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Your favorite word processor?

Syntho

Well-known member
I’m having a hard time deciding between MS Word and AppleWorks. What do you like better and why?

 

Scott Baret

Well-known member
Which operating system are you running?

Word wins for features and compatibility. The two newest Classic OS versions of Word, 98 and 2001, use the same .doc format as their PC counterparts; newer versions can export to this and import it even today. (Unfortunately, neither can read .docx).

AppleWorks is the easier to use of the two, although it has far fewer features. If all you're planning on doing with word processing is writing simple notes now and then, it does just fine, but if you want to use your older computer for anything more or want compatibility with today's software, Word is the way to go.

 

maceffects

Well-known member
For old Macs I preferred Corel WordPerfect.  I was able to convert old WordPerfect files to something modern word could use before.  Oddly enough, they still make it.  If you have like Mac OS 8.6 or something maybe MS Word would be better.  I didn't use AppleWorks a ton.

 

ArmorAlley

Well-known member
Back in the early-mid nineties, I loved MacWrite Pro. It had a simple interface, could import & export almost everything by means of XTNDs and wasn't very big. Now, I also had PageMaker 3.5 onhand to do fancier layouts.

When I went to Japan in 1995, I discovered Nisus and it became my word-processor of choice. It could handle WorldScript (in this Japanese by means of the Japanese Language Kit) with ease and had more features than MacWrite Pro.

At the same time, everyone around praised MS Word 5.1. It was far and away the word-processors of my peers back then.

 

Garrett

Well-known member
Word wins for features and compatibility. The two newest Classic OS versions of Word, 98 and 2001, use the same .doc format as their PC counterparts; newer versions can export to this and import it even today. (Unfortunately, neither can read .docx).
This kinda goes along with the MacPaint/PICT question I had in a separate topic - but can modern versions of Word open documents written in Word 4.0? That's another thing I'd like to try once I get my Classic back up and running and can get a FloppyEmu for it.

My Classic came with both Word 4.0 and MacWrite (an early version, dated 1986 in the Finder) installed. The original owner seemed to use Word 4.0 in the mid-90s (94/95), then switched to MacWrite later (97-00.) I've tested both when the machine worked, and I actually liked MacWrite a little better because of the simplicity - though IIRC they both seemed pretty similar. If I had an ImageWriter II, I'd love to sit down and write something using MacWrite.

However, if Word 4.0 files can be opened in modern versions of Word (I imagine they can, but obviously not 100% certain) that's a huge plus. You could write something in 4.0 and open it in a modern version of Word for sharing, additional formatting or editing. I know Word 4.0 has spell check, but didn't get far enough into it to test it.

 

Crutch

Well-known member
I don’t know about the native format, but you can definitely save an RTF with Word 4 and open it on a modern machine.  (Images may or may not survive the transfer, if you care.)

I used Word 4 and 5, then switched to ClarisWorks in the mid-90s ... compact, simple, fast and integrated with a nice drawing package.  Guess I’m at outlier there.  I think I picked up the ClarisWorks habit during my brief stint as an Apple employee back then — oddly enough, we didn’t use Microsoft Word at work ...   :)  

These days I like Word 4 on my SE/30.  It’s vastly puncher to load than Word 5, several seconds faster even with a Diimo, and I don’t need to be generating tables of contents or whatever.

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
I float back and forth between most of these options. MacWrite Pro, for its compactness and speed on even very slow machines, ClarisWorks/AppleWorks 4 and 5 for their completeness, and Office/Word 98 for familiarity and file compatibility.

WordPerfect 3.5 is also good, and, Nisus Writer is also fairly good.

I'd say it depends on how in-depth you really want to go. MacWrite Pro and ClarisWorks are "easy" but constructing complicated documents with lots of different formatting requires a little bit more of a learning curve than on Word 98, which uses styling in almost the exact same way you'll be used to as any version of Word from 1997 forward.

(The concept is roughly the same on both sides, but Word exposes the controls for it in what I'd consider to be a more clear way, and Apple's way of exposing styling would/could have the side-effect of encouraging people to do manual formatting rather than declaring styling.)

