Saturday, August 13, 2016

Use "Polaris Office" to edit Hangul (HWP) files

Here's another free and easy way to open Hangul (.hwp) documents. I've already highlighted several ways of working with HWP files, but this one has the added bonus of letting you fully edit, print, or convert them too.

You may already know Polaris Office as an app that came pre-installed on your Samsung phone. It works pretty good for opening any documents on your phone or tablet, including HWP files. But it turns out that Polaris Office offers an entire free downloadable office program that lets you fully edit, print, and convert .hwp files, with all menus and options in English. It has a nice smooth 2016 MS Word sort of style to it that makes it very easy and fluid to use and navigate from the very first time. So let's take a look.

Download Polaris Office

Just go to the Polaris Office download page to download the .exe installer:

Polaris Office download page

The installer is a stub, so when you run it, it will need to connect to the internet to download the actual installation files. 

Once that's done, you can fire it up. 

Create a New Document

Polaris Office "New Document" dialog

To be clear, the program is limited in the same way that Netffice 24 was: although you can open and edit HWP files, it seems you can't create one from scratch. Polaris Office only lets you create blank Microsoft (.doc etc.) files. But you can always just take any old HWP file, open it, delete everything in it, and "Save As..." as a new HWP file. 

By the way, if you're having a hard time figuring out just how to create a new document to begin with, check the program's tray icon in your Windows toolbar. Right-click and you'll get a big orange Plus button for that. 

Open and Edit an .HWP document

Polaris Office editor environment

Here's an HWP document I created on real Hangul Office. After installing Polaris Office I was able to just right-click on the document and "Open with..." Polaris. Here you can see the editor in full. The look is very modern, smooth, and of course in English (there is a variety of language options when you download the .exe). 

Although the program is free, it's fully featured. Very nice alternative to the headaches of trying to convert the file. 

Save / Export a file as .HWP

Polaris Office file Export dialog

Here's the Export dialog box. If you choose Save or Save As, you'll only be given the option to save in the document's current format (fine for us, since we opened an HWP anyway) or as a .doc, Open Office .odt, or even .pdf in my case (strange since PDF export is a "premium" feature in this dialog). 

Polaris Cloud Storage

All this will let you open/edit/print the document, no problem. But although it works fine as a standalone app, Polaris Office is clearly wanting you to use their free online cloud storage for your documents. You don't have to, but just be aware that it will prompt you and urge you to save everything there.

If you want to use their cloud storage, they also have a Dropbox-like folder sync app to automatically keep your documents synced there and with your smartphone Polaris app. 

One odd thing though is the apparent limit on the storage:

Polaris Office web viewer

Really? 60MB of cloud storage? I quit Dropbox due to their miserly 5GB limit. I can't even fathom how much 60MB is anymore, it's so little. And a Monthly Allowance reset? I don't really know what they mean by this, and frankly I don't care. Don't bother. Just connect your current cloud storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc) to Polaris in the web settings, and problem avoided. 

Polaris Online Viewer

If you purely just want to view an HWP file, you don't need to download the software. Once you create your account and log-in, you can upload the file to your cloud storage from the browser, and view the file in their online viewer. 

As you can see, there seems to be no editing features here, which is a big departure from the (basic but usable) online editing features of Netffice 24. Polaris seems to want you to do all actual editing in their downloadable app. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think this is a very decent, totally free program. It has most of the features you expect and can be a great free alternative for working with HWP files. Here are a few final considerations:

  • You'll need an account on Polaris, but all it took to register was an Email address verification or a Social (Facebook, G+) login. 
  • The Polaris Office program is set to start-up when Windows starts up, which I find an annoying waste of resources. I'm not going to be using this everyday. Luckily you can disable its auto-run in the settings (from its Windows toolbar area icon). 
  • I felt that it has a non-Windows-native feel to it. The design and execution feel like it doesn't quite fit it; it's got that look/feel to it like Java-based apps.  

But overall, for the price (free), it's a great tool for your toolbox. Once again, that download page:

With so many free ways of working with Hangul files these days, it's funny to remember back when it was such a pain. Be sure to see my other posts about opening HWP files for other methods. 

Thanks for reading. 

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