Word count software
August 17, 2009 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Is there a word count program that you can set to measure the number of words typed in a period of time rather than the number of words that appear on the page?

I'm doing some editing-heavy stuff, and (mostly for personal satisfaction) I would like to know how many words I'm actually typing in a work session. The first minus last word count doesn't work, because I often delete large paragraphs or sections of inline notes that are no longer needed. It's sometimes discouraging to work steadily for an hour and end up with fewer pages than you started with!

Anyway, I need something that works on a Mac and preferably is not specific to a word processing program. (Although if it's important, I use Mellel.)
posted by carmen to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
It's a bit tough for a program to do this. How would you, as a program, distinguish between when you're deleting a block of text and when you're, say, deleting a sentence you just wrote to reword it?

That said, I would recommend WhatPulse. It doesn't keep track of word count so much as it keeps track of general computer activity in terms of clicks and keystrokes. Divide keystrokes by six for an approximate wordcount?
posted by jgunsch at 1:50 PM on August 17, 2009

I'm sure there are easy software ways to do this. You could possibly use Applescript to capture keystrokes and increment a word counter. I think hardware is cool though so I'm going to point this keystroke counter out. Divide by average word length and you have a good approximate answer.

Bonus: this will also count moving the cursor around with arrow keys, page up, page down, etc - maybe a more realistic measure of your editing work?
posted by doteatop at 1:51 PM on August 17, 2009

This is only tangentially (or perhaps inversely) related, but how about Write or Die? Set a writing time limit, keep typing (this is the important step), and at the end of the time I believe it lets you know how many words you've written. Not sure what it does about deletions, though.
posted by sineala at 1:53 PM on August 17, 2009

I don't really know how to use Applescript, but as I live in the land of software developers, I'm sure I can find someone to write a program that will count the number of times I hit the spacebar in Mellel, which should suffice.

Thanks for the other suggestions too. I'm looking at WhatPulse, but I'm not entirely comfortable with having a third party track my keystrokes. Also, Write or Die looks awesome! Not helpful for exactly what I'm doing, but definitely a fun writing tool for other things.
posted by carmen at 11:17 AM on August 18, 2009

No idea if you'll ever see this.

The way I would do this is use the "track changes" feature in Microsoft Word. Then, when you delete text, it won't actually disappear, it'll just turn red and be stricken through (teehee). You can word count the whole thing for your word count, then turn off "track changes" and see the final product.
posted by Precision at 9:43 PM on January 2, 2010

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