Whirlwind WordSearch
Wild Word Search Maker

Available for Macintosh
Intel or Apple Silicon, MacOS 10.11 or newer

Overview Pricing & Download Features What's New Examples Screen Shots Testimonials/Publications Help/FAQ/More... Future Press Kit Contact

Overview: What is "Whirlwind WordSearch"?

Whirlwind WordSearch is a Macintosh software application that lets you create customized word-search puzzles from your own lists of words.

Choose different sizes and shapes, difficulty levels, colors and fonts, even different languages.

Myriad Shapes and Sizes

You can choose from many built-in puzzle shapes, and the puzzles can range in size from as small as 4 letters across and down, all the way up to 50 by 50 letters.

Powerful and Easy-to-Use

Whirlwind WordSearch creates engaging word search puzzles from your own lists of words... in many different languages! You will be building and printing professional-looking puzzles right away.

Tough Love

It is not just a pretty puzzle though, underneath is a powerful puzzle-generator. You can instantly change the "Difficulty to Solve" setting to create easy, difficult, or diabolical puzzles. Or switch to Advanced Difficulty mode, and fine-tune the puzzle exactly the way you want.

Publish your Own!

You can export high-quality puzzle and answer images into your own word processor for re-printing in books, newsletters, social media/blogs, or classroom handouts.

Any randomly-created "naughty words" are automatically detected and removed (in all supported languages), offering classroom-safe puzzles.

Lights Out

Dark Mode is easy on the eyes.

Features Galore

Hide secret messages within the puzzle, prompt with clues instead of the words, Instant Naughty-word elimination in all languages, and so much more...

All of this for one price... no monthly fees, no extra upgrade costs. Ever.

Any More Questions?

There is always the comprehensive user guide, with tutorials, tips, and an explanation for every item on every screen.


Pricing & Download

Full Software

Lite Software

User Guide

$19.99 USD

Click below to download from the App Store:

All future updates are free.


Click below to download the free version from the App Store:

or, click the icon below to download directly from my web site:

Do you wish to try it first before you buy it? You can download and use this "Lite" version of the application for free.


Click below to download the 40+ page User Guide:

If you want to look over the full user guide that comes with the software, it is separately and freely available here too (PDF document.)

Full/Lite Differences

Here are the differences between the "Full" and "Lite" software applications:


Intro Video



Whirlwind WordSearch solves your puzzle-making needs with some pretty impressive features. Compare these features against ANY word-search software you are using now...

  • Choose from a wide variety of unique built-in puzzle shapes: Square, Rectangle, Circle, Bow-tie, Heart, Diamond, Pinwheel, X, UL-Wedge, LL-Wedge, UR-Wedge, LR-Wedge, Checkers, Square-hole, Donut, Right-Arrow, Left-Arrow, Up-Arrow, Down-Arrow, Plus Sign, Up-Triangle, Down-Triangle, Crescent, Cross, Onion Dome, 4-Clover, Square-Peg, Round-Hole, Mushroom, 4-star, 5-star, 6-star, Oval-Easy, Oval-Up, Trapezoid, Pentagon, Hexagon, Octagon.
  • Create puzzles ranging in size from 4-by-4 up to 50-by-50 letters (that's a lot of words!)
  • Create puzzles in any font, upper or lower case.
  • Create puzzles with words in English, French, Spanish, Swedish, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese (Hiragana and Katakana), Danish, Hungarian, Romanian, Turkish, Greek, Sanskrit, Dutch, Ukrainian, Catalan, Portuguese, Czech, Welsh, and numbers too.
  • All created puzzles are yours to use and re-publish and make money with, no copyright restrictions or restrictive "commercial use" clauses!
  • Show "word clue" phrases instead of the words themselves, to make puzzles even more challenging.
  • Add compound-words (Blue Jay), words with apostrophes (O'Hara), or use entire phrases (May The Force Be With You).
  • Quickly export high-quality images of your puzzles and answer keys for printing or publishing in your own books, newsletters, social media/blog, or classroom handouts... supports PDF, PNG, JPEG, SVG, IPUZ, and Text file formats.
  • There are two difficulty modes, "Basic" and "Advanced". "Basic Difficulty Mode" lets you simply move a slider from "very easy" puzzles to "very hard" puzzles, without worrying about all the details of how it works. For more control, "Advanced Difficulty Mode" lets you control each of the fine-grained parameters yourself.
  • Supports Dark mode and Full-Screen mode.
  • Easily enter your word lists, even import them from your word processor or the web.
  • Pour lots of words into your word list. Whirlwind WordSearch will automatically figure out how to make a puzzle from as many words as it can and tell you which ones it left out.
  • Add a "secret message" into your puzzle, which will be inserted between your words as a secondary puzzle to solve.
  • Add "hidden words" into your puzzle that are not in the word list or answer key (for adding copyrights or extra credit words.)
  • Export your puzzle and answer key files in different file formats (PDF, JPEG, PNG, SVG, Text, ipuz...) for easy exporting into other page layout documents... publish your own puzzle books.
  • Work without a net... you never need an internet connection to create, save, and print your puzzles.
  • Save your puzzle word list files, and open them again later to instantly create whole new puzzles, or share them with other Whirlwind WordSearch users.
  • Tailor the display and printing options to suit a variety of audiences and needs.
  • Comprehensive User Guide contains 40+ pages of tutorials and tips and describes every option, getting you up-to-speed right away. Advanced features are explained, helping you create high-quality and personalized puzzles.
  • Built-in spell-checker will alert you to any misspelled words in your word-list before you print.
  • Thoroughly checks the final puzzle and removes any randomly-generated duplicates of your words.
  • Automatically finds and removes randomly-generated "naughty" words in any of your chosen languages!


