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If you need a word processor, your choices are limited. Despite the fact that Microsoft Word alternatives 9 of the Best Free & Low-Cost Alternatives to Microsoft Office 9 of the Best Free & Low-Cost Alternatives to Microsoft Office Microsoft Office has dominated the market of text documents, spreadsheets and slide shows for years, and for good reason – it’s one of the very best. However, there’s one drawback and that is the price.... Read More like LibreOffice and Google Docs have been making big strides, Word still reigns supreme. Yet there’s one unique but overlooked word processor that’s been around since 2001 and deserves your attention. Have you heard of it? It’s called Jarte.

Based on the old Microsoft WordPad engine, Jarte was created as a lightweight alternative to Microsoft Word. Over the last decade, Jarte has packed on more features and improved on its speed and efficiency. It’s the word processor that everyone forgot about. Is Jarte for you? Keep reading to find out.

Jarte only runs on Windows and Linux. If you’re looking for a lightweight word processor for Mac, try Bean (our review Bean - The Best Lightweight Word Processor For Macs Bean - The Best Lightweight Word Processor For Macs Try out a simple word processor for Mac. Maybe you're unwilling to fork out the funds for Apple's Pages or Microsoft's Word. Maybe you're looking for something lightweight and speedy? Or maybe you just like... Read More ).

First Impressions

jarte-first-impressions

Jarte may look scary at first, but don’t run away yet! You can always switch to the minimal theme, which looks a lot more like what you’d expect from a word processor. Look below for a screenshot of that.

What I like best about Jarte is that it doesn’t care to follow in the footsteps of its older brother, Microsoft Word. That doesn’t mean that it lacks in features – in fact, Jarte has all of the features that most regular users would ever need – but it’s brave enough to present those features in a unique way.

That’s what sets Jarte apart.

Not only is it fast and lightweight, it has a flavor and atmosphere that’s entirely its own. Some people may not like it and that’s fine. For those who are tired of the bloat and conformity of modern word processors, you owe it to yourself to try Jarte.

Core Features

jarte-core-features

Jarte has everything you’d expect from a full-featured word processor:

  • Performance: Jarte takes no longer than a few seconds to start up. It rarely lags or finds itself bogged down by big documents. Systems with limited resources (e.g., netbooks) may experience hiccups here and there, but it’s a much smoother experience than Microsoft Word.
  • File Support: Can open and edit RTF, DOC, and DOCX documents.
  • Export: Documents can be exported to HTML and PDF formats or sent to recipients by email.
  • Formatting: Jarte has all the basic paragraph formatting functions that all word processors are expected to have. It also has a format brush tool that can quickly apply font styling to blocks of text.
  • Templates: Jarte comes equipped with several default page templates that fit the specifications of most common Avery numbers (which signify various paper sizes). You can also create your own custom page templates if you’d like.
  • Spell Checker: The spell checking functionality can by default handle English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Dutch, but you can also define your own spell check dictionaries.
  • Portable: Jarte doesn’t need to be installed and takes up less than 10MB of hard drive space. You can carry it around on a USB flash drive or keep it tucked away in your Dropbox space and whip it out when you need it. Jarte deserves a spot on any list of best portable apps.
  • Operating Systems: Works like a charm on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 on both 32-bit and 64-bit systems. It can also run on Linux-based systems using Wine.

Advanced Features

jarte-advanced-features

On top of the core features, Jarte offers a little bit of extra as well:

  • Tabbed Interface: This is Jarte’s calling card. Tabbed editing is nothing new in the realm of text editors, but it’s surprising how rarely this feature is implemented in full-blown word processors. Tabs are a tech essential these days.
  • *Split View Mode: When you combine tabs with a split view mode, you get maximum productivity. Having two documents open at the same time can really boost your work speed.
  • Screen Reader Mode: For those with impaired sight, Jarte can automatically start in screen reader mode which makes it play nice with screen reader programs.
  • Embeddable Objects: Feel free to embed more than text into your documents: images, links, breaks, tables, equations, and more.
  • *AutoOutline: When creating and editing outlines, the AutoOutline feature will adjust the formatting and keep it intact even when complex changes are made.
  • *Custom Keyboard Shortcuts: Thanks to smart keyboard shortcuts, Jarte is easy to navigate without even using a mouse. However, you can make it even easier by defining your own custom keyboard shortcuts.
  • And hundreds of customizable options.

* The free version of Jarte can be used indefinitely without having to pay a cent. However, these features (and a handful of others) are only available in the full version called Jarte Plus, which is available for $19.95 USD. View the list of Jarte Plus features.

Download: Jarte (Windows, free, portable option)

Again, I emphasize that Jarte is not for everyone. If you prefer the familiarity and advanced features of Microsoft Word, stay with it! But if you need a word processor that takes up way fewer resources, operates with improved speed, and can be taken anywhere due to portability, Jarte is the one for you.

