The best free word processor offers a simple platform for producing standard word documents without signing up for a paid account. While Microsoft Word has become the sort of de-facto among word processors, its high price has dissuaded many potential customers. You can try it out for free for a month on trial, but the full version costs $159.99 for one device.
Why pay for something if you can get it for free? Several open-source word processors have followed in MS Word’s footsteps by adopting DOC/DOCX compatibility and offering similar features. These word processors can be used online; some even have downloadable offline versions.
More importantly, they are free to use for any purpose, including writing and editing lengthy documents. Let’s examine which free word processors are worth considering.
1. Google Docs
Google Docs is an excellent alternative to MS Word and a widely used word processor by individuals and businesses. All kinds of written content can be uploaded, edited, and shared with others using Google Docs. Google Docs comes loaded with functions that can be expanded with third-party plugins as well.
Documents can be saved online and stored automatically on your Google account, but they can also be downloaded or forwarded as a web page or attachments in Microsoft Word, ODT, PDF, text files, or RTF file formats. Depending on your needs, you can allow people to work on the document with you simultaneously or let them view it for assessment only.
If you’re using Google Docs, you can activate offline access and continue working on your documents if you lose internet connection. You only need a (free) Google account to get started. Additionally, it gives you a selection of pre-made layouts to utilize. It supports both the Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF file formats for not only storage, but also editing.
2. Microsoft Word Online
Word processing and Microsoft Word have become synonymous over time. With a free Microsoft account, you can access Word Online, a stripped down web app version of the full Word experience. The website interface is similar to the Microsoft Word program on desktop. It also shares much of the same features as the desktop version, including real-time collaboration.
On the other hand, Word Online lacks some advanced features compared to the desktop program, like split views and custom styles. There is only one supported file type for saving documents: DOCX, which is Microsoft Office’s standard file format.
Other file formats from Microsoft Office, such as DOC and DOCM can still be opened and edited, but you cannot save or download those files. Even though it should be more than enough for everyday, general-purpose use, Word Online does not come close to Google Docs’ extensive functionality.
3. Zoho Writer
ZOHO Writer is a fantastic web-based word processor that provides various pre-made layouts for several document types. It has a lot of useful tools, including a grammar checker, a clipboard manager, the ability to work offline, document merging, digital signatures, and more.
There are zero ads, zero downloads, and no fees to use this tool’s features. It is simple to open and save Microsoft Word documents without changes. The resulting Word files can be saved in various formats, including Docx, PDFs, and others.
Its unique selling point is the built-in writing assistant, known as Zia. It works a lot like Grammarly, where it provides suggestions for certain terms and phrases to be replaced with more appropriate ones. Zia uses a machine-learning model to better itself over time as well.
Incorporating feedback from teammates and revising content as a group is a breeze with Zoho Writer. It also allows you to customize the access of documents with team members. With the Zoho Writer integration feature, you can create great content and publish it instantly to your WordPress or Blogger site. The Writer Extension can also be downloaded for Google Chrome.
4. WPS Office
You can get all the office software you need, including many extras, free with WPS Office. It has three main elements: the WPS Writer, WPS Presentation, and the WPS Spreadsheet. WPS Office is a free office suite that can be downloaded on various operating systems, including Windows 11/10/8/7, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.
It can modify Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and PDF documents. It’s compatible with a wide range of platforms and works as a powerful replacement for Microsoft Office. All Microsoft Office file types (DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, etc.), as well as HTML, RTF, XML, PDF, PPT, and so on, can be opened and saved in the program.
It provides 100,000+ ready-to-use and free templates organized by type, so you can use them to make professional-looking resumes, project schedules, reports, and more. It’s the most modern-looking option on this list, with a mobile-first design approach. That’s why WPS Office also allows cross-platform synchronization and easy collaboration.
5. LibreOffice Writer
LibreOffice is a free and open-source word processing software. A dedicated user community tests and utilizes the program regularly and Libre really pushed the ethos of collaboration with this program. The Writer is a feature-rich word processor similar to Microsoft Word, and has all the little tid-bits a writer might require.
Each version of Writer has pre-made wizards and document templates for frequently used documents kinds as letters and invoices, and it’s simple to make your own. It also prides itself in having an unobtrusive and easy-to-use UI that does not compromise on any extras. It is compatible with all common file types and can export files as PDFs.
While it looks like every other processor, LibreOffice is one of the few offline-first word processors around today; you do not need an internet connection to utilize its full potential. But when you want to, LibreOffice also integrates with the other office applications in their respective suite. For instance, you can use LibreOffice Base to produce bibliography.
Etherpad is a free, highly-flexible word processor that allows users to work together in real time. Etherpad’s adaptability is undoubtedly one of its greatest strengths. To increase your productivity tenfold, you have full access to more than 290 plugins and 105 languages with the full version.
Plugins allow you to alter your platform’s appearance and performance to suit your needs. The look of your Etherpad can be altered by changing the theme and color scheme. You can write, edit, and save several documents with no difficulty. The ability to import and export PDFs is only one example of the many useful plugins available.
Unlike other complicated options, Etherpad focused on being the best at basics. It has a simple, clean user interface that puts the focus back on creating the best piece of text, instead of dwelling on the unnecessary additions. But if you do need anything else, the plugins are always there for you!
In contrast to the other word processors on this list, WordPad does not come with a suite of programs, but it does have the significant benefit of not requiring installation. Since Windows 95, it has been included in every subsequent Windows release by default.
It’s not quite feature-rich as Microsoft Word, but it gets the job done when it comes to writing simple documents and reading word files. WordPad supports multiple export formats, including .txt and RTF.
Texts with special formatting, such as italics, boldface, custom fonts, bullets, etc., can be produced in WordPad. It is DOCX-compatible, which means it can be used as a replacement for Microsoft Word documents. It’s especially effective when you need to check out a document quickly without opening a browser or dedicated program on your PC.
7. Apple Pages
Apple Pages is the way to go if you are a Mac, iPad, or iPhone user and need a free word processor. Everything you need for word processing is available in Apple Pages. Opening, editing, and exporting documents in Pages is a piece of cake. Accessing the many typefaces, text styles, and editing features are simple.
It includes helpful editing tools, including a spell checker, a word counter, and a comments section for collaborative projects. Pages also have a fantastic auto-save feature that works in real-time. When you’re connected to the internet, it will routinely save your work to your internal storage or iCloud.
Furthermore, it also has a feature that detects and removes duplicate files. There are several tools and features that resemble Microsoft Word. When comparing Pages with Word, the greater degree of control you have over integrated images is a clear advantage of Pages.
It’s possible to export a manuscript in a publication-ready format as an EPUB file. Not to mention, being a part of the Apple ecosystem, everything is seamlessly synced across all your devices. The text you leave half-done on your iPhone is ready to turn into a fully-fledged document on your Mac right away.
After going through that list, we can confidently say that Google Docs and Office Word Online can be your best professional word-processing options that are absolutely free. You can choose between WPS Office, Zoho Writer, or Office Word Online if you need a cloud-based office suite with document collaboration features.
LibreOffice also serves as a great alternative to Microsoft Office because of its wide range of features and abundance of publishing options. WPS Office’s data management features, which include PDF editing and conversion, are among the best. Google Docs, in contrast, is the greatest word processor for efficient teamwork due to its support for voice typing, file sharing, and smart assistance features.