What's New

4.5.0 - May, 2022

  • Builds puzzles much faster and better than before.
  • Title/Subtitle text is now displayed in the Preview Area and auto-updates as you change it. [Thanks Debbie]
  • New menu item to quickly set puzzle to black-and-white color scheme for printing. [Thanks Duncan]
  • New Upright-Oval Shape. [Thanks Jen]
  • Optional "Allow Duplicates" checkbox allows you to make a word search puzzle that contains the same word multiple times. [Thanks Matt]
  • Preview can now toggle between PUZZLE view and ANSWER view.
  • Better error message explanations when the puzzle cannot be built.
  • Non-English puzzles made in the "easier" difficulty modes no longer fill the puzzles with letters containing diacriticals.
  • The "Too Many Words" error message now displays about how many extra letters there are, so you know how many to remove.
  • SVG Export now supports the font size/vertical-positioning adjustments.
  • Better Italian support [Thanks Riccardo]
  • New feature to strip all diacriticals from puzzle letters, for supporting non-English language puzzle styles. [Thanks Riccardo]
  • Better arrangement of Secret Message controls.
  • SPIN text field handles non-digit text entry more nicely.
  • The Preview puzzle now floats in the center of the Preview area.
  • The Preview "extras" (Naughty Words, Dupe Words, Decoys) now display their lines on the Preview display slightly offset from each other, so they are easier to see when they overlap.
  • 4.4.3 - March 29, 2022

    • Two new shapes added, Trapezoid and Oval (an egg just in time for Easter!)
    • Minor additions to naughty word lists.
    • Changed PUZZLE WIDTH/HEIGHT sliders to have discrete tick-marks.
    • Added key equivalents to the Export Puzzle (cmd-option-1) and Export Answer (cmd-option-2) menu items.
    • Better SVG export.
    • Better error message text explanations for letters that don't match the chosen language.
    • On MacOS 10.14 and newer, when you choose "Help:Rate/Review", it will go directly to Apple's easy little rating popup thingie, instead of opening the AppStore page for Whirlwind.
    • Minor user interface cleanup on aisle "Page Details".
    • Increased Preview background whiteness so it looks better in Dark Mode.
    • Changed the Intro screen shadows on example images to be the user's "Accent Color", so it looks better in Dark Mode.

    4.4.2 - February 27, 2022

    • Added Italian language support
    • Moved the "Show removed 'Optional' words" button over to the Puzzle Preview area so it is easier to notice and access. Updated the user guide to explain this change (Section 3.9.)
    • Whirlwind now remembers the last tab you selected, and will pop back to it when you run the app next time.
    • Added a new tab on the Intro screen, reminding people that there is a giant helpful user guide built-in.
    • Music no longer plays when you simply click the App or Swan icons on main window (Thanks Jennifer!)

