You have a Macbook Air or Pro and need a reliable word processor. What’s the best choice for you? It’s often Apple Pages or Word for Mac.
It’s an easy decision if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. The biggest advantage of Apple Pages over Microsoft 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 much use for the Pages app for iOS on an iPhone. But Apple Pages on an iPad is great for a quick edit or writing when you are traveling.
I have used Pages documents and Numbers for Mac almost every day 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 macOS 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 MacBook, it will cost 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.
Subscription or purchase?
The price to upgrade is expensive, depending on which versions of Word you select.
A one-time purchase of the Office 2019 software for PC or Mac operating systems will cost over $350.00.
A yearly personal Office 365 for Mac subscription 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, do you need 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.
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 than Word.
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 the page layout document view is easy to work with. All the text formatting, fonts, outline styles, and writing tools are easy to find and use.
There is a spell checker, word and page 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 a few minor areas of incompatibility, but 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, and it has had a lot of stability improvements over the years to make it extremely reliable and robust.
Becoming familiar with the menus, options, and text styles only takes half an hour or so. 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 saving because it automatically saves as you work.
This is a huge bonus and a time saver. You never have to worry about losing one single word of your work.
Everyday tasks like styling drop caps, 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
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 it directly to pdf.
One minor image feature 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 is that authors can export directly to Epub without the hassle of converting the file with another program.
If you publish ebooks, this is a massive time saver when you want to format an ebook.
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.
Publish to Apple Books
Another massive advantage of Pages is that you can publish your ebook directly to Apple Books.
Previously, you needed to use iAuthor software to publish with Apple. But now, you can publish to Apple straight from your Pages manuscript of your ebook.
You can also make changes or update your ebook from Pages after it goes on sale.
Take a look at how easy it is to publish from Pages to Apple Books.
Working with Word files in Pages
You will undoubtedly have times when you need to collaborate on documents and work with Word users. But converting Pages to Word or Word to Pages is quick and easy.
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, open it with a double click or right-click open file as usual. 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, save your document, and 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 Apple Pages word processor is a much better option for Mac users.
It autosaves directly to your computer hard drive or, more likely, to your 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 for 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 the 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 latest Microsoft Office version, it might be time to consider using Apple Pages.
Then you can forget all about the expense of Microsoft Word for Macbook laptops.
Disadvantages of Pages vs. Word
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.
Regarding advanced features like macros, Pages is quite limited in this area.
If you can live with these few but rather 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.
Still not sure? Here’s some insurance for you
All is not lost for Mac users who can’t let go of Word completely.
Pages can probably do almost everything you need, but you’re not sure you can make a clean break.
Well, you have a fallback option for reassurance.
You can use the free online version of Microsoft Word.
It’s a simplified trimmed-down browser app of the premium version.
But it’s got most of the features a writer would need, including basic grammar and spell-checking.
To access the app, you need to sign up for a free Microsoft account. You also need to use OneDrive, which is free for up to 5GB of storage space.
The major limitations are that you can only use the app when you are online. There is no option for offline access.
Also, it’s not possible to open docx files from Finder. You have to copy and save your existing Word files to OneDrive.
There are no advanced features like mail merge and macros.
But if you are a Mac user and don’t want to pay for Word, it’s not a bad fallback option.
So you can happily migrate to using Pages, but with a little extra insurance.
Related reading: Can You Write A Book On An Ipad?