Which Office tools are you using, and why?

by Volker Weber


When I have to prepare presentation slides, I use Keynote, leftmost icon above. It is simple, it gets the job done, it makes beautiful presentations and has the best presenter display. When I have to create a nicely formatted document, I use Pages, rightmost icon above. I never use Numbers, Apple's spreadsheet program.


Besides iWork, courtesy of Apple, I also have a copy of Office, courtesy of Microsoft. I do spreadsheets in Excel, and any creative writing in Word. Both are slow, but Excel is the default for spreadsheets, and Word has the better spell and grammar check. I never use Powerpoint.

I have also installed and tried Symphony and OpenOffice. Can't stand them. Symphony is prettier, slow, crashes a lot. The word processor is usable, the spreadsheet is a joke, and the presentation software makes IBM slideshows. OpenOffice is meh.

On the netbook I use Microsoft Office 2007, which I like a lot. It's fast, and the ribbon interface works well for me. I only use Excel and Word. Powerpoint made me buy a new MacBook Pro, so I can use Keynote.

What are you using?


I use Microsoft Office 2007, but will upgrade to 2010 these days. Tested the Beta (free till Oct. 2010) which works great - Outlook is a great win (although i like my GMail)

Samuel Orsenne, 2009-12-14

Google Docs. "Good enough" functionality, I can work on my files no matter where I am, share them with others and export to compatible file formats when I'm done.

Jeff Gilfelt, 2009-12-14

I am using OpenOffice for at least 10 years, probably more.

Fast, stable, runs even on my netbook with 256 MB and at least for me perfect to use.

I can not compare the visual effects to any of the others but I also care less and less about those.

Lucius Bobikiewicz, 2009-12-14

Almost the same as you, but Excel on a Mac is very crippled. And for seriously nice formated documents I use InDesign. Currently I'm also testing Ommwriter. Very nice and focused experience when design does not matter and once you get rid of the daft background image.

Hubertus Alvensleben, 2009-12-14

- Keynote for presentations. It's very very good.
- just started to use Pages for business documents (since I integrated it into Lotus Notes), I like it, but it lacks some important features (like chapter numbers)
- in the company we're using OpenOffice, since it's the only real cross-platform solution at the moment, and it has a good template management. And I like the idea of not being locked into a binary document format.
- I checked MS Office:Mac recently, looks ok, but I'm more adjusted to OpenOffice
- Lotus Symphony needs more time: good idea to have another, easy to use cross-platform solution, but needs to envolve. I'm curious about version 2.0 coming next year.
I hardly do spreadsheets, if I have to, I use OpenOffice.

Julian Buss, 2009-12-14

I use iWork (mostly Pages and Numbers) about half the time; the other half I use Open Office (for text processing and spreadsheets). I don't need to produce presentations outside of work. I find Open Office's text processing a lot more powerful than Pages, but like the serial letter functionality in Pages better for doing my Christmas letters, and Pages actually provides the relatively limited features I need most of the time. (Except that styling of header text in Pages is more less broken, because you can't include the heading level in a style definition; you have to manually set the header level after applying the style - bummer, that!)

Numbers is much more limited than Excel or Open Office, but is easier to produce nicely formatted tables in.

at Work:
Powerpoint, Word and Excel (all of them in the 2003 version). There's no choice there.

John Keys, 2009-12-14

I have started with StarOffice 3.0 about 15 years ago and got stuck on the StarOffice/OpenOffice-trip until nowerdays. I'm still using it and hardly doing any work on MS Office. I even use OpenOffice at work besides some other open-source products I introduced at my job's place.

Mathias Ziolo, 2009-12-14

I moved to a mac recently and I really like iWorks.
Symphony is ok, but I prefere OpenOffice.
Haven't touched MS Office in years and I do not miss it.

Christian Tillmanns, 2009-12-14

In private life and for my non-work-related projects: When I still need an offline app (decreasing in frequency), I use OpenOffice for text and spreadsheets, and occasionally to view a presentation. For everything else, I use Google Docs.

For $DAYJOB, I use whatever comes with the standard package provided by the company. Currently, this is a fairly old but perfectly fine MS Office 2003, but it could actually be "whatever", as I don't have any particular demand.

Matthias Leisi, 2009-12-14

On Windows:

Microsoft Excel for invoice templates/expenses.

Lotus Word Pro for customer proposals output as PDF

Simple Project planning in a calendar Lotus Organizer Planning page.

Icon creation etc. Paint Shop Pro version 5 (ancient but I know it)

Macintosh Open Office.

