Note: This is the first in a series of three articles by dyoungson on Apple’s productivity suite of apps. Pages, Numbers, and KeyNote.
Let’s face it not all of us were born Apple users. Most of us have converted from another platform so that we may find out what it is like to have greener pastures under our feet. However; this decision has a domino effect as one needs to make sure that they have the same, if not better, functionality. The area that often causes the greatest headache is that of choosing the right word processor. Having access to a word processor is a necessity for every professional. From writers to web-designers, we all need a word processor.
For many of us converts, prior to our conversion, MS Word was the option to meet our word processing needs. Whether you purchased an iMac, Macbook, iPad, and/or iPhone you are faced with the choice of which word processor to use.
MS Word is the native application (app) for word processing used on Windows. It is also available on Apple OS and iOS devices. The native word processor for Apple products is Pages – no, it is not TextEdit (NotePad for ex-Windows users). This article aims to assist Apple users (especially those who have recently converted to Apple from Windows) in deciding between MS Word and Pages for their word processing needs.
As previously stated – I am an ex-Windows user. However, MS-Word is not the reason for my migration to Apple. Although, MS Word is the bigger application with a greater collection of bells and whistles. MS Word has not resolved its issue regarding saving a document securely. Without frequently and repeatedly (every two minutes to be safe) hitting the save button, the risk of losing your progress is a certainty. After a year of using MS Word, you would have developed OCD, living in the constant fear of your yearly progress report going to data heaven.
iCloud Drive saves any changes made directly to the online version of the document you are working on. This online version is then available in-app across all your Apple devices with Pages installed. I have had my MacBook die on many occasions, and I never lost my progress using Pages. This holds true even when Yosemite tested my patience by playing roulette with my apps.
Working with long and large documents
This next point is most probably the biggest issue I have had with MS Word. My vocation requires me to draft 90-300-page long policy documents. MS Word has had a recurring bug – any document 40-50 MB in size, 30 plus pages long, and has a few large images will regularly crash. You can imagine the level frustration when a document crashes while you are trying to simply proofread it! Apparently, this happens because MS Word documents become unstable when the max file size is reached. Whatever the reason – it still beyond infuriating, and should not happen. However, this has not been my experience with Pages to date.
In my opinion, functionality has two major components – the appearance and availability of functions.
The appearance of an app is more than just how sparkly it looks. App appearance must be smart – allowing the user access to the functions they need in a timely manner. Both MS Word and Apple’s Pages provides a well-balanced assortment of common functions. MS Word has them placed in a ribbon along the top of the app. This saves space but gives a cluttered look if too many are inserted into the top ribbon. However, Apple’s Pages has the minimalist look by limiting the number of functions in the top ribbon and removes the need of pop-up functions settings by utilizing the sidebar effectively.
If you customize MS Word’s top ribbon with the functions you use regularly, then Pages plays second fiddle to MS Word. However, if you want to streamline your document and drafting experience, then Apple’s Pages provides exactly what you need.
There is no doubt that Apple’s Pages does not hamper its users with unnecessary functions. However, in my opinion, it is missing two very important functions – that is cross-referencing with biography functions. Yes, you may purchase EndNote for almost 12 times the price of Pages itself! To save costs, you could do what I did and purchase the iPad version of EndNote. However, it is cumbersome to use; and does not meet your citation and cross-referencing needs. If Apple’s Pages includes these two functions in their next update, I will not have to use MS Word to polish my documents ever again.
MS word is a powerful word process, but the numerous bugs (on Windows and Apple OS/iOS) makes it frustrating. Apple’s Pages is simple and reliable, with not o daunting learning curve. However, Pages does disappoint if one finds one’s self in an academic or research environment.
If you find yourself in a corporate environment with research needs, and many colleagues using Windows – consider purchasing MS Word. However, if your vocation is in design and is web based, then Apple’s Pages is a good choice.