WordGrinder: Command-line Based Word Processor for Ubuntu Linux

Of course LibreOffice Writer or the LibreOffice in general is one of the best & free office productivity suites available, and heck ya it’s awesome too :). However, I hardly use it and due to my needs, I usually end up using Gedit instead. And when I’m using the command-line, sometimes I use the “nano” editor.

But using “nano” for instance, can be a bit hectic because, while accessing functions such as saving, exiting, deleting etc has to be done using built in commands rather than through a menu. Then again, we can use the keyboard shortcuts or use other, more simpler tools such as the Dav text editor (and TPP if you’re looking for presentation creator) too.

But they are all simple editors and you cannot bold a certain text, make them italic, add different paragraph styles etc using them (except “TPP”).

In that sense, if you’re looking for a lightweight and a simple word processor that runs in the command-line interface, then you might wanna try “WordGrinder”. True, it is a command-line based utility, but unlike with nano, it even has a “menu!” (just like with GUI tools) that lets you easily manipulate the text content.


Few main features …

*. Bold/Underline/Italic (it actually make your text “Bold” when clicking on “Italic” menu. Guess it’s a bug).

*. Open/Save documents in plain text or in HTML format.

*. Copy/Cut/Paste/Delete selected text.

*. Has few built in paragraph styles: Plain text, H1/H2/H3/H4 sub headings, text indent, add bullets or numbers to paragraphs etc.

*. Search and replace.

*. Auto save.

*. Counts words (very useful) and paragraphs.


*. Has a bottom status bar that shows your current activity.

*. Manage multiple documents.

*. Add scrapbook entries.

Well, that’s it.

If interested you can install “WordGrinder” in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by simply typing the below command in your Terminal window.

sudo apt-get install wordgrinder

Since it’s really ease to use, I don’t think anyone would need examples. But I think, few tips might come in handy (for some :)).

How to launch it?

Open your Terminal window and enter the below command for that.


This should open a blank document. If you want to open an existing document (either in plain text or HTML), then use it in the following format.

wordgrinder your-document

Remember, it is a simple word processor and cannot read LibreOffice formats.

How to open the menu bar?

Quite simple actually. Whenever you want open the menu-bar (hidden by default), simply press the “Esc” key or type “Alt + m”.

You can open sub-menus using your “right arrow-key” and to close a sub menu (including the menu itself), use the “left arrow-key”.

“Right Arrow” key for opening, “Left Arrow” for going back …

Easily execute menu commands (keyboard shortcuts) …

Every time you want to do a simple task (say that I wanted to search for some text), then it can be time consuming to open the menu and navigate to the proper command (sub menu items). In that case, you can memorize and use the appropriate shortcut key with the “Ctrl” key (Control key) for quickly executing a command.

For instance, let’s say that I wanted to toggle between text selecting option (disabled by default). Then I can press “Ctrl + 2” (or “Ctrl + @”) and can then use the arrow keys to select the text that I want.

You can easily figure out the key combination for each menu item by looking at its keyboard shortcut which is located at the very end of the each menu item (as shown below).

Just replace “^” with “Ctrl” and follow up with the proper letter (you don’t have to use Capital letters).

Replace the character “^” with “Ctrl” key …

Few examples …

Let’s say that after selecting a certain text, I wanted to copy it the clipboard, then I can use the below keyboard shortcut.

Ctrl + c

If I wanted to search for some text, then the below shortcut should do it.

Ctrl + f

Hope these examples clarify it for you.

Saving documents …

When you save a document, by default “WordGrinder” adds two dots (“..”) before the file name. Now since in GNU/Linux, adding a dot before the file name hides it, your newly saved documents will be hidden in your file manager.

However, they are not gone and you can open them anytime with “WordGrinder” by making sure to add two dots before the file name.

For instance, if I saved a file called “new” (in my Home folder) then “WordGrinder” saves it as “..new”. So you can use the below command to open it.

wordgrinder ..new

Rather than

wordgrinder new

Which is incorrect, thus will give an error saying that it cannot find it and will open a new document instead.

But the best thing to do is to remove those two dots prior to saving a file as shown below.

Remove the two dots (marked in Blue) before saving a file and it should solve those issues …

As now, it should be viewable in your file manager or you can use its actual name while opening and you don’t have to use the “..” before the names either (as illustrated below).

wordgrinder yourdocument

So anyway, as an ending note, “WordGrinder” is a simple text/word processor and as you can see it’s not a LibreOffice-Writer replacer by any means (obviously).

However, if you’re looking for a lightweight & a hassle free text editor (writer) that can be used in Ubuntu Linux, then WordGrinder is somewhat a rare tool that’s worthy of your attention ;-).  Enjoy!.

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

6 thoughts on “WordGrinder: Command-line Based Word Processor for Ubuntu Linux”

  1. I've played with Wordgrinder a bit, but I cannot get it to retrieve saved documents! Before I get to that, I did email the author the other day about escaping from the ESC menu without making a selection. He replied with the solution: "cursor left" (left arrow). I also tried key rebinding and that worked nicely, but did not persist the next time I opened the program.

    I'm a newbie when it comes to the terminal- I haven't really used one since 1993. Now I'm running Linux Mint 10. I was excited that Wordgrinder installed so easily, BUT, why doesn't it save files? I know that things disappear when you close the terminal, but I do get a dialog box with my file directories when I use Save (first time) or Save As. When I go to open them later, it's as if they haven't been saved. Any ideas? Thanks.

  2. Follow-up: it appears that I can save wordgrinder files WITHIN text files as long as I begin with a text file to piggyback on. If I export a wordgrinder file to text, I can later add wordgrinder files to it like so:


    The above is what it looks like when I save in wordgrinder within the terminal.

    If I save [wordgrinderfile] without a txt file, it seems to vanish into the aether.

    • Hi Dave,

      I tested it and it saves documents without any issues and you can re-open them later too.

      However, I kinda guessed why you said "… vanish into the aether …" :D.

      It's because, before you save documents in Wordgrinder (whether using "save" or "save as"), you must remove the two dots before the file name, otherwise, the document is there but it's hidden in your file manager! (because adding a dot or two before a file name in GNU/Linux, hides it).

      So it's not gone, but just hidden. So, whenever you save a file in "WordGrinder", just make sure to remove those two dots before the file name which should fix that issue.

      I've updated the post and near the end, you'll find those instructions as well. Thanks for pointing it out! :D.

  3. Wordgrinder only supports Italics and Underline for formatting, no Boldface, according to the documentation accompanying the program. See /usr/share/doc/wordgrinder/README.wg (open the file with Wordgrinder!).

    To emphasize text you would either underline or italicize it. In the case of the latter, the text will be displayed in boldface style on the screen, and that's probably the reason, why there's no support for boldface formatting, in turn…



  4. I’m having issues with the tab key. I found out how to get it to not italicize, but I had to set it to indent the paragraph and there isn’t a way to stop it after hitting the key. This is distracting, since I always hit tab to start a new paragraph. Not having a function tab key makes the other export formats useless since a lot of the time tab is used for formating in them.


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