Why Mac users should replace Microsoft Office with Apple’s iWork

“Apple has created a viable alternative to Office in the form of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, collectively known as iWork. These apps provide most of the same functionality as Microsoft’s software, but with the simplicity and ease of use that we expect from an Apple product,” Kraig Becker writes for Apple Gazette. “iWork is the better software solution for Mac users.”

“While Microsoft has failed to update Office for Mac since 2011, Apple has continued to refine its software, offering improved functionality, better performance, and slick new features. As a result, Pages, Keynote, and Numbers have gained a level of parity with their Office counterparts, and in some ways even surpassed them,” Becker writes. “Over the past few years, Apple has added mobile integration, support for iCloud, and access to web versions of the app.”

“MS Office for Mac will set you back about $90 for the Home and Student versions, while the business edition costs $150 per user. Mind you, that is for the 2011 edition, which is now well over three years old. When Microsoft releases their next update, it will be for Office 360, their cloud based solution that comes with a $10/month subscription fee,” Becker writes. “That means, owning Office will cost you $120/year in perpetuity, should you continue to use the product. Cancel your monthly subscription, and all of your software will cease to operate. Apple charges just $19 each for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. That gives you the flexibility of only purchasing the apps you need, with a total price tag of less than $60 for the entire suite. Better yet, iWork comes pre-installed on all new Mac laptops and desktops, as well as iOS devices. That means, when you buy a new Apple product, you get the software for free.”

Becker writes, “Because there are versions of iWork for both Mac and iOS devices, you can actually create and edit documents on your laptop, iPhone, iPad, or even iPod Touch. And if you happen to be running iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, the Handoff feature will allow you to start working on a file on one device, and seamlessly continue working on that same document on another.”

Much more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple’s iLife and iWork apps preinstalled on 64GB and 128GB iPhone 6/Plus – September 15, 2014
Apple updates iWork for iCloud – June 26, 2014
Computerworld’s Evans: ‘For many, iWork is the only productivity solution you’ll ever need’ – April 2, 2014
Apple shows Keynote users more love with significant point update – April 2, 2014
Apple updates iWork for Mac, iOS, and iCloud – April 2, 2014
Associated Press: Don’t overlook Apple’s iWork – March 5, 2014
LAPTOP Magazine reviews Apple’s iWork for OS X: A compelling content creation platform – November 20, 2013
Hands on: Using Apple’s new iWork for iCloud collaboration tools – November 15, 2013
Apple releases next-gen 64-bit iWork and iLife apps for OS X and iOS; free with new Macs and iOS devices – October 22, 2013


  1. There is only on thing I use Office for at this point – my Company’s Expense Report, they insist it be submitted on their format, and when I have tried to convert to Numbers it doesn’t covert correctly, then they reject it. Other than that, all MS products have been removed from my life / Mac!

    1. I continue to use Word because I have a forms plug-in that allows me to input specific text fields (more than a mail merge in Pages can do) and because the conversions from Word docs (that most of my clients send me) to Pages simply doesn’t work for everything, even if it’s just formatting issues.

      1. There are other open source alternatives to OpenOffice so you really don’t have to pay for an additional Office alternative to iWork. They’re really not bad! And, if you’re willing to pay some real money, there are some third party Mac apps that are also very good.

    1. Artefig, I like LibreOffice. But I have not used its spreadsheet component. It does do some other things that other apps don’t do, like reading some less seen wp files. I’m not sure many others here have really given these open source suites a worthy try — except some who have tried OpenOffice.

    2. LibreOffice does have an equation editor. I’m don’t know if it meets others’ needs since I don’t often need that feature. But it’s clearly there: Insert-Object-Formula. I would suggest some others, who demand higher level features, download it (it’s free) and give us a report.

    1. For equations, I use LaTex – has a learning curve, but so much nicer in the end for making documents with equations in it. Although MS Office has equations, they are cumbersome and slow to work with.

    2. Mizzo, thanks for an example of a feature that iWork is missing. Comment like “Pages isn’t even close to as good as word” don’t really teach me anything.

      I use Pages daily to make instore signage for my store and I find it works very well for my needs. I really like its ability to handle page layout.

    3. MathType, the commercial pro-version of the equation editor that has been in Office in the past, is a stand-alone program. While it cannot be opened from within Pages anymore, you can run it side-by-side, and copy’n’paste/drag’n’drop equations as images.

      There’s the free LatexIt. It’s LaTeX-based, and does the same thing, with PDFs for the equations, and it even looks much better than either Office or MathType.

      Both are more than good enough for the occasional equation. Unless you are doing actual Math or Physics publications, in which case you should not even consider using Pages OR Office in the first place.

  2. I have recently switched to a new Mac. Due to the transfer of my old apps, including Microsoft Office, Office has decided that I need to re-activate. Now, despite my license still being valid (it was a university provided license. I no longer work with the university, but the license was explicitly allowed to run 3 years after you leave the job), Microsoft has steadfastly refused to re-activate unless I pay for a new license, and they push really hard for a Office 360 subscription.

