I’m a relatively heavy user of Bare Bones Software’s superb freeware text editor TextWrangler, especially since I’ve been doing more and more work on my iPad, synced via Dropbox with my three production Macs. I also use OS X’s Text Edit text processor app. Fairly frequently. Both are good programs, but unlike my third standby text-cruncher tool—Tex Edit Plus—for some reason neither has a word count function, obliging me to cut and past work drafted in them into A TE+ document to check word counts, which is hassle and time-burner.
Or at least it was until I discovered indie developer SuperMagnus’s very cool and free Word Counter app.
What is it?
Word Counter’s basic function is to perform word counts and character counts, but it can do much more than that. Word Counter can be used independently by pasting text directly into it for checking, or in conjunction with other applications such as TextEdit, Microsoft Word, Pages, TextWrangler, and others.
Of course, Word and Pages support word count natively, so why would you want to bring a third-party app into the process? That would be because, as noted, Word Counter can do a whole lot more than count words and characters. However, it’s a really welcome compliment to those text editor apps that don’t count words.
Word Counter can automatically update a count based on a user-defined time interval, and show progress achieved towards a set goal for the total number of words and characters. It also can perform bulk counts on multiple files and folders simply by dropping them onto the window. Word Counter can count the number of times a particular word appears in a document, and can even create a sortable summary table of all words in the document with the number of times each word appears and the length of each word. Another Word Counter capability is calculating estimates for readability statistics using the Flesch-Kincaid readability formula and many others.
Word Counter can handle various file types, including plain text (txt, text), rich text (rtf, rtfd), Hypertext Markup Language (htm, html), Microsoft Word (doc, docx), Microsoft Word XML (wordml), Apple’s web archive (webarchive), the Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), and others
How does it work?
Using Word Counter is easy. Simply type, paste, or drag text into the main Word Counter window, press the “Count Words” button, and Word Counter will do its stuff. Word and character counts are independent, so if you choose to ignore a word based on some of the preference settings available, the characters from those words will still be included in the overall count.
As noted, Word Counter can provide a total for the number of times a certain word or phrase appears. This count will be displayed alongside the total count for words and characters.
To perform an instances count, open the Instances Count window from the main menu, type in the desired word or phrase, then choose the “Count Words” option. If the text area in the instances window is blank, Word Counter will return a count of 0. You can also specify whether Word Counter should consider the number of instances in a case-sensitive or case-insensitive manner. With a case-sensitive count, the word “with” would be counted only once in this sentence if the search was case-sensitive since the first instance has a capital “W”. In a case-insensitive count it would be counted twice in the preceding sentence since the case would be ignored. Additionally, Word Counter will consider any subset of text when it counts instances. Therefore, the word “count” would have two instances (case-insensitive) in the preceding sentence since it appears in both “Counter” and “counts”.
If a word is entered in the Instances Count window it will be counted even if it otherwise would be ignored based on the word length of minor word preferences.
Word Counter also includes an entertaining feature that summarizes the frequency of every word in a document.
To use the word frequency option, the document to be summarized must be open in either the main Word Counter window or in the TextEdit window (depending on the current data source for the counts). The Word Frequency window can be accessed from the main menu. Press the Count button to begin the analysis. Once the count is complete, Word Counter will display every word that appears in the document as well as how many times each word appears and how long each word is. Columns can be sorted by clicking on the column name/column header. This can be useful, for instance, if you want to know how many words longer than 10 characters you are using, or to see if your choice of words may be repetitive.
As we mentioned above, Word Counter can provide various statistical analysis of your document, including readability statistics to help judge the readability of text.
Using Word Counter’s Progress Tracker feature, you can set a goal for the total number of words or characters you wish to type. Word Counter will then display progress towards that goal in the small, floating Progress Tracker window. By default, a yellow warning icon will appear if you are at or above 90% of the goal and a red warning icon will appear if you exceed your goal (above 100%).
Word Counter can be used in conjunction with various applications. Simply click on the Word Counter icon on the main Word Counter window. A small floating window will appear. Word Counter will then count the text in the chosen application. Apple’s TextEdit application is the default, but you can change it to a different application in the Preferences.
To have Word Counter return to counting the text in the main Word Counter window, simply close the floating counting window, or press the “Count Words” button on the main Word Counter window.
Word Counter can ignore minor words in the counts. These are ignored for both the word and character counts. This feature can be turned on or off in the preferences window. Furthermore, you can edit the list of minor words by clicking on the “Edit List” button in the preferences window.
Word Counter bases its word and character counts mainly on how AppleScript defines a word and a character, which actually differs depending on the version of OS X you use. OS X 10.4 defines characters such as the ampersand (“&”) as a word whereas OS X 10.5 does not.
Is it contagious?
Word Counter is a great productivity and quality booster, and I highly recommend it without the slightest hesitation.