PageMaker nostalgia

I’m with you about this and other simple apps. Remember PageMaker? A simple way to throw together a brochure, flier, handout. Adobe bought it and shut it down and finally replaced it with InDesign. I have finally developed some facility with that app, but it took a lot of time and work and I don’t need a tenth of its capability. For a while Adobe had an extensions for PageMaker users but it was never the same.

Or Quicken a great simple and affordable app that starts on Mac and then became primarily a Windows app and only came back within the last half dozen years with much escapability that the firs. It has been expanded to become a decent program but now you have to re-buy it every year for more that it used to cost to buy the program forever. (thanks a lot Salesforce-sarcasm intended)

I keep seeing this kind of thing happen, a simple app is replaced by something to meet “everyone’s” needs, but primarily professionals. A dilettante like me, doesn’t have time to learn the complexity of every program. There must be more of us who need something simple to do something simple. Don’t we constitute a big enough market?

When PageMaker was released it was like manna from heaven for the print publishing industry, but it was back In the days of old when knights were bold. But PageMaker was pretty much only good when working with columns. Quark Xpress was the first company kick sand into its face. It allowed layouts of all shapes, sizes and flavors. You could position text boxes and art however you wanted. Then along came InDesign, which enabled templates, which was something PageMaker couldn’t do, among other things. InDesign was also speedier, and you didn’t have to sit there waiting for changes and corrections to crunch. And of course, it played beautifully with Illustrator and Photoshop.

And very groundbreaking at the time, InDesign was developed to work beautifully with web design and layouts, and enabled content to be developed in tandem. And they even developed the InDesign Web server.

Yes…and we lost the simplicity of the original PageMaker. It’s fine that new more comprehensive software, including Quark Express be available with all of the expanded capabilities to those who need them, but as the writer lamented the loss of the simplicity of MacDraw, many of us lamented the loss of the simplicity of PageMaker.

Again, I find Pages to be an excellent replacement for PageMaker. It’s easy to use and not overly complicated. I can do all the page layout that PageMaker allowed but the text editing and tools are a massive improvement (I would never compose text in PageMaker as its text editor was so rudimentary). There was definitely a time when I missed PageMaker, but that was a long time ago. Pages’s capabilities and ease of use have eclipsed the old PageMaker’s for years now.


Yes, I also went through agonies when PageMaker was replaced by far more expensive programs that I couldn’t afford and whose complexity I didn’t want. I had friends such as the vicar of the local church, who wanted to create newsletters, booklets etc but had very very little money and there was no cheap path to a replacement: we felt abandoned. ClarisWorks helped a bit in the day, if I remember correctly. I do agree that nowadays Pages does a decent job in this area, and of course it comes free with Macs, so help for “the rest of us” does still exist.


This was decades ago when I was tortured for a few years at a company that was Windows only. But I did help a coworker design a newsletter for her church in Microsoft Publisher, which was part of an MS Office package. I was surprised at how easy it was to use, and you could create templates. Publisher files were, and probably still are, desktop only. And Publisher can be purchased separately from the Office rigaramarole.

I’m surprised that MS never released a Mac version of a simple DTP app that was as easy to use as Publisher.

For a long time, one app I envied on Windows was Microsoft Publisher. Primarily as I wanted an easy way to print out calendars. Now, I use Calendarpedia. Australia Calendar 2023 - Free Printable PDF templates

Regarding desktop publishing: Swift Publisher is on Setapp, or $20.

Swift Publisher from BeLight is a nice page layout program, not as sophisticated as PageMaker was, but excellent choice for those with basic or even moderate needs. It includes basic drawing tools as well.

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Well actually it goes back further than that. It started out on DOS and Apple II’s. I remember seeing it on the shelf of a software store back when they existed as non-chain operations in small open air malls next to the shoe repair shop.

I started out with a full price copy of Electric Checkbook (1985), later moved to Quicken and ran 2007 for many many years.

I switched a few years ago to Checkbook Pro CheckBook Pro: Simply powerful personal finance

It’s just a checkbook! Does a fine job, but it’s only for banking. Love it.

Just had to perk up my ears at a reference to PageMaker. My journalism teacher in high school had great foresight. In 1985, when I was the paid ($30/issue?) typesetter for the school newspaper using a Compugraphic single-line LED-based phototypesetting system, she bought a Mac, a copy of PageMaker 1.0, and sent both home with me over Christmas break to learn. Thank you, Sue! (She also taught journalism so well, particularly interviewing, that I still use her principles decades later when reporting for major magazines and newspapers.)

I arrived at college in fall 1986 to find people using QuarkXPress 1.0 in the graphic design program. I was ambidextrous for a long time. Eventually worked for Kodak where we taught PageMaker, Photoshop, and other software as part of classes on particular subjects for creative and production people; then went to work 93-96 for a book packer, a sort of feeder publisher into Peachpit Press, where I worked on Real World PageMaker and Real World QuarkXPress!

Using InDesign today, I do miss some of the ease of interface of earlier DTP apps even if InDesign is 10,000 times faster and more sophisticated.


I was the one who started the lament for Pagemaker.

Yep. I use InDesign and it does pretty much anything I want, though I do a lot of google searches for “how do I do…”.

I could go on. The changes Microsoft has made in Excel and Word (Note the way every other word processors lets you select a part of a word) has made them both much harder to use (who ever decided to make us type a “+” sign in front of each cell when adding up a string of cells) and hugely bloated. I have retreated to Pages and Numbers on Mac which both can, fortunately, export to Word and Excel which the rest of the world continues to be mesmerized by. Everything doesn’t have to do everything to be appreciated. Ease of use, overall design and concept, reliability, predictability, all count for a lot. One app which has been improved and improved over the years is Photoshop, which, as far as I am concerned is way ahead of any other Adobe product in concept, design and usability and…it was not initiated by Adobe but created by a couple of visionaries who continued with it even after Adobe bought it (That, Adobe, was a good move). It was never junked and replaced by something very different and harder to use.

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You can select part of a word in Word. Uncheck the “Select entire word when selecting text” checkbox in Preferences->Edit.


YES! I thought I was the only one stupidly not understanding the logic there.

I usually use =SUM( cell list or first:last ) t handle a group of cells. I have been an excel user for decades and only use explicit “+” for a small number of cells – for example a ‘checkbook’ total column cell F7 formula might be =F6-D7+E7 subtracting the debit entry and adding the credit entry to the previous balance.

It was enough to make me stop using Excel.

Thanks. I guess it’s like Apple getting rid of “save as” which you can get back by holding down the option key.

Or…if the cells aren’t next to each other.

Maybe we should start a sour grapes forum to complain about all the changes to software we don’t like. It might be good therapy. We could at least commiserate with each other. Or…it could become a pre-eminent feedback forum, and we could get big bucks from venture capitalists and win lawsuits for the psychological and lost work damage caused by the changes. How many hours did you lose in the last month trying to get software to work like it’s supposed to? Who’s going to pay for that? A monthly charge to software developers? How much are we now paying Microsoft each month for the “+”'s we have to put in from of cells we select in Excel. They should be paying us. Instead of renting us software, how about paying us to use it? Software is kind of an NFT. Tech life is weird.

You can always go back to Word 5.1 and the matching Excel (4?). The main annoyance I had with them were memory leaks. If I was doing a lot of copy/paste between them, I’d have to restart them about every hour. It was a problem for years to try to get people to upgrade to newer versions even once new hardware forced the issue.

They should both work on Mac OS Back porting newer documents for edits could be a challenge though.