How slow is Word on Intel Macs?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by debrey, May 4, 2006.

  1. debrey macrumors regular

    May 4, 2006
    I'm thinking of switching to a Mac after years of frustraing Windows/Dell experiences. I've been researching for the last week, much of it on this site (which is great, by the way).

    I walked into my local university store and tried out a 2Ghz/1GB MBP. I spend at least half of my time using Word so I thought I should try that. I found it ridiculously slow. The whole system booted up in less time than it took for the little Word icon to stop bouncing and open up the program. When I typed there was a slight lag in the letters appearing and if I typed at full speed it couldn't keep up with me.

    So this worries me. I don't want to spend over $2000 for a computer that can't run Word as fast as my 2 year old Dell. My questions are:

    If you own an Intel Mac, how fast do you find running Word (and what system do you have)?

    How decent is the apple word processor? How easy is it to convert files in and out of Word files? Can it deal, for example, with track changes?

    Thanks for your help,

  2. Sweener88 macrumors 6502


    Apr 27, 2006
    im about to get the exact same cmputer on staurday and i plan on dual booting with windows to use word, then iw ont have to buy acopy and i know it will be as fast or faster then my computer i already own, iw ould do the same if i were you at least just to try it out.
  3. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    You're right. MS Word is slow as molasses on Intel Macs -- and any other Mac, for that matter. It's pathetic. At times, it fails even to keep up with my typing. Add a few graphics, and forget about it. It doesn't need to be this way: Quark, a much more complex and sophisticated program, runs much faster.

    I've been trying Apple's Pages for the past few days, and I'm really starting to like it -- it's smooth, responsive, easy to use, and intuitive, once you stop thinking in Microsoft's terms. You can easily export files to MS Word, and the files work seamlessly. The only time you'll run into trouble is using "track changes." That will bring Pages to a halt. Since I have an old copy of MS Word, I'm thinking I'm going to buy the full version of Pages when my trial runs out. If I need to collaborate, I'll use MS Word, but otherwise, I'll be writing with Pages.
  4. BakedBeans macrumors 68040


    May 6, 2004
    What's Your Favorite Posish
    office was exactly the same speed on my imac as it is on my powermac...

    photoshop however
  5. ero87 macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2006
    New York City
    I often use word on a MBP (see sig) that's hardly fully-loaded (only 512 MB RAM), and Word is FINE. The fact is, word doesn't need to do much (unless, as noted, you use a lot of graphics.) It might take 7 seconds to load up for the first time, but other than that i've noticed no lag.
  6. Dreadnought macrumors 68020


    Jul 22, 2002
    Almere, The Netherlands
    My brother has MBP and uses MS Office. He really isn't happy with its performance. When having Word open and then opening and closing Excel, every Office app quits and making his MBP very slow and crashable. He sometimes has to reboot. Rosetta isn't perfect by far! Let's hope MS has a new native Office soon!
  7. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    well, to be fair, I'm pretty dissatisfied with the way word runs on my ibook 1.33 Ghz/1.5 GB RAM. Sometimes the cursor will stop blinking, and if I try to keep typing before waiting a few seconds, the app crashes. Happens a lot. It's also just slow and doesn't always keep up with my typing.

    I would love to leave office for pages, but i'm addicted to the "notebook" view for taking notes in word, and pages has nothing comparable. Also, pages seems to be a *huge* resource hog.
  8. Pilgrims Pro macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2003
    I have a a MBP 1.83 1.5GB RAM...and I can honestly say that I think Office 2004 runs better on my MBP then it did on my 12" PB. I have never had the computer lock up or anything. Yes its sluggish once in a while, but it was also sluggish on a Power PC.
  9. dailo macrumors regular

    Mar 29, 2006
    Use AbiWord it has the same great features, can save it as a .doc and it is native and runs much much faster then MS Word.
  10. Towel macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2003
    I disagree. Rosetta perfectly reproduces on my MBP every single annoying, freezing and crashing behavior that Office exhibts on my PPC Mac. :D

    Office is terrible, and I regret that EndNote chains me to it. But I'm at least thankful that it's no more terrible emulated on Intel than native on PPC. It does take longer to launch the first time - I'm guessing because the OS is loading a bunch of Rosetta code, too. Once launched, it feels the same to me as on a recent PowerMac.
  11. Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    Slow, unstable, and crash-prone but completely useable.

    Worse than on my eMac, but that died since apparently every piece of electronics I buy is buggy. It's not slow enough to stop you from writing something simple, but if you're going to use a lot of graphics or have a lot of sound/video/audio editing programs open in the background, it won't be what you're looking for.

    Also, the install CD won't work. You have to install it on another computer then transfer it over if you have a MBP. Very irritating.
  12. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    Umm- I have to say that Word is really fast on my dual-core PM G5. That said, it also has 2.5 Gigs of RAM in it. ;)
  13. debrey thread starter macrumors regular

    May 4, 2006
    Thanks for the responses. It sounds like Word generally isn't faster on a PB than on a MacBook Pro. The one at UCLA's computer store, however, the PB Word seems faster than the MBP Word. I looked into iWork and it seemed OK.

