iWork or Microsoft Office for Mac?


macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 9, 2009
What are the advantages and disadvantages of both? I will be using one of them for word processing and PowerPoint presentations. What do you call PowerPoint on iWork? Is it Pages or Keynote?


macrumors 603
Apr 10, 2008
if you do any serious word processing or excel work then iWork doesn't touch Microsoft office. Keynote is where iWork really shines though. I bought iWork since it loads up faster and I gave it a shot thinking maybe it can replace my office but not even close.


macrumors 6502
Jul 2, 2008
How about you just help him?

I've tried the demo version of iWork, I like it. However, the file compatibility makes it a no buy. It is really great software yet it saves in a horrible format which makes it unusable. I'd say go with Office.


macrumors 6502
Aug 30, 2009
Pages > word

Excel > Numbers

Keynote > Power point

I don't care what anyone says. Word is the slowest WP I have ever used. Plus, you can't beat the UI and full screen mode on Pages.


macrumors 68040
Aug 10, 2008
I have both and I really like Pages and Numbers a lot better than Word and Excel.
I found out that if you export Pages to Word it works better than using the "save as word".


macrumors 68020
Aug 12, 2003
At home
I have both OpenOffice and MS Office 2008 - for me it is OpenOffice that I use most and it's free as already mentioned.

Pay or free ?


macrumors regular
Aug 3, 2008
I'm using Pages on my aluminum unibody Macbook (before it gained its Pro designation) and there are definitely compatibility issues between it and Word 2002. Even when I ask Word to show all hidden characters and formatting, Pages seems to impose some heading formatting that's difficult to undo (at least for me).

If you don't need a robust office suite, iWork is just fine and much more affordable. If you need something more robust and more customizable, Office is still the standard to beat. My advice would be to stay with one or the other.



macrumors 68040
Jan 14, 2002
South Dakota, USA
I think that iWork is a nice looking package for light work, but I think Office is the way to go when compatibility is a must. I have found that Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are all nice to work with on the Mac version and when I open the file on my Windows machine at work I know it is going to look right. I also use Entourage, but I don't like it as well as the other programs. I only use it because it seems to be the only thing that works right for one of my email accounts. MS says Outlook is coming to the next Mac version which would be great. Anyhow don't judge Office just because it is a Microsoft product. The MS Mac BU seems to do a good job with their software and are very timely with updates, etc.


macrumors 6502a
May 1, 2006
New Zealand
User interface on iWork apps is way better than Office which feels like a ported Windows app and has many wrong keyboard shortcuts which catch me out.

Compatibility with Office users is better but not perfect if you use MS Office because people often do stupid things in Office such as using direct formatting rather than styles. If you use styles it is pretty easy to go between OpenOffice, MS Office and iWork without the formatting changing too much but remember these are all trying to be WYSIWYG and in that case iWork wins hands down because what you see on screen is precisely what you will see when you print out.

I have Office 2004 (faster on my MacBook Pro than Office 2008 despite emulation) and iWork 08. For docs I share with other people I work in Office but when producing material for my own use or where the users only need to get a PDF I use iWork because it is much faster for me to use (especially Keynote which kicks PowerPoint's butt) and produces a really nice professional result.

If you don't need to share docs with other people for collaboration reasons you can probably get away with iWork and NeoOffice. Some places insist that docs are sent in MS formats so it is worth checking how it renders in NeoOffice if you export to Word doc format for instance since it emulates many of the formatting behaviours of MS Office. There is never a guarantee that an Office document is going to look the same for another user when they open it as it does for you because Office format doesn't save all the information necessary to reproduce the document and relies on the behaviour of the renderer to finish the job which is why things often look wrong in different versions of Office, let alone other packages. As I said earlier, styles will help a lot.


macrumors 6502
Sep 1, 2008
excel is a BEAST. it is just incredibly powerful and capable of so, so much in terms of analysis and statistics. though if you were serious about excel then you would be using the windows version which has vba support (dropped in mac version)


macrumors regular
Mar 1, 2007
Great Britain
User interface on iWork apps is way better than Office which feels like a ported Windows app...
To Be Honest, The User Interface Of Office In My Opinion Is The Last Thing That Feels Like a Ported Windows App. Many Expert Users Of Windows Office Seem Lost When They Have To Borrow My Laptop And Office 2008 To Make Last Minute Corrections On Documents.:rolleyes:


macrumors 65816
Aug 3, 2007
In my uninformed opinion, Keynote is by itself worth the price of iWork. I say uninformed because I haven't used PowerPoint for years and it might have evolved into an intuitive program (although I doubt it).


macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
Excel > Numbers
Numbers is better than Excel for some things, e.g. holiday planning spreadsheets and stuff where you want multiple tables on one page.

excel is a BEAST. it is just incredibly powerful and capable of so, so much in terms of analysis and statistics.
True, unless you want to use standard deviation error bars - which have been broken for at least 5 years (when I reported the issue to MS, it may well have been broken longer).


macrumors G3
Aug 24, 2009
My opinion: iWork. Seems snappier, easier to use, less costly, uses less resources, faster and has good compatibility with Microsoft Office for Windows. But that is my opinion only.

I'd sooner use OpenOffice than Office for Mac 2008.


macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2004
MS Office. First of all, Numbers doesn't even come close to the capabilities of Excel. Secondly, Word has more advanced features than Pages. I don't find it very slow either, and if you're collaborating, Pages simply isn't 100% compatible, and neither imports nor export .doc files correctly (yes, it actually bans you from saving in .doc, you have to export). As for Keynote vs Powerpoint, well, Keynote is a very nice application, but that doesn't make Powerpoint a dog. I wouldn't make a decision on the bling-bling of Keynote.

A last consideration; which suite would you rather be proficient in? I'm not sure what line of work you're in, but familiarity with MS Office is an essential requirement in many jobs. No one cares if you know iWork.


macrumors 6502
Mar 16, 2008
Both. They both have their merits and downfalls.

i use both.
Powerpoint for mac instead of keynote.
pages instead of word
I dont use excel or numbers.


macrumors member
Dec 7, 2009
Like many have said, both are good for certain things. Once I get my new iMac, I plan on getting the MS Office for Win7 and iWork for the OSx side of my machine :)


macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2009
Tampa Area, FL
I have both. I use both for certain things. I still like Office 2003 Professional best. I haven't really learned to use Office 2007 for the PC, and I can make Office 2008 for the Mac work for me when I need it. Eventually I'll run a Windows 7 partition and use Office 2007 (or the newest version depending on how soon I get around to it) and then use iWork on the OS X side. I get all the programs either free or ridiculously cheap through work.


macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2008
Isla Nublar
Pages > word

Excel > Numbers

Keynote > Power point

I don't care what anyone says. Word is the slowest WP I have ever used. Plus, you can't beat the UI and full screen mode on Pages.

Even though excel has more features I still much prefer numbers.

I'm not great with office programs and Office on Mac is slow and clunky IMO (what is up with the UI!?)

I much prefer iWork. I'm not a heavy office user or else maybe I would need MS Office but for my uses iWork has been just fine. I love it.