Word and Pages are very popular on the Mac. But Papyrus and Libre Office also offer some interesting advantages. We’ve taken a closer look at these four word processors for Mac. The comparison shows you which advantages the individual apps have.
Some people will ask themselves: “Aren’t word processors obsolete long ago? who does all their office work with Outlook and uses Facebook and WhatsApp for invitations and birthday wishes? There are indeed first-class special apps for many tasks, but good word processing is far from being a thing of the past.
The strength of word processing are long texts. Apple’s app of the same name is sufficient for small notes – but orientation aids such as chapters and a structuring function are helpful after ten text pages at the latest – this applies both to the fantasy novel that is currently being written and the final thesis in economics. Solid footnote management and the “track changes” function, which is important for corrections, have also saved many a master’s thesis. What should you pay attention to when choosing your word processor?
Originally, word processors were intended for the creation and printing of business letters and serial letters – both dying out genera. Today, reliable approval functions, good templates and useful assistance in writing a text are more important. Also crucial for mobile users is the ease of comparison with the iPad version and their Windows colleagues. But it’s not only texts that make the use of a good word processor attractive: It should also be suitable for creating a small flyer or an invitation.
Familiarization and ease of use
Word is easy to use thanks to its well thought-out structure and clear function bars. The comfortable “Ribbon” not only helps beginners to quickly find the function they are looking for, many help texts and preview functions help with more complex tasks. With some previous knowledge you can quickly achieve a good result, the symbols are attractively designed and all options are well documented. Word users also benefit from countless tips, introductions and course offerings.
Pages is easy to use, even if it has some pitfalls. For example, you won’t find the option for hyphenation until after a long search in the “Document” tab and the subdivision into layout and text documents has already confused some beginners. This is probably why Apple relies heavily on templates, as the user automatically chooses the appropriate text or layout document.
But papyrus is the taillight when it comes to operation. The program originally from Atari has a program interface that has grown over decades – even experienced users can hardly find their way around without the text-heavy manual. The program is also an ugly duckling: Symbols and the user interface are functional, but old-fashioned.
Open Office has one big advantage: anyone who has ever worked with Word can also use Writer. The operation is very similar, even key combinations are interchangeable. With the optional Notebook toolbar, Libre Office 5.3 even offers an interesting new function bar, which is strongly oriented towards Word and thus aims to make the changeover easier. But the program annoys the user again and again with unnecessary detours. For example, you have to install a separate language file for a German-language interface – this is a German project.
One of the strengths of word processing is the support of complex formatting such as chapter headings, footnotes and tables of contents – things that the user not only needs for scientific work and novels, but also for orientation in all long texts. All programs do very well here. With Papyrus, however, the complex operation is a limitation – the app is very feature-rich, but you first have to find the option you are looking for.
Word and Libre Office offer an excellent range of functions – especially when it comes to classic options such as text styles and formatting. However, while Libre Office hasn’t offered anything new for years, Microsoft has integrated many new modern functions into Word in the past. With its sophisticated cloud functions and iOS and web versions alone, Word is clearly superior to Libre Office Writer.
Pages actually offers all the important standard functions, but often only in the form of a low-cost version. For example, the footnote management separates Pages and Word worlds. Advanced options such as initials or more complex syllabic hyphenation settings must also be dispensed with. Apples obviously relies less on functionality than on consistent operation under iOS, Mac and iCloud.com. And in everyday office life, a convenient release function is perhaps more important than the choice between several footnote styles.
Integrating a photo or business graphic is no problem for a word processor. You can’t create a complex magazine like Mac Life, but you can create a small flyer. They can integrate image files and graphics as well as fine-tune the flow of text around a photo. Text programs are therefore suitable for much more than “invitations to a children’s birthday party”.
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