You have a Macbook Air or Pro and you need a reliable word processor. What is the best choice for you? Microsoft Word or Apple Pages?
It’s an easy decision if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. The biggest advantage of Pages vs. Word is that Pages is free for a Mac user.
But can Pages, the Apple version of Word, do everything you want to do for your writing needs?
Read on for a comparison of these two writing programs.
Apple Pages word processor
I have used every version of Pages, the Apple word processor app since Apple released it in 2009.
The iWork 09 version worked perfectly. But at that time, it cost $79.00 for the suite of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
Later, in 2014, Apple released a new version. The pricing dropped to $19.99 for each app on a Mac, and $9.99 for an iOS device.
At the same time, the release of iWork for iCloud became available.
However, you could get the apps for free when you bought a new Mac computer.
Then in 2017, Apple finally made all three apps free on the Mac App Store for Mac, iPad, and iPhone.
I have never found a lot of use for the Pages app for iOS, but it can be handy for a quick edit or writing when traveling on your iPhone or iPad.
I have used Pages documents and Numbers for Mac almost every day now for over ten years on my Apple laptops.
The number one advantage is that because the apps are designed for Mac, they work fast and integrate with all your other Apple tools.
Microsoft Office for Mac
Yes, I use Pages and Word for Mac too.
The current version of Office I have installed is Office for Mac 2011, which works with versions up to Mac OS Sierra.
But this version is not supported on Macs using macOS High Sierra, Mojave, or new versions.
If you want to use Word or other Office apps on a new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, it is going to cost quite a lot of money to upgrade to Office 2016 or Office 2019.
I have Word for Mac on three laptops. But I’m not sure I will install it on my new computers in the future.
The price to upgrade is very expensive, depending on which versions of Word you select.
For a one-time purchase of the Office 2019 software for PC or Mac operating systems, it will cost over $350.00.
For a yearly personal Office 365 for Mac subscription, it will cost me 3 cents short of $180.00. The price depends on which country you are in and which version of Office 365 you can choose.
However, if you want to try Office on your Mac, you can get a one-month free trial version.
There is also this question to answer with subscription software.
What happens to your data and files if you decide to cancel your subscription?
On top of that, of all the Office products, I would only use Word and perhaps Excel from time to time and never use the other apps in the suite.
If you don’t need all versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, and OneNote, why pay for what you will rarely or never use?
So given a choice between $350.00, $180.00 for an Office 365 subscription, or free, it’s doesn’t take much brainpower to consider using the Apple iWork suite to replace the Microsoft Office suite.
It’s almost like getting Microsoft Word for Mac free.
Apple Pages is free
If you are a Mac user like me and your primary requirement is for word processing programs, can Pages reliably replace Microsoft Word?
The short answer is yes, it definitely can.
In some ways, it is even better. Word vs. Pages?
Apple Pages is like having Microsoft Word for Mac but without the cost.
Writing without Word
If all you need is an Apple word processor, Mac Pages can handle everything you will probably ever need to do.
Like Word in Office for Mac, you can start with a blank document or use the template chooser.
The word processing in page layout document view is easy to work with, and all the text formatting, fonts, outline styles, and writing tools are easy to find and use.
There is a spell checker, word count, auto table of contents, and track change with an add comments option.
It is difficult to think of a standard function in Word that is not available in Pages documents.
There are some areas of compatibility. They are mostly very advanced features of Word compared to Pages and Excel compared to Numbers.
Most issues are related to the compatibility of macros. You will only need to consider it if you are an advanced user.
You might consider this if you are using complex charts, tables, and macros. But there are no aspects that would concern an author, content writer, or blogger.
You can write, format, make columns, import, export, and print in precisely the same way as you do with Word.
It’s easy to use Pages
Pages is a great word processor. It has had a lot of stability improvements over the years to make it extremely reliable and robust.
