based alternatives.
We also like the ability to look words up in Wikipedia, Google Images, Poetry.com, Answers.com. Likewise many others without opening a browser winder manually and leaving yourself open to the temptations of Twitter and Facebook.
WriteMonkey is a portable app, so no need to install it. Therefore just extract all the downloaded files to a removable drive or cloud storage service. And fire it up by running the file WriteMonkey.