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Mac Word Processing for the Windows Switcher

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Not everyone is crazy about Microsoft Word, but if you're used to it, you may find that the world gets tricky if you have to switch from a Windows PC to a Mac. What's available on Mac but gives you the power and functionality of Word? A surprising variety of programs. Paul Ferrill examines the Apple products, the freebies, and the newbies.
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Ask almost anyone who uses a computer what applications he or she uses the most, and you'll probably get a list with email, Internet browsing, and word processing near the top. It's pretty much a given that if you own a computer you'll frequently use it to write some type of document.

If you're switching from a Windows machine to the Mac, you'll find more options available for text editing. The biggest question to answer when evaluating the choices is whether you need to be able to read or write Microsoft Word documents. If the answer is no, you have quite a number of different choices. A yes answer narrows the field somewhat.

A quick Google search for "Mac word processing" turns up some interesting options, including Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac. Several suggested sites include listings and references to a multitude of choices from the simple to the highly complex.

Knowing what types of documents you'll be creating will also help to drive your decision. Simple text editing with some formatting doesn't require a program with lots of bells and whistles. For a polished publication, ready to print, you'll obviously need something on the high end.

Apple Offerings

Apple offers several options for word processing:

  • AppleWorks 6 is bundled with the operating system. It comes with a number of modules, including tools for word processing, spreadsheets, databases, drawing, painting, and presentation. The AppleWorks word processing module is a capable program in its own right. It has the ability to read and write Microsoft Word documents as well as HTML, RTF, and plain text. An entire complement of formatting, outlining, and editing tools coupled with a simple user interface make this program a viable contender.
  • OS X Tiger includes a demo version of iWork that consists of two programs: Pages and Keynote. The Pages program (similar to Quark Express or Adobe PageMaker) is intended for producing print publications such as brochures and newsletters. While you could use any of these programs for creating simple text documents, it would really be overkill if that's all you needed to do.
  • Keynote is a new high-end presentation tool. With it, you can create a true multimedia presentation with animation, audio, graphics, text, and video. It's much more capable than the AppleWorks presentation tool and intended for a different audience.
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