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iWork has long been considered the inferior option to Microsoft Office (CA/UK). Word, Excel, and PowerPoint form the industry standard office suite Which Office Suite Is Best for You? Which Office Suite Is Best for You? You'll be pressed to find an occupation that doesn't require word or number processing of some sort. And you may wonder, is Microsoft Office really the best solution? Here are your options. Read More , and that’s just what everyone expects to use. But it’s time to give iWork another chance.

Many long-time Office users will be unwilling to transition away from the apps they’re so used to working with. Whether you’re an Office veteran or a complete newcomer to these types of apps, iWork may deserve another chance. Let’s take a look at why.

1. It’s Free

This might not matter if you get to use Office for free 6 Ways You Can Use Microsoft Office Without Paying For It 6 Ways You Can Use Microsoft Office Without Paying For It Read More through your university or workplace, but to freelancers, hobbyists, and anyone else who uses these kinds of apps on a regular basis, this could be a pretty big deal.

A new copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2016 is $100, which is a significant amount of cash for something you probably don’t need 5 Good Reasons Why You Should NOT Buy Office 2016 5 Good Reasons Why You Should NOT Buy Office 2016 Should you buy the standalone package version of Office 2016? We present our case why we think you shouldn't and show you what you can do instead. Read More . A 12-month subscription to Office 365 will actually cost you $100 per year, which can really add up.

iWork on iPhone iPad and MacBook

Of course, Office 365 does offer you access to a number of other apps, including Outlook, Publisher, and Access, but these are niche apps that many people don’t need anyway.

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iWork comes with every qualifying Mac purchased after October 2014 for free. It’s hard to beat that. If your Mac is older and you need to download the suite from the App Store, you’ll pay $20 per app for a total of $60, still cheaper than Office. Most iPads and iPhones get iWork for free, too.

2. Cleaner Interface

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are very powerful tools, and their interfaces are absolutely jam-packed full of options and menus. If you’re a power user, this can be a good thing; you have quick access to all of the myriad settings you could want.

But the majority of users don’t need all of the options that are available. Managing references, text elements, and mathematical equations aren’t common concerns among most office suite users. I’d be willing to bet that at least 95% of Word users have never needed to adjust the hyphenation zone.

iWork gets rid of a lot of this clutter in favor of a cleaner interface, which eliminates distractions and provides a more peaceful productivity environment. As with many Mac features, this contributes to increased ease of use Drinking the Kool Aid: 8 Reasons People Love Their Macs Drinking the Kool Aid: 8 Reasons People Love Their Macs When you can buy a laptop for under $500, and a Chromebook will satisfy most people's computing needs, why do people insist on spending well over $1000 on a Mac? Read More .

The top of the Pages window, for example, has Insert, Table, Chart, Text, Shape, Media, and Comment buttons. That’s pretty much everything you need for word processing. Both Numbers and Keynote are similarly sparse when it comes to menubar options.

User Interface: Pages vs. Microsoft Word

You can see in the comparison shots above and below just how much cleaner the iWork apps are. Seeing the Office apps next to them makes it obvious just how much clutter Microsoft’s apps have.

User Interface: Numbers vs. Microsoft Excel

If you’re thinking to yourself “But I always need to adjust the Style settings in Word!” then you might not be a good candidate for switching to iWork. There is a sacrifice in power that you’ll make for these cleaner interfaces.

But for the majority of people, the tools available in the iWork apps are sufficient, and this makes them easier to use. There are many other options available through the menus, so it’s not like you’re giving up every customizable option. Just most of the ones you don’t need.

3. iCloud & Mobile Integration

There are tons of great cloud storage services out there, but iCloud has the advantage of being deeply integrated into every Apple product, from software to hardware. Being able to quickly and easily save your office documents to iCloud What Is iCloud Drive & How Does It Work? What Is iCloud Drive & How Does It Work? If you have updated your iPhone or iPad to iOS 8, and your Mac to OS X Yosemite, then you're ready for Apple's iCloud Drive. But what is it, and why should use it? Read More is a handy feature that can save you time if you come to rely on it.

By keeping all of your documents from Pages, Numbers, and Keynote saved in iCloud, you can work on them from any computer connected to the internet. You can even work on them from your iPhone, or non-Apple devices via iCloud.com.

Having access to mobile versions of these apps is also a big benefit. You can use Microsoft Office for free on your 9.7″ iPad, but on a Mac it requires an Office 365 subscription. Apple’s office productivity suite may be less powerful, but it’s also more financially viable if you don’t need all that power.

iWork on iPad and iPad Pro

The mobile versions of iWork apps are also free provided you have a recent device, and they’re well-optimized for mobile work. Even writing on your phone isn’t too bad How You Can Type Easier and Faster on Your iPhone How You Can Type Easier and Faster on Your iPhone This isn’t the first thing I’ve written on an iDevice, but it’s the first time I’ve chosen to do it when I’ve had other options. Read More . Using an iPad or iPad Pro is even better, though.

4. Collaboration and Sharing

Once you upgrade to macOS Sierra What's New in macOS Sierra? The New Features Coming to Your Mac What's New in macOS Sierra? The New Features Coming to Your Mac OS X is dead, long live macOS. Read More , iWork is able to support real-time collaboration between colleagues via iCloud. This means you’ll be able to easily work on a document with a number of other people, much like you can currently do with Google Drive apps How to Easily Collaborate on Google Drive with Online Annotation How to Easily Collaborate on Google Drive with Online Annotation There are specialized annotation web apps available that integrate with Google Drive and make communicating with others about your document easier. We look at the best annotation tools for Google Drive. Read More .

This may not be a big deal to many, but if collaboration was the one thing tying you to Google’s solution then it could make all the difference.

iWork already has some cool sharing features built in. The Share menu lets you share iCloud links or send the document via Messages or Apple’s built-in Notes app Thinking of Switching From Evernote to Apple Notes? Here's How Thinking of Switching From Evernote to Apple Notes? Here's How Apple has a free notes app, and it received a rather substantial overhaul with iOS 9 and El Capitan. But should you ditch Evernote for it? That depends. Read More . Again, these might not seem like a big deal, but if you work with a lot of people who use Macs, you’ll likely appreciate it.

5. Microsoft Office Compatibility

Using anything besides Microsoft Office always comes with the worry about compatibility. How will it deal with DOC and DOCX files? This used to be a big count against using anything besides Office.

DOC and DOCX in Pages

iWork apps have come a long way in their compatibility, and can now open, edit, and save files in standard Office formats 9 Rare Office File Formats You Have to Know 9 Rare Office File Formats You Have to Know Have you ever come across strange file formats in your office suite? We'll give you a quick primer on rare, yet useful office file types and what you can use them for. Read More . While the default is still the iWork file extension (PAGES, KEY, NUMBERS), you can save files in DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, and PPTX, as well as a few others like PDF, CSV, and HTML.

While you may encounter an occasional difficulty with formatting, you aren’t likely to run into any serious problems. You don’t have to worry about your colleagues who use Microsoft Office having difficulty with your files.

Will You Make the Switch?

If you haven’t tried iWork in a while, I strongly recommend that you give it a shot in the near future. Unless you’re a serious power user of Microsoft Office, you might find that the cleaner interface and the better integration with the Mac operating environment makes it a winner!

Do you use iWork? Or will you be sticking with Office? What made you decide either way? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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