iWork ’09 vs Microsoft Office

I have been using Microsoft Office for over 20 years. When I got my first Mac Plus in 1990 I used Word to write my papers for school. My Mac Plus did not have a hard drive and I had to switch disks back and forth as I use the program. Five years later I decided to switch to a PC. I continued using Microsoft Office and became a power-user of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Last year when we switched to Macs the first thing I bought was MS Office. The first time I tried to use Word I managed to crash it. I ended up with that little coloured wheel going around and around. Word in the Mac is different from the PC. We don’t have a ribbon, we have a formatting palette. Excel has been fine as well but again I kept ending up in circumstances where I had that little wheel going around. My frustration was increasing.

I had picked up iWork ’09 for a good price. I installed it. I opened it. I then dismissed it because it did not seem full of all the things I knew. It seemed like a glorified version of text editor. I was wrong. Seriously wrong. It turns out that Pages ’09 is a very robust program. Moreover, it uses many of the intuitive Mac features in its functions. For example, you can get access to the computer’s font library. I suspect that there are many features in Pages so I am working my way through the manual.

Similarly, Numbers also seems to be a great program. It does not seem to be as ‘buggy’ as Excel can be. Anyone who uses Excel for any length of time is familiar with the odd things that can happen. One example is when Excel will create 10,000 records when you try to do a mail merge. I have excellent Excel skills as well. Numbers seems to be much more intuitive again. I am sure that right now I am only scraping the surface of what it can do. One feature lacking in Numbers is the ability to split and freeze your pains. I will find this a bit annoying as I use this quite often in Excel.

The third program, Keynote, is Apple’s answer to PowerPoint. I have not used it yet as I don’t use PowerPoint a great deal. I am looking forward to using Keynote as I suspect it will be good as well.

iWork ’09 comes loaded with all sorts of rich templates. From my first glance through them they appear to be well-thought out and designed. It is also very easy to create a template. Pages also saved the template in the right place. It was nothing like doing the similar thing in word or heaven forbid trying to alter the normal.dot file. Working with headers and footers in Pages is incredibly easy. You don’t have to go through any other screens to get the header and footer up. They show up as boxes at the top and the bottom of your document.

I love to learn new software. It keeps my mind working. iWork ’09 is definitely a winner. Deb has also decided that she wants to use it too. I will update this topic as I learn more about these programs.

Published in: on April 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Keynote was one of the main things that I was excited about when I got my MacBook Pro. I do a lot presentations when I’m teaching and Keynote a’llows you to make way better presentations than PowerPoint!

    • I used to do a lot in powerpoint too. I suspect I will be in the near future as well. I am finding iWork to be so superior to MS word mostly because it takes advantage of Mac things. I was getting really tired of Word and Excel crashing the computer. Well to be fair, I will work with a lot of documents open and I don’t re-start everyday because sometimes I just want to know what I was doing the day before. I have had no issues with any iWork programs crashing. I have now set all of my .doc(x) and .xls(x) to open in Pages and Numbers respectively. I will continue to post updates about what I find. The bonus is that I get to learn new software. I am such a geek! I had my office admin person print off the manuals for both programs and I am reading them in my spare time…in the bathroom!!! Geek Alert!

  2. 1. Numbers breaks some of my spreedsheets into multiple tables on multiple sheets. I’ve had to manually reassemble them back into the (combined) original SS format with any updates. I’m sure there must be some easier way of reassembling – or – avoiding/omitting the breaking up to begin with – yes ?

    2. Any new SS creation, including interim “saves” always defaults to the numbers format rather than Excel. Is there a place to set the default to Excel. (I know how to do it at the end – just wanted to save time during creation and editing. I have to send out Excel format, since most contacts use Windows.

    3. Is there an expanded list of functions available – with more thorough instructions?

    I was a long term (fairly heavy but not expert) PC Windows, Word, Excel user before switching to a Mac. I’ve made the conversion, mostly self taught, but still find numbers requires a lot of trial and error for me. Probably time will cure that. Thanks for your help.


    • I am not as enamoured with Numbers as I am with Pages. I have yet to figure out the difference between a table and a sheet except to the point that you can have multiple tables on a sheet. There are some things I really this one stands out for me:
      Common functions – if you have not found this yet it is great. If you look to the bottom left of the sheet/table pain you will see sum, avg, min, max and count. You can highlight a group of cells and it will perform those basic calculations.

      I bought the iWork Portable Genius book and found it very helpful. You can also ask questions on Apple’s forum but be prepared for snarky responses asking you if you read the manual!

  3. I have just re-read this post and realized now that I was wrong about something. Numbers does support freezing panes. It just does not support it when it is imported from Excel – it strips it out. But you can re-freeze the rows in Numbers.

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