There's a handful of good books at Vintage Apple (vintageapple.org) and a good one to look at should be "The Mac is not a Typewriter" by Robin Williams. Both versions (1990 and 1996) are on this site. That book talks a lot about the concepts of word processing and although I don't know if the term "semantic styling" is used, shows the power of setting and using styles, as opposed to manually formatting things. (Disclaimer: I've skimmed but not done a detailed read-through of these books)

It kind of depends on what your goal is, and, the effort it takes to set styles (especially in things other than Word, maybe WordPerfect) is definitely worth it for when you need to produce a lot of consistent documents (possibly with the help of a template), or when you need to product large documents with things like multiple sections.

Depending on the scenario, too, you can use HTML editing applications to do writing and open the HTML files in a browser or a newer HTML authoring tool on your modern computer, although most of those won't have, like, editing tools like spelling or grammar checking.

 

paws

Well-known member
It's been a long time since I used it, but Word 5 for Mac will always have a special place in my heart. So simple and pure.

 

dcr

Well-known member
I've never liked Microsoft Word.  I used AppleWorks on the Apple IIe back in the day.  Can't recall if I used AppleWorks on a Mac.  I started a novel (that I finally finished over the weekend) in ClarisWorks on an iBook but switched to Pages (iPad) after about a month.  On 68k machines, I used to use WriteNow but I ended up doing a lot of my writing in SaintEdit, which was a basic text editor.  Under Mac OS X, I've been using Pages.  Still using Pages '09 but as I don't like the newer versions of Pages, I'm looking at using Atom on machines that cannot run Pages '09.  (Plus, as mentioned in another thread somewhere, I plan to export all my Pages documents to a more accessible format.)

Depending on the scenario, too, you can use HTML editing applications to do writing and open the HTML files in a browser or a newer HTML authoring tool on your modern computer, although most of those won't have, like, editing tools like spelling or grammar checking.
For what it's worth, there is a spell-check package for Atom.

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
I like Word a lot, and, if you intend to daily a back/forth workflow with modern computers, it's the most practical option.

AppleWorks/CiarisWorks is fine, and, Pages is also basically fine.

W/re ClarisWorks/AppleWorks for Mac: I don't really like AppleWorks 6. They re-designed it to make it look modern and in my opinion did a poor job of it. It's the only version of AppleWorks for Mac OS X so if you need to share files with vintage OS X machines it's the best choice. (I don't know how good cross-version document compatibility is, like if you wanted to use CW4 on a system 7 68k, CW5/AW5 on an OS 8/9 machine and AW6 on an OS X 10.0-10.6 machine, but, I suppose this is something I could actually test myself at some point.)

W/re the spell check on Atom, that's hilarious, and, plain text is also an option here, IDK what plain text tools on Classic Mac OS have spell checking, but I know VSCode on modern computers can also do some.

TextEdit on Mac OS X can work with plain-text files and can also spell-check them. It's default is RTF, which is an almost universal standard, but it's relatively simple. I don't think RTF supports defining styles in the document, so you're just getting ad-hoc styling. I don't know if it supports stuff like page headers, numbering, footnotes, etc etc, so it's suitability will depend a lot on what you want to do. Fine for simple documents, bad for anything bigger, structured, or that needs specific formatting.

 

paws

Well-known member
If you thought Word 5 was simple, you should try Word 4 :)  
Not sure I ever used Word 4,but I just remember everything that came after 5 as slow and buggy. I think I stuck with it for school work until about 2000.

 

techknight

Well-known member
Not sure I ever used Word 4,but I just remember everything that came after 5 as slow and buggy. I think I stuck with it for school work until about 2000.
Yea, word 6+ was a Dog... you needed at minimum a decent PowerPC to handle Word 6 well. otherwise it wouldnt handle the speed of your typing. 

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Hm. I should give Word 6 a go again. I've used it on a few different systems and it was "fine." What systems were you using it on? I've probably used it on the 840, my 6100 and 1400, so, a little bit of a range, but not super high end systems.

