Alternatives to MS Word on Mac OS.

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by AMSOS, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. AMSOS macrumors regular

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    Nov 21, 2010
    #1
    Is Mac Pages a viable alternative to MS Word today? What other word processing suites can I choose from, if I want to stop using Word?

    I had started using OpenOffice years ago, but soon realised that my interlocutors were all using .doc and .docx, and converting my long research related files from OpenOffice to .docx would invariably mess up the more complicated formatting.

    Is the situation any different today? Which word processing programmes can I use that still let me save in .docx so I can share it easily with interlocutors?

    I've also recently come to know of Markdown based processors like Ulysses. However, I am not yet ready to take the plunge, though it does seem to be an reliable solution to formatting difficulties owing to compatibility issues between file formats.

    Let me know your thoughts!
     
  2. chscag macrumors 68030

    chscag

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    Location:
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    #2
    If you exchange Word documents (docx, doc) with others, then your best bet is to stick with Word. I use both Office 365 Word and Pages. Both produce excellent documents and Pages is free. However, converting Pages documents (Pages will save to docx) leaves much to be desired especially if the document is rather large.
     
  3. AMSOS thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 21, 2010
    #3
    Exactly! And that used to be true of the otherwise excellent OpenOffice, and I guess LibreOffice.
    Well, I have to give feedback to my co-writers who use MS Word. That means lots of comments in the margins, complexly formatted .docx documents that are at least 30 pages long.
    It's hard to believe that there really is no way out!
     
  4. tyc0746 macrumors member

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    Apr 3, 2019
    #4
    I work across platforms and have to stick with MS Office to preserve fidelity in the documents.

    However, the same document created in Powerpoint & Word can show minor, unintended issues on the PC or Mac version often enough that I have to go through and manually check them. It's usually things like manual page breaks going over onto another page, or indented/bulleted text not showing the correct indent/bullet, or in Powerpoint some of the aligned items (using the alignment tool) may come slightly (1pt) out of alignment.

    The same goes for working in different releases of Office.

    It's not often, and if it's just for me to carry on working on the file, it's not usually an issue. It's only an issue when I know a client has Windows and then I'll ensure the final edits/tweaks are done on Windows (bootcamp).

    I keep trying all the open source options, but have never been comfortable enough with the way they handle 'basic' documents to trust them with complex documents.
     
  5. iTarbuck macrumors member

    iTarbuck

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    Jan 29, 2019
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    Liverpool, UK.
    #5
    I was an office 365 user for the past few years, and It is exactly the software used in school so It made sense to be able to open up documents on my Mac also. More recently, I have converted to using Pages, Keynote and Numbers and much prefer the interface and features. In school, I use the Icloud versions of these apps via Chrome on windows computers, and So far have found this to be a good alternative. Due to the school intranet, I have to convert the documents to .PDF before printing from the browser, but this is very easy as the files are automatically saved to my cloud and can be accesed as soon as Im home. I personally find this far easier than sending the files to myself, or using a USB.

    If you are sending and editing files from Co-Workers, then stick with Word. It is much more efficient and quick to use one single application than using various.
     
  6. AMSOS thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 21, 2010
    #6
    There, you said it. So, basically things haven't really changed in the past 10 years. It looks like I am going to have to stick with it too given that reliance on .docx files and the need for interoperability between my collaborators.
    This is news to me. Surely, they could have done a better job at ensuring full compatibility between their own softwares? So, basically if I had complex documents with lots of tables, bullets and the like, I would have been in trouble even if I shifted from Word 2011 to 2016! Looks like MS expects users to go back to all their documents and fine-tune their formatting.
    I can see how much work you have to put in in doing this well. A lot of this is news to me as I was under the impression that it was only suites like LibreOffice, or iWorks that have compatibility issues.
    Can you share some experiences of using other office suites? What problems did you have to encounter?
    Thanks for the useful reply!
    --- Post Merged, Apr 8, 2019 ---
    Sounds like an efficient way of managing your writing and printing. Except, as you point out it seems increasingly certain that there is no getting out of the MS Word trap. One just has to live with it. I would like to use Pages and it seems like a much more accessible word processor, but then copy-pasting files into Word will not work. As you indicate I obviously don't want to have to have to reformat entire documents.
    Looks like the MS Word "forced" monopoly is here to stay for eternity! Sigh...
     
