More word counting tools for Mac OS X

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
December 1st, 2005 • 11:07 am

Since I wrote a post about problems with Word 2004’s word counting features the other day, I should mention a few word-counting alternatives that are available for Mac OS X.

One of them is a stand-alone freeware product called Word Counter. It was mentioned on Mac OS X Hints on Tuesday. In my limited testing, it seems to be doing an OK job. The program includes the option to count hyphenated words as single words or as separate words, but there’s no option for contracted forms. The program is also able to process a batch of files at the same time. It can count words in MS Word files, but converts them to text-only files first.

Another tool available is Devon Technologies’ free WordService, which works in all Mac OS X applications that support the system’s Services architecture. (Microsoft Word doesn’t support this architecture.)

Finally, my favourite writing tool, Rainmaker Inc.’s Spell Catcher X, also includes a Word Count module (in the “Modify Selection” sub-menu), which works in all applications that work with Spell Catcher.

And the comments on Mac OS X Hints also mention the wc command-line tool.

Each of these tools has its own little quirks. For example, if the selected text includes a slash character with spaces before and after (as in “AC / DC,” for example), the slash character is counted as a word by all these tools except for Spell Catcher X’s Word Count.

None of these tools, however, really addresses one of the core issues that I mentioned, i.e. the way contracted forms (“isn’t” in English, “l’autre” in French) are counted. Many people would of course argue that contracted forms should be counted as single words, but the fact remains that it’s grammatically and logically wrong, and word counters should at least offer the option to count them as separate words.

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