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If you're a newbie or student looking for a word processing or desktop publishing software on your Mac, Pages is everything you'd expect from an Apple product. Although it can't compare with professional publishing tools like Adobe InDesign, it's an excellent word processing and DTP app for macOS and iOS.
Does word processing and desktop publishing
Excellent for team colloboration across Apple devices
Exports to Microsoft Word
Not as many features as Microsoft Word
Menus and layout takes some getting used to
Stability can be a problem after new updates
75

Apple Pages is Apple’s own word processing and desktop publishing software. In this review, we take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of Pages for Mac.

Apple brands Pages as “the last word in word processing”.

While it’s definitely one of the best alternatives to Microsoft Word on a Mac, it’s also a pretty decent desktop publishing software and a good alternative to Microsoft Publisher.

Pages can even be used to create Gantt charts and flowcharts on a Mac.

As far as desktop publishing goes, Pages allows you to create and collaborate on documents that look surprisingly professional for a free tool.

It’s nothing on the same level as the professional results you get with Adobe InDesign, but you can still get really creative in Pages.

In recent releases, Pages has been updated to support using it on an iPad with the Apple Pencil so you can add comments and illustrations by hand.

Here we take a closer look at the Pros and Cons of Apple Pages.

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Using Pages

To get you started, there are over 70 typically tasteful Apple designed templates which you can customize any way you like.

 

Apple Pages templates

If you’re used to Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher, then getting used to the menu layouts in Pages takes some time.

However, once you’ve got used to it, it’s easy to choose a look, customize fonts, personalize text styles and add graphics to documents.

You can add life to your text by filling it with color gradients and images. You can add photos, galleries, maths equations, charts and more than 700 customizable shapes.

Pages also cleverly creates a table of contents based on your paragraph heading which dynamically update as you make edits.

apple pages font selection

Collaborate Across Mac, iPhone and iPad

You can collaborate in real-time on Pages with anyone whether they’re using Pages on a Mac, iPad, iPhone or even a PC.

Any documents your team creates whether it’s on Mac, iPad or iPhone looks the same both in the app and in any web browser.

You can work together in real time on documents stored on iCloud or in Box.

You can track changes, add highlights and have threaded conversations with anyone working on a document and all edits are saved automatically.

You can select a name on the collaborator list to jump to anyone’s cursor to edit along with them or for editors to see what their team is doing.

With Smart Annotation, your edits stay with the marked-up text, making it easy for you and your team to incorporate changes.

apple pages team colloboration

 

Create Audio Books

One of the nice touches in Apple Pages is the ability to create audio books. You can easily add and adjust narration, notes and sounds in any document or book.

You can create anything from travel journals to fairy tales with interactive elements, audio and video.

You can copy and paste into different projects and create hyperlinks between different pages.

Nowadays you can even self publish your creations by publishing them to Apple Books for download or purchase.

For businesses, Apple Pages has added a useful Presenter Mode which turns an document into a teleprompter. You can set this to scroll automatically however fast or slow you want.

Apple Pencil Integration

As drawing pads become increasingly popular for publishing, Apple Pages can be used with the iPad alongside the Apple Pencil

You can sketch your idea for an animation and then press play to watch the strokes automatically animate on the page.

Password Protect Documents

The great thing about using an Apple product like Pages is that you can also use Apple Touch ID or Face ID to protect your documents from unauthorized viewing or editing.

You can also of course just add a password too if your device is not Touch ID or Face ID enabled.

Microsoft Word Export

Since Microsoft Word is still the most widely used word processor on the market, Pages also allows you to save Pages documents as Word files.

You can also export to PDF, ePUB, Plain Text, RTF and the older Pages ’09 format.

You can also import and edit Word documents directly in Pages. Pages features most of the features you find in Microsoft Word although note that Microsoft Office can’t import Pages files – you must convert them to MS Word format first.

apple pages word export

Downsides

Apple has added many strengths to Pages over the years but there are some weaknesses to Apple Pages. Professional publishers in particular will find Apple Pages very lightweight in certain areas.

For example, there’s no line numbering tool in Pages which is required by those writing academic papers for referencing, lawyers and other industries where referencing is crucial. Pages has however added new Report templates but there’s still no referencing tools.

Another limitation to Apple Pages is that it isn’t suitable for technical writers as there’s no non-contiguous selection so that you can set all your subscripts and super scripts at once.

Although Pages for Mac is well integrated with other tools such as Keynote and Numbers and can export to Microsoft Word, another demerit is that it lacks third party integration with other apps. Useful integration with apps such as EndNote and MathType have been mysteriously dropped from the most recent versions.

Apple Pages general lack of open format and scripting mean it’s not easy for other apps to access it.

Finally, stability can be an issue with Pages especially after new updates. Although it auto-saves your edits to iCloud, don’t be surprised if it suddenly locks up or freezes.

Apple Pages vs Microsoft Word

The big advantage of Apple Pages compared to Microsoft Word is that it’s completely free to use. It’s also far better at desktop publishing than Microsoft Word which is mainly only for word processing.

Not only this but being an Apple product, it just looks and feels better on macOS than Microsoft Word which will always have a Windows inspired interface.

Pages is also integrated with Apple Books for budding writers that want to get their work published which Microsoft Word doesn’t. It can also export to the ePub format for publishing (although both ePub and PDF exporting are not quite as smooth as they used to be).

On the downside, Apple Pages doesn’t feel as intuitively laid out as Microsoft Word. If you’ve used Microsoft Office for years, you’ll find it hard to get used to the Apple way of doing things when it comes to menus, shortcuts and generally finding things.

Microsoft Word also has more word processing features than Pages and is still the most comprehensive word processing software out there.

Obviously, Microsoft Word is also far better integrated with Microsoft Office and although Pages can export to Word’s DOCX format, if you need Office integration you’re better of sticking with MS Word.

About The Author

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2 Responses

  1. Racon Britain

    Serif Affinity Publisher is a superb, professional DTP app which integrates with other Serif products to provide a complete professional set up. I used their Windows versions for many years and they are brilliant. A lot less to buy than Adobe stuff with fantastic interface and smooth running on my iMac and iPad. Perhaps you should consider including Serif in your reviews as they are at least as powerful as Adobe stuff.

    Reply
    • MacHow2

      Thanks for your thoughts. Serif Affinity Publisher is definitely more DTP focused than Pages which is more for word processing and lightweight desktop publishing. We will be taking a closer look at it though.

      Reply

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