My Mac(Book) Sucks
September 29, 2006 4:09 AM   Subscribe

Any advice for my MacBook Word / Excel / Powerpoint woes?

Office runs like a dog on my 512Mb 1.83GHz MacBook. It slows up, crashes sporadically, and is generally a pain to work with. I have been experimenting with NeoOffice, and am finding it equally slow to run, and inadequate in terms of features.
I'm sick of switching back and forward between two clunky bits of software. Can anyone recommend Nisus / Mellel / Pages / Keynote, and is there anything out there that offers half decent charts and graphs?
Alternatively, would a RAM upgrade make any difference? I upgraded the RAM on my iBook G4 to try and coax better performance out of Office, and it made no difference whatsoever.
posted by roofus to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It shouldn't be that slow, and it shouldn't be crashing. You don't have a massive amount of memory, but it should be alright as long as you don't try to do too much at once.

Run Activity Monitor (it'll be in Applications/Utilities) and keep an eye on the cpu load and memory usage. Note anything that seems to be using lots of cpu or memory, and see how much Inactive and Free memory you have, also check the VM size and page ins/outs - you'll want to see how much that latter figure changes rather than how large it is in general, as it's telling you each time the computer is having to swap out.
posted by edd at 4:25 AM on September 29, 2006

Oh dear lord...You need more RAM, end of story.

512 MB is simply an unusable amount of memory for OSX, especially if you want to run Rosetta apps.

I have a Macbook Pro with 2GB of RAM, and even with no, thing else running, my memory usage will go over 1GB if I launch most Rosetta applications.

Youu cant compare the performance between your old iBook G4 and the Macbook. There is a lot of system overhead involved in running non-native Rosetta apps on Intel based Macs, so just because a RAM didn't do much for you on a G4 Mac, certainly doesnt mean it won't make a difference on an Intel Mac.
posted by melorama at 4:30 AM on September 29, 2006

Do I have to shell out for the whole 2Gb then? Who wants to buy two hardly used 256Mb blocks of MacBook RAM?
posted by roofus at 4:40 AM on September 29, 2006

Yeah you really need 1Gb minimum if you're going to be running Rosetta apps like Office and Photoshop, ideally nearer to 2Gb.
Things'll improve next year when Universal versions are released, but until then you need to throw an awful lot of memory and processing power at them.
posted by malevolent at 4:44 AM on September 29, 2006

Yes, you need more memory, because Office is run in emulation on the MacBook and that takes lots of memory. That said, Pages is a very good word processor.
posted by bonaldi at 4:46 AM on September 29, 2006

I don't know if this is an alternative for you or not, but I recently switched, and run Neo Office just fine on my Dual Core mac mini.
It's free, so there wouldn't be any costs or risk associated with trying it out and see if it zooms or not.
posted by willmize at 4:56 AM on September 29, 2006

You shouldn't be crashing from having too little memory though, I don't think. The point about Office being Rosetta is a good one (I wasn't aware Office wasn't up to date, since I avoid the thing like the plague). Definitely worth getting the memory if you are wanting to stick with Office however.
posted by edd at 5:05 AM on September 29, 2006

While I support everyone else's comments, I've got the exact same configuration Macbook and it is nowhere similar to yours.

Yes, Office takes some time to start, but it's pretty good once it does and it doesn't crash!

I'd be thinking about running some diagnostic software on your mac and also see if you can find a utility to monitor the temperature (sorry, I'm a recent Mac convert so I don't know any tools of the top of my head!).

Also, theres a patch floating around for the Macbook that fiddles the fan settings (mainly to get rid of the infamous 'mooing') and I'm not sure it applies automatically, so I'd also wonder whether that might help.
posted by ranglin at 5:59 AM on September 29, 2006

Second the RAM comments. I also very strongly recommend checking out the "Parallels" virtualization software if you run office apps regularly. It runs pretty fast (though I have only tried it on a iMac) and windows office apps are much better than the Mac versions.
posted by anonetal at 6:22 AM on September 29, 2006

Try these guys - it looks like they'll buy your old memory when you purchase the memory upgrade through them. I haven't tried them, though I was planning on it when I get my MacBook.
posted by horsemuth at 6:52 AM on September 29, 2006

nth the RAM comments. Spend the $180 or so (if you look around) to get 2 GB. It will make your machine scream.

I've noticed that office is less than snappy on my 2 GHz MacBook. I tried the demo of Pages that came with my computer, and I really liked it. Of course, if you need interoperability with others, I don't think Pages will save to .doc format (or at least I haven't figured it out), but I really like the app a lot.
posted by cebailey at 6:58 AM on September 29, 2006

For whatever it's worth, I've found Keynote to be far less bloated as just as robust as Powerpoint, so between now and when you get more RAM, you might want to familiarize yourself with that program.
posted by Dr. Wu at 7:23 AM on September 29, 2006

This is going to sound a little trolly, but seriously run Windows. Office 2003 for XP is fully feature compatible with Office 2003 for XP. Office for MacOS is not. You're hardware supports Bootcamp. Use it if Mac Office isn't performing as Office.
posted by shagoth at 8:03 AM on September 29, 2006

Pages will save to .doc (Word) format. Just choose Export (I believe it's in the File menu) and choose Word XP/2004/whateveritis from the menu.
posted by pollystark at 8:12 AM on September 29, 2006

You need more RAM, 512 is not enough.

Also, 10.4.8 came out today, and it includes some fixes for Office, so you should run Software Update.
posted by evariste at 12:37 PM on September 29, 2006

Just another voice in the chorus for "more RAM". Whatever their other virtues — and I love my Macs — Macs are memory hogs. That and Apple habitually ships them without enough memory. In fact, I've often wondered why this is so. (They've been doing it for years.) Whenever I buy a Mac, I get as much RAM as I can afford. Default shipping specs are generally painful.
posted by jdroth at 8:03 PM on September 29, 2006

More RAM. 2GB. I have the same model computer
you do, and you won't believe the performance boost you get with more memory.

Also and as an aside, if you do any scientific, technical or academic writing *at all*, Mellel completely kicks ass.
posted by enrevanche at 12:04 PM on September 30, 2006

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