The best alternatives to Microsoft Office for Mac

“What’s the best alternative to Microsoft Office on the Mac?” Lory Gil writes for iMore. “If you’ve recently ditched the PC, here’s how to ditch Office as well!”

“If you’ve been thinking about switching away from the Office productivity suite, there are alternatives that offer many of the features you love in Microsoft’s programs, plus some features you can’t get anywhere else,” Gil writes. “Apple’s alternative to Office is iWork. It’s the most comparable alternative to Microsoft’s productivity suite, only it comes free with every Mac. The interface is different, and will take some time to get used to, but if you’re really interested in kicking Office to the curb, the iWork suite is the best alternative on Mac.”

“OpenOffice by Apache is probably the most similar to Microsoft Office in look and design,” Gil writes. “If you’re looking for an alternative to Microsoft Office that looks and works pretty much exactly the same, but doesn’t cost a dime, OpenOffice is for you.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Many users think they need Office on their Macs. Most don’t. After being called vain, stupid, and wasteful by Microsoft, no one should.

We dumped Microsoft Office many years ago for Apple’s iWork which just keeps getting better and better for free and we couldn’t be happier. We advise MacDailyNews readers do the same.

Apple makes iMovie, GarageBand, and iWork apps for Mac and iOS devices free for all users – April 18, 2017


  1. When Apple stripped most of the features of the previous product away in the name of simplicity, they killed Pages. You can’t even multi-select text for Pete’s sake. And the very basic feature has been gone since the advent of Pages 5 how many years ago now? The clowns need to give us our features back.

    1. It was not in the name of simplicity, it was to keep the code and the feature set equal to the iOS version. You may not agree with the decision, but it was not only to simplify it. My guess is that Apple is attempting to push users into iPads, and this is one way of attempting this. Flawed as it may be. To be honest, I don’t believe I have every used pages on my iPad or iPhone.

      1. It was in the name of simplicity for the specified purpose of simplifying it (dumbing it down) for iOS. Some of the features I can understand them taking away for a bit until they have some time to iron out the kinks, but others like I mentioned above (multi-select) — the very basic things even WordPad can do, is silly. Such is life. Maybe one day the power will come back to Pages. Right now it is just a extra-featured WordPad. Sigh.

        1. I wish I could use only Pages, but Word documents are everywhere. When I knew something had to end up as a Word doc eventually I would write in Pages and then convert it to Word, but I had too many problems (with footnotes especially). Now I write in Scrivener mostly.

    2. Making iWork less and less than MS Office really doesn’t make iWork better than MS Office. It only makes iWork less functional, less powerful, less usable.

    1. Sure. If you want to do more then you need a more useful, functional, and sophisticate set of softwares. Comparing MS Office to iWork point by point, function by function ought to provide anyone with a reasonable comparison of the power, usefulness, and functionality of the programs. Simply suggesting that iWork is better than MS Office because it performs less does not support the argument it is better, unless simplicity and spartan are your primary considerations.

    1. It’s “iWork.” No “s,” you stupid fsck. You don’t even know what it’s called, so your opinion is worthless, you Microsoft shill.

      1. Ooh! Aren’t you just so tough and macho?

        What I mean to say is “fuck off” little boy.

        It’s nothing to do with being a Microsoft shill. Pages used to be a GREAT program… more than enough for most small businesses. I frequently and enthusiastically promoted it to business acquaintances as part of why switching would be great, easy and painless. Pages 5 turned it into a toy.

        And I’ve used Macs since my LC. Still using Pages 4.3.

      2. He’s right. In a business or educational environment, iWork is not an alternative – or even an option. On Windows, a user who doesn’t have high requirements form Excel can replace Office with WordPerfect Office. It’s hard to do that with iWork on a Mac, because it’s missing so many features, the Spreadsheet is terrible, and it’s so bad at interoperability with other platforms and software. Also, macOS lacks reputed commercial alternatives like WordPerfect Office.

        LibreOffice is the best “alternative” to Office on the Mac. iWork is more comparable to Microsoft Works than it is to Microsoft Office.

        If iWork was that good, then Apple would not have stipulated that Microsoft keep developing Office for macOS as part of their patent cross-licensing agreement, as they wouldn’t need it…

        Some issues with iWork:

        1. Poor cross-platform support: Desktop apps only available on macOS, Mobile Apps only available on iOS

        2. Lacking tons of Features

        3. Lack of Extensibility: Add-Ins, VBA/PerfectScript/LibreOffice Basic, etc.

        4. Design disparities between some components: Namely, Numbers… Resulting in mangled spreadsheets when you export to Excel, or import from Excel/Quattro Pro/LO Calc.

