With the best free word processor, you can easily create familiar documents without purchasing a license or subscription to use them.
Best free word processors
You might be able to do without a spreadsheet program or something to create slideshows, but text documents are inevitable. While there are some good free word processors out there, they usually don’t have as many features as paid software. Even if this is the case, there may be compatibility problems when moving document formats between software platforms.
Here we take a look at the best word processors to use offline (especially useful for distraction-free writing). However, there are also some excellent browser-based tools that you should consider if you prefer to write online.
Google Docs is the most obvious choice and has the benefit of automatically saving your work so you don̵
The best word processor available today is: Microsoft Word
It’s still hard to beat Microsoft Word for sheer feature and convenience. While it’s not free like the tools listed below, the latest version fully integrates with Microsoft OneDrive and allows you to seamlessly move material between the entire suite of Microsoft 365 apps.
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LibreOffice is an offshoot of Apache OpenOffice, and the two offer very similar word processing apps. However, LibreOffice receives more frequent updates and has a livelier user base. Hence, we tend to choose them.
The word processing program Writer is a feature-rich analogue of Microsoft Word that contains all the tools you need to do text-based work.
The two versions of Writer include wizards and templates for common document types such as invoices and letters. You can also easily create your own templates for future use. The word processing programs also work together with the other office software in their respective suites. For example, you can use Base to create a bibliography.
Both word processing programs support all common file formats and can export documents to PDF without additional software. If you are looking for a word processor that stands for Microsoft Word, either of these two programs is a perfect candidate.
If you’ve used a modern version of Microsoft Word, there isn’t a learning curve when you switch to Writer – the word processing component of WPS Office Free.
This free word processor looks and acts much like its premium counterpart, and even has its own equivalent of OneDrive, which offers 1GB of free cloud storage.
The selection of pre-installed templates gives you everything you need for common document types, and you can easily create your own templates for bespoke tasks. It’s compatible with every text file format imaginable, including current and older versions of Microsoft Word from Office 97.
WPS Office Writer is supported by discreet ads that can be removed by upgrading to the premium version. However, they are barely noticeable and no functions are locked behind a paywall. Overall, WPS Writer is very impressive and in our opinion the best free word processor available for download today.
WPS also recently launched a free PDF to Word converter that is a great addition to their word processor.
If you just want to work out a few words without worrying about formatting, you can just use the Notepad app built into Windows. However, FocusWriter is full of clever tools to help you maximize productivity without ever getting in the way.
As the name suggests, FocusWriter blocks all distractions so you can focus on the important first draft. In normal use, you’ll only see a blank page – toolbars are only visible when you move the mouse pointer to the edge of the screen – but focused text has a killer feature that pushes everything but the current paragraph or sentence to the background.
FocusWriter also provides alerts that are triggered at certain times or when a pre-defined number of words is reached, so you don’t have to worry about showing a counter (like in Microsoft Word). This also makes FocusWriter a good tool when used in conjunction with the Pomodoro Technique, which requires you to work hard for a period of time long enough to be productive but not until you get tired.
It’s not good for editing, but FocusWriter is hard to beat for productivity.
TextMaker – the word processing element of SoftMaker FreeOffice – looks good and contains several practical templates for creating letters and other everyday documents. The choices aren’t as extensive as some of its competitors, but you can also create new designs and save them in TMV format for future use.
All of the features you would expect from a modern word processor are there and correct, including advanced formatting options, the ability to create databases to manage bibliographies and footnotes, and a feature to track changes to collaborative projects.
The only real downside to TextMaker is the inability to save your work in DOCX format (although you can easily open and edit these files). This function is limited to the premium version of SoftMaker Office.
WriteMonkey is another no-frills word processor that lets you maximize your output without worrying about editing and formatting. It’s not intended for documents like letters or résumés, but it’s great for getting early ideas onto paper (or screen) so you have the raw material to develop later.
Unlike FocusWriter, which is compatible with all popular text formats (including Microsoft’s DOC and DOCX), WriteMonkey only works with TXT files. You must therefore convert any work in progress before opening it. WriteMonkey’s hidden controls are also harder to navigate – everything is accessed through a large right-click menu or a large collection of keyboard shortcuts.
However, if you’d like to get those shortcuts to memory, WriteMonkey is faster to use than toolbar-based alternatives.
We also like the ability to look up words on Wikipedia, Google Images, Poetry.com, Answers.com, and many others without manually opening a browser winder and exposing ourselves to the temptations of Twitter and Facebook.
WriteMonkey is a portable app so there is no need to install it. Simply extract all the downloaded files to removable disk or cloud storage service and start them by running the WriteMonkey.exe file.