    I don't really want to run office on the Window side of things. If I'm using windows that much, I might as well buy a windows machine -- it's likely to be cheaper.

    As for a new version of Office, it sounds like it'll be a ways off. This is from Microsoft's website (

    Q. Will you re-release Office 2004 for Intel-based Macs?

    A. No. There are no plans to re-release Office 2004. With Rosetta, Office 2004 runs well on Intel-based Macs.

    Q. When will the next version of Office for Mac be available?

    A. The next version of Office for Mac is under development, and we typically release a new version every two to three years. Although we are on track, making sure that our next version will run on the Intel-based Macs will likely require additional time in our development schedule. We will know more about our release date after we’ve thoroughly evaluated the Intel-based Macs, and have identified any changes we need to make so that Office for Mac runs smoothly on both PowerPC-based Macs and Intel-based Macs.

    -- David
  14. debrey thread starter macrumors regular

    May 4, 2006
    I read on another thread that Ram really helps office and, in general, Rosetta applications. Has this been other people's experience?

    -- David
  15. Pilgrims Pro macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2003
    Well I have 1.5 gigs and I don't have a problem, so maybe thats why. Tomorrow I will have two gigs. :p
  16. MacSyn macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2006
    It only takes extra few seconds to load. You can't wait for that few extra seconds? How fast can you type?
  17. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    But for some people (me included), once it's loaded, there's a lag between typing and letters appearing (sometimes). That's a pretty big problem, I'd say.
  18. debrey thread starter macrumors regular

    May 4, 2006
    Yes, I had the lag time between typing and the letters showing up -- rather disconcerting.

    It was not just a few extra seconds. I didn't time it, but it seemed to take well over thirty seconds to load. I did it with a somewhat naive sales person next to me. She said "well, that's bizarre -- I've never seen a program take that long to load on one of these machines." I restarted the computer and all that and still it took quite a bit of time.

    -- David
  19. plinden macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2004
    I have a 17" iMac (ie. 1.83GHz Core Duo) with 2GB RAM, and I just opened Word on it - it took four seconds from clicking the "W" icon until the templates appeared.

    I've edited several documents but my wife has used it more than I have and she hasn't had any complaints. It hasn't crashed once for either of us.

    Perhaps it is a bit laggy if you type fast. I haven't tested on Word on Windows to compare, but it took 11 seconds to enter a line of 't's, by holding down the 't' key.
  20. spinne1 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 12, 2005
    Hermitage, TN USA (near Nashville)

    I don't know what is wrong with everyone's computers, but there is NO lag whatsoever running Word on Office 2004 on my lowly G4/533 Mhz Powermac with 1.25 GB of ram. I'm starting to think that the ram makes all the difference. If so, consider 1 GB to be a minimum for Office to run well on OS X.

    The letters appear as fast as I can type them, and if I just type super fast dummy letters (at around 120-150 words per minute pace), it still shows no lag. There must be other issues at work for those who have the lag. First, up or check your memory. Two, perhaps throw away Word's preference files or caches (but don't delete them until you know you don't need them.)

    That said, I am only wondering about those who run PowerPCs, not Intel Macs. For Intels, I can understand. Maybe Rosetta isn't good enough. I'm not really sure.
  21. Pistol Pete macrumors 6502a

    Pistol Pete

    Jan 6, 2005
  22. rick6502 macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2006
    How fast does Word really need to be?

    Honesty, Word works just fine on my MBP. It might be slower than my G5 2ghzX2. Then again it might be about the same. The only thing I really notice is launch times. On the G5 I had a ton on fonts and Word launch times was slow. On the MBP there is a noticeable delay at launch. I'm sure that's Rosetta. If I had all those fonts on the MBP, there could be a much larger delay. The point of all this is once it's running, I can't tell the difference.
    I will tell you that the dual Intel apps seem faster than the same PPC apps on the dual PPC. Safari, Mail and iTunes are all faster.
  23. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    Mac OS X really does require a good amount of RAM in general.

    When running PPC apps via Rosetta, your system needs 1.5-2GB of RAM
    to counter Rosetta's RAM cravings and will greatly improve performance
    across your entire system.
  24. SamJ macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2006
    Word runs fine on my 2GHZ intel imac. I guessing about 5-10 bounces tops. Sometimes programs can open up slowly if my imac has been in sleep mode, but still in always less time than it takes to boot. I honestly dont think you have much to worry about if your using Word on an MBP
  25. NewSc2 macrumors 65816

    Jun 4, 2005
    New York, NY
    i know this is a bit off topic, but on my powerbook word ran fine.

    perhaps not as fast as other mac-based programs, and maybe not as speedy as on my pc, but comon, it's word! CPU-intensive and word don't belong in the same sentence.

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