Just a Thought

Writers: Do you know of a word processor that has tabbed windows, a la Firefox? I’m in the process of organizing entries for Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded, and I was thinking how lovely it would be to be able to cut and paste text into several different open documents, without having to clutter up the work space unnecessarily. If you know of a word processing program that uses tabs, I would love to know what it is. It would make my life a whole lot easier.

If there isn’t a word processor with tabbed windows, shouldn’t there be? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m frequently working on more than one document at a time, and frequently cutting and pasting from other document/sites/whatever. Tabbed windows in a word processor would be very useful.

Indeed, the more I think about this, the more I feel it needs to happen. Somebody get on this, please. I’d do it myself, but I’m barely competent with html.

39 Comments on “Just a Thought”

  1. Oh my lord. Now that you mention it, I could really really use this. Especially something stable enough to have at least ten tabs with dense text open at once.

  2. Ulysses for the Mac seems to have what you’re looking for, although in other respects, it completely reworks the standard word-processor workflow. 30 days’ free trial, though, so you could beat it up for a while and see how it goes.

  3. Nice as it would be to have tabs, I find Word’s ability to open multiple documents simultaneously in different windows to be sufficient for me.

    I doubt it could hold open ten documents without freezing or crashing, but then I find that Firefox has the same problem when ten tabs are open.

  4. Argh, no, Ulysses is horrible to use for me. On the mac there is MacJournal. I’m using it right now to write Ragamuffin. It’s aimed for diarists, but works well for novels with heirarchel outlining and tabs built in.

    Copywrite is built just like Ulysses, is a fraction of the price, and I think it offered tabbed writing as well.

    Hope this helps.

  5. I use RoughDraft – a donationware (give money to charity in exchange for using the software) for the PC – Windows – but not yet for Mac. RoughDraft opens each file in a tab so you can flip back and forth. It also creates a notepad file for each file so you can make notes as you go along without cluttering the actual file. RoughDraft saves everything as .rtf too.


  6. Not a word processor, but TextWrangler for the Mac does tabbed windows. The main window holds your text and a drawer opens off to the side from where you can choose which documents to edit. I find it useful for exactly the situation you describe.

    However, as I said, it’s not a word processor. It is very definitely a text editor.

  7. I third the WordPerfect. Tabs at the bottom. Starts a hell of lot quicker than Office, too.

  8. How about if you could have a word processor that works right in Firefox? Check out Writely, a web based word processor:


    I haven’t played with it much, but I’m sure you could have multiple files opened up in multiple tabs right in Firefox.

  9. On the “not a word processor but a text editor front” I use TextMate on the Mac. It has tabs, project files and a fair amount of heavy-duty text munging capabilities. It can’t do fonts or the like, but if you want a more programmer-style editor then take a look at it.

  10. Editpad Lite (there’s a paid-for version called Editpad Pro) is a fantastic text editor with heaps of functionality – I’ve used it to cut together hundreds of disparate documents – I think of it as the Firefox of text editors.

  11. WordPerfect is the way to go. It remains a superior word processor to Word for features like the tabbed windows (which it’s had for, oh, forever. I think 6 had them and that’s probably a decade old). I continue to scratch my head, confused by massive switch to Word umpteen years ago.

  12. You could always go back to an older — and more stable — version of Word, up to 97. (If I recall correctly, it was in 2000 that for no good reason Microsoft insisted on splitting each new document into its own window.) While you don’t have tabs, a simple Ctrl-F6 will shift you from document to document without ever leaving the window you’re in.

    (Why can’t Microsoft be only ten years behind, and not take three steps back for each forward?)

  13. CopyWrite for the Mac frankly rocks. I love it. I love it so much, I figured out how to access my Mac remotely with my Windows laptop so I could get to it when I was on the road (as I am now). It’s more like a Project Manager than a robust word processor, though. A project browser allows you to skip between documents in a single project.

    For Windows, NotePad Lite is good, but it’s more a Text Editor than a Word Processor. But then, I use either Word or Adobe Acrobat to format the stuff I write in CopyWrite anyway, when it needs to be printed and look nice.

  14. I second the vote for Note Tab, and it’s a great HTML editor, too. I use Note Tab Lite, and it’s free.

  15. Not directly answering your question, but if you wish to improve your efficiency working with multiple windows (or tabbed windows in Firefox) you might try StrokeIt. It uses mouse gestures for common commands. Once you get used to them, it’s amazing how fast you can work.

