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Write Here, Write Now, Write Anywhere: 13 Free Web-Based Word Processors

Write Here, Write Now, Write Anywhere: 13 Free Web-Based Word Processors
Write Here, Write Now, Write Anywhere

Imagine the situation: You’re visiting your parents’ home for the holidays, a thousand miles from your own PC, when inspiration strikes, a brilliant idea for the next plot twist in your novel! Or consider: you’re on a business trip and your laptop is stolen — and the proposal you’re working on is due tomorrow! Or you’re on campus when you remember you have an assignment due in two hours — and you live an hour away!

Maybe you have a thumb drive you keep your work on; now all you have to do is find a PC that can read your files, and hope you remembered to backup the files you need right away. But advances in web technology over the last couple years have given us another way to work from anywhere, no matter what computer we have access to, as long as we have access to the Internet: online word processors.

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An online word processor gives you the ability to create, edit, save, and access your documents from anywhere. The best ones also allow you to share documents, track changes and revert to earlier versions, and collaborate with other writers. Best of all, any reasonably up-to-date computer can access them, usually without installing anything (some require ActiveX, Flash, or Java — all of which are already present on most computers).

I’ve been using several online word processors since Writely (now Google Docs) was launched a while back, and with recent updates to Google Docs and Zoho, and the launch of a few new ones, I decided to check out the field and see what I might have been missing in the online word processing world. I was surprised to find 13 different online word processors (and a 14th, still in testing, that I couldn’t get running) available for free (there are some paid ones out there, but given the quality of some of the free ones I decided to exclude them from this round-up).

New Kid on the Block: Adobe Buzzword

My favorite, by far, is the newly-launched Buzzword, recently acquired by Adobe. Buzzword runs in Flash, and I generally hate Flash (in fact, I use the Flashblock extension in FireFox to disable Flash-based content by default). But Buzzword uses Flash incredibly well, providing a usable word processor that’s stunningly gorgeous. Look (click any of the screenshots for full-size views):

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buzzword

    Buzzword allows for full formatting, headers and footers, page numbering, endnotes, tables and images, keyboard shortcuts, and commenting — all the basic word processing functions most people tend to use. It also offers a running word count, inline spell-checking, and revision history — great for writers! The menu takes some getting used to; the paragraph, list, image, and table settings slide into place when you click their icons on the right side of the toolbar.

    I do have a few very minor complaints. The first is that the fonts available are Adobe’s own, beautifully designed but proprietary, typefaces. Which means that chances are they’ll be replaced with your system’s defaults (Times New Roman and Arial for Windows users) when you download a document and open it in Word or another word processor. Also, Buzzword doesn’t give you the ability to export as pdf — strange, considering it’s Adobe. And finally, Adobe doesn’t say how much storage they’re offering users — though given the small size of text documents, it doesn’t have to be very much to be useful.

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    Let me tell you how much I like Buzzword: I started writing a book just so I could play with it more. I’ve written over 13,000 words — 39 pages — including a nicely formatted title page. It’s simply a joy to work with, especially with the browser set to full-screen.

    The Sleeper Candidate: iNetWord

    inetword

      The big surprise doing this research is that my second-favorite online word processor is one whose name I’d never heard: iNetWord. In fact, if Buzzword hadn’t just come out, iNetWord would be at the top of my list. This is a full-featured, complete word processor, with support for backgrounds, borders, page-numbering, tables, images, the works. It comes with several built-in templates — for both web tasks like page design and blog posting, and business tasks like faxes and letters — and is incredibly responsive. It’s tabbed interface is a nice touch, allowing you to open and work on several documents at the same time. And it’s still in beta!

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      The Big Three: Google Docs, Zoho Writer, and ThinkFree

      Up until now, my “go to” web-based word processor has been Google Docs. I’ve also used Zoho Writer quite a bit; ThinkFree I’ve stayed away from, not because it isn’t well-done but because it uses Java, and I’ve never had much luck with Java-based apps. These three are the “big dogs” of online word processing, and are integrated into online office suites — with spreadsheets, presentation editors, project managers, contact managers, notebooks, and other goodies — that make them very compelling.

