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Abiword Free Linux + Windows Word Processor for “slower Netbooks, Laptops + Computers”

abiword screen cap

Abiword is a Free Open Source Word Processor which is fast . Abiword is not an office suite since it does not come with a spreadsheet program like Excel or presentation program like Powerpoint like MS Office 2007, so the file size of Abiword on your computer hard drive is small. It does not use a lot of RAM, CPU, hard drive, monitor space system resources, so it is the best word processor for slower Netbooks, laptops, or computers with very little RAM, a slow CPU, or not enough free space to install a full office suite like MS Office 2007 or Open Office by Oracle. Abiword has most of the functions that most users need like spell check, dictionary for many different languages, word count, margin editing, page break, header, footer, and a lot more. The user interface is similar to MS word 2003, so there is not a long learning curve. It took me about a few minutes to learn all the features I normally use when typing up a report.

Abiword is a decent Word processor since it only uses about 11 MB of RAM according to Windows Task Manager in Windows 7, and takes a few seconds to load on my PC. Abiword seems like the perfect Word processing program for Netbooks and slower Laptops, and computers. It doesn’t use a lot of CPU system resources or RAM. According to the installer, it only uses about 22MB of hard drive space on a typical install. The Program also uses your screen very well since it does not clutter up your monitor with extra toolbars, buttons, and status bar like some Word Processsors which make it a good word processor for Netbooks and computers or laptops with small monitors.

You can also set the dictionary/spell checker to English (Canada) or another language from the default English (US) spelling function. It also can open Microsoft word 2003 doc and 2007 docx files, and OpenOffice odt document files. Abiword seems like a good word processor for students, people who only uses their computer to write letters to print out since it has spell check, double and single space, bold, italics, underline, font size, and margin size editing, Find and Replace, and text formating features which is good enough for a lot of people. Abiword also has a built-in Google , Wiki, and dictionary web search options.

However, I notice Abiword tends to crash when doing print preview and relys on image viewers like Irfanview to display print previews. I also had Abiword crash during editing tables. There isn’t a document recovery system like MS Word, so once Abiword crashes all your work after the last save point is gone forever unless you save before the crash. This is why you should manually save your work often by using the CTRL+S shortcut key or the Floppy icon on the toolbar which saves your work on your document. Auto Save seems to not work in Abiword, so I am stuck manually saving my work by clicking the Save button or CTRL+S. I also notice sometimes the formating becomes weird after I closed and reopen my Abiword documents like when I make a Hyperlink blue and underline then the text after the hyperlink also becomes blue and underline, but it was not like that before I closed the Abiword file. Plus, when I type the screen does not update. There are black dots on my monitor or lines untiil I minimize and maximize my Abiword window.

I also find making website links kind of frustrating compared to MS Word, since there is no link button on the main toolbar, so I need to turn on the View menu > Toolbar Extra bar to get yhe icon. When I open files made with Abiword in Word, I notice the link is not blue, but black, so I need to manually format the lenk text to be blue and underlined. The P paragraph mark is also not available on the toolbar like MS word. You have to go to view menu and click on Show Formating Marks or press CTRL+*(on Number pad). The spell checker seems to think words like blog, toolbar, and other jargon are misspelled, but the spell check works pretty well for regular words. However, the addwords to dictionary and Ignore all words on the right click menu does not seem to work after I restart Abiword for some words like Wordpad and Abiword. Abiword also does not seem to support document password protection. Abiword sort of reminds me of Wordpad which comes with Windows for free. The only difference is Wordpad has fewer features, and no spell checker option. You also have to rely on the right click menu and menu file bar to do more of the regular tasks like inserting an image. You can also Insert tables in Abiword.

However, if you format the tables too much, sometimes word can’t draw it properly. I also notice there is no save to PDF function built-in to Abiword like MS Word or OpenOffice, so you need to install http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/on your computer to print your file to PDF from the print program in Abiword.Word Count and Editing Margins on your documents is very easy to use.You can also make numbered and Bullets lists in Abiword.

numbered list

  1. fox
  2. Cat
Bullet lists
  • dog
  • fish

There is also a footnotes function in Abiword for referencing purposes. There is even Superscript 2nd and Subscript 2nd in Abiword. I have not tried the mail merge function, but you can use CSV, xml, and tsv for mail merges. I don’t like how there are grey boxes on bullet and number list, mail merge fields, page numbers, and other special fields. I notice I also have some trouble with adding and editing headers and footers in Abiword. Sometimes the headers do not add the next page number and other info when a new page is created, so I have to add it manually by going to insert menu > Header or Footer. I can also insert page breaks like in MS word in Abiword. I don’t like how I can’t search for fonts in the font drop down menu by typing in the font name in the drop down menu text box for fonts. I can also high light text and change font color in Abiword which can be useful if you are editing or studying your notes. I can also add comments or Annotations to your document by selecting text and from the right click menu go to annotation then New annotation to annotate your highlighted text. There also seem to be an Online Collaboration function in Abiword, but I haven’t tried it since I don’t have any documents which I need to use for Collaboration with others. Plus, I rather use Google Docs since all you need is a Gmail account which a lot of people already have to collab with other writers on the internet.

