I use Pages (Apple’s word processor that is part of their iWork package) all the time. I’ve used Microsoft Word a bit and Apple’s older word processors called Appleworks and Clarisworks for years, but I recently changed to Pages and have changed some clients over to Pages as well.
Pages has lots of advantages: it’s a native OS X program (as opposed to Appleworks, which was first made for OS 9), so it’s as reliable as any Apple program. It is integrated into OS X and as a result uses the same spellchecking dictionary, font pallet and many other OS X “services” that Apple’s programs share.
Pages is fast as a pure word processor, but it also has many features that make it more of a complete document program for design and layout and publishing.
If you like a clean look on your screen, you can make Pages appear very simple to use by hiding the rulers and toolbar and all the rest of the clutter. Look under the “View” menu and select “Hide” for each item – such as rulers, toolbars, layout tools – and if you want to revert, select “Show.” Or you can customize the Toolbar with all the bells and whistles you want.
One aspect of Pages is very important for businesses: Pages will open and save in the very widely used Microsoft Word file format “doc.”That means you can open a Word doc (with the .doc Windows file suffix) and work on it and then save it in doc format to send back to your Microsoft Office using friends. To open a .doc file, drag and drop onto Page’s icon in the dock or in your Applications folder; or, use the “Open” command. To Save a Pages file in .doc format, use “Export” in the File menu and select “Word.”
Pages will open newer .docx files, but some people say that some complex formatting might be lost. But you can download a converter from Microsoft that runs on OS X and that will read docx files, but it’s a 45 MB download, so be sure you have broadband.
iWork ’09 is just out, but iWork ’08 is perfectly usable. If you buy a new Mac from the Apple store, you can get iWork ’09 pre-installed for less than the usual retail price. It’s $79 at the Apple Store or $69 at Amazon.com.
iWork ’09 also includes Numbers, which is a spreadsheet program (Like Excel, for those familiar with Microsoft Office) and Keynote (something like Microsoft’s PowerPoint), which is a presentation program.