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More and more word processing is moving to the web these days. This has many advantages. The documents are accessible from anywhere, they’re open to collaboration and sharing, it’s easy to import and export, and it’s just a better way to do work in this constantly connected world.

For a while, one of the most popular solutions has been Google Docs. It’s a great service, and one that has served me well over the months and years I’ve been using it. Google Docs, though, is not without its downsides, some of which have left me in constant search for the best and brightest of the online document managing application.

Well, I haven’t found it yet, but I’ve found five pretty great alternatives to Google Docs that you might want to check out. All of these, and Google Docs, offer the same basic editing features; instead of rehashing them over and over, I’ll point out the best features that put the application on this list.

1. Microsoft Office Online

The world’s most popular office suite also has a free online version Don't Pay For Word! 5 Reasons You Should Use Office Online Don't Pay For Word! 5 Reasons You Should Use Office Online Office Online is the free and cloud-connected version of Microsoft Office. Limitations are compensated by features, useful even to users of desktop Office. Best of all is its Read More . A Microsoft account is all you need to gain access to almost the entire gamut of Microsoft Office applications. Office Online grants access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook, as well as Sway and a host of other tools.

The offering is so good that some people have entirely eschewed purchasing Microsoft Office 2016 in favor of the free online suite. The introduction of collaborative tools has only strengthened the free service, too.

online-office-word-document-editor

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However, Microsoft has not given us the crown jewels. No, there is a catch. The Microsoft Office applications are extremely handy, but lack some key features. For instance, the number of templates available is reduced. As well as this, you can use the integrated styles, but cannot make your own. Office Online contains a number of these “half-features” that you’ll encounter from time to time. Some are negligible. Others can be massively frustrating — I’m looking at you Merge Formatting.

Office Online is still an excellent alternative to Google Docs, despite the shortcomings found in several of the applications.

2. Zoho Office

The number of applications Zoho offers Zoho Writer vs. Google Docs & Microsoft Word Online: Is It Time to Switch? Zoho Writer vs. Google Docs & Microsoft Word Online: Is It Time to Switch? If you're not completely satisfied with Office Online or Google Drive, try this free online word processor: Zoho Writer 4.0 comes with a clutter-free interface optimized for widescreen monitors. Read More , from an email service to a personal wiki and a “centralized public repository” (whatever that is) is ridiculous. I’ve become a big Zoho fan recently, and it has a huge number of useful tools at your disposal.

The writer itself is excellent, with a ton of editing options, organized in a succinct and aesthetically pleasing sidebar. Almost anything you can do in Word can be done in Zoho, from adding a header and footer to directly posting a document to your blog. It also features advanced options, such as mail merging and electronic signature support. Another extremely handy feature is the integrated Zoho chat, so you can chat with collaborators while working.

zoho-docs-sidebar-word-editor

Zoho is the most feature-complete of the Web-based applications 4 Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office 365 4 Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office 365 Microsoft Office 365 offers the perfect integration of a desktop office suite with its web-based counterpart. Can any of its free alternatives compete? We look at four office suites with both offline and online features. Read More , including Google Docs, and is incredibly easy to use. Zoho doesn’t get nearly the press Google Docs does, but I can’t see a reason not to switch to Zoho.

3. Etherpad

If collaboration is what you’re into, give Etherpad a good look. There’s no need to sign up or install Etherpad 10+ No-Signup Collaboration Tools You Can Use in 10 Seconds 10+ No-Signup Collaboration Tools You Can Use in 10 Seconds Collaborating online can save you and your team both time and money. Collaborating quickly can save a bit more. These tools are ready to go when you are. No registration required. Read More . You can simply select one of the public instances running Etherpad Lite, many of which feature secure encrypted connections. Once you’re connected, either share a link to the pad or send invitations to your contacts by email.

As users come in, you can edit the text on the pad in real-time, and changes automatically appear. You can chat in the sidebar, highlight which user made a given change, and save revisions in order to revert if someone made a mistake.

Etherpad is perfect for coding and programming, but it’s also great for writing and editing documents. There aren’t as many features to Etherpad, and all your editing is in plain text, but it’s so collaborative and useful that it deserves a mention anyway.

