Adobe Photoshop is the gold standard in the realm of photo editing and has dominated the market for years. However, due to its immense range of functions, the programme is often too complicated and expensive for amateur photographers and designers. It’s no wonder then that there are many appealing cheap and free Photoshop alternatives available.
Which Microsoft Word alternative is right for you, depends almost entirely on what you want to use the programme for. If it’s important for you to have a lot of options regarding text design, you need a different programme compared to those who just concentrate solely on writing. Also, the alternatives to Microsoft Word all take up different amounts of memory – or you could also choose an online programme that doesn’t require any space on your hard drive. An important prerequisite is that the programme is compatible with your operating system.
- Word alternatives in comparison
- Apache OpenOffice Writer: similar to Word
- LibreOffice Writer: alternative to OpenOffice
- AbiWord: simple programme with many functions
- WriteMonkey: writing without distraction
- Google Docs: online word processing
- Additional online writing programs
Word alternatives in comparison
|Suitable for||Mobile version||DOCX files||Features||Languages|
|OpenOffice Writer||Windows, Linux, Mac, Solars, FreeBSD||Yes, for Android||Only opens||Similar to Word||Many languages are available through the language packets|
|LibreOffice Writer||Windows, Linux, Mac OS X||Viewer for Android||Opens and saves||Many updates||Many languages are available through the language packets|
|Abiword||Linux||No||Opens and saves||-||Many languages are available through plugins|
|WPS Office Writer||Windows, Linux||Yes, for Android and iOS||Opens and saves||Encryption and cloud||Many languages can be installed afterwards|
|SoftMaker FreeOffice||Windows, Linux, Mac||Yes, for Android||Opens and saves||Additional dictionaries are available|
|Writemonkey||Windows||No||Opens and saves||Writing without distractions||In addition to English, 14 other languages are available|
|Google Docs||Everything, due to being online||Yes, for Android and iOS||Opens and saves||Work together in real time||Many languages available|
Apache OpenOffice Writer: similar to Word
Apache OpenOffice was operated under the name OpenOffice.org until 2012 and now is simply called “OpenOffice”. The OpenOffice Writer is the most popular among the Microsoft Word alternatives, and together with LibreOffice, it’s most similar to the original. Just like the Microsoft Office packet, OpenOffice (as well as being a word processing program) also provides an alternative to Excel, a database tool, a drawing program, a tool for mathematical formulas, and a presentation tool. OpenOffice doesn’t, however, provide an alternative for the Outlook e-mail program.
OpenOffice Writer has all the functions that you need in everyday office life. It is important that OpenOffice can open all Microsoft Word formats. When saving work, OpenOffice Writer only supports the older file formats (.doc, .xml). Most of the details are in the layout, however subtleties such as the placement of footnotes could shift content around. It is therefore recommendable to convert documents to pdf documents before you print them. OpenOffice Writer is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
|✔ Similar to Microsoft Word||✘ Doesn’t save docx files|
|✔ Can open Microsoft Word formats|
LibreOffice Writer: alternative to OpenOffice
An alternative to the alternative: LibreOffice split off from OpenOffice in 2010 after disagreements with Oracle, who was the main sponsor at the time. The layout and functions of the programme are largely the same, but there are some important differences. The LibreOffice Writer can edit and save the docx file format, whereas OpenOffice can only open it. If you often swap documents with other Microsoft Office users, it’s recommended you use LibreOffice.
LibreOffice also provides significantly more updates than OpenOffice, which can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. The advantage is that developers eliminate errors, close security gaps, and implement new features. However, they sometimes also create immature functions and not all users have the patience to keep installing new updates every two months.
|✔ Also saves docx files||✘ Immature functions|
|✔ More updates||✘ Updates can interfere|
AbiWord: simple programme with many functions
The name AbiWord comes from the Spanish word 'abierto', meaning 'open'. This Microsoft Word alternative provides similar functions to the original and the layout is similar to earlier versions of Word (up until Word 2003). AbiWord takes up little space on the hard drive: only 20 megabytes. With AbiWord, you can create tables, embed graphics, and automatically fill in fields in e-mails with the Mail Merge tool.