    4.4.1 - February 10, 2022

    • Simplified the export experience: The File:Export menu items now just export the puzzle, answer, or ipuz file. You now choose which export format to use from the Preferences window in the Export tab, and it is remembered and used for all future exports.
    • Secret Message has its own tab, giving more space to the word list box, and to the secret message. Secret Message now has its own "size remaining" text underneath, which updates as you type your phrase so you can more easily calculate and create "exact-fit" puzzles. (Thanks Duncan!)
    • Stats tab now has a nicer look, and more stats!
    • Under the word list is a new checkbox to let you instantly set ALL your words to "optional" (and it will just place as many as it can.) And the "Show removed optional words" button now is right there next to the checkbox, instead of hidden on the Stats page. (Thanks Duncan!)
    • Added 2 things to the Intro screen: "Secret Message" description, and a little more about how to set the EXPORT file format.
    • Word Search grid lines now print UNDERNEATH the answer highlights instead of on top of them.
    • Title/Subtitle text displays better in the LAYOUT tab's text fields when using different fonts.
    • Subtitle is now printed again on the ANSWER page.
    • Opening a new empty word search window now starts with a random SPIN # again.
    • Advanced Difficulty "# of Decoy Wordlets" menu will now disable if you have chosen not to show any Decoy Wordlets from the "Fill Puzzle With" menu above it. (Thanks Clare!)
    • Aesthetic Fix: In Mac OS 11 and newer, the sliders no longer get slightly cut off at the top.
    • BugFix: The menu item "Remember Current Settings" was broken, but now remembers your colors again.
    • LITE: Added 2 more available shapes to the LITE application
    • LITE: Increased max puzzle size from 12 to 18
    • LITE: All words in wordlist are Always treated as "optional" in Lite version... if some words don't fit, they will be removed from the puzzle.


    Example Puzzles and Answer Keys

    Example Exported "Answer Key" as a web "SVG" image


    Screen Shots

    Dark Mode is nicely supported too!

    User Guide - Some Example Pages

    The comprehensive user guide is over 40 pages, offering a one-page quick-start tutorial, examples of how to use its many features to get what you want, and detailed descriptions of every single setting!

    You can download the complete PDF guide for free (at the PRICING & DOWNLOAD link above) and review all the software features.



    People are quite excited about what they can make with this software:

    • Very happy! - The software is tremendously increasing my workflow. It is creating fantastic word search puzzle for different puzzle makers with different requirments! Love it.
    • Fantastic - Thank you. From what I've seen, it's the best on the market. I like that I can keep my creations on my computer. With other software online, you don't know if the puzzles you create are captured and resold. I'd like to pay more money to have more puzzle types, like crosswords, soduko, etc. added. The attention to detail is impeccable. Thank you again.
    • Top Software - A great Tool to create puzzles. I worked with it for some time and I like especially the easy handling and the shortcuts to export the puzzles to word. Absolute Buy-Recommendation! Viele Funktionen und sehr einfach zu bedienen. Auch die Shortcuts für den Export sind sehr praktisch. Absolute Kaufempfehlung!
    • A++ Great Program Highly Recommended - was looking for a program to write word searches and decided to check the app store and was surprised to find this program. It didn’t have many reviews, but what was there was positive and it was not expensive, so I took a chance. I couldn’t be happier with my decision. The program is very easy to use. You just enter the words that you want and it creates a word search with a list of words, and it also creates a solution. You can export that in PDF format or as text. You can adjust everything- the size of the grid, whether the words are uppercae or lower, the difficulty of the puzzle, etc. Puzzles can be anywhere from very easy with just horizontal and vertical words to the most difficult puzzles, which would have words going in all directions and diagonals, crossing each other, and having the random letters throughout the grid that are similar to the letters in the search words, making it difficult to find the real search terms. I had to contact the developer to ask how to do something and he responded promptly, and I had overlooked part of the user guide. Very easy. Great price. Great service. A++
    • Perfect - I’ve been looking for a program that would let me create my own word searches for a long time and I am so happy for this one! The app works perfectly and allows for quite a bit of customization (you can even copy the word search puzzle image and the word list separatly into a word processor.) I love the different diffulty settings which control things such as how many directions the words can go in and whether or not there are randomly generated fake-outs with partial words from your list. The different shapes the puzzles can take give them a fresh, fun look. You can even include a hidden message inside the puzzle which is fun to discover. This app also has some of the best customer support I’ve ever seen. I had a problem with something and the developer emailed me back personally and quickly with multiple ways I could fix it and now everything is perfect. There is also an extensive user guide. The word searches look professional when printed, like something I would have copied from a book. I would definietly recommend this app and this developer.


    Whirlwind WordSearch is being used all over the world, for fun and profit. Here are some places that are creating products with the software:

    (Please contact me if you want to have your product/site added to this list!)


    Help & FAQ & More Info

    FAQ: Here are some common questions/answers...

    Q: Can I make my own puzzle book with these puzzles and sell the book without royalty or copyright issues?
    A: Yes you can... Any puzzles you create using Whirlwind WordSearch are completely yours to give away or sell, no royalty payments or copyrights on your puzzles, you don't even need to mention this software.

