Can anyone recommend a good Mac OSX native word processor that isn't MS Word?
December 21, 2003 7:52 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a good Mac OS X-native word processor that isn't Microsoft Word? [more inside]

I'm usually fine with using Word X, but now I'm handling a fairly long document that needs relatively complex formatting (different headers and footers in different places; suppressed headers for first pages of chapters; etc.), and Word's usage of "sections" to handle all this stuff is driving me nuts.

My previous word processor of choice, WordPerfect 3.5, tied formatting changes to pages, not to "sections", and allowed you to suppress formatting elements for individual pages. (It also created files that were about half the size of Word's bloated files.) But WordPerfect for Mac is no longer supported by Corel, and a series of conversion filters between WP 3.5 running in OS 9 and Word running in OS X is too much to wish for.

So is there any word processor out there that has better ease of use than Word and runs native in OS X? Compatibility back and forth with Word would be nice, but if it were easy enough to use, and I could convert this file I'm working on from Word to this other processor with minimal loss of formatting, then even if I couldn't convert in the other direction I'd be willing to turn my back on Word.
posted by Prospero to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Nisus is continuing to develop - after a fashion - their namesake word processor, but with "Express" tacked on the end, it makes me wonder if it is full-featured enough to go toe-to-toe with Word. I used Nisus back in the day, and it was a solid product, but who knows what's up with it now...

Apple's long rumored word processor may be nearing fruition - they trademarked "iWrite" in September - but who knows if that name will get used or is in fact even for a word processor.

If you haven't already, try entering "word processing" into the search box of the Macintosh Products Guide.. It turns up a fair number of entries...
posted by JollyWanker at 8:42 PM on December 21, 2003

OpenOffice! It's free and rapidly improving to do everything Microsoft Office does.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:20 PM on December 21, 2003

Adobe's Framemaker will run in Classic mode. Expensive, though.

Lyx for Mac OS X might be interesting -- I understand it's LaTeX with a very nice visual front end.

Anyone know if there's other stuff that will work with DocBook markup on OS X?
posted by namespan at 10:26 PM on December 21, 2003

Be aware that an OpenOffice install on OSX isn't the simplest of processes, requiring Darwin and all sorts. It might be that you have most of the requirements already, and if you don't, it is easy, just lengthy and a bit messy. However, I don't think I'm 100% sold on stability and performance issues, yet, although admittedly I haven't tried a release for many months. Perhaps someone can give evidence to the contrary.
posted by nthdegx at 10:41 PM on December 21, 2003 and Word v.x have been seeing equal use on my iBook over the past month or so. The new OpenOffice upgrade is far better than the previous one.

Yes, you'll need the X11 desktop environment loaded -- found on Apple's site or on the developer disk (installed mine awhile ago and have forgotten) -- but it works fine here. And it's much cheaper than Word. Never had any files mangled when jumping from Word to OO.o either.
posted by Tacodog at 12:21 AM on December 22, 2003

I think you may be asking the wrong question -- the question you want to be asking is not "How do I get Word to let me change the footers on an arbitrary page" but "How do I get Word to change the footers on an arbitrary page for me?"

I'm guessing what you actually want to do is to have the footer follow the headings in the document, or something similar. It is worth spending a little extra time to learn to use fields, which will ver' easily solve your footer issues. For example, if you want your footers to have the text of the most recent Heading 2 paragraph in them, you can use the [StyleRef "Heading 2" \L] code (I think that's the right syntax) in a field to do this. This is similar to the way FrameMaker handles it and has the benefit of automatically updating the footers if you change the headings. You use one section per chapter and use the sections to handle different first/even/odd formatting; you use the field codes to set the actual values of the footers.

If you do in fact want to change the footers arbitrarily, what you can do is insert some text in an invisible style on the page where you want the footer to change, and use that style's name in the StyleRef command as above. That's sort of a kludge but it'll avoid dozens of unnecessary sections.
posted by kindall at 1:13 AM on December 22, 2003

posted by dabitch at 9:42 AM on December 22, 2003

I've been pretty impressed with Mellel. I'm not sure offhand if it does what you ask Mac is at home. :(
posted by pedantic at 10:02 AM on December 22, 2003

I'm fairly surprised no one mentioned AppleWorks - it runs natively in OSX, doesn't it? Flexible document formats, not much learning curve.
posted by annathea at 5:27 PM on December 22, 2003

Doh! AppleWorks! I was a ClarisWorks fan for many, many years... impressed by FileMaker Pro, I gave it a shot. Two great pieces of software. I've been buying the pro apple models since 2000, though, and therefore haven't seen much of AppleWorks for years. Forgot it existed. Hope it's kept its simplicity and power.
posted by namespan at 8:36 PM on December 29, 2003

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