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Apple iWork '09 - iWork '09 - Numbers

By Hugo Jobling



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Apple iWork '09


Our Score:


Numbers '09

Numbers still maintains its slightly strange way of dealing with spreadsheets. Unlike Excel, which remains fundamentally an out-and-out number crunching program, in Numbers tables are dragged onto the workspace and can then be related in various ways.

When it comes to powering through maths, both methods have their advantages and there's nothing wrong about either, but for the casual user I think Numbers has the advantage.

That's an opinion reinforced by the improvements made to formula writing in Numbers '09. The Formula Browser, features some 250 functions, all with excellent explanatory text and some even offering embedable examples. This allows for easy creation of complex spreadsheets, although most users should find a pre-made template to cover their needs anyway.

Formula list view could well prove useful, oddly enough showing a list of every formula used in each spreadsheet. These can be searched through and there's a find and replace option, too. Also added are table categories, enabling quick grouping of similar data into collapsible sets.

Linked charts, a stalwart of Office, make a showing, meaning tables and graphs embedded into Pages, Numbers or Keynote documents can be updated as and when needed from Numbers, with the change showing in any document that spreadsheet is embedded into.

Unsurprisingly for a Mac-centric program, Numbers '09 boasts more whizz-bang 2D and 3D charts that you could shake a large stick at. Mixed charts are a great addition, allowing multiple data series to be displayed on the same graph for easy comparison; say your 2008 to 2009 profit predictions, versus the actual results. Trend lines and error bars can be also be added and, of course, there are myriad options for making said graphs look pretty.


February 19, 2009, 3:07 pm

Now a review of OpenOffice 3 and comparing it to MS Office and iWork would be great :)


February 19, 2009, 4:36 pm

I'm hesitant to add anything here as history has proven that any negative comment about Microsoft or their products on an Apple based article will be immediately met by fanboy flames... But still, what's an AppleBoy to do!?

I actually had no idea that you could pick up MS Office so cheaply for the Mac, I had assumed that it was only available at the extortionate prices that I remember it being from my PC days. But still, if you appreciate the structure of OS X, the cleanliness, the integration, and the similarity of it all. If you've ever heard of Apple's Human Interface Guidelines... Then you should pick up iWork, not Office.

This is based on the last version of Office for Mac, not the current version; Office infiltrates so many corners of your HDD, putting files and folders in places that no application should be putting files and folders. One of the many reasons that I and many other Mac user switched in the first place is the unorganised nature of apps in Windows. You have a collection of files in folders A, an entry in registration file B, bits of C all over the place.

OS X, 99% of the time doesn't have any of that! Unless you install Office on it, that is.

I would love to be proven wrong and be told that the latest versions have stopped doing this and have followed Apple's simple guidelines that even the smallest, most amateurish developers manage to follow.

Kashif Bhatti

February 19, 2009, 11:50 pm

Good review.

However, as a day-in, day-out user of both suites, I'd like to clear a few misunderstandings. Iwork '09 loads faster than any product of Office and unlike Office has yet to crash on me - Word or Excel is guaranteed to crash at the most inopportune moment at least once a fortnight. Word or Powerpoint does not have more power under the 'hood, and only Excel has more functions - but even then, Excel for PC is more powerful.

The argument that one must have Office for the millions (and millions) of people out there does not stand with this iteration of Iwork - Thanks to Iwork.com, I regularly share files with PC owners. It is true, some formatting is lost in .doc conversion, but then again, newer office suites and their .docx format are just as 'incompatible' with the many many people who just have Office 2004 (every computer in the NHS!).

Apple's moto - keep it simple, stupid. And it works.


February 20, 2009, 2:45 am

I'ld like to make a correction.

You don't need to get out of Full Screen Mode on Pages to use the Inspector. You can just need to use the keyboard shortcut (cmd + alt + i )


February 20, 2009, 4:22 pm

@ Cub - You really should try the latest version of Office for mac. Its a vast improvement over the last one (which I agree was pretty poor and way