Reporting of Lotus Notes database data, Lotus Approach 9.8.6, also used for mailing labels, name badges when I need them etc.

Carl Tyler, 2009-12-14

at home: OpenOffice on MacOS
at work: Microsoft Office 2003 on Windows XP - no other Choice....

Michael Klüsener, 2009-12-14

Microsoft Office 2007 at work because it is default. The ribbon does not really work for me but we somehow made peace with each other (a.k.a. Ctrl-F1). I do like the right click and the options that are presented.

At home and for my little side buisness it is OpenOffice.org exclusively because all these computers run on Ubuntu. I really like Oo.org and Ubuntu for the clean look and feel. Word processing in both Office suites is not much different from each other especially when you don't do much formatting anyways. I tend to forget what I use actually. Impress is a bit annoying at times but I don't have to do many presentations. I didn't really look at it closely to get used to it.

Spreadsheets are nothing I have to use a lot in both instances.

Summary: For personal use Oo.org is just fine. It would also be okay for buisness and a friend of mine at University uses it solely. I am not allowed to. Generally word/writer work well together. Impress/Powerpoint yields mild to enormous catastrophies.

Oswald Prucker , 2009-12-14

Run the business on iWork (using Keynote, Pages and Numbers), only using Symphony/Notes to open the odd file sent through from IBMers. Refuse to load MS Office anywhere - and tend to feign inability to open and Office 2007 files that come my way ;-) Just wish iWork would offer full compatibility with ODF formats ;-)

Stuart McIntyre, 2009-12-14

Haven't tried iWork (though I should), and I avoid MS Office (which I can). OpenOffice is dreadful (though I try), and Symphony isn't worth a mention. (So why did I?)

For a few years I used Lotus Notes and loved doing so: all in one pot. Now that I'll probably be leaving Notes I greatly regret the lock-in. (Cut and paste is a failure, and HTML production is an awful mess.)

And now for something completely different.

I use vi/vim as editing tool and format long documents in LaTeX and shorter bits in Markdown syntax, which is easily convertible to other formats with Pandoc.

I don't want effects in presentations, so I edit (guess what with) and produce PDF with magicpoint.

You'll notice a common denominator here: plain text and PDF output where it counts.

(And long lists of numbers and sums I outsource to my accountant. ;-)

Jan-Piet Mens, 2009-12-14

at home:
OpenOffice (to open MS documents and write a letter from time to time to insurances, finance authorities and other most beloved institutions you are obliged to deal with)
my wife: uses Pages ... i bought her a Mac 2 years ago and the husband-support decreased down to almost zero since then.

at work:
MS Office. Ever since. Not that I like it (especially PowerPoint with our crippled company "assistant" to stay with corporate design rules), I just have no choice, as many others. I have to admit that I almost like the 2007 version with the ribbon concept: after reinstalling my laptop after a harddisk crash I was "downgraded" to the current company standard (Office 2003). After 2 days, I requested the upgrade to 2007 again.

Axel Koerv, 2009-12-14

I use the iWork tools when I am the lonesome author.
When colaborating with others it is the OO tools.
And my favorite: Omnigraffle -very easy, very powerful and totally intuitive.
I once spend two hours with Impress on a diagram, than resorted to Omnigraffle and had a much nicer diagram in an hour - with virtually no experience in Omnigraffle.

To my taste OO is trying to copy MS Office way too closely, so both are un-intuitive.

Jörg Hermann, 2009-12-14

@Jörg: You are probably right. OO.org is best when it follows own concepts. But I so love the integrated pdf export.

Oswald Prucker , 2009-12-14

..but Excel is the default for spreadsheets
This is certainly true but, does it matter?

Only if you have to share complex formulas, I guess, otherwise you can produce some outstanding documents in no time. I think we all agree on this.

Don't you think the main issue is having to learn new commands and a new approach to creating spreadsheets? I found this very true in the Mac vs PC issue.

I see people that want to use their Macs exactly the same way they use their PC's and that is often a disappointing experience. It might relate to the Office suites as well..

Pieterjan Lansbergen, 2009-12-14

All computers here, Thinkpads, Netbooks are running Ubuntu. I use Gedit with various snippets for each customer=publishers. There is even a template to mimic the old Atex - Xyrite System back from the 80ies. When transcribing interviews (another mayor task), I use the VLC Player which works wonderful with my USB Infinity foot operated switch. For writing film scripts, there is PsyRoom. I use OpenOffice for writing the bills. --Detlef

Detlef Borchers, 2009-12-14

On my MacBook I use MS Office 2008 (for Mac) - because for my trainings I need to use many 'older' presentations - built in PowerPoint 2003. It's a little bit slower - but it works fine - no problems. All apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).