        5. Poor File Format Interoperability: No ODF support outside of pages. Inability to migrate forward most legacy file formats.

        6. Everything is tied to iCloud: No support for SharePoint or alternative cloud storage services. Things like Collaboration and Sharing are tied to iCloud. Which businesses and educational institutions use iCloud? What self-respecting entrepreneur will base his document workflow on iCloud and apps tied to iCloud (which significantly reduces his ability to make needed technological changes when necessary – as this ties him down to only Apple platforms)?

        7. Office has far superior tools for proofing and research.

        8. Cost: Since iWork is tied to Apple platforms, largely, this means it is also tied to Apple hardware. Your Tablets must be iPads. Your PCs must be Macs. Your smartphones must be iPhones. The Web version is nice and all, but it is not a primary option. Apple’s iCloud website blocks mobile browsers.

        Aforementioned, iWork is more comparable to Microsoft Works, which used to be given away with Windows PCs by OEMs. It’s what most people I know used in Middle/High School for their assignments, because no one needed Microsoft Office for that stuff, and the file format was interoperable between the two suites (Office could open Works files, and vice versa).

        iWork is good for home users and students going to school that use Apple devices as part of their education workflow (I know schools that use iPads and iWorks/iTunes U/etc.). For entrepreneurs, small businesses, and power users… They are better served by getting an Office Subscription or buying a perpetual license for Office 2016. It’s better, in practically every way.

        iWork also lacks a component that can seriously replace OneNote, with the same level of integration with other applications as OneNote. Apple’s macOS PIM Applications are not even comparable to Outlook 2016.

        The only legit “alternative” to Office on the Mac is, unfortunately, LibreOffice.

    2. I agree, in the corporate environment where Windblows is the dominant OS, using Office is REQUIRED to be functional. When colleagues send complex Xcel files, often Numbers will not correctly be able to interpret the formulas. I prefer Numbers, no question.

      Outlook: I’ve tried using Mail and other apps to connect to Exchange. None of them are fully compatible.

      Calendar: The same, it lacks to much from Outlook (which I hate) for use in a corporate environment. The worst part is that you cannot create Skype meetings from Apple Calendar and you cannot create free standing meetings from Skype for Business on the Mac (other than “join now”). Since I live on SfB and Outlook, I need to run MS Office for Mac.

      0365: This is getting better and we are moving this way. Only the Exchange server and Skype haven’t been moved over. Once they are, I’ll likely be able to ditch the thick client install.

      For those of you who don’t NEED Office, I’m envious! But don’t bash those of us who NEED it in a corporate environment to function.

      For those that use Office as a home user on a Mac and are not in a corporate environment…you are being silly. Delete the apps and use something else!

      1. It depends on what type of “home user” you are. I track my training and periodization in Excel, among other things. These spreadsheets took me days to build and format. They’re completely mangled when I import them into Numbers, never mind the fact that they simply do not work there because Numbers is literally missing several big features.

        I was doing this initially in Quattro Pro X7. It didn’t take much work to move it to Excel when I moved to Office 2016. It wouldn’t take much to move it back to Quattro. I could probably do it in LibreOffice, based on my cursory glance at its feature support, but Calc is a weaker spreadsheet than both Quattro and Excel. I need something more reliable, and capable enough to do what I need to do in the program.

        I did try Numbers, and it would not work at all. There are no apps on macOS or iOS to do this, so I have to manually do this myself in a spreadsheet. I am not a software developer.

        Numbers is completely unusable, and it’s not a problem only for Wall St. accountants and bankers. It is lacking in a lot of areas that completely destroy scenarios possible in other spreadsheet applications.

        So no, I’m not going to “Delete the apps and use something else!” because those “something else” don’t exist unless I replace my iMac with a Windows Machine (or boot camp Windows – which is a PITA), turn off my Office Subscription and install WordPerfect Office on it. Since that isn’t available on macOS – Microsoft Office it is.

  2. If you use a word processor or a spreadsheet for simple to mid range stuff then any of the mentioned MS Office alternatives work well.

    If you do anything hard core and involved/detailed, most of them fall flat on their faces. Even financial stuff (relatively simple math) does not come natively in Numbers (Try to do an IRR in just one cell in Numbers. It’s a built in function in Excel.) Higher level requirements are just flat out missing. (Need to do a higher order Bessel function or a modified Bessel function for the spherical harmonic vector construct for which you’re trying to do a quick calculation? Don’t go to Numbers.)