  7. cdcastillo macrumors 6502a

    cdcastillo

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    #7
    As many have expressed here before, there is no way out IF you work with others who use MS Word.

    I use both MS Office 365 and Pages/Keynote/Numbers on my mac and my iOS devices. I restrict my Word use however to when the document will be edited by others who do not have macs. The rest of the time I use only Pages for my word processing needs.
     
  8. Gregg2 macrumors 603

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    Milwaukee, WI
    #8
    I've been using Text Maker and Plan Maker (spreadsheet) from SoftMaker without a problem. I've exchanged files with a friend who uses Windows. No glitches...
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #9
    As to turns out you have to pick a "standard" and stick to it. If others use Word and can't or will not save in any other format then you have to go with what they do. If you can control what they do then ask them to save their documents to RTF or make everyone use markdown or just insistent that they switch to Google Docs.

    A lot depends on the organization. Sometime when someone else needs an MS office file I write using Pages then import to Word as the last step then save it. So I only need to use Word for a few minutes.

    But mostly I work as a software engineer so I use plain text documents.
     
  10. AMSOS thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 21, 2010
    #10
    I've been hearing a lot about markdown and did look at the Ulysses app for iPhone. It does seem to integrate and work well on my Mac too.

    But I didn't feel confident enough into learning the lingo to correctly input text. It seems too technical to me and I feel it'll interfere with the flow of my writing.
    And who knows what'll happen if they stop development in the future?
    But, it does seem that using Markdown will ensure perfect cross-platform formatting and take care of any compatibility issues.
    I'd appreciate you sharing experiences working with Markdown!
     
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #11
    Markdown is used for a lot of software documentation because it can be version controlled the same as software. The work of multiple authors can be automatically merged. Also because it is readable with no special software. it is just plain text. I use a line editor from a terminal window, just like we did in the late 1970's. Markdown looks like what we were using for word processing back in about 1980.

    For more advanced edits on scientific papers and the like people are still using LaTex which is a much more powerful markup language but harder to learn. It is capable of making much better typesetting then Word but there is a learning curve

    Bottom line is that if you work in a group you have to settle for the baseline skill set of the group. Whatever that might be
     
  12. sracer macrumors G3

    sracer

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    Apr 9, 2010
    #13
    I'm a big fan of markdown but there are limitations with it (like, no underline option) and different markdown editors use different markdown syntax.

    Other reasons why it is used for software documentation is because formatting options are limited (don't get distracted with making it pretty), it can be created using simple text editors, or as you mentioned line editors. (Edlin FTW!) and the formatting is consistent.

    I haven't found a group of cross-platform markdown editors that use a consistent syntax and can generate formatted files that print well. But that is probably a topic for a different thread.
     
  13. mj_ macrumors 6502

    mj_

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    Austin, TX
    #14
    As others have stated your best bet is to stick with what everybody else is using, and Microsoft Word is a (de facto) standard in business communication. And quite honestly I never understood why people loath MS Word so much. It's a brilliant piece of software if you know how to use it, and if you stick to the most basic of all principles (keep formatting and content separated) you will never run into any issues. I've been troubleshooting my fellow student's Word issues back in the days, and it was always a PEBKAC situation and never Word's or Microsoft's fault.
     
  14. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

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    Feb 14, 2003
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    SF Bay area
    #15
    Word can produce different results on different computers. If you want everyone to see the same document then PDF is better. That way you don’t worry about the forms of the .doc file.
     
  15. Gregg2 macrumors 603

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    Milwaukee, WI
    #16
    To repeat: no problems, no glitches. I don't need MS apps. Others might.
     