  1. Bob Milanov
    September 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Another free alternative to MS Word, which has more features than Jarte is Nevron Text Editor - docs.nevron.com.

  2. BrianL
    April 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    I have been using Jarte since its first version and liked it so much I also paid for the upgrade. Since then it has gone through several major versions but never have I had to pay again.

    It is good enough that I found in my business I ended up using it for almost every document writing I did. I also had MS Office, Corel WordPerfect, MS Works, OpenOffice, Lotus Smartsuite, IBM Symphony and, Abiword on the system so, I think a fairly decent assortment. Jarte has some practical limits knocking it out of contention such as automatic footnoting and generating a table of contents, both major needs of students. It also has an interesting module whereby using a keyboard code you can move from a program to Jarte, type, spell check and grammar check and then insert it into the original program; a popular little thing for me as my client and time and billing system did not include a spell check.

    Jarte opens fast and is very responsive. The developer also communicates well and quickly.

    Now that I am retired, my needs have changed and I have retired all but Jarte, Abiword and now am trying Calligra. Abiword and Calligra each has a version that runs under both Linux and Windows. Jarte contrary to what the article states does not or at least I have not been able to get to run under WINE. I have dual boot XP computers and trying to wean off the Windows XP but, continue having nitpicking issues with Linux. I also have Windows 7 on a couple of units that I expect to keep as such. My storage is an outboard NAS wireless so all computers have access. I have standardized on the .rtf format and .odf slowly moving away from the MS formats.

    I sadly can see the day when Jarte will not run on any machine unless WINE uprades from Notepad to Wordpad in its programming. Abiword then will replace Jarte as my general everyday wordprocessing program with Calligra being my standardized program for those few times I need more.

    I am also standardizing on Gnumeric for my spreadsheet program across all systems and have found it to be as good as any spreadsheet program for my use though it lacks some of the bells and whistles power users may want or need.

  3. Wantoo Sevin
    March 20, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I'm a big fan of Abiword, as well (Joel, you are incorrect about its latest release; the latest, 3.0.0, is from Oct 2013 and it is still actively developed). But choice is good, and Jarte certainly is an option.

    • Joel L
      March 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      Thanks for letting me know. It seems Abiword's website (http://abisource.org/) could use a facelift!

    • Wantoo Sevin
      March 20, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      I won't argue with you there, Joel! Thanks again for the article.

  4. rich
    March 19, 2014 at 1:56 am

    Tried Abiword but found I didn't like it. Currently use Jarte aheaad of Notepad or Wordpad, or Kingsoft Write for all-out word processing. Also find Edit Pad Light and Doc Pad handy from time to time. But for casual writing with significant features, Jarte has gained my admiration. And its ease of font managemetn is great for Christmas letters.

  5. Lye F
    March 18, 2014 at 5:29 am

    I also second AbiWord. It has a portable version as well.

  6. Chuck
    March 18, 2014 at 12:26 am

    I second AbiWord ... it should also be considered. And it does look like Jarte is worth a shot as well. I would suggest trying both if you're looking for lightweight and free, to see which fits your style better. And by the way, AbiWord has a portable version as well.

  7. Jim
    March 17, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Wow! Have you forgotten about Apache OpenOffice? Nothing light weight of course, but absolutely free, and saves in all the popular formats.

    • Joel L
      March 18, 2014 at 12:20 am

      I indirectly mentioned OpenOffice when I mentioned LibreOffice (which is a fork of OpenOffice). I always considered LibreOffice to be superior to OpenOffice, though I admit it's been about a year since I used either of them.

  8. Peter
    March 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    It won't install in Ubuntu Linux, even with Wine.

  9. Marjorie C
    March 15, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    I've been using Jarte for years and finally paid for the Plus version a couple years ago because I liked it so much. It absolutely opens fast, and I can copy and paste articles with or without the graphics for quick formatting for e-mail. It works for me.

    Some freeware is just so good you want to pay the authors to encourage further development or additional software. The Internet may be free but time and talent isn't.

    • Joel L
      March 18, 2014 at 12:21 am

      "Some freeware is just so good you want to pay the authors to encourage further development or additional software. The Internet may be free but time and talent isn’t."

      I agree 100%. It's too bad that most Internet users don't think the same way. :(

  10. miguel guhlin
    March 15, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Abiword...

    • Joel L
      March 18, 2014 at 12:17 am

      Unfortunately, from what I can see, the last version came out in 2009.

  11. Charles G
    March 15, 2014 at 6:40 am

    Is it April 1st already?

    • Joel L
      March 18, 2014 at 12:16 am

      It's a good program. :)

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