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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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                            1 How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Right Now 2 15 Ways to Cultivate Lifelong Learning for a Sharper Brain 3 How to Overcome Procrastination and Start Doing What Truly Matters 4 10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur 5 Why Do I Have Bad Luck? 2 Simple Things to Change Your Destiny

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                            Last Updated on October 30, 2018

                            How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Right Now

                            How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Right Now

                            Who needs Tony Robbins when you can motivate yourself? Overcoming the emotional hurdle to get stuff done when you’d rather sit on the couch isn’t always easy. But unless calling in sick and waking up at noon have no consequences for you, it’s often a must.

                            For those of you who never procrastinate, distract yourself or drag your feet when you should be doing something important, well done so far! But for the rest of you, it’s good to have a library of motivational boosters to move along.

                            Whether you’re starting a buisiness, trying to los weight or breaking a bad habit, you’ll learn how to motivate yourself with different techniques in this article.

                            13 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself Right Now

                            Despite your best efforts, passion, habits and a flow-producing environment can fail. In that case, it’s time to find whatever emotional pump-up you can use to get started:

                            1. Go back to “why”

                            Focusing on a dull task doesn’t make it any more attractive. Zooming out and asking yourself why you are bothering in the first place will make it more appealing.

                            If you can’t figure out why, then there’s a good chance you shouldn’t bother with it in the first place.

                            2. Go for five

                            Start working for five minutes. Often that little push will be enough to get you going.

                            3. Move around

                            Get your body moving as you would if you were extremely motivated to do something. This ‘faking it’ approach to motivation may seem silly or crude but it works.

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                            4. Find the next step

                            If it seems impossible to work on a project for you, you can try to focus on the next immediate step.

                            Fighting an amorphous blob of work will only cause procrastination. Chunk it up so that it becomes manageable. Learn how to stop procrastinating in this guide.

                            5. Find your itch

                            What is keeping you from working? Don’t let the itch continue without isolating it and removing the problem.

                            Are you unmotivated because you feel overwhelmed, tired, afraid, bored, restless or angry? Maybe it is because you aren’t sure you have time or delegated tasks haven’t been finished yet?

                            6. Deconstruct your fears

                            I’m sure you don’t have a phobia about getting stuff done. But at the same time, hidden fears or anxieties can keep you from getting real work completed.

                            Isolate the unknowns and make yourself confident, you can handle the worst case scenario.

                            7. Get a partner

                            Find someone who will motivate you when you’re feeling lazy. I have a friend I go to the gym with. Besides spotting weight, having a friend can help motivate you to work hard when you’d normally quit.

                            8. Kickstart your day

                            Plan out tomorrow. Get up early and place all the important things early in the morning. Building momentum early in the day can usually carry you forward far later.

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                            Having a morning routine is a good idea for you to stay motivated!

                            9. Read books

                            Read not just self-help or motivational books but any book that has new ideas. New ideas get your mental gears turning and can build motivation. Here’re more reasons to read every day.

                            Learning new ideas puts your brain in motion so it requires less time to speed up to your tasks.

                            10. Get the right tools

                            Your environment can have a profound effect on your enthusiasm. Computers that are too slow, inefficient applications or a vehicle that breaks down constantly can kill your motivation.

                            Building motivation is almost as important as avoiding the traps that can stop it.

                            11. Be careful with the small problems

                            The worst killer of motivation is facing a seemingly small problem that creates endless frustration.

                            Reframe little problems that must be fixed as bigger ones or they will kill any drive you have.

                            12. Develop a mantra

                            Find a few statements that focus your mind and motivate you. It doesn’t matter whether they are pulled from a tacky motivational poster or just a few words to tell you what to do.

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                            If you aren’t sure where to start, a good personal mantra is “Do it now!” You can find more here too: 7 Empowering Affirmations That Will Help You Be Mentally Strong

                            13. Build on success

                            Success creates success. When you’ve just won, it is easy to feel motivated about almost anything. Emotions tend not to be situation specific, so a small win, whether it is a compliment from a colleague or finishing two thirds of your tasks before noon can turn you into a juggernaut.

                            There are many ways you can place small successes earlier on to spur motivation later. Structuring your to-do lists, placing straightforward tasks such as exercising early in the day or giving yourself an affirmation can do the trick.

                            How to Stay Motivated Forever (Without Motivation Tricks)

                            The best way to motivate yourself is to organize your life so you don’t have to. If work is a constant battle for you, perhaps it is time to start thinking about a new job. The idea is that explicit motivational techniques should be a backup, not your regular routine.

                            Here are some other things to consider making work flow more naturally:

                            Passion

                            Do things you have a passion for. We all have to do things we don’t want to. But if life has become a chronic source of dull chores, you’ve got a big problem that needs fixing.

                            Not sure what your passion is to get you motivated? This will help you:

                            How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

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                            Habits

                            You can’t put everything on autopilot. I’ve found putting a few core habits in place creates a structure for the day.

                            Waking up at the same time, working at the same times and having a similar productive routine makes it easier to do the next day.

                            This guide will be useful for you if you’re looking to build good habits:

                            Understand Your Habits to Control Them 100%

                            Flow

                            Flow is the state where your mind is completely focused on the task at hand. While there are many factors that go into producing this state, having the right challenge level is a big part.

                            Find ways to tweak your tasks so they hover in that sweet spot between boredom and maddening frustration.

                            Easily distracted and hard to focus? Here’s your solution.

                            Final Thoughts

                            With all these tips I’ve shared with you, now you know what to do when you’re feeling unmotivated.

                            Find your passion and develop a positive mantra so when the next time negativity hits you again, you know how to stay positive and motivated!

                            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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