A little over a year ago I switched to a Mac.
I had never used one extensively before and it took some getting used to, but in the end I am glad I did. This machine is quick, responsive and has dozens of programs that feel like they were made for what I do.
But there is one thing I have never been happy with – the word processing options available for a Mac.
At the time, I would have needed to spend over $100 for the Mac version of MS Office, so I instead opted for iWork at about half the price. Since then, however, I have purchased and installed the newest version of Office for Mac (2011 I believe), and suffice it to say, I am not impressed.
I find it incredible that, on a machine supposedly designed for and by people who revel in creativity and productivity, that neither of the two biggest options on the market are sufficient for heavy duty word processing.
Today I want to share why that is and what I’ve done to get around the numerous obstacles this has created for how I work.
Let’s Look at Pages
First is Pages, the $20 word processing app developed by Apple for its iWork suite.
Pages is a nice piece of software.
It loads fast, it integrates directly with iCloud, and you can install the iOS version for an additional $10, allowing you to easily move and edit files on all three Apple devices (should you own them).
Most of the powerful features built into Pages are hidden in true Apple style. The logic being that, if you really need them, you’ll find them. That’s all fine and good and for the most part has been true.
Of course, the single biggest issue with Pages is the fact that most people use Word and need files in Word format.
The current version of Pages only exports in .DOC (despite the .DOCX format introduced in Word 2007), and a lot of the formatting changes just enough to require fixing when you export and move files back and forth between programs. For most users, this is a trivial complaint. For someone who writes upwards of 40,000 words a week, it’s a pretty big pain in the butt.
Then there are things like the ridiculous file sizes, how slow the software becomes when editing large files (for me, this means anything over 80 pages), and how many extra steps are required to export multiple documents quickly. It’s a pain.
Which Brings Me to Microsoft Word
So if Pages can’t cut the mustard, I should just download MS Office, right?
Not so fast.
For months that was my thought – I should just pony up the extra cash and buy Office 2011 for Mac. I never did, but in January when Office 2013 was released, Microsoft introduced Office 365 which gives you five licenses for $10/month, including the Mac licenses.
It was a great deal so I snagged it and installed Office on my Mac.
I wish I had not. In fact, I am considering uninstalling it.
For a very long time I wanted Office so I could edit .DOCX files, finalize formatting before sending to a client, and work on larger files.
But Word (and the rest of the Office suite) run awful on a Mac. Keep in mind that I have a relatively new Mac model – the mid-2011 model of the MacBook Pro – and still, this software runs horrendously.
The load times are awful, the ribbon is a strange hybrid of Office 2003 and 2007, and function after function is slow and unresponsive. And on a purely aesthetic note, it’s not very attractive to look at.
What’s the Solution?
I don’t know. Maybe if you’re reading this and own a Mac you know exactly what I’m talking about and have a third party app you want to recommend – please do.
I’m open to just about anything at this point.
For now, though, my best option is to write in Pages, edit in Word (when I have to), transfer my docs to my PC, and edit them with Word 2013.
I feel I’ve been pretty thoroughly converted to a Mac guy, but I have to be honest, if you are a true productivity hound and enjoy what a Mac can do, you probably need to keep a PC around for at least some tasks.
So no, I’m not going to give you my final opinion in the great, ongoing Mac/PC argument – I think they’re both great for different things. I get more done on a Mac…unless I’m editing large documents or splitting up long texts, and then a PC is a must.
If you own a Mac or have in the past, what are the things you wish you had a PC for?
What about Apache OpenOffice? It’s got almost everything in the MS office suite, and it’s free:
I used Open Office for a while a few years ago (before I could afford any of the above). I wasn’t impressed, but that was at least three years ago. Would be interested to see how it runs on a Mac in the current iteration
I’ve never found a good word processing program for Mac either; I’ve resigned myself to word 2008, but have found OpenOffice almost as good and clearly cheaper. Good to know I’m not really missing anything with other programs…it’s hard to believe the simplest, and what should be one of least processor-intensive programs, could be so difficult for a Mac to run successfully.
Yeah, it was dumbfounding. I was so excited about nearly everything this machine can do. It was all so much better for me as a freelancer…except the word processing. I’m hoping they’re working on a new Office for Mac that works better – possibly built ground up instead of this converted processor-hog stuff.