      • googledocs

          Google Docs: Formerly Writely, Google Docs was the first online word processor I used to any significant degree. Like all things Google, it’s interface is clean — maybe too clean — and it generally just works. Basic formatting is easy, storage space is generous (though documents are limited in size), and sharing and version control are easy. Because the underlying code is plain HTML, though, some things are awkward, like multiple indenting. Still, I’ve created dozens of documents on Google Docs, and have no real complaints.
        • zoho

            Zoho Writer: Even though I use Google Docs much more often, I like Zoho Writer more. (Go figure out people, huh?) Zoho offers a great interface, and almost every feature a writer could ask for — page numbering, footnotes, templates, sharing, publishing to web, export as pdf. They’re also integrating with Box.net, which means I’ll be able to open, edit, and save documents from and to my Box.net account, which I like.I use Zoho for big documents, and Google Docs for “quickies” — but I have a lot more of the latter than the former.
          • thinkfree

              ThinkFree: Java-based ThinkFree is a great editor — once it starts running. The “quick edit” function, with a limited toolset, is pretty snappy; the “power edit” function (pictured above) can take a minute or longer to load. Once loaded, though, it’s essentially Word 2003 , with autocorrect, tables, styles, word count, insert fields, export to pdf — everything but, as far as I can tell, headers and footers. It picks up the fonts from the PC it’s running on, which means you get a nice selection; unfortunately text looks pretty crummy, I assume because it’s running in Java.

            All the Rest

            Here are the rest of the online word processors I’ve tried out, in alphabetical order. Some of these are quite good, some have highly specialized uses, and some are not quite ready for full-time use. Taken together, though, they show the incredible possibility of online applications, and hopefully provide each other with some healthy competition and incentive to realize that possibility. Maybe next year one of these will have replaced Buzzword as my new online word processor of choice– or even as my daily use word processor!

            • ajaxwrite

                ajaxWrite: With it’s simple interface and clean workspace, you’d think ajaxWrite would be ideal for quick writing without distractions, and I’d like to think it is.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to save when running it in FireFox. Other people swear by ajax13’s apps, though, so I’m assuming it’s just a conflicting extension or something. 
              • docly

                  docly: As a word processor, docly is passable — similar in functionality to KB Docs and GreenDoc, below.  What sets docly apart, though, is its focus on copyright management, with the ability to assign a work a Creative Commons license or a traditional “All Rights Reserved” license. Documents can be shared and published, as in most of the other online services covered here, or they can be offered for sale and accessed through their search engine.
                • goffice

                    gOffice: Although gOffice’s main product is a paid suite, and thus excluded from this round-up, for now at least their iPhone-compatible word processor is available free. Not the most useful application, as it adds an ad for gOffice when you save, but a unique test-of-concept, and one I imagine will lead to more useful iPhone applications in the future.
                  • greendoc

                      GreenDoc: Basically an online web-page editor, GreenDoc allows you to start writing and save directly to the web without logging in. Documents stay online for 90 days, or you can create an account for more permanent storage. The toolset is a standard range of formatting options, good for basic, no-frills editing.
                    • kbdocs

                        KB Docs:Another no-frills editor, even more basic than GreenDocs. Distinguished by it’s easy sign-up — just pick a username and password, hit enter, and you’re editing.
                      • peepel

                          Peepel: Part of a full-fledged webtop system, Peepel’s word processor has a pretty good set of basic options, with some nice templates. The user interface is weird — maybe “quirky” is a better word: click on the site’s logo to open the menu.
                        • writeboard

                            WriteBoard: Created by the good folks at 37Signals, WriteBoard is a bare-bones, wiki-style editor intended more for collaboration than authoring. Technically I guess this isn’t a “word processor”, but it’s a decent, bare-bones editor — especially if you’re already comfortable with wiki formatting codes.
                          • writer

                              Writer: This one is also not technically a word processor. Writer is a stripped-down writing environment intended for writers. It offers no formatting, no spell-checking, no fonts — nothing but green text on a black screen (recalling those TRS-80 days of yore…) and a word count, so you can write write write until you hit your goal.