    Q: Is this an interactive game I play on the computer?
    A: No, this is software that will generate PDF or printed puzzles and their solutions.

    Q: Can I save the puzzles as PDF files instead of printing them?
    A: Yes you can... Open your puzzle in Whirlwind WordSearch and click the "Print" button, and from the Print dialog, near the bottom is a popup menu. Choose "Save as PDF" from there, and it will write it as a PDF file to your computer. Or, choose the "File:Export:" menu and choose to export just the puzzle, or answer key, or both to PDF file.

    Q: Can I export the puzzles as text and import them as tables, to add my own formatting?
    A: Yes you can... Open your puzzle in Whirlwind WordSearch and choose "Copy as Text" from the Edit menu, and paste into your word processor, and convert the tab-delimited puzzle and answer into a table, and format it. Or, choose the "File:Export:" menu and choose to export just the puzzle, or answer key, or both to a text file.

    Q: If I save a wordsearch puzzle document, then later re-open it, will it keep the same word layout?
    A: Yes, if you open a saved document, it will be laid out exactly the same way that you saved it. The only exception to this is if you open a document that was saved in an older version of the software, for example, opening a document created with version 3.0 using Whirlwind 4.0. So many features and advanced settings changed that it cannot exactly re-create the older layout.

    Q: Can I use a multi-word phrase as a single "word" entry?
    A: Yes. You can add phrases like "may the force be with you", or compound words like "Blue Jay" by replacing spaces with the underscore character.

    Q: How do I 'lock' a puzzle I like, so that it keeps the word placement without shuffling the answer key, but also lets me change the title, fonts or colors and re-make the same puzzle?
    A: Once you have generated a puzzle you like, and want to 'lock the words into place', simply go to the advanced tab, and near the bottom, click "Choose your own SPIN below". Then you can change display-things like Title/subtitle text, puzzle letter font, secret message hint style, or grid display, and then re-create the puzzle and your word search words will still be in their original place, based on that locked SPIN value. Note: If you change other aspects of the puzzle though, a whole different puzzle layout will be created from the SPIN value. For example, if you change the puzzle size, shape, difficulty, or change any of the words or secret message or secret message position, the puzzle will have to change. This is because Whirlwind WordSearch has to re-check the new words or secret message text and find new places for them to guarantee no accidentally created duplicate or naughty words snuck into the new positions.

    Q: That wood-grain look is so... 1970s! Can I turn it off?
    A: Yes you can! Look under the top "Whirlwind WordSearch" menu and select the "Preferences" menu item, where you can turn on/off that look! Luckily I did not add orange shag carpeting or olive-drab buttons!

    Q: Can you add another language for me?
    A: Yes I can. However... it does take some research and work to add each new language. If you are fluent in that language and you are willing to help me a little with it (and get credit in the next version of the published app), then please e-mail me with your proposed language. The work you will need to do will only take about an hour of your time.

    Q: Where is the User Guide?
    A: You can find it under the HELP menu at the top of the screen, or by clicking the "User Guide" button at the bottom of the window. You can also download the full PDF user guide right now, for off-line reading, by going back up to the "Pricing and Download" section above.

    Q: Can I print the User Guide?
    A: Yes you can... simply open it from the Help menu, and when it is displayed (in the Preview application), choose PRINT from the File menu.

    Q: Do you offer a free version of this software, so I can try it out first?
    A: Yes! Please see the link
    Pricing & Download above.

    Q: I was peeking inside your application and see references to "WSS". Shouldn't (W)hirlwind (W)ord(S)earch be WWS? Are you dyslexic or acronym-challenged?
    A: WSS comes from the old project name for this software "Word Search Sensei", before I renamed it. Omoshiroi desune?

    Q: Will you make other kinds of educational puzzle software?
    A: Yes, I have recently released Lyttony (story-writing-helper), Bingo Genie (Customized Bingo-Card maker), and am working on other projects now. You can see hints for these upcoming projects on my main software page.

    BLOG: If you are interested in a deeper behind-the-scenes Blog/essay on the creation of this software, please visit my word-search blog entry here.

    Read the Software Privacy Policy Here


    What is next?

    Well, what would YOU like? If you let me know what things you would like to see next, and I will add them to my to-do list for the next update!


    Press Kit

    If you would like to publish a review of this software and would like more information and assets, download the free Press Kit below:

    Download Press Kit (".zip" file)


    Contact Me

    If you have more questions or wish to send me feedback:

    Contact Me

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