It's a fine option for 68k/PPC cross-compatibility, and I believed that the format is shared by some PC versions from the same era (it's basically a port of the Windows version of Word, but, it (this applies to all of Office 4 for Mac: PowerPoint 4, Excel 5, and Word 6) mostly got panned when it was new for being a relatively poor port compared both to Word 5 before it and Office 98 after it.)

Office/Word 98 requires PowerPC, but it does run even on a 6100 and 6200, and in my very very brief testing runs well enough that it can keep up. (my 6100 and 6200 have 32 megs of RAM, much less and it might be prudent to consider 32 the minimum, though it'll probably be "fine" on 24.)

Newer software is generally like that though. Word 98 (and Corel WordPerfect 3.5) do automatic spell checking, for example, which takes more horsepower to do relative to running a spell check in non-real-time. (Once upon a time as late as the mid '90s spell checking was a bench mark and programs raced between each other and computers raced between each other to get the best times.)

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Poked at AppleWorks 5, which I like mostly for aesthetic and nostalgic reasons than because I think that it's actually a good word processor, especially in the modern context.

It does do styling, but, the way you set it up is weird compared to Word.

First, type some text.

Then, click on the Stylesheet Palette button, which sort of looks like an S and another S with arrows between them. This shows the Stylesheet palette. Unfortunately there is no way to get to this from a menu. Then, you can select styles from here or create a new one to suit your needs. (An example of this is, when I'm writing longer stuff, like a novel for nanowrimo, I want a title style, a subheader, a chapter nheading, normal body text, and I make a "dialogue" style with different spacing.

Then, change text properties at will. Styles can contain  font, size, styling (bold/italic etc) and paragraph/spacing properties.

Then, click "done" in the palette.

I feel a very strong urge to fire up Basilisk II or QEMU and do a screen recording of this to show off the concept of semantic styling.

Depending on what you're used to, that might be more or less difficult than in any other word processor, but it's good that it's there and you can do a lot of structuring around it.

There's also some outlining tools.

One other thing I forgot earlier is that in late 1994 or 1995 or so, Claris rolled up several of its tools into what I like to call "Pro ClarisWorks" - Claris Impact. You could do presentations, spreadsheets, and word processing with it, plus there was a dedicated outlining tool, and the data from most of these could be used in others. I tried it briefly but it's quite heavy for, like, a Classic II and one of the things I want to try this year is doing my nanowrimo novel on various vintage Macs.

When that happens, I'll probably sub the 6200 out for the 7200 or a beige g3 or my 8600 so I can use the localtalk adapter with the Classic.

 

dcr

Well-known member
CW5/AW5 on an OS 8/9 machine and AW6 on an OS X 10.0-10.6 machine
As a side note, I don't have AppleWorks on my Mac OS X 10.6 machine, but Pages can open its .cwk files.  However, the Finder defaults to trying to open them in Keynote instead.

 

LaPorta

Well-known member
If Word 5.1 was a speedy race car, then Word 6 was a bloated, fully-loaded cement truck that lumbered forward. It took up so much resource and ran crazily slow. However, Word 98 was better, and under 8.x and 9 it actually was pretty decent. As for file formats, many documents can be opened with brute force by opening them as plain text documents and copying/pasting the text from the garbage that surrounds it.

 

dcr

Well-known member
If Word 5.1 was a speedy race car, then Word 6 was a bloated, fully-loaded cement truck that lumbered forward. It took up so much resource and ran crazily slow. However, Word 98 was better, and under 8.x and 9 it actually was pretty decent.
This reminds me how much I hate the lack of consistency in identifying software versions.  Used to be by version, then the trend started where they used the year and then some reverted to version numbers again.  Or you might have software that goes by year but also version number and then some people talk about the version number and others use the year and then you have to figure out whether they are two different versions or the same.  And, oy.  It's like, once someone builds a working time machine, someone needs to go back in time and find the first person to come up with using years instead of versions and slap them silly and say "NO!"

 

bigD

Well-known member
Growing up I used WriteNow, but these days I use Word 5.1a on my vintage hardware - mainly to make it easier to integrate with the current stuff. Although most ‘writing’ I do on my 68k machines these days is code or simple html, and for that I use BBEdit Lite. 

 
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