    I map drawing a line to the left to the Previous Tab and drawing a line to the right to the Next Tab. Drawing a backwards “C” closes the current window.

  16. Another vote for Keynote. I was most unhappy to stop using it, because I moved to the Mac, but keynote rocks. File sizes turn out to be very small as well.

  17. John, if you’re on your Mac, just use Expose to manage your windows. Hitting the F10 button will show all windows for that application (F9 for all windows) and then you just click to the window you want. Or, you can map your screen corners to Expose, so that if you move the mouse to a corner, it shows all your windows, and then you click the one you want.

    My Powerbook easily handles over a dozen open documents, in Preview and Pages, without a hickup. (Compiling outlines based on class notes (Pages) and statutes (Preview).)


  18. I’m also a proponent of Edit Pad for Windows. In my view, it’s far preferable to Word Pad. I like using it when I’m writing plain text (like for email to paste into webmail or when hand-wrangling HTML) because there aren’t lots of needless formatting tools that just get in the way.

    Maybe the Mac people here can tell you if BBEdit does the same on the Mac. I thought I recalled it doing so, but it’s been several years since I’ve used it. (Since it hasn’t been mentioned yet, I’m assuming that it doesn’t.)

  19. I’ll add another vote for Keynote. Pretty sweet app. Windows-only though. I actually did a small writeup of it on Newsforge once, for which I was immediately torched. Guess it being Windows-only made not quite open source enough for that crowd.

  20. I don’t know if NoteTab is a full word processor, but I really like it as a NotePad replacement. It has tabs, it can handle having dozens open at once, it’s fast. However, my biggest use for it is the little example “you could code stuff like this” bits: one will make up a webpage of all the images in a file, with proper HTML height and width attributes. So I use that to measure all the images I’m going to be posting somewhere instead of looking at the size of each one individually.

    I also use it to fill in HTML version of the accented e when I’m writing a webpage with many uses of a name that has an é. And it’s very useful for taking quoted email text, cutting out all the >> and rejoining the text into one block, and then maybe re-breaking the text in a better place and re-angle-bracketing it.

  21. Sylvia beat me to it, but, if all you need is a text editor, EditPlus is very nice. Tabs at the bottom. Handles truly unreasonable numbers of simultaneously open files. Also handles quite a few many programming languages (HTML, PHP, ASP, C++, Perl…) and stores different syntax coloring schemes and autocompletion templats for them all. For web developers, its FTP functionality is awesome; “Open Remote File” downloads the page from the server, whereupon the simple “Save” command saves and uploads your changes immediately, so it feels like you’re working directly on the server. Saves settings for as many FTP profiles as you need.

    EditPlus is shareware. It’s totally worth registering. $30ish, last time I looked.

    It sounds like you want an actual word processor, though, rather than a text editor. Not something I know about, tabbed word processors, as I tend to work exclusively in WordPerfect 5.1 (hauling out Word only when I need to print to a printer less than a decade old, or save as a copy others can actually read) and I just suck it up if I run up against the limitation of only being able to have two documents open at once. I really appreciate the suggestion of Writerly as a word processor that works directly in Firefox. Must give it a try.

  22. I swear by Word Perfect. It got me through school, and though I don’t write as frequently now, it’s still my word processor of choice. Word is a mediocre imitation in comparison.

  23. Another vote for WordPerfect. WP is a word processor. I’m not sure what Word is, but it’s not that. I suspect Word, with its cascading style sheets, may be better at creating massive, specially formatted documents, but WP is, hands down, the better at getting text on the page. Particularly when you are using a typical manuscript format.

  24. I recently bought a new iMac, and as my old MAC was about 8000 years old, took the (almost required) step of updating to Office 2004 that works on the OSX platform. (yes, my other computer was _old_). In this version, using word, there’s a view option that has tabs. I think that it’s called notebook and has the neat/irritating look of a notebook, but has tabs along the right margin and each tab ends up looking like a sheet that’s infintely long.

    As it’s really just a formatting issue, I suspect that you may be able to set up your own tabbed template, but I haven’t tried so don’t know how frustrating that might be.

    Good Luck,


  25. I have been using Research-Desk Professional for years (http://www.winferno.com/). What is incredible about this software is it allows you to opens word documents as well as other MS applications and websites, all of this accessible through tabs and tree in the sidebar. Nice interface as well.

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