Universal Word Count Shell Script

Dmitri Popov

Productivity Sauce

May 23, 2012 GMT
Dmitri Popov

The File Thingie web-based file manager features a no-frills yet functional text editor which I use as a simple drafting tool when I'm on the move. However, the editor lacks the word count feature which is essential for my work. While there are several word count extensions for Google Chrome and Chromium (which is currently my browser of choice), none of them seem to be able to handle text selection in the File Thingie's text editor. So I hacked my own shell script that solves the problem:

#!/bin/bash
xsel | wc | zenity --text-info

The xsel tool obtains the X selection (i.e., the currently selected text snippet) and pipes it to the wc word count utility which, in turn, pipes the output to a zenity graphical message box. This is probably not the most elegant solution, but it works with practically any application.

To make this solution work on your machine, copy the code above into a text file, and save it as the wordcount.sh script in your home directory. Make then the script executable using the chmod +x wordcount.sh command. Finally, make sure that the xsel and zenity packages are installed on your system.

Running the script manually is not very practical, so you might want to assign a keyboard shortcut to it. To do this in KDE, open System Settings, switch to the Shortcuts and Gestures section and create a new global shortcut which points to the wordcount.sh script. That's all there is to it.

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