  16. AMSOS thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 21, 2010
    #17
    Actually, I quite liked the older version of Word, 2011 for Mac, I think. It allowed for a simple interface through shortcuts where I could quickly reach for the important functions I needed.
    Something about the new Tabs just killed it for me. It's just not quick enough, and there seems to be little by way of allowing you to setup a simplified interface - what are those ridiculously small buttons on the title bar?!
    It just forces me to keep using Cmd+R to show and hide the ribbon for almost anything I need to do.
    And now, there is a bizarre feature where your comments are time-stamped whether you want them or not.
    That aside, I do agree that I have liked working on it, and there's a certain polish to it. The one great thing is that in Focus mode you now you can change the background colour to a soothing aluminium. That's important for me when I sit down to type for a few hours.
    But, I'd appreciate if you could elaborate on what you mean by following all the principles - keep formatting and content separated. I am not sure I get what you're saying.
    What does PEBKAC mean?
     
  17. sracer macrumors G3

    sracer

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    Apr 9, 2010
    #18
    Yeah, I think we all heard you the first time. :) I've been a fan of Softmaker going back to the early 2000's when they made a great office suite for the Pocket PC's back-in-the-day. It was my go-to software for working with office files.

    But Softmaker's suites suffers the same fate (but perhaps in different ways) as all the other alternatives suffer from when it comes to Office file compatibility.... compatibility is directly dependent upon the complexity of the original document.

    ...and it's not only document complexity but HOW the person used MS Word to create the document. Interestingly, (at least to me), I've found that the people who don't use styles but manually change the font, size, and emphasis to differentiate between headings, sections, and body text often have fewer issues.

    I make heavy use of styles in my documents and have fairly moderate formats and layouts. It has taken me a lot of going back-n-forth between LibreOffice and MS Office to get style sets for .docx files that can be modified by both and completely retain their formatting across multiple iterations of edits.
     
  18. chscag macrumors 68030

    chscag

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    #19
    Softmaker has greatly improved their Office Suites and just today released a complete update to their Softmaker 2018 suite. However, as noted above, the more complex the document the more problems there will be with compatibility. I purchased the Softmaker Office 2018 suite a while back when it was on special sale but have since more or less abandoned using it because of compatibility problems.
     
  19. AMSOS thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 21, 2010
    #20
    You could be talking about me here :)
    I did try to use Styles years ago, and then thought that I should avoid unnecessary complexity. For research related writing the main requirements are to do with fonts, foot/end notes, tables, graphs, pictures.
    Even when I started to use Zotero many friends were surprised that I wasn't using the feature to embed references to books and articles from within the Word documents. I realise that it breaks the flow of my thoughts, and also don't want to mix and match one software with another. So, I don't mind keeping it simple.
    Do you think if I shifted to, say, LibreOffice, long documents formatted somewhat complexly (and saved in .docx from the start), will still have problems when my friends open them on Word for Windows?
    Thanks
     
  20. sracer macrumors G3

    sracer

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    Apr 9, 2010
    #21
    lol.gif

    It depends upon your definition of "complex". If the complexity is in the formatting of the text, then you should be "ok".... if complexity is with regard to layout, then that'll require some trial and error.

    If you use well-behaved fonts you should be fine. If you decide to go that route, I highly recommend taking a typical document and testing how well it survives bouncing between edits in Word and LibreOffice.
     
  21. tekfranz macrumors member

    tekfranz

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    Mar 16, 2017
    #22
    For Mac Users who wish to verify Microsoft Word Compatibility with a PC, would not opening the Word Document in Microsoft Word Online take care of that?
     
  22. sracer macrumors G3

    sracer

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    #23
    not necessarily. it depends upon the fonts used and the layout.
     
  23. Gregg2 macrumors 603

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    Milwaukee, WI
    #24
    problem exists between keyboard and chair :)
     
  24. camelia macrumors 6502

    camelia

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    Mexico City
    #25
    Does Word, 2011 for Mac still run in Mojave?

    Came
     

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29 April 7, 2019