4. Dropbox Paper

I’ve had the pleasure of using Dropbox Paper while writing this article. The collaborative online editor is currently in open beta 11 Compelling Reasons to Try Dropbox Paper 11 Compelling Reasons to Try Dropbox Paper We have 11 compelling reasons for you to try Dropbox Paper. The new online document tool is off to a good start with features for personal use and collaborative work. Read More . This means all you need is a Dropbox account, and you can give the new service a try.

Dropbox Paper clearly has some excellent features. Adding and curating images is exceptionally easy, especially if you already use Dropbox as an image host. Similarly, embedding other content is just as easy. You’ll be able to embed YouTube, Vimeo, Spotify, SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Docs.

dropbox-paper-beta-word-document

As with Dropbox, collaboration and sharing is key 15 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Dropbox 15 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Dropbox Cloud storage services have come and gone, but Dropbox is probably the one that's been here the longest. And now it has upped its game with a host of new features. Let's explore. Read More . Sharing is as simple as clicking a little blue button, and selecting who you’d like to share with. Similarly, and this is a feature I really like, you can “@” people, even if they’re not currently collaborating. The person will receive a notification you’d like to share, and see what you’ve shared with them.

Another handy collaboration feature is Task Assignment. You can quickly turn any bullet-list into a task list to be assigned to your collaborators.

5. Nuclino

Nuclino is one of the best free collaborative editors around. It is extremely easy to use, has a great user interface (UI), and provides a really satisfying experience in pretty much all areas. That said, it isn’t necessarily a direct Google Docs competitor. Google Docs provides a rounded suite of tools 10 Google Docs Tips that Take Seconds & Save You Time 10 Google Docs Tips that Take Seconds & Save You Time When you dive down into the depths of the Drive, the right feature can help you create professional looking documents. Our speed tips will help you do it that much faster. Read More , while Nuclino has a definite slant toward team and project management.

Nonetheless, writing and editing in Nuclino is aided by the clean aesthetic and easily implemented editorial tools. Nuclino is versatile, too. Multiple groups, multiple boards, easy invitations, smart tags, and integration with services such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Soundcloud provide an expansive service.

nuclino-document-editor-and-collaborative-tool

However, Nuclino doesn’t have much in the locker if you wanted a pure editorial experience. Similarly, there isn’t an integrated spreadsheet application. Consequently, if your team depends on advanced document editing and formatting or even just basic spreadsheets, you’ll be importing to Nuclino from another source.

An Alternative Ending

Google Docs is still an excellent tool, but there are alternatives out there. You can choose a more traditional editor experience in Office Online or Zoho Writer, or try a collaborative experience with Dropbox Paper or Nuclino. Needless to say, you have a handful of options to consider before starting your next big project!

What’s your go to editor, online or off? Which of the aforementioned online editors is the best alternative to Google Docs? Let us know your thoughts below!

Originally written by David Pierce on 26 March, 2009.

  1. Juliann
    October 12, 2016 at 2:28 am

    Rewrite Rewriter 7 Review 2016 If you’re hunting for the very best " spin "
    Rewriter 7 Discounted and Critique in the marketplace, "A ought to-examine!

  2. Chauke Stephan Filho
    October 6, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Muito interessante a sua postagem, David. Obrigado!

    Meus amigos, eu costumava escrever os meus artigos no Google Docs, gostava de fazer isso, estava satisfeito com o serviço, até que... Eu também tinha o meu perfil no G+, até que... num belo dia, o meu perfil foi bloqueado, por razões "politicamente corretas".

    Então, como resposta à violência que sofri, deixei de usar esses serviços da Google. Esses e qualquer outro, como o GMail. Eu deixei de usar também até o navegador da Google. O meu navegador agora é o Firefox.

    O problema da Google é a censura. A Google não é só uma empresa, é uma entidade política operada por censores a serviço da globalização, do multiculturalismo e do judaísmo.

    Meu processador de texto passará a ser o Zoho. Não quero mais relações com a Google.

    Eu amava a Google, hoje percebo o quanto eu fui ingênuo. Minha página recebia mil visualizações por dia. Milhares de pessoas foram proibidas de conhecer o que eu penso do mundo, de compartir comigo a minha experiência de vida, de aprender com o que eu aprendi, depois de tanto viver e estudar.

    Eu não tolero a censura, por isso eu não tolero a Google.

    Um abraço a todos e, mais uma vez, obrigado David!

    P.S.: Votem em Donald Trump para presidente !!