                            The Rookie: Ulteo Offers OpenOffice.org Online

                            The Next Big Thing might well be Ulteo, which promises the entire OpenOffice.org suite online, accessible through any browser. I’ve signed up for the beta test, but so far I haven’t been able to try it out. Being able to access OpenOffice.org anywhere would be a big step — and might just push Microsoft to finally make it’s Office apps available online. (Or is that not the idea I’m supposed to get out of their “Microsoft Live Office” product’s name?) The ultimate dream is to be able to do anything online I can do with computer-based software — and Ulteo, if it works, is a huge step in that direction.

                            Last Words

                            As a writer, a good, solid word processor is my most important tool; as someone who often finds himself away from home and wanting (or needing) to write, the quality of some of these word processors is greatly appreciated. I was surprised that my two favorites were brand new to me — I’m looking forward to giving Buzzword and iNetWord a thorough working-out over the next few months.

                            Do you find these applications useful? What online word processor do you use, and why? Have I missed anything — and, especially, have I missed anything that would replace Buzzword as my new favorite? (I’m fickle like that — if something else comes along, I’ll move on in a heartbeat!)

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                            Last Updated on November 3, 2020

                            50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                            50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                            If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

                            No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

                            Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

                            1. Set a Timer

                            Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

                            In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

                            Download Clockify here.

                              2. Eliminate All Distractions

                              Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. One consideration is trying out Freedom an app that allows you to block certain sites during periods of time. Try it out on your phone here.

                              You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

                              3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

                              Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

                              Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

                              Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

                              4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

                              Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

                              If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

                              5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

                              By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

                              Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

                              6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

                              Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

                              Download Todoist here.

                                7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

                                Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

                                Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

                                Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

                                8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

                                To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

                                Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

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                                Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

                                9. Don’t Multitask

                                Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

                                For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

                                10. Step Away from the Computer

                                The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

                                I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

                                11. Use Focus Tools

                                Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

                                Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

                                12. Just Start

                                Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

                                Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

                                13. Find out Your Productive Hours

                                Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

                                Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

                                14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

                                This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

                                Download Evernote here.

                                  15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

                                  The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

                                  When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

                                  And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

                                  Try WordPress out here.

                                  16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

                                  I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up.

                                  Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

                                  17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

                                  The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

                                  Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

                                  18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

                                  As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

                                  “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

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                                  This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

                                  19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

                                  I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

                                  Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

                                  20. Get Plenty of Sleep

                                  When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

                                  Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

                                  21. Exercise

                                  Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

                                  Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

                                  Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

                                  22. Outsource as Much as Possible

                                  If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

                                  Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

                                  23. Set Some Exciting Goals

                                  Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

                                  Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well.

                                  For example, Strides is an app that takes the SMART goal framework and amplifies it through reports, charts, and other helpful information to help you achieve your goals faster and regularly.

                                  You can download Strides here.

                                    24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

                                    When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

                                    25. Listen to Podcasts

                                    Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

                                    Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

                                    Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

                                    26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

                                    This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

                                    Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

                                    27. Learn to Speed Read

                                    When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

                                    You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

                                    28. Learn to Skip When You Read

                                    When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

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                                    Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

                                    29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

                                    Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

                                    We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

                                    30. Take a Break

                                    You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

                                    31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

                                    What is polyphasic sleep?

                                    Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

                                    While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

                                    32. Learn to Say “No”.

                                    We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

                                    Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

                                    33. Go on an Information Diet

                                    Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

                                    Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

                                    The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

                                    34. Organize Your Office

                                    The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

                                    Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done.

                                    35. Find a Mentor

                                    By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

                                    A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

                                    36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

                                    With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

                                    When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

                                    Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

                                    Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

                                    37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

                                    Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

                                    You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

                                    38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

                                    If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

                                    Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

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                                    How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

                                    39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

                                    Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

                                    Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

                                    40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

                                    Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

                                    Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

                                    Pick up Mealime here.

                                      41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

                                      When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

                                      Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

                                      42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

                                      The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

                                      Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

                                      43. Take Shorter Showers

                                      This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

                                      44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

                                      Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

                                      45. Auto Pay Your Bills

                                      How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

                                      Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

                                      46. Shop Online

                                      Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

                                      47. Speed up your Internet with a broadband connection.

                                      Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

                                      If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

                                      48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

                                      If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

                                      Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

                                      49. Turn off the TV.

                                      The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

                                      For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

                                      Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

                                      50. Use a Tivo or DVR.

                                      This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

                                      So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

                                      More Time Management Tips

                                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                                      Reference

                                      [1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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