All my customers use MS Office (PC) - I don't want any troubles, when I share docs and sheets, so I also use 'the industry standards'.

I still like working with 'old fashioned' Office 2003 or 2000 on PCs :)

I'll check the current version of OO for Mac soon : )

Olaf Schulz, 2009-12-14

Mac-Users might be interested in this software:

Seems to be geeky.

Oswald Prucker, 2009-12-14

My Macbook is still just for coding so no office tool there. On Windows I have OpenOffice, Symphony and Microsoft Office 2007. I use Word and Excel, OpenOffice for some old worksheets (too slow and ugly for my taste)and Symphony just for ..
Well I don't use Symphony.
I really like Word and Excel 2007 but was very disappointed about Access. It seems Microsoft has given up on it. I have no need for PowerPoint. Although I do like Office 2007 my use cases are getting less.
Where I work everyone heavily uses Office 2007, most files I get have a file type ending with "x". You get used to it but I find it ineffective.

Henning Heinz, 2009-12-15

good question. i use both - MS office for calculation, simple text/documentation writing and presentations, and pages in case of design-oriented publications. Keynote and numbers is not eligible.

ingo Harpel, 2009-12-15

For my professional stuff it is mostly MS Office and sometimes OO/Symphony. I hate to say that I am proficient with Power Point ;)

For presentations where I can pull off to use KeyNote I do that.

For all stuff that is only relevant to me and my girl friend (letters, excel sheets tracking stuff) we use Google Docs and besides Track Changes missing it has everything I need.

And very often I just write emails, even really big ones, and use "ascii-art" to format them.

Mariano Kamp, 2009-12-15


when i write documents on my own, i soley use OpenOffice for years now. Abandoned Microsoft Office a couple of years ago. It completley suffices for my needs.
When i have to collaborate with others i use google docs with a extension for OpenOffice to have the same GUI there too...
If you work in a multi-OS environment Ubuntu/WinXP, cross-platform is the key (program/format).

had to use microsoft office 2003 for years now, but currently i am shifting to OpenOffice. Technical Documentation in Writer - works fine, vast spreadsheets, most of them are working fine, exept the ones that heavily are using macros for formating (but i couldn't care less...). Even with Impress i am satisfied for my needs, and i am fast enough :)
But i gotta give Keynote credit, never seen a presentation program that creates crisp, clear multi-media and feature rich presentation with such a ease of use and short amount of time...
I tried symphony hard, but it is still not there yet, from the functionality, usability and stability.

i rarely have to use microsoft office today and will give my license back when i switched fully. the company will like it :)

Mark Altmann, 2009-12-15

OpenOffice at home and office, of couse. What did you expect, Volker? ;-)

Hanno Zulla, 2009-12-15

Office 2008 for Mac, just because it will deal with mostly anything, and sometimes I even have to convert down documents for people on older versions of Office, since it seems sometimes people can't even do that themselves.


Bryan McDade, 2009-12-15

Openoffice all the way. I travel a lot between systems and Openoffice is the only tool to reliably display my documents across platforms. Furthermore, I heavily rely on its bibliography database for my scientific writing. If I wanted the same functionality in Word, I'd have to shell out another fortune for Endnote.

Philipp Sury, 2009-12-15

We have to rely on the IT infrastructure provided to us by our franchisor (for those who don't know me, our franchisor is an international corporation whose logo is a large yellow M on a red, er, I mean green background). The restaurant PCs are outfitted with Office 2000, so we have to make sure our documents are very backwards-compatible.

I fought with OpenOffice for OS X for several months, but it was just too unstable. I use iWork for documents I don't need to share. For spreadsheets I'll fire up Office 2007 under Parallels. Office 2008 is like Office on acid... it's OK for maintaining existing tables, but I can't do any serious work with it.

We have an administrative assistant starting for us in 2010, and I hope we can share most of our work with Google Apps.

Scott Hanson, 2009-12-16

++ on Google Docs.

Of course, I try to avoid as much as possible any work on files that would be considered "Office Documents".

Kevan Emmott, 2009-12-16

At work / for work: MS Office 2003. Because my boss wants me to use it.

At home / private: Google Docs, and sometimes OpenOffice, both on Ubuntu Linux. Because I like it, it works better (document sharing!) and it's free.

Eva Quirinius, 2009-12-24

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