    Sorry, but no. I usually do not need Office anyway. It was mostly there as a fallback device in the rare case I get an overly complicated document, which hasn’t happened in a few years (because everyone has learned by now that you cannot trust Office with those files. Not even some Office versions can open them properly). So, no. It’s gone for good for me privately.

    1. Elgarak, what you describe is the Compatibility Hell Microsoft has unofficially mucked up and allowed to ruin its grand plan of having everyone use MSOffice.

      Microsoft is going to collapse under the weight of backward compatibility & support for everything.

      Sooner, but probably too late, they will realize they need to move to a new OS not constrained by “DOS” ephemera. By that time Bill Gates will be dead and MS will not be far behind.

      1. Announcing “Office Leapyear” for double the price of Office 365, your office software will also work on the 366th day of any Leapyear*.

        *Microsoft does not actually guarantee office will be fully functional, nor the Windows operating system it runs on. We just want your money and will continue to change the user interface over the same functionality to give you a prettier product with no added value every couple years, so this product may not be compatible with future versions.

  3. I use spreadsheets, and the best go in this order:

    MS Excel
    Google sheets
    Open Office
    Apple Numbers

    Apple simply doesn’t compete at all when it comes to spreadsheets. And I drink the apple kool aid hardcore, so I really want it to be better. But it’s like comparing pixelmator and paint.

    1. agree. numbers is not even close to excel. i don’t think it ever will be because i don’t think the subset of customers that use excel for serious stuff are a high priority in apple’s plans.

      1. I agree, too, and think you are probably on point as to why. I wish they would get serious about it. It is literally the only area where Small&Limp has always totally blown away the competition, including Apple.

        Fortunately for me, a good spreadsheet is not something I need much anymore. But I also still get stuck using PowerPoint for presentations on a weekly basis, and on a Windoze PC, no less. Even converting from the Mac version to the Windoze version wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked, so I quit even doing it on my Mac. 🙁

    2. Sadly agree. Too much key functionality of Numbers is not on par with Excel. And hot key navigation needs to be expanded dramatically. Those who use spreadsheets for a living do not like using a mouse. You should be able to do full navigation from the keyboard alone.

      I think mice are great for the casual user. But professional users will never go with Numbers as it is implemented today on the Mac. And that’s too bad because I would really like to jettison Microsoft products entirely. If Apple is serious about entering the business market, the interface for the Mac version needs a fundamental rethink.

    3. Totally agree. Excel bests Numbers in so many ways. One prime example: pivot tables.

      This has been discussed on MDN for years.

      Why Apple cannot out pivot Excel to this day, same for Photoshop, is the billion dollar question.

      Until they do, will continue to use Excel and Open Office.

  4. Last time I looked Pages just wasn’t up to standards. This issue comes up time and time again. If Apple wants to really get into the market make a productivity suite that is more robust.

    Someguy puts it in good perspective as others do as well. Excel is the defacto standard for spreadsheets, get AppleNumbers to that level.

      1. Absolutely, this is one area where Apple could and should put some shine on. They have the talent, it’s the focus that they need to add some serious depth to this area of software.

  5. The iWork updates are needed to attempt to get even close to offices feature set. There is so much more needed to make iWork something a professional business person would be comfortable using. Microsoft’s done a great job with the mac version. Much better than the windows version in my opinion.

    1. This is where the partnership with IBM comes in. Currently iWork just doesn’t adequately perform to business standards. For instance, I have found no equivalent to pivot tables in Excel. Apple just doesn’t seem to have been serious about competing in this area. It’s frustrating because I can’t completely ditch MS due to iWork’s amateur status, and yet MS isn’t interested in providing a reasonable Mac alternative.

      Again, maybe solving this problem is where Apple hopes to rely on IBM. It could be a beautiful solution, and it could finally be the death knell for MS.

  6. When you look at the ratings for this application in the OS X App Store, and the challenges facing Pages users in the Apple Support Community — this article is simply laughable.

    Only a person that elevates free over common sense would use this as their primary (bet your career) word processing tool.

  7. Yep, but Pages is still completely broken! Typography was once dear to Apple and now the Typography panel just doesn’t do anything in Pages. It works in TextEdit. I’m not even mentioning Help which is just copy-pasted from Pages ’09 even though half of the features are gone or moved.
    Did Apple really have to turn iWork into this crippled buggy ridiculousness just to make it free?

  8. I had already replaced Microsoft Office with Google Docs a long time ago because I could access and edit the same files from multiple devices over the cloud. As soon as iWork had that capability I immediately migrated my work to iCloud and have used it ever sense. Microsoft’s lame attempt to implement a cloud sync of files and even cloud based tools, through a paid subscription to Office 365 is laughable.

    There are a lot of functions and other things I miss from Office, and there are some limitations in iWork that annoy me to no end, but overall I enjoy the price, convenience, and reliability of iWork over Office any day.

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