Nowadays there’s no need to pay for Microsoft Word on Mac so we’ve examined the best Word alternatives for Mac. These word processors provide a significant saving on MS Word and in some case are even better. There’s a good mix of paid and free alternatives to Word on Mac here to suit all budgets. All of these apps can open and edit both DOC and DOCX files – the standard format now used in MS Word. You may also find our selection of the best alternatives to Microsoft Publisher on Mac useful too which features some excellent desktop publishing software.
Top Alternatives To MS Word On Mac
There are considerably more paid Word alternatives on Mac than there are free ones but even the paid ones are all significantly cheaper than buying MS Office.
Pages is Apple’s answer to Microsoft Word and over the years it has become a very competitive alternative. Although Pages was originally part of the iWork suite, Apple now allows you to purchase it separately via the Mac App Store. Even better, for those that have upgraded to OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Pages is free too as Apple has made the entire iWork suite free for Yosemite users.
As you would expect from an Apple product, Pages is extremely slick with some fantastic looking templates that make your work and documents look really professional.
If you’ve got an iCloud account, you can also share Pages documents to it and continue editing on your iPad via iCloud.com. In an effort to work on all platforms and appeal to all users though, Pages has had to sacrifice certain features on Mac and it sometimes feels a bit “lightweight” and less professional than Word. Pages also takes some adapting to if you’re only used to using Word. Menus are laid out differently and the “logic” behind it is slightly different to Word but when you get used to it, it’s amazingly easy to use with very smart results. For $19.99, Pages is well worth the money and for Yosemite users that get it for free, it’s a complete no-brainer as an alternative to Word.
Mellel is a powerful word processor that focuses on scholars and those doing technical writing. However, it’s a very suitable Word alternative, especially if you need multilingual support as Mellel supports Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Syriac. Some users feel Mellel is more tailored for professional writers than Word for Mac which tries to cater for everyone. Mellel is very responsive and fast and makes referencing and creating a table of contents for large documents easy. Although Mellel saves documents in its own format, you can save it in .docx, pdf, rtf and most other formats. There’s also a Lite version of Mellel which lacks some of the more powerful Word-like features of the full version but is still an excellent lightweight alternative to Word.
Write 2 is an extremely lightweight and slick Word alternative for Mac that looks particularly good on Retina displays and makes writing a pleasure. It doesn’t claim to be a full alternative to Word but it does provide all of the essential functionality in a more Mac like interface. It’s easy to use and if you only need to perform simple word processing, it’s an excellent option for writing. It’s also integrated with iCloud so you can work wherever you are.
Nisus Writer has been around for over 20 years and many faithful users prefer it to Microsoft Word. Nisus Writer Pro is suitable for all types of writing but is particularly good for essays and technical writing as it supports cross referencing, line numbering, table of contents etc. It’s not exactly cheap at $79.00 but it’s a very straightforward, slick and functional word processor that offers much of what Microsoft Word does.
There a few free alternatives to Word on Mac but of course, none of them have the same features or power as Word. However, for basic word processing, they’re absolutely fine. OpenOffice, NeoOffice and LibreOffice in particular offer a surprising amount of features and an entire replacement for the Microsoft Office for Mac suite.
Google Docs (Free. Online)
If you want a very simple and free online alternative to Word without having to install or download anything, then Google Docs is your solution. Google Docs is now quite a powerful suite and the word processor does much of what Word can do. It’s obviously more limited than MS Word in some areas but if you want a hassle free solution for simple opening and editing of DOCX documents and editing them on any device, Google Docs is perfect. Google Docs isn’t very good when it comes to adding images and annotations and if your documents are confidential, it’s maybe not the best solution as they are stored on Google’s servers.
Bean is probably the most popular free alternative to Word on Mac. Although it’s no longer being developed, it still remains an excellent free word processor that can open Word documents, save documents in Word format and generally do most of the things you can do in Word. Of course, it’s nowhere near as slick or powerful but it’s a very accomplished word processor for free. Because it’s no longer being developed though, there are no guarantees it will work with future versions of OS X although it does work with OS X 10.10 Yosemite.
Growly Write (Free)
Growly Write is a relatively new free alternative to Word. It’s made by the same developers that created one of the best OneNote for Mac alternatives available, Growly Notes. Growly Write takes up far less space than Word yet offers many of the same features without being bloated. Growly Write allows you to add pictures, columns, tables and has a clear and easy to use interface. The format panel on the right puts all of Growly Write’s features and tools at your fingertips and it can also export to PDF.
OmmWriter works on Mac, PC and iPad and is aimed at those that need a simple and soothing Word alternative with no flashy features or distractions. OmmWriter uses relaxing backgrounds and a simple interface to help you focus on writing. It also has calming audiotracks and keystroke sounds which depending on the person, will either soothe or annoy the hell out of you. The free version of OmmWriter has 3 backgrounds 3 audio tracks and 3 keystroke sounds. The paid version has more of each and costs a minimum modest donation of $5.11. If you’re looking for an extremely basic word processor for Mac that focuses just on the writing, OmmWriter is for you.
OpenOffice for Mac is a completely free alternative to Microsoft Office for Mac and the equivalent of Word in OpenOffice for Mac is Writer. OpenOffice was originally created by Oracle but is now developed by Apache and one of the most widely used MS Office alternatives on Mac. Writer is probably the closest thing you’ll get to Word for free and opens pretty much any format, including DOCX. OpenOffice is fast, stable and functional and if you need a complete free replacement for MS Office for Mac, it’s a perfect solution. On the downside, OpenOffice is based on Java which is notoriously problematic and insecure on Mac. If you choose OpenOffice, just make sure you save your work regularly but our advice is avoid anything that requires Java. NeoOffice (below) offers most of the features of OpenOffice but without the need for Java.
NeoOffice is an adaption of OpenOffice specifically for Mac without using Java and with a much slicker Mac like interface. As with OpenOffice, the Word for Mac equivalent in NeoOffice is Writer. NeoOffice also has some added functionality compared to OpenOffice such as support for full screen mode, it’s slightly quicker than OpenOffice and it has all-round better integration with OS X. NeoOffice used to be free but now requires a mandatory $10 donation to activate it which is still a very modest amount when you consider you’re getting an entire Office suite.
LibreOffice for Mac is another fully featured alternative to Office on Mac. Like OpenOffice and NeoOffice, the Word equivalent in LibreOffice is Writer. LibreOffice offers most of the same features as OpenOffice and NeoOffice although it can be quite unstable sometimes. This may be because, unlike NeoOffice which is now based on the slick Cocoa interface, LibreOffice still uses clunky old Java like OpenOffice which we recommend avoiding if possible.
These are the best substitutes to Word for Mac but if you have any questions about them or other suggestions, let us know in the comments below.
Note that if you’re looking for a way to organize your writing, many of these alternatives can also be complemented with OneNote for Mac alternatives.