Most of us use about 10-percent of Word’s laundry list of features. How about Apple’s Pages? It’s not Word, but it’s easier to use and priced right. Assume for a moment that your word processor requirements are typical, then the last word processor you’ll ever buy won’t cost you a dime.
Three words describe this little word processing beast. Fast. Fun. Free.
Process Words For Less
If you’re a real Mac cheapskate you’ll stick with TextEdit. It’s built-in to your Mac. It processes words. It’s free.
The problems with TextEdit? It’s totally boring to use, has a confusing interface (hello? Fonts?) misses a few basic word processing features, and is more of an afterthought than a thoughtful app.
My word grinder of choice in the 21st century isn’t Microsoft Word (my Mac is Microsoft free), or the Pages app in Apple’s iWork suite.
It’s Bean, the fast, uncluttered, easy-to-use Mac word processor that’s obviously been designed specifically for my personal writing needs, though you may find it useful, too.
If you’re a long time Mac user you may remember the legendary WriteNow. Lean, fast, just the right amount of features. Compare this user interface with Word or Pages on your Mac.
The Toolbar on the top is simple and straightforward, yet Bean is modern enough to handle Tabs for multiple documents open at the same time.
The floating Inspector provides just the tools you need to process words (some people call that writing) without resorting to a manual or PDF to figure out how.
Bean is smart enough to keep track of the word count, give you complete Find and Replace options, and Styles so you don’t have to reinvent the style wheel while you’re writing.
Header, Footers, Templates, and Boilerplates, Oh My! All built in. There’s even a distraction free writing option so you can focus on writing, not Toolbar options or Inspector settings.
Bean has basic page layout functionality, and a split screen personality. Vertical or horizontal and on the same document. The Mac’s pop up dictionary works in Lion and you can save documents in RTF, plain text, even HTML (which can be rendered in Safari).
No matter what, if you need more word processing capability than Bean you’ll pay more money. Did I mention the built-in word completion? If Bean were any smarter or more useful it would actually do the writing for you.
If Bean is so good, and still free, then what’s missing? It doesn’t do footnotes or stylesheets or Word document formats, but it will open Word 2007 (.docx) files.
Did I fail to mention that Bean is free? Try it, give it a day or two, and stop sending money to Microsoft for Word’s feature list overkill.