It only takes half an hour or so to become familiar with the menus, options, and text styles. You will find that Pages is very easy to use.
The sidebar menu is intuitive and changes depending on what you are doing or where you place your cursor.
For most users, every tool you want to use is visible when you need it.
One big plus with Pages is that you never need to bother with doing a save because it automatically saves as you work.
This is a huge bonus and timesaver. You never have to worry about losing one single word of your work.
Every day tasks like inserting headers and footers, text boxes, or adding page numbers are all simple.
The image galleries make adding and adjusting images and pictures quick and easy.
Images in Apple Pages vs Microsoft Word
Working with images is one area where Pages really shines. There is so much more control over images compared to Word.
You can scan a document using an iPad app and then drop your photo or scan it into a document.
Equally as easy, you can add an existing image from your hard drive.
For authors working with paperback covers, it is easy to drop in a high-resolution cover image, make your adjustments, and then export directly to pdf.
One minor image feature that is missing in Pages compared to Word is adding a hyperlink to an image.
You would probably rarely need to do this. But if you do, there is this workaround on Apple Discussions. It works by simply overlaying a text box and then making it invisible.
One other big plus for Pages for authors is that you can export directly to epub without the hassle of converting your file in another program.
If you are publishing ebooks, this is a massive time saver.
There are not a lot of options compared to what you get with Calibre.
But it is more than enough to export a perfectly acceptable epub file directly from Pages ready for publishing with Amazon KDP, Smashwords, or Draft2Digital.
Working with Word files in Pages
There is no doubt that you will have times when you need to collaborate on documents and work with Word users. But it is quick and easy to convert Pages to Word, or Word to Pages.
It would be rare that authors and writers need real-time collaboration tools.
Generally, the real need is to open Word documents or to send Pages documents in doc or docx file format.
To open a Word file, simply open it with a double click or right-click open file as you usually would do. If you do not have Word installed on your computer, it will open automatically in Pages.
When you need to send a Word file, you can do a quick export of Pages files.
You can choose either .doc or .docx file format, then save your document, and you can send it to any Word user.
Advantages of Apple Pages vs. Word
If you want to move away from the expense of Microsoft Word for Mac, you have two logical choices.
You could opt for Google Docs, which is also free.
However, it requires an Internet connection and only works in a web browser. But there is a way to access and edit files offline with a Chrome extension.
The Pages word processor is a much a better option for Mac users because it autosaves directly to your computer hard drive, or more likely to you iCloud drive when you are online.
On top of that, you can get the full suite of tools for free.
So you get Pages along with the other iWork apps, Numbers, and Keynote as a bonus.
If you are a Mac user, all you need is your Apple ID to download Pages Mac and iOS from the Mac App Store.
If you are creating documents and want to work on the move with an iOS device, you can use Pages on your iPhone or iPad.
It can also use Apple Pencil, which is a cool tool for adding smart annotation.
There is no version of Pages for iOS for Apple watch. But I can’t imagine how it would work on such a small screen.
Currently, you might be working with Word and Pages side by side.
But when it comes time to spend a lot of money to upgrade to the Microsoft Office 2019 version, it might be time to consider using Apple Pages only and forgetting all about the expense of Microsoft Word for Macbook laptops.
Are there any drawbacks?
If you are a Grammarly user, there is no support for Word for Mac anyway.
But it is super easy to use the Grammarly editor. You only need to export to docx from Pages before you open your document in Grammarly.
Update: Grammarly for Word for Mac is now available in beta.
The same goes for using ProWritingAid as it too only accepts docx files, so you can use the same method.
You might want to exchange document versions with a proofreader or editor.
If they are using Word, you will need to convert or export and import your pages and word files.
If you want to use advanced features like macros, Pages is quite limited in this area.
If you can live with these few and very minor inconveniences, then yes.
You can certainly write and survive quite happily with only Pages as your primary word processor.
On top of that, you will save yourself an awful lot of money by doing so.