Alternative Word Processors for the Mac

Recently, I spent some time reinstalling OS X and the applications on one of my Macs. Before reinstalling Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac (which really isn’t up to the standard of its Windows counterpart), I thought I’d consider the alternative Mac word processors available.

The word processors I’m going to look at in this post all have a short learning curve because they stick to Mac interface standards, so you’ll be able to be productive quickly, which is always a good thing.

Take a good look at the documents you produce and the features you need; one of these word processors might be a ready alternative for you, especially if you are working on an older Mac and don’t want to invest in a costly Microsoft Office license.

Bean. This free word processor has a light footprint which can be important if you don’t need all of the features (and bloat) that Microsoft Word brings with it. It requires a Mac with a PPC or Intel processor running OS X 10.4 Tiger, OS X 10.5 Leopard, or OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, so it can even be an option if you are trying to bring life to an older Mac. This is a great alternative word processor if you don’t need features on the level of Microsoft Word.

Mariner Write. This word processor was part of the last MacHeist offering, and includes a well-designed menu structure, spelling/grammar checker, and support for many document formats, inlcluding Mariner Write (a proprietary format), Stationary, RTF – MS Word, RTF – Mariner Write, Text, SimpleText, TeachText and PDF. While I liked Mariner Writer during my testing, its incomplete support for Microsoft Word — a standard document format for many of my client projects — makes unlikely to adopt it for my professional writing projects. It costs $49.95.

Pages ’09. Part of iWork ’09, Pages is a very capable word processor that includes a wide range of templates, advanced features like table of contents, tables, shapes, sharing via iWork .com (covered by Imran), and the option of saving documents in MS Word format. My testing of conversions to Word format were hit or miss so I recommend testing for yourself through the software’s 30-day free trial prior to purchasing it ($79.00).

Nisus Writer Express. This Mac word processor comes with Nisus Thesaurus as part of the same download package. As a word processor, it includes a document manager, paragraph sorting, document styles, tables and macros. It does not include a table of contents feature (unfortunately, a deal breaker for me). It costs $45 (a free trial is available).

What is your Mac word processor of choice? Share it below.

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