In the world of productivity suites, Microsoft’s Office 365 gets all of the love. Applications like PowerPoint, Excel and Word are staples of the corporate world. On the other hand, often overlooked Apple’s iWork Suite is a fantastic choice for Mac users. That is especially true for anyone who values productivity and collaboration. Let’s take a look at some additional reasons why Mac users should choose iWork over Office 365.
At the end of the day, price likely matters above all else. It’s here that iWork strikes an early victory over Office 365. Back in 2017 Apple made a decision to distribute iWork for free. This includes Pages, Keynote and Numbers on both iOS and macOS devices and computers. There are no limitations on how many devices you can sync with, and iWork is available to a host of older Apple devices as well.
On the other hand, Microsoft 365 for personal use starts at $69.99 per year for an individual plan and jumps to $99.99 per year for a family plan good for up to six people.
To be fair, Office 365 includes not just Word, Excel and PowerPoint but also OneNote and Outlook and includes 1TB of storage with OneDrive. Similarly, you can download Word on your Mac so you can read documents. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to create or edit, as that requires a Microsoft 365 subscription. Microsoft does provide iOS/iPadOS users access to its mobile apps free of charge.
Both iWork and Microsoft 365 are accessible online at iCloud.com or office.com respectively. So what makes iWork pull ahead in the sync space? Handoff. Essentially, Handoff enables iWork users to start something on one Apple device and then pick it up on another Apple device without losing anything. This makes it super easy to start a Pages document on your Mac and pick it up on your iPad while you commute to work. This is an invaluable feature for people that use more than one device.
Both Microsoft 365 and iWork offer real-time collaboration for people to work on the same document together. What makes Apple stand out is the tie back to its free pricing. As any Mac owner can download iWork, collaboration becomes incredibly easy. For anyone to really collaborate in Microsoft 365, you need a paid subscription.
When it comes to cloud collaboration, Google Docs has everyone beaten. That said, with Microsoft 365, you are limited to just sharing via OneDrive. When it comes to Apple’s Share menu, you can send iCloud document links via Messages, transfer via AirDrop, add it to a Note and then share the Note so you can leave some comments, etc. Collaboration may not be a deal-breaker for many, but try sharing a document with five other people in a workgroup, and your mind changes immediately.
When using Microsoft Word, you can be easily overwhelmed by the bevy of options, menus, features, and more options and menus. It’s very cluttered, and, while you can make some adjustments to reduce the noise, it’s still noisy. On the other hand, Apple’s approach is very … Apple. Instead, iWork reduces the clutter to a minimum leaving you with just the options you really need.
Things like font, font size, bold, italics, font color and more are readily available. You can easily find the option to insert a chart or a table on iWork. Try doing that in Word and you very well might need a doctorate degree. The same argument can be made for Keynote and Numbers as their interfaces are equally clean with options and menus. Instead, in the case of Pages, the same number of options is still available, but they are tucked away on the side in the Format sidebar. It can be opened and closed as needed, getting out of your way when you want to focus.
For the most part, there is parity across Pages, Numbers, Keynote and Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In Pages, the apps offer nearly identical features, such as text formatting, headers, footers, embedded images, tables, etc. However, where Pages jumps ahead slightly is the ability to add charts to a document natively. Unlike Word, which requires Excel, any data input with an embedded chart can be changed at any point. Pages documents can also be shared with popular third-party applications like Evernote or opened directly in Microsoft Word.
In the case of Keynote and PowerPoint, once again we find parity for the most part. Like Pages, PowerPoint can only create charts with help from Excel. On the other hand, Keynote can create charts natively. PowerPoint is widely regarded as the presentation leader in the corporate world. In this case, Keynote does not need to win on features as much as it doesn’t need to lose. It offers splashier presentations but lacks the incredibly large gallery of symbols and spares that are offered in PowerPoint. One additional advantage for Keynote is that it offers video-out capabilities. That’s good news for presenters, as they can show a presentation from the iPad while the iPad itself shows presenter notes.
Excel and Numbers are generally on the same level. Excel does offer some of the best features in the space, so it, too, is a corporate juggernaut. Excel’s menu system is also slightly easier when it comes to discovering features. However, Numbers remains a beefy option on its own, offering almost 90 percent of the feature set without any of the additional cost. Graphs and charts are incredibly easy to create showing Apple’s attention to detail and even goes as far as to the way data will be displayed.
For Mac users, iWork remains a standout option for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Its feature set is on par with Microsoft 365 and even surpasses it in some regards. That iWork is 100 percent free across all Apple devices is hard to ignore. For Mac users, unless you are in an environment where Microsoft 365 is required, iWork is well worth the look.