    The same can be said for word processing. Need simple stuff? Pages is fantastic. Need to do something that is bordering on needing InDesign? Forget pages, but MS Word can probably see you through. (So… Don’t go out and buy InDesign if MS Word will work. Similarly don’t go out and buy MS Word if Pages or Open Office will work.)

    While Apple’s iWork suite is great for people with moderate to low end needs, it is NOT a one-for-one replacement for MS Office. To claim that it is simply is a lie. The iWork supporters must push it for what it is. Claiming it is what it is not hurts both the supporters and the iWork suite name.

    1. Yes, some folk do need a powerful, functional, and diverse set of programs that MS Office provides. Why the hatred? Is it because those who lack the time and intelligence to use MS Word to its highest capacity are angry with their own personal limitations? Grow up. If MS Office does not meet your needs, fine. What is the point of castigating those that do except pointing out what a f@cking ass they are?

      1. MS started Word/Excel on the MacOS when Gates was a software developer for Apple & MS-DOS was just beginning. Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit employs hundreds of people & makes MILLIONS from Apple users.
        So why is MS bashing Apple in all of its new commercials when Apple is not? Be professional or close MBU & make Office just for Windows OS only & lose millions of $ from Office cash cow.

        1. Oh, please, snowflake. Shit, if that’s your argument I pity you. I guess you’re too young to remember the “I’m a PC. I’m a Mac.” commercials.

    1. Word Perfect has been relegated to the dustbin of history. If Word Perfect had provided users with what they want then Word Perfect would have endured. But is hasn’t. Word Perfect is dead and gone so consider yourself in the minority of users. So tell me, what caused Word Perfect’s demise and why would consider Word Perfect your top choice?

      1. What killed WordPerfect?

        Too much focus on OS/2 which never caught on.

        Mac version that tried to live between DOS and Mac. Should have spent more time thinking of mac ways to do things.

        Tried to provide a suite of apps with a separate company – Borland.

        Dragged their feet on supporting Windows with a first class product.

        Merged with Novell a networking company.

        Purchased by Corel (where go software apparently goes to die.)

          1. TL;DR’ish:

            1. Long [development] time to Windows Market
            2. Buggy Initial Windows Releases
            3. Reliance on proprietary Printer Drivers completely decimated the lock-in they enjoyed on MS-DOS. World also became increasingly digitized. Email meant we didn’t need to print as much. Increase in better computer hardware and screen technology means that presentation software became much more popular, and PowerPoint was there waiting to help Office benefit from these changes.
            4. Hard to compete with Microsoft’s own applications on their own platform (See Developer Tools market competition with Borland, etc.)
            5. Microsoft competed against industry leaders with very aggressive pricing, which really destroyed their business models. Microsoft could subsidize Office Development with revenue from products like Windows and its Developer Tools division. This is similar to what they’re doing now with Developer Tools and Windows – giving away products and upgrades because they make so much money from other markets they do business in (Office, Cloud Services, etc.). It’s hard to compete with Free and Dirt Cheap when it’s coming from a company like Microsoft.
            6. Bundling. Microsoft had an entire homogeneous suite of applications they could bundle and sell at ridiculously competitive prices. This is why Corel were forced to bundle with Borland. It was the only way to compete with Microsoft Office. Some people complained about Office pricing, but this was years (if not a decade or more) after Microsoft wiped out the competition with very competitive pricing and platform bias.
            7. Microsoft later on developed (Outlook) or acquired (OneNote) Office components for which there was no decent alternative in the competing suites, and the stand-alone price for these apps was such that it didn’t make sense to “cross-bundle” when the cost of the full Microsoft Office made more sense (cheaper, and the apps had much better interoperability). See #6.

  3. MS Word and MS Excel are far better than any other softwares in the market. People have to admit that MS can do something well. MS could not have become as dominant and successful by being a complete failure.

    1. Better … if you want really complex work.

      If all you want is to organize your daily tasks, an outliner is better.

      If you want to take a 100 meg file and do search and replace in complicated way, then use BBEdit.

      There is no such thing as “the perfect program.”

      1. Well, considering that MS Office is perhaps the most widely used set of programs means something. I doubt that people in business and academia use BBEdit as the mainstay of communication and publication.

  4. After 25 years on the PC, I switched to all Apple 5 years ago. I quickly replaced the bloated, obtuse, opaque MS Office for iWork. I was concerned about having all the features I needed, but quickly fell in love with the new Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. What a relief! I can do everything I want with clarity and simplicty. Can’t imagine going back to Office. I only use it now when I am somewhere else and have no alternative. Love iWork!

