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Friday, July 18, 2014

Create your Own Word Searches on Debian, Ubuntu, Mac OS X, or Windows

Creating your own word search is really simple. They can be easily generated by software, given a simple word list, and I’m going to share just such an application with you today. Word Search Creator is a desktop word search generator licensed under the GPLv2 (so it is free as in freedom, as well as price). The downloads page has packages specifically for Ubuntu, Windows, or Mac OS X. These are pretty straight-forward to install. Ironically, there is no package for Debian (the parent distro from which Ubuntu is derived), and the Ubuntu package is not installable on Debian stable. But no worries, this is open source software! So for Debian we will just install from source.

Installing from source on Debian

Before we can install Word Search Creator, we need to install the Qt4 developer tools:

aptitude install qt4-dev-tools

Now, download the source, unpack it and cd to the unpacked source directory. To build the application, just:

qmake
make


In order to install it system wide, as root:

make install

If you are running KDE, run kbuildsycoca4 to rebuild your application menus.

Create a Word Search

When you first open Word Search Creator, there is a control box on the right side that you use to create the word search. Here you can type in a word list and set the size of the grid (or set it to automatically enlarge based on the words you give it). Type in a title and hit Create/Shuffle to generate your word search (hitting it again will, as the name suggests, shuffle your word search).


The menus give you a number of other options you can set. By default, words are only hidden left to right or top to bottom, but you can choose which directions are allowed. You can also choose how the word list is ordered, and edit the formatting. Perhaps one of the coolest features is the ability to change the shape of the puzzle by excluding squares from the grid.


Having fun with it

You can work the puzzle right there on screen, highlighting the words as you find them, and they will automatically get struck off the list.


You can also save it as a word search file, export it to pdf or svg, or copy it to the clipboard as an image (Ctrl + C). Working with it as an image, you can also use an image editor to decorate your word search. Here, I have simply filled in the empty squares and given it a yellow background color to highlight the smiley face.

And here is a full page puzzle.


Try it out yourself, and have fun!