Serious use of the iWork suite

Yeah, but I was referring specifically to their near useless annual system software updates that not only do not eliminate old bugs, but introduce new ones. I don’t know anyone who uses their “apps” such as Pages etc in any serious context. The only exceptions that come to mind are the photo management “apps” (which I don’t care about) and (which I do care about, but keeps getting worse).

Still, the annual updates are important for security updates and the like. However, given the seeming large number of folks around here who routinely defer updating for years, maybe I’m wrong.

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I’ve been regularly using Pages for many years.


I have used Pages, Numbers and Keynote over the MS equivalents for many years.


Keynote was always superior to Powerpoint so if I ever needed to do presentations Keynote was great. Once I retired from full time work I dumped all the MS Office apps as I no longer needed to take documents from clients.

I’m sure for the vast number of users who are only creating files for their own use, Numbers, Pages and Keynote are more than adequate.


I’ve written/edited 5 books in Pages; I use Keynote every day in class. For my needs, they’re both solidly better than Word or Powerpoint.


For work for decades I have had to use MS Office on PCs as well as Macs; I got used to used to using Office stuff. I prefer Word to Pages, and IMHO, I find PowerPoint to be much easier and more fully featured than clunky Keynote. But I also think FileMaker is by far, far and away the best database ever. Just thinking about having to ever use Access again gives me nightmares.

Pages is OK. There are times when I have difficulties doing some formatting that I think should be simple. Keynote is great, but the drawing components aren’t quite as good as PowerPoint. Numbers is basically a mess. Excel was easer to both define, to enter data/edit, and to print spreadsheets.

I was surprised at the number of defenders of the Apple “suite” of office-type programs and while my fundamental opinions of the programs have not changed, I’m obliged to significantly modify my statement to acknowledge that while I don’t have personal knowledge of those folks who use them regularly, I know of non-trivial numbers of people who use them and seem to be highly satisfied with their performance (based on responses in TidBITS). Most of the responses posted have been by TidBITS users whose opinions I respect a great deal, so in those cases, my original posting was out of line. My apologies.

(edits to approximate real English)


I’m a heavy user of Keynote. All my lectures are Keynote by now, much to some of my faculty colleagues’ disgust (beamer class). To me Keynote always seemed far more efficient to use than PP, putting what I need most closer to my finger tips. To this day I still don’t get why PP thinks imported graphics need some kind of weird vertical line and circle attached to their top (worse yet, when I drag it or pull on its circle or attached end, I never get what I’d expect). I usually really enjoy working in Keynote, which is something I cannot say for many professional software packages.

OTOH Pages and Numbers never really grew on me. I guess Pages is more geared toward “DTP” people, whereas I most of the time just need something to write a formal letter (the other times being manuscripts which are all LaTeX anyway). And for a formal letter I could just as well use my department’s LaTeX template too. Numbers is something I really wanted to like because I always felt that Excel was trying to do too much with too little. But as much as I try to use it, I often find editing formula cumbersome. I do really like the way it highlights referenced cells though. Like Pages, it appears to put significant emphasis on layout and making pretty tables (no wonder, it’s Apple after all). But since I’m a boring old-school physicist who finds no lack of beauty in what essentially is just a big table full of numbers, that’s usually lost on me.

But as always, that’s just my 2¢. I appreciate @mark4’s post above and its sincere message. I didn’t find things half as wild as what it might sound like from that, but perhaps others sensed more heightened temperatures.

On that note, my impression is that on these boards people often resort to becoming very defensive about their favorite tool or their workflow. Folks can get into huge debates about what ultimately does not have just one right answer. What may make the most sense for one guy, is just a silly app or workflow to another. And both can be perfectly right about it at the same time. In their world. I believe if at times people would just agree to disagree, acknowledging that we all have our own personal preferences that are 100% justified for ourselves but perhaps carry little weight with others, and thus resist trying to evangelize others or convince them that you’re the smarter guy or the guy with the better workflow, we’d all be better off. There’s more than enough real-world drama we cannot escape already, no need to add to it by engaging in some silly religious bickering on a board over what ultimately amounts to personal choices to which everybody is entitled just as much as the next person.


Well said, @Simon, thank you. The easy way to avoid drama is to focus on sharing what you like about the apps you use when making recommendations. All too often, negative comments are based on minimal experience or stem from some philosophical complaint that others may not share.