With a long list of plugins, the features can be expanded by installing AbiWord. The import filters, for example, are used to read and save most file formats, including docx files. In practice, however, the layout has to be reworked in some formats. AbiWord also offers a platform with AbiCollab.net where you can work on documents with other people in real time. AbiWord doesn’t have a function for exporting documents as a pdf. The programme works alongside Windows and Linux on the operating system QNX, FreeBSD, and Solaris.
|✔ Lean programme||✘ No export of pdf documents|
|✔ Also saves docx files||✘ Extra plugin required for many features|
|✔ Collaboration platform|
WPS Office Writer: Alternative for frequent writers
The company, Kingsoft, has been distributing its Office package WPS Office since the 1980s. In addition to various paid versions, the manufacturer also offers the extensive Office Free Edition. The structure of the text processing program looks very similar to that of Microsoft, comes however with a few changes. For example, it is possible to open several documents within the program and switch between them with the help of tabs. Another special feature is the two display formats “Eye Protection Mode” and “Night Mode”, which makes the writing area very easy on the eye.
Files can be saved in different file formats. Therefore, not only the WPS format is available, but also other common file types, including DOCX. If you log in, you can also access a personal cloud and save the files online. Users also have the simple option of securing the file with a password and establishing encryption.
Costs extra for the full scope
Many file formats
SoftMaker FreeOffice: Word processing from Germany
The German software manufacturer, SoftMaker, also offers a free version of FreeOffice in addition to its fee-based offer. All users need to do is enter a valid e-mail address. You have the choice between a classic menu structure and the modern ribbon view. No matter which one you choose, the window is very tidy.
When saving the documents, you can choose either between Microsoft Office file formats or the in-house SoftMaker formats. Additionally, you have the possibility to export documents as pdf or epub. The free office suite also includes a spreadsheet program and presentation software. FreeOffice receives regular updates and is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. You can also download a version for Android smartphones.
E-mail address must be entered
Also works with Microsoft formats
Complete Office suite
WriteMonkey: writing without distraction
WriteMonkey is the right choice for anyone who wants to write without being distracted by advanced layout features. The full-screen mode is most similar to the simple white (or depending on the settings, black, green, or another colour) paper, where you can let your creativity run wild. Right-click to access the menu, which will then allow you to fade out certain parts of the text, or be able to jump between different paragraphs. You can set the timer for the amount of time you want to concentrate. The built-in word completion also saves a lot of time when typing.
WriteMonkey is the smallest of the desktop programmes mentioned here. It doesn’t need to be installed, which means that WriteMonkey can be used on a USB stick and then put onto other computers. To open WriteMonkey, simply download the application file folder, copy it to a random folder on your hard drive, and then open the WriteMonkey.exe file. Texts can be saved by WriteMonkey as a txt file, or exported to Word, also as a docx file. WriteMonkey only works on Windows.
|✔ Fullscreen mode for full concentration||✘ Only for Windows|
|✔ Timer||✘ Layout isn’t very elegant|
|✔ Works without installation|
|✔ Also saves docx files|
Google Docs: online word processing
Google Docs is an online writing programme. If you have a Gmail account, click on 'Documents' in the tool bar to go to Google Docs. You can also open your documents using Google Drive. In Google Docs, you can create new documents and work with multiple users on the same document at the same time. You can see straightaway what changes other users have made to the document. This is especially useful when you want to write a text together with others, or when working with editors. As with Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, and LibreOffice, Google Docs also provides features for creating tables (sheets) and presentations (slides).
The disadvantages of Google Docs are that it’s slower and has fewer features than Microsoft Word alternatives that are stored on the computer. The layout options of Google Docs are much more limited. Also, many users have reservations about trusting the internet with confidential information. In addition, the functionality of Google Docs depends on the quality and security of the internet connection. Fortunately, there is also a Google Docs app that you can download to your computer or smartphone and then work in offline-mode.
|✔ Work from anywhere||✘ Fewer functions that desktop programmes|
|✔ Simple to use||✘ Slightly slower|
Additional online writing programs
Of course, there are also Google Docs alternatives. Zoho offers the most features among the online word processors, such as an e-mail program and many layout options. Zoho requires registration by opening an account and is therefore particularly suitable for users who regularly edit texts online. For occasional group work, Etherpad is a good fit since it doesn’t require an account. Etherpad has less text editing features, but is the fastest tool for group work.