For basic text editing purposes, Windows operating system comes with two programs called the ‘Notepad’ (a pretty basic one) and ‘WordPad’ (a bit more powerful utility with features such as: text -- Bold/Italic/Underline, add pictures, paragraphs etc). But, because they both lack lots of productive features, they’re not that useful for getting any real work done :).
So as a solution, if you don’t want to spend a fortune on products like MS Office suite ;-), then you can use the free & open source ‘LibreOffice’. But then again, if all you want is a simple word processor that comes with decent amount of features, then these utilities can still have few drawbacks.
For instance, both those office suites (including many others) won’t let you only download the word processor. Even with the free ‘LibreOffice’, you still have to download the whole ‘package’, not just the word processor (above 200MB, much worse with MS Office. Not that good if you have a slow internet connection as well).
Now don’t get me wrong, I love open source tools, but, there are other tools such as ‘Cribr’, that is small in size but has a reasonable amount of features. The download/installer size is still below 7MB!. So, depending on your needs, for some, it could be an ideal solution.
It looks a lot like MS Word 2010 and also has few other features such as ‘Wolfram alpha’ integration, search for ‘cheat sheets’ online, document translating etc that can come in handy for doing online research while composing documents (for students and teacher for instance).
Few main features …
*. Supports opening MS Office document formats (.doc and .docx), text files, HTML and Cheat-sheets.
*. Save composed documents in those above mentioned formats plus, also lets you save them into the PDF format as well.
*. Enter symbols, equations (equation editor), pictures, tables, charts (linear, bars, circular, 3D pie etc), URLs, date & time, ‘Quote’ and more.
*. Bold/Underline/Italic, change font type or color and size, text align, enter numbers, find and replace, undo/redo, superscript/subscript, print preview, change spacing, adjust document width/height, change the background, load templates, add keywords and many more!.
*. Built in Spell checker, translator (needs to have a live Internet connection), thesaurus, ‘summary generator’ and ‘Wolfram alpha’ integration.
I specially like the ‘Wolfram alpha’ feature, because it makes doing things like researching while creating the document, a lot easier. If you don’t know what ‘Wolfram Alpha’ is, then in simple terms, it’s a self learning search engine that can put together answers for the user entered questions. And it’s a lot different from ‘traditional’ search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo etc.
For instance, if you put the word ‘generate a password’ into Google, then being a traditional search engine, it’ll use its search listing index (‘knowledge-base’) and point you toward websites that you can get your answer from.
But, if you put the same question in ‘Wolfram Alpha’, then rather than pointing you towards other website (it lists them too), using its ‘knowledge-base’, it’ll go a step forward and will create a password for you!.
Just to fare, in Google too you can use a bit similar function by using the ‘define:’ argument.
For example, try putting ‘linux’ into Google and then compare that result after searching for the ‘define:linux’. But still, ‘Wolfram Alpha’ is different and is quite advanced than most those search engines.
Anyway, again, if you do a lot of online research while composing documents, then these features will come in handy.
*. Supports opening/editing multiple documents in tabs.
*. Compress texts.
Please be careful while using this feature as it’s irreversible!, because ‘Compressing’ texts involves in removing the ‘spaces’ between words etc and can only be undone manually!!.
*. Shows you live previews (‘Print previews’, as you type on).
*. Few built in themes, including the ability to change and show/hide tool-bars and other UI functions.
For instance, if you think the default mode has too many options on its main window, then you can use a built in ‘preset’ like ‘Simple’ from the ‘Options’ section and it’ll convert it into a more simplified one.
*. Create text summaries or Cheat sheets (including searching for ‘Cheat sheets’ online) with ease.
*. Minimize to the system tray area.
*. Needs the ‘.Net’ framework (version 2.0 or above) to run … these are some of main features to mention.
It won’t use a lot of your system resources, under most circumstance. However, once opened few tabs and searching for ‘Wolfram Alpha’ and using translation features, it did use a considerable amount of my PC’s RAM (about 174-177 MB).
Another issue is that (though this is a minor issue, perfectly negligible :D), while dragging and moving its window, the movements weren’t that smooth. But just to check, I disabled the ‘Aero’ theme in Windows and it fixed the issue :). Again, it’s nothing to worry about.
Anyhow, after all is said and done, I think that for an application that’s about 6.3 MB in size (installer), completely free and comes with a lot of features, ‘Cribr’ is an excellent utility that will come in handy for creating documents using both offline and online resources.
If interested, you can get it from this ‘Cribr’ project page. Good luck.