  3. edward
    September 22, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    do any of them have any instructions, I loved using docs, they changed the interface to be completely unrecognizable , I learned how to use it again, I just tried to use it and it changed again .

  4. Ashley
    July 4, 2016 at 1:05 am

    Can anyone recomend an alternative for google docs for android devices?

    • Jon
      January 17, 2017 at 5:54 am

      WPS Office, there is also a mail client if you need one.

  5. Bharathwaj
    February 24, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I am having a Macro Enabled Excel Sheet which needs to be accessed by multiple users (also edit). Excel Share Workbook is not helping as macros get disabled. I tried Zoho but the forumlaes are showing some error. Is there any alternative to share macro enabled sheet that can be shared online by multiple users?

  6. Daniel Huigens
    December 19, 2015 at 6:02 am

    If you care about privacy, Airborn OS (https://www.airbornos.com) is a good alternative.

  7. Juan Pi.
    June 3, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Hello Anyone able to create and modify Visio (*) files ? (*) Or any other full featured organigram creator

  8. Amy
    May 11, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    GDocs dropped the ability to link to another Gdoc in my Drive (unless I first navigate to the doc and copy the link, a hassle), so I tried Zoho. Doesn't seem to offer that either. Seems goofy -- don't authors want to link to their own docs, more often? Buzzword seems to have changed into a for-pay PDF-focused app. Tried ThinkFree -- terribly slow (pages require 10 seconds to load, uploading a 130Kb Word doc also took about 10 seconds) and buggy (said "no files" but they were there). Zimbra looks too big and odd. We used GDocs in my journalism class, where we group-authored pieces. -Everyone- had trouble finding pieces, and getting perms. There must be something better.

  9. Bob Milanov
    March 27, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    You can also consider Nevron Office - https://www.nevronoffice.com/ - it also has online edition which is totally free and has more features than most of the HTML based editors.

  10. Prasanna
    December 19, 2009 at 3:52 am

    I'm an early user of EtherPad. Loved it.
    Now I maintain and host it here: http://www.iEtherPad.com

    Note that EtherPad.com is shutting down soon.

    Cheers.

  11. Avraham Saltoun
    November 12, 2009 at 3:59 am

    It is know that several "free" online services eventually sold private information to help them pay their bills, Mint.com for instance. I currently use Google docs and recommend it to all my clients. http://say-web.com/?p=2791

  12. yoast
    October 13, 2009 at 7:54 am

    I like Zoho because it supports most services with https:// enforced. Google Docs can be used with https but this cannot be enforced (the noscript firefox plugin can be used to achieve this in firefox) the others do not allow using https, as far as I know.

  13. John
    September 25, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    While I believe that Mozilla and even Google are on the right track and that Microsoft is a behemoth, it doesn’t mean that using an alternative to MS Explorer for a browser is the right thing to do. About a year ago I decided to switch to Mozilla’s Firefox for my default browswer. Just this week I changed back to using MS Explorer because with the new edition of Firefox, I have encountered a few situations where the software I was trying to run wouldn’t execute.

    So the bottom line is that each software package that is written for a browser, needs to be tested and changed for whichever browser you might use. Apple has had a hard time getting Safari to be used because most software developers for PC’s only recognize MS Exploerer and Firefox as legitimate enough to spend the time testing their software.

    For now, I will continue to use MS Explorer and maybe in the future I can switch back to Firefox, or Chrome might be a good alternative. It just isn’t worth the effort to use something that requires me to use two browswers. You win, Microsoft.

    Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
    September 10 Presentation
    Posted on September 9, 2009 by johnopp | Edit
    Web 2 0 for nonprofits

    This is the presentation from the Developers’ roundtable at the Long Beach Nonprofit Partnership

    Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
    NPLIC Home Page at WordPress
    Posted on April 9, 2009 by johnopp | Edit
    The Nonprofit Institute of California (NPLIC) was formed in 2008 to assist nonprofits with understanding business concepts and processes, including the use of technology. The first effort was a series of classes aimed at teaching the basic business concepts from organization through Accounting and Marketing to Strategic Planning.

    This blog is meant as another source for those nonprofits who are looking for resources that will help them increase funding and decrease expenses. Please feel free to ask any questions or give us any ideas you may have that will help others. There is an emphasis right now on the use of technology in nonprofits.

