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That is, it shows, while you type, the count of unique words. Not a count of all words.

If the document had the words:

The cat is in the hat which is in Toledo.

It would show a count of 7.

I know I could write a short shell script to do this but I'm looking for real-time display. If you know of an editor that allows writing such a real-time plugin that would be helpful as well.

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3 Answers 3

Emacs can do it (as most things). Have a look at this page. The part: "How many times was each word used?" - is quite similar to your problem. WordCountMode shows how to put the info in the modeline. Shouldn't be too hard to get in a form you need.

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I can think of several possible solutions at all price points to help you tally up your words.


  • Text Wrangler, by Barebones Software, is a free text editor that should be able to do what you ask and much more.
  • Word Counter isn't a text editor, but it can count your words, report word frequency, and provide readability statistics.

Low cost

  • iA Writer, available on the App Store, shows running word and character counts and is unique in that it estimates how long it takes someone to read your work.
  • Byword, also available on the App Store, is my personal favorite for writing in Markdown.

These two low-cost apps don't report unique words; however, they work great with Marked, which can help you visualize word repetition.

Premium Software

  • BBEdit, also by Barebones Software, is among the first text editors for Mac OS and highly regarded with deep support for AppleScript.
  • TextMate, by Macromates, is another text editor that can do much more than provide word counts
  • DEVONthink Pro can do exactly what you want. Well, a unique word count is readily available and the app has a bonus; the capability of finding semantic connections among your documents using a pretty terrific artificial intelligence. DEVONnote may also have this capability, but it's been years since I've used it.

Sorry I didn't link to all of my suggestions, but I don't have the clout here at StackExchange to post all of them. I left links to what I believe are the two best answers to help you.

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(The OP had a very specific request of count of unique words (So "The the cat the the" = 2). Not available in any of the usual editors AFAIK...) –  beroe Aug 29 '13 at 23:00

Here is an online analyzer. Does it all in an instant! http://textalyser.net/

Dont forget to adjust the stoplist to "none" if you want to count every single word.

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