Microsoft 365 Subscription vs. Perpetual License

(parenthetically: at least your lawyer is not sending you WordPerfect files! )

I haven’t had to do this on a multiple-page contract in a while, but AFAIK, redlining in Word is pretty easy to turn on. Can you explain what you mean by this being “expensive”?

I’m also interested to learn if Pages can in fact be used to “redline” a document as @nello has described. I have not discovered this tool either.

I think the issue is that there’s no way to guarantee that the other party (a) kept “track changes” on throughout and (b) did not “accept” any changes (removing the tracking indicator). Word lets you effectively derive the “tracked changes” document from the initial document and the final document so you can see 100% of the changes regardless of what the other party may have done. So in a potentially adversarial exchange of versions, you would want to generate the comparison rather than depending on the change indicators stored in the file.

Without this feature, generating a tracking history from the document versions would require more time and effort.



Thanks for this cogent analysis. I never considered that the other party would try to hide their changes in a mutually agreed document. I guess I’ve been lucky (so far)!

And it doesn’t look like Pages performs this task as well as Word.

What about a text editor like BBEdit?

Oh, sorry. I was referring to it to being expensive to have an associate redline by hand. I’m showing my age. There is no (marginal) cost to redlining with Word.

And yes, I remember the WordPerfect days.

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Yes, that’s a possibility, as I said in my post:

Alternatively, I suppose that I could use BBEdit to compare the text of two Word files, but I’d really like something better.

This is getting off the point though, which is whether, as @GFS said:

you can indeed track text changes with Pages. It also has built-in versioning, which is very nice.

I’m saying that I don’t think that Pages is capable of meeting my need to redline even two Pages files, much less two Word files (which I’m more likely to get from someone).

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This morning’s daily summary for NMUG contains this link to an offer of a perpetual license (for only one computer) for Microsoft Office Home and Business for Mac 2021—list price $250—for only $50:

UPDATE 2022-02-15
I ended up buying this perpetual license through an AppleInsider link to this this offer. Apparently, you can buy only one license at this price for each email address you submit to them for purchase.

Pages, Number, and Keynote are worthy applications. In the end, however, I just had too much FUD to give up Office at this time.

I didn’t understand that you need to compare 2 documents, as opposed to tracking changes in a single document. Pages cannot do this per se, which I believe is down to how it stores data.

However there are a couple of possibilities.

Firstly, Apple seem to have recently ramped up how iCloud document sharing works. I haven’t tried it myself, but from their online description, it appears that when multiple people are working on a document, each individual’s changes can be easily tracked. NB, this works online, so a Mac isn’t required. I suspect it’s easier for Apple to implement comparison/tracking in this way, as opposed to within Pages itself. You can test it yourself if you have 2 computers and you’ll need 2 iCloud accounts.

Secondly, comparing documents can be done online using free services. These sites simply employ public domain js or jquery code. So if privacy isn’t an issue this would be free and easy (although if privacy is a concern you could always replace all names etc., prior to using a service)
Google Search

Thirdly, you could build an online style service into an app like Filemaker. From a cost point of view, this is counter-productive, unless you already have an FM licence, however, if you could build something in under 30 days, you could then continue to use your file for free on the iOS and IPadOS platforms ad infinitum. The nice thing about this, is that you can make it what you want, from literally just 2 text fields, all the way to having a dedicated database tracking changes over time, being able to search the entire database in a flash etc. etc. The limit is really only your imagination. For a basic setup an old vs of Filemaker would be ok, but this is an area that Claris are concentrating on and the current vs has some important changes, but by no means essential.

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For diffing Word files I thoroughly recommend Kaleidoscope. It’s not cheap, but it works beautifully and I find it easier to use than the change tracking tools built into word processors. Depending on your needs, the only drawback may be that with Word files, Kaleidoscope can’t copy changes between files, whereas it can do that with text files.

I’ve tried hard to use Pages, SoftMaker Office and LibreOffice to work with Word files, but in my experience this just doesn’t work if you need to collaborate with Word users – some formatting, footnotes or links always get lost.

Pages at least is polished, and is great for using solo or between Mac people (change tracking is particularly nice). SoftMaker Office looks good, but I found it buggy, especially with ODT files. LibreOffice is just horrible, I’m afraid. ODT ought to be the future, but I do wish someone would produce a simple open source app that didn’t try to copy everything Microsoft can do.


Just a quick FYI: I’ve found LibreOffice to be incredibly slow and clunky. I’d go with the iWork suite if free is your #1 priority.

I don’t get any compensation for this, but I found the “Take Control of Numbers” book very very useful for getting in to it, since Numbers’ “idioms” differ considerably from Excel’s.

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What LibreOffice can do that no Microsoft app can (that I know of) is read files of every version of Word from Word 1. Lots of old notes, lectures, letters etc. would otherwise be inaccessible. Of course I just use LibreOffice to save them to .docx, but still, it’s a very very useful tool.


Not only, can Libre Office read old documents from any version of Word, but it can do that from almost any version of any Word Processing app (MacWrite? WriteNow? --works for them).


I took Kaleidoscope for a spin when I was trying to find a way to diff two PDFs.

As I understand, Kaleidoscope extracts the text from Word files and compares only the text. That’s good, but not quite as good as actually comparing two Word files with all their formatting intact.

But, the insurmountable problem with Kaleidoscope is that there is no way to print/save/output the comparison pane that it creates. In other words, there is no way to redline a Word document in a way that can be shared with someone else.

Ah yes, I hadn’t thought of that. But then I’m happy to use Word to share any changes that have to be marked; I just like Kaleidoscope for its speed and the clean view without the formatting.

For one client who wanted hard markup, I used to use a Nisus Writer Pro “compare documents” macro created by the legendary Kino. As a way to show changes clearly, as opposed to accepting or rejecting them, this worked very well. For instance, IIRC you could choose to compare at the level of characters, phrases, sentences and paras. Contrast with what happens when you change a letter in Word: sometimes the change is marked as one letter, sometimes as the whole word.

Good luck in finding something that works for you. I use Markdown whenever I can, but I don’t mind Word and for paid work I’m pretty much obliged to use it.

Indeed! Pandoc too, if we’re talking Swiss army knives.

This is just a random goof, not a solution for anything, but someone made LibreOffice running in a web browser, using Web Assembly.

Yes, even old AppleWorks files! I stand by my assertion that it’s a clunky app for everyday use however. Very un-Mac-like. Hard to argue with free though, on top of the Swiss Army knife features!

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LibreOffice will read old Word files (1990s) that Word will not read!

Thank you to this tip. It will help me with spelunking through files from my MacPlus.

Warning: Probably some of you have seen this obvious scam (too good to be true):

There are a couple of mis-stated phrases. And the sender and other addresses are NOT Microsoft or any other reputable company.