    On the left are bookmarks from sites and articles that are of interest to nonprofits. Some of them are specific to products and others are just articles that might be interesting. If you click on the main link, you will be linked to Diigo and you can see all the bookmarks. These are constantly changing and new ones are added. Feel free to join Diigo and add your own.

  14. aunttammie
    September 24, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I was going to try Buzzword, but after going round in circles on the Adobe site, I think that I finally figured out that it is a premium service, and rather pricey at that. I have heard several other teachers mention it, and I thought it was free.

  15. Alex
    May 12, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! I used to use Google Docs to track all of my to do lists. It is incredibly buggy - formatting issues, prone to crashing, undo doesn't work. Zoho was the answer. Again, thank you. This article was a lifesaver.

  16. Danh ba web 2.0
    March 29, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Nice list. I like Google Doc and Zoho, but i testing Buzzword
    Good luck to you !

  17. eternalko@gmail.com
    March 27, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Scribd. Good tool

  18. Buddy Scalera
    March 27, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Nice overview. These are good alternatives to Google Docs. Other than Zoho, Google, and OpenOffice, are there good alternatives to the Office Suite?

    I mention Zoho and Google in my blog as good Freemium services. wordspicturesweb.com

  19. Jeff D
    March 27, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Hi David-
    I invite you to take a look at Office Live Workspace. It can easily integrate with Microsoft's Office Suite, or it can be used as a stand alone service to save files online that can be accessed from anywhere, or collaborated on with other users. Users do not need to have MS Office to use it, either; there are built in programs that carry out the essential word processing, speadsheet creating etc functions. Here is a good outline of its capabilities: http://workspace.officelive.com/LearnMore

    Cheers,
    Jeff
    MSFT Office Live Outreach Team

  20. Mr. I
    March 26, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    WOW! Just found that Buzzword also does not support Opera! :-( OpenGoo is last one to try or I will have to use ZOHO again.

    • Stefi
      March 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm

      Dude! What's wrong with Firefox or Chrome?
      Why don't you use them?

      • Mr. I
        April 1, 2009 at 1:51 am

        Just personal choice. Chrome never ran on my PC. It always gives a strange error. I have tried installing and uninstalling it almost 10 times.

        Opera is better for me.

      • John
        September 25, 2009 at 6:35 pm

        I just posted this on my blog:
        While I believe that Mozilla and even Google are on the right track and that Microsoft is a behemoth, it doesn’t mean that using an alternative to MS Explorer for a browser is the right thing to do. About a year ago I decided to switch to Mozilla’s Firefox for my default browswer. Just this week I changed back to using MS Explorer because with the new edition of Firefox, I have encountered a few situations where the software I was trying to run wouldn’t execute.

        So the bottom line is that each software package that is written for a browser, needs to be tested and changed for whichever browser you might use. Apple has had a hard time getting Safari to be used because most software developers for PC’s only recognize MS Exploerer and Firefox as legitimate enough to spend the time testing their software.

        For now, I will continue to use MS Explorer and maybe in the future I can switch back to Firefox, or Chrome might be a good alternative. It just isn’t worth the effort to use something that requires me to use two browswers. You win, Microsoft.

        • Dean
          December 10, 2009 at 5:08 am

          You will run into many many more compatibility issues with ie than you did with firefox. Could you tell us what exactly wouldnt work with firefox that caused you to switch back to ie? I've never met anyone who went back to ie before so it would be interesting to hear more about what pushed you to it and what kind of things you actually do online.

  21. Mr. I
    March 26, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    I have ben using Google Docs and Zoho and both of them seem buggy with Opera. Peepel doesn't support Opera at all. Buzzword and OpenGOO seem interesting. I will try them.

  22. Dominic
    March 26, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    How about http://www.thinkfree.com/ I`m using it and it is really great. I`s powerful and it has offline access as well.

  23. Vin Thomas
    March 26, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I really like Google, but Docs is not up to par. I have been using Evernote lately. But if I had to do any serious formatting I would probably either bust open Zoho or Buzzword.

  24. GoEverywhere Team
    March 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Zoho is great - especially with their recent redesign. It makes it a very easy transition from Office! GoEverywhere leverages Zoho on their personal desktop, allowing users easier access to their documents when on the go. And for those that will never give up Google Docs, GoEverywhere also allows you to access those with just one login.

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