One of the great things about writing for WorldStart is the opportunity to test free software, something that, as a geek wannabe, I’d already been doing at home for years. And, as it was then, while mining the software fields, it’s exciting to discover a little gem. AbiWord is one of them.
AbiWord is a free, lightweight, open source word processor that offers many of the same features found in far pricier (and bulkier) competitors. These features include spell check, a wide range of formatting tools, standard cut and paste options, rulers and tabs, styles, find and replace, and much more. As an added bonus, the interface is very similar to Word and other conventional word processors, so there’s a reduced learning curve. The interface is shown below.
Headers and footers can be added, along with multiple columns, and support for subscript and superscript  is available. Pictures, hyperlinks, and page numbers can be inserted, along with column headers and tables of contents. If this isn’t quite enough, plug-ins are also available.
Documents can be saved in many different formats, including Word, OpenOffice, or HTML. There is also an AbiWord default format. If you want to change the saved file type, just select your choice from the Save as type drop down list shown below.
Nothing unexpected happens during the download and installation process, and it only takes a few minutes to set up. You can, however, during installation, choose to add or remove components and set up file associations.
One of the many nice features is the online dictionary/thesaurus (the URL Dictionary), found in the context menu. Also found there is a Google Search link. Just right click on a word, or highlight a sentence you’d like to search, and select Google Search from the menu.
If you have some time to kill while you’re waiting for Word or OpenOffice to load, and are interested in a fully functional, versatile, and free word processor, head on over to AbiSource  for the download. AbiWord is available for Windows, Unix, or Mac.