    1. Yes, Pages, Keynote, and Numbers do not have the steep learning curve of MS Office which can be significant attraction for some. However, you will lose the power and versatility of MS Office. I know that not everyone requires the diversity and functionally of MS Office, and not everyone can become adept and proficient with MS Office; but that is hardly an acceptable set of reasons to demean MS Office.

    1. It’s funny how people always write how other programs are just as good as MS Office. It is as though people tacitly admit that MS Office is the standard by which all other programs are judged.

      1. The only thing I’ll admit about MS Office is really expense for most users only needing about 25% of the feature set. The only reason Microsoft has been able to keep Office as the dominant suite of productivity applications for so darn long has more to do with their historical and anti-competitive lock on the corporate enterprise space established via the old proprietary binary file formats that lacked compatibility with competing applications. I’m not going to spend hundreds of dollars for an office suite when I can get one that’s good enough for what I need it to do and both Apple’s iWork and LibreOffice are more than up to the task in that vein for the majority of office users out there, PERIOD!

        1. Interesting. You suggest that few people use all the features and functionally of MS Office and other lesser programs can easily satisfy the meager needs of most people. Yet MS Office persists in its dominance. How do you explain this? Why after all these years do people load MS Office when, as you suggest, perfectly adequate replacements exist? What drives the vast majority of people to not use these alternatives? Please, explain.

          1. DUDE, it’s all about the MS Office file formats and nothing more! Sure, there’s a small contingent who need to do some VB scripting, macros, etc… However, for the majority of MS Office users out there, they could get along just fine in LibreOffice.

            The funny part is and a long standing one is that MS Office suffers from document fidelity issues between the Mac and Windows versions of Office (at least with the old proprietary binary file formats like *.doc, etc…) whereas the same issue is non-existent in both OpenOffice and LibreOffice spanning Mac, Windows and GNU/Linux regardless of the file format (binary versus ODF)!

            For MS Office users out there, old habits (whether good or bad) are hard to break!

            1. Oh, I see. People use MS Office because they have no choice. Hmm. Really? I guess this means that all other similar programs fail to meet their satisfaction. I mean, if there were reasonable alternatives then these reasonable alternatives would be used. The whole argument would be moot. All I read is people castigating MS Office while admitting there are no other significant competitors to MS Office. Is the vast majority of people completely ignorant and unaware? Are ignorance and naïveté the only reasons MS Office persists?

            2. Kolache, it’s not that they have no choice, but every business on the planet just about standardizes on the MS Office document formats so you have to have something that does MS file formats to interact with them, even if you aren’t using the full features. MS Excel is the one app in the suite (for businesses) that most cannot replace because of the macros and formulas that they use that won’t work in any other Office clone. So they are locked to Excel and therefore use the MS Office suite because it all comes in a package. Then they assume everyone else in the world has MS Office. You can use whatever you want for your personal documents, but when you have to interact with any business, it’s MS format or nothing in most cases.

            3. Sorry, your argument is unsustainable. Why hasn’t their been any reasonable competitor to MS Office? Just the formatting? That’s it. Millions and millions of programmers on the planet and no one has broken the formatting barrier. That’s your hypothesis? It must be! It’s shocking that no one else has developed a successful competitor to MS Office. Stunning, really.

          2. If you need to do something on your own or in a small group then iWork is probably fine. I write all my conference papers in Pages and export them as PDF files. Pages is interesting in that you can define a very large page size. I do the layouts for 6ft x 4ft posters in Pages. I do all my presentations in Keynote and export to ppt on request. I’ve found that people have become more tolerant of small formatting changes because different versions of Word render the same file differently.

            I use current versions of Keynote and Numbers but I still often use Pages ’09 for the linked text boxes feature. I have hope that this feature will return someday.

            If you have to collaborate on documents in a large corporation you will probably need MS office simply because everyone else is using it.

    2. I prefer LibreOffice and here is why. I had some old MS Word files from my college electronics projects that were created with Word on the Mac. Since they were created on a Mac long ago, they had imbedded PICT images in them for charts and graphs and diagrams. Current versions of MS Office on both Mac and Windows would NOT read the files at all; just produced garbage. Tried OpenOffice on both Mac and Windows and it would NOT read the files properly; formatting messed up and no images. Got LibreOffice on both Mac and Windows and BOTH would open and properly read and display the old MS Word documents, images and all. I was then able to convert the files to a newer format.

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