This is topic Word Processing for a Mac in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by Bent Tree (Member # 7777) on :
I just got a new Macbook Pro. So after nearly a year of idleness I can begin to write again. I was interested in feedback on word processing programs and what you would recommend.

Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
I'm currently using OpenOffice on my MacBook Pro. It's a great open source program, very versatile when it comes to being able to read documents from other word processors, all the tools I've seen with MS Word or WordPerfect, and absolutely free.

So far I've had nothing to complain about with it.

Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
Personally I prefer to write with a plain old text editor, but I settled on using Open Office.

The biggest deciding concern for me was writing and reading manuscript comments. Since everyone uses MS Word ".doc" files, that's the critiquing lingua franca. Open Office (now "Libre Office" -- don't worry about the name change) has worked fine for me.

The biggest drawback of the ".doc" format is that big and complex files sometimes end up acting weird; it could be file corruption or it could be shipping between different versions of Word. So I compose in Open Office's ".odt" format and convert to ".doc" for sharing. If anything goes wrong, I can still extract that all-important text from the XML file. I suppose for Word users the ".docx" format offers the same benefits, but I don't see many people trading files in that format.

About the only thing I miss from the old days of using Word is Word's very nice outline view. Open Office has an external "navigator" pop-up which isn't quite as nice. Both would be nice, but people have been asking the OO team for years for an internal outline view with no response.

Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
Sweet Scott, congrats! Macs rock!

I personally use Scrivener for the mac. Last I checked it cost about twenty bucks and is available as a download (literature and latte is the site, I believe.)

It's a very robust writing environment on the mac, and includes useful pre-done formatting like standard manuscript formatting, screenplay, etc.

I also still use MS Word for a lot. In particular when I'm in final formatting for epublishing, I generally move to Word because I can know that stupid program well enough that I can make it do exactly what I want it to with no (well, few) questions asked. Scrivener actually can output ("compile") to epub and mobi formats, but when I've had tiny formatting quirks I wanted to fix I couldn't quite get them fixed in a timeframe I found reasonable (read as: 10 mins or less because I'm an impatient sort when it comes to stupid formatting things.)

So for me I still use both, but I always compose new work in Scrienever now. I particularly like how I can have a separate "text document" for each chapter and see the chapters start to list out in a left pane. Scrivener also has an option for full-screen so you don't have to get distracted by the internets...

Oh, and you've heard me gabble on about, but I can't recommend that place highly enough. I go there, write my new words (well, when I'm actively writing. I've been on hiatus since early Aug and mentally outlining my next novel...) and then copy/paste into my Scrivener file.

Good luck!

Posted by Bent Tree (Member # 7777) on :
Thanks guys. I was thinking Open Office also. I will look into your recommendation, KayTi. Macs DO rock! I love how it works with my iPhone. My technology is now all in sync. It is also great to be back here at Hatrack and writing again. Now lets see if I remember how!
Posted by posulliv (Member # 8147) on :
I also use Scrivener and Word, though my workflow is pretty screwed up now. I write in Scrivener for all the reasons mentioned, and then output to standard manuscript format for editing.

I don't recommend this, since with all the new features of Scrivener it's probably best now to edit in Scrivener as well.

I've used the output to epub amd mobi features to get Kindle and iPad drafts to first readers. I don't know how this works for "real" ebooks I'd be willing to post for sale, but it's cut down on the third party programs I have to use for quick and dirty drafts.

I do like the Mac, though, and it would be hard to switch back to Windows even though I understand there is a Windows version of Scrivener now.


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :

I may have to try Scrivener one of these days. I have what might be the original Mac Word Processor. well, actually the second original WP. It still works fine for the basics.

But didn't they come out with an Officeworks a couple of years ago.

Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
Is good to see you back Scott! As for the softwere, I have no idea, but I wanted to say Hi.
Posted by Osiris (Member # 9196) on :
I've also switched to Scrivener now that it is available for Windows. So far, so good.
Posted by micmcd (Member # 7977) on :
Scrivener is $45 now. And if you have a Mac, you can buy it in the Mac App Store (and thereby get quicker updates).
Posted by Wordcaster (Member # 9183) on :
I have a macbook pro. Microsoft Word is already on it, but I am in the trial period of Scrivener (you get 30 days free). I am definitely paying the $45. It is worth it -- especially for longer works.

Word and text editors just leave you with a big stream of text going for hundreds of pages or you have to have separate files, which also gets messy. Scrivener has impressed me thus far.

Posted by Bent Tree (Member # 7777) on :
Thanks, Tiergan. It is really good to be back and although it seems a little daunting, I am really excited about writing again.

I downloaded Open Office for now but I am looking into Scrivener.

Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
Hmm, maybe I should try the trail of Scrivener even though someone else said it doesn't have a built in thesaurus or if it does it's a lousy one. Even my old, out of date WP has a descent thesaurus.

I bought a new paperback one but there are numbers at the top of the page instead of words. I have to read about how to read it.

Is Open Office the newer MAC WP? Seems like the Apple one had a different name.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited September 11, 2011).]

Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
I just use when I need a thesaurus...


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
I could try that but it would take two or three more steps it would seem. But on the other hand I'm sure that site has a lot more words than my WP's descent thesaurus.
Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
Back when I had an iPod touch there was an iOS dictionary/thesaurus app that had WordNet on it, including the hyponym/hypernym links. So you could put in "blighter" and it would give more general words like bloke, chap, gent, fella, and lad; and more specific words like gadfly, pest, and pesterer.

There are some on-line WordNet thesauruses (e.g. WordVis) that not only do the hyponym/hypernym thing, they do part-of relationships too. You could put in "arm" and it would tell you it's part of the body, and it has parts hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, bicep, and list the bones and nerves in the arm.


Posted by micmcd (Member # 7977) on :
@LDWriter2 - No, Open Office isn't a Mac thing. It's a cross platform Office software suite that dates back to when there used to be a company called Sun. Oracle updates it now, but it's 100% Java. I played with it back in the day. It is most certainly not made by Apple - they would never create software with so boring a name. If I recall, Apple's official word-processing software is called Pages, marking the one and only time Microsoft's version of a product has a massively better name. You can only buy it as part of the iWork suite.

Note to Apple - when you are making a product whose primary use is document editing or spreadsheet creation, it's okay not to use a hipster name.

Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :

Interesting, I hadn't heard of Pages. I've had Macs for over ten years and as I recall their WPs went from (Rats, my mind just went blank, it's been a while) butt it was called something works. Apple bought the company. They made it Appleworks and it had drawing, spreadsheets, and a couple of other applications. But a while back they stopped updating Appleworks and made a whole new one. I think it was called Officeworks or Officeword or Maybe Officepages. Something with Office in it. I was told it pretty much did the same as Appleworks but more so, with working in an office in mind. It cost $100 or more at that time so I didn't get it.

I will add that my laptop has three Microsoft writing products on it but I haven't used any of them. Actually, I never got the password that would allow me to use them. I might be able to get it and maybe I will but I wanted something that would work on my desk computer, it doesn't have those three programs.


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
Thought seriously about buying Scrivener. Something came to mind as I was checking it out in the Apple store. Two things actually.

The most important is will it open the files from my current word processor? Or will I have to cut and paste all the files?

Second, if anyone here knows, Apple says the new 2.1 version is ready for Lion but does it still also work for a slightly older OS?

Never mind on the last question, I just noticed what I missed before. I need OS 10.6.6 I have 10.5.8. Even with the upgrade I need to download, I don't think it will go that high.

I may have to find the older version in that case.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited September 25, 2011).]

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