The number one advantage of Apple Pages over Microsoft Word for Mac is that it is free
I have used every version of Pages since it was released by Apple.
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 version 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.
While I have never found a lot of use for Pages for an iOS device, it can be handy for a quick edit or writing when travelling.
But I have used Pages documents and Numbers for Mac almost every day now for well over ten years on my Apple laptops.
The best feature is that because the apps are designed for Mac, they work fast and integrate with all your other Apple tools.
What about 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 to come.
If you want to use Word on a new MacBook Pro, it is going to cost quite a lot of money to upgrade to Office 2016.
I have Word on three Macs. The price to upgrade is very expensive depending on which versions of Word you select.
For a one-time purchase of the software, it will cost over $350.00. For a yearly Office 365 subscription, it will cost me 3 cents short of $180.00.
On top of that, 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 or free, it’s a no-brainer to consider using only the Apple iWork suite to replace the Microsoft Office suite.
If you are a Mac user like me and your primary requirement is word processing, can Pages reliably replace Microsoft Word?
The short answer is yes. Apple Pages is like having Word for Mac for free.
Writing without Word
If all you need is a word processor, Mac Pages can handle everything you probably need to do.
Like Word, 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 and writing tools are easy to find and use.
There is a spell checker, word count and track change with an add comments option.
In fact, it is difficult to think of a common function in Word that is not available in Pages documents.
However, there are some areas of compatibility. They are particularly in advanced features of Word compared to Pages and Excel compared to Numbers.
Most issues are related to the compatibility of macros that you might need to consider if you are an advanced user.
But unless you are using complex charts, tables and macros, there are really no aspects that would concern an author, content writer or blogger.
Easy to learn how to use Pages
It is a word processor, and it has had a lot of stability improvements over the years to make is extremely reliable and robust.
After half an hour or so of becoming 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 your cursor is placed. For most users, every tool you need is visible when you need it.
One huge plus with working with Pages is that you never need to bother with doing a save, as it saves automatically.
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 quick and easy.
Working with images in Pages
This is one area where Pages really shines. There is a lot more control over images compared to Word.
You can scan a document using an iPad app and then drop your photo or scan into a document. Equally as easy, you can add an existing image from your hard drive.
For authors working with paperback covers, it is very easy to drop in a high-resolution cover image, make your adjustments, and then export directly to pdf.
One other big plus for Pages for authors is that you can export to directly epub without the hassle of converting your file in another program.
If you are publishing ebooks, this is a huge time saver.
While there are not a lot of options compared to what you get with Calibre, it is enough to export a perfectly acceptable epub file directly from Pages ready for publishing.
Great, but what about working with Word files with Pages?
There is no doubt that you will have times when you need to work with Word users. But it is quick and easy to convert Pages to Word, or Word to Pages.
However, it would be rare that authors and writers need any 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.
You can choose either .doc or .docx file format, then save your document and you can send it to a Word user.
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.
Pages is a much a better option for Mac users because it saves directly to your computer hard drive, or more likely to you iCloud drive when you are online.
On top of that, you get the full suite of tools for free, so you get Pages along with the other iWork apps, Numbers and Keynote as a bonus.
As a Mac user, all you need is your Apple ID to download Pages Mac and iOS from the App Store.
If you are creating documents and want to work on the move, you can use Pages on your iPhone or iPad. It can also use Apple Pencil, which is a cool tool for adding notations.
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 your Microsoft Office version, it might be time to consider using Pages only.
Are there any real drawbacks?
If you are a Grammarly user, there is no support for Word for Mac anyway. But to use the Grammarly editor, you will need to export to docx from Pages before you open your document in Grammarly.
The same goes for using ProWritingAid as it too only accepts docx files.
If you are exchanging document versions with a proofreader or editor who is using Word, again, you will need to export and import.
But 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 main word processor.
Plus, you will save yourself an awful lot of money by doing so.
Related reading: Free Book Writing Software