My professional work involves a lot of sharing Microsoft Office documents with others, so it’s easier for me to do 99% of my work in MS Office than it is to deal with file compatibility and conversion issues. A classic example of the network effect.

That said, I routinely use Numbers for viewing CSV files quickly. Numbers does a nice job at presenting most CSV files in a visually useful way without me having to do things like adjust column widths or make other formatting changes. However, if I actually need to edit CSV files, I almost always do so in Excel, BBEdit, or UltraEdit.

I was very impressed with early versions of Keynote, and I probably would pay much closer attention to iWork as a whole if I were a solo practitioner. On the other hand, I don’t really trust Apple for software I use to create or manage my own content. They’ve changed direction with too many tools too many times. I’m much less forgiving than I used to be of waking up to find that a company decided to nuke my hard-won expertise by completely redesigning or terminating an app in which I’ve invested a lot of time.

As an aside, Keynote was introduced twenty years ago at $99. Time flies!

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My default is all three of the iWork suite. Pages is half way to a DTP program, Keynote is halfway to an authoring system and Numbers is just prettier than Excel. I find all three not just more enjoyable but also more efficient, I get where I want to go quicker with them. Now my spreadsheet usage is limited, no complex modelling going on and i know Excel would do more there so I enjoy Numbers but know its limits. But Pages and Keynote are terrific, I’ve used both for very complex and lengthy bits of work.

I still use Nisus Writer Pro for all my College work, It’s partly legacy, it works great with Word docs, and Ive used it for so long and I don’t have any graphics needs there.

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I’m the same as @tommy, I don’t even have MS Office installed. And while there are definitely complex spreadsheets that require Excel, the opposite is also true. A lot of the spreadsheets I make aren’t possible in Excel because it is still limited to the model of a single infinite grid per tab. I actually use fairly complex layouts with multiple tables and other elements in most of my Numbers spreadsheets, which I use for research and data analysis for reports.


In the final analysis, the best tool to use is the one you have expertise with. Another product might have more useful features and might be more intuitive to a novice, but if it takes you longer to get your job done with it, then that’s irrelevant.


I generally use Keynote for lectures and Pages for lab manuals, assignments, etc. which I write for my students. A big advantage for Keynote and Pages for me is that they have good built-in support for LaTeX. Microsoft added some LaTeX support to Word, but because it’s a partial implementation, it’s an annoying guessing game of figuring out what LaTeX will work and what won’t.

The main reason I don’t use Pages, Keynote or Numbers is that they don’t work seamlessly with the Microsoft apps used by most of the outside world that I deal with. I also don’t trust Apple to leave their App formats alone so I don’t have to convert all my old documents to a new format. (Yes, I go back to MacWrite 1, and MacWrite II and I won’t be fooled again, and yes, MS has fiddled with their formats and it’s annoying, but Word can still read files in the old .doc format.)

I just finished something for a major science magazine that required using Change Tracking. Change Tracking is a hugely complex problem, and the MS Word is becoming more and more fragile with every upgrade, but everything else is even worse. When I wrote a professional book on laser technology, where equations were required, the publisher required either LaTeX or MS Word, and I chose MS Word because I didn’t want to have to learn LaTeX. Pages wasn’t even in the game. I use Nisus Writer Pro for text-only word processing, because I don’t want the complexity of Word, and Nisus standard format is RTF, which is easily read by other apps.

I use PowerPoint to be sure of compatibility if I have to give talks on somebody else’s computer, and can access my own and other people’s Powerpoint graphics.

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I find LaTeXiT an awesome little tool to get more complex LaTeX formula onto my Keynote slides.

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In my experience, the current version of Word for Mac refuses to open files created by version 3 of Word for Mac.

“the old .doc format” is actually four different formats:

  • Word for MS-DOS
  • Word for Windows versions 1 and 2 and Word for Mac version 3 and 4
  • Word for Windows versions 6 and 95. Word for Mac version 6
  • Word for Windows 97 and later. Word for Mac 98 and later

There are similar issues with Excel and PowerPoint features.

Modern versions of MS Office can’t open all of the “.doc” formats. I know, for example, that they won’t open my Word-for-DOS files.


While I don’t know about all Legacy programs - when I need to open old Mac programs (ClarisWorks, etc.) I use LibreOffice.