In Summary, Abiword is a good light weight word Processor for people who just need a word processor for typing out documents, and printing them on their own computers. Abiword is not so great if you need to share documents with people who use MS Word since Abiword documents saved as DOC files sometimes are formatted weirdly when open with MS Word 2007 when showing tables, and links.The only problems I have with Abiword is header, footer, adding words to dictionary, ignoring words, occasional crashed during print preview or editing tables, Auto-save does not work, Abiword need a 3rd party virtual PDF printer program to print files directly to PDF, link formating have to be done manually like making the link blue and underlined, so it is displayed correctly in MS word or a PDF file. Mail merge does not support XLS Excel spreadsheet program. I had a few errors which caused me to lose all my work. Thankfully, I backed up my work, so I did not lose much work. If you like free word processors which use very little system resources and has only the features you want and none that you do not want. Abiword is the word processor for you. But, Abiword is not as feature rich as OpenOffice by Oracle or MS word 2003, 2007 and 2010. Abiword also has some stability problems since it tends to crash during Print preview and editing tables, so you need to save your work manually since Autosave does not work in my experience. I recommend saving your work in regular intervals like every 5 minutes by clicking the floppy button on the toolbars or CTRL+S on your keyboard after every major change. I also recommend backing up your documents after a major change since I encountered this annoying problem with Abiword where the entire document was blank after I saved and closed it, and reopened it and all my work is gone. I think it is best to save your files as Abiword documents instead of MS Office files which are .doc or .docx since I think it is better to use the native file types, and only use .doc when you plan on sending a file to a MS Office user.

Abiword documents saved as .docs also display decently when uploaded to Google Docs. See Sample at http://docs.google.com/View?id=dgbrk8f2_170ckmn8fgd

There are a few small formating errors, but nothing too annoying.

Download Abiword athttp://www.abisource.com/

I like Abiword, but I recommend OpenOffice if you are looking for a very stable free Office Suite for Word processing, Spreadsheets, Drawing, Presentation and Database software. Open Office is a good software for students, home office users, and people who do more with their computer then just word process.

Download open office at http://www.openoffice.org/

I used OpenOffice for many years and it seem like a better software then Abiword, and I feel Abiword only has the speed and lightness advantage over the heavier Openoffice when it comes to free open source word processors. But, I find it less stable compared to OpenOffice and MS Word 2007 which I both used for a few years.

This book might help according to some reviews by users on Amazon: Getting Started with Open Office .org 3: OpenOffice.org 3.0

With all word processors and office programs, I recommend you backup your documents to another drive like a USB flash drive, external hard drive, online back up account since sometimes document files get corrupt or broken for unknown reasons, so if your files becomes corrupt at least you still have a good version of your document file on another drive or computer, so you can just retype the parts which were wiped out by a system crash, or hand in 50% of your essay to the teacher, and at least get some marks if the teacher is not reasonable and does not accept late submissions or deduct a lot of marks like 50-70% per late day that it is not worth handing it in late.

Abiword is a great addition for Google Docs users with super slow computers who need a word processor for when their internet connection is not active since Google Docs is a Cloud based internet program, so once your internet connection is slow or not working you need to type your documents with a regular word proccessor.

Abiword is a good replacement for Wordpad, but I won’t want to use it as a replacement for OpenOffice or MS Word 2007 or 2010 since I notice Abiword crashes, I encounter an error where I lost all my work, it can’t save files directly to PDF, and the user interface can be kind of confusing since you rely more on the Menubar and right click context menu.

For Online Storage, I recommend http://docs.google.com/since Google docs not only store your files, it also lets you edit your files with your web browser. I recommend Kingston DataTraveler I – 4 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive DTI/4GB for storing backups of your documents offline. Remember, you should have at least two separate copies of the same file just in case someone steals your computer, or you lost or break your flash drive.

Download my Report of AbiWord at
Download my PDF report for Abiword which talk about my two day experience with Abiword

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