I have a Mac – should I get MS Office or iWork?

January 10, 2018
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You are probably already familiar with Microsoft Office since it’s been around for over 25 years. Everyone knows Word, Excel and Powerpoint and you’d be hard-pressed to find a job that doesn’t require you to use at least one of these apps.

But as a Mac user there are other options to MS Office, the key one being iWork.

The main benefit of iWork is that it comes free with a new Mac device purchase whereas MS Office costs (either as an annual or monthly fee). But if you already have a Mac then you will also need to pay for the individual iWork apps or buy the whole iWork suite in one go.

But you should know that while you can get MS Office on your Mac, should you switch at some point in the future you can’t use iWork on a Windows machine.

iWork’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote are the equivalents of Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Users have divided on which apps they prefer, so apart from the cost, it comes down to what you will get the most use out of and the degree of flexibility you require. We’ve briefly listed the pros and cons of each app so you can decide for yourself.

Word Processing: MS Word vs iWork Pages

On face value, both apps are very similar. Both are easy to use. They both allow you to format text and paragraphs, customise headers and footers, use bulleted and numbered lists, and add pictures, images and tables. Both also allow you to change the text colour, but Word has added special effects like 3D and shadows. But Pages also allows you to insert charts, something you can’t do in Word. This includes the ability to edit the data behind the chart at any time.

Spreadsheets: MS Excel vs iWork Numbers

Again, feature-wise, Excel and Numbers are very similar. But Excel is actually easier to work with than Numbers and Excel win out because of the attention to detail. Both apps have custom keyboard layouts and shortcuts that help when entering large volumes of raw data, for example. In Excel, these shortcuts are easy to find and use, but in Numbers, you have to dig around to discover them. Numbers are better than Excel at the more mundane things like copying and pasting. Here Excel can be a bit fiddly whereas the Numbers process feels a lot smoother.

Presentations: MS Powerpoint vs iWork Keynote

Similar to the word processing apps, each have their strong points, but it’s the ability to integrate charts where Keynote wins out, with Powerpoint having the same limitations as Word. But with Powerpoint, you can generate some very solid, creative presentations with more galleries and features than Keynote. Where Keynote differs though is in the actual presentation of the presentation. Keynote offers better themes, animations and transitions, making presentation effortless. It also makes integration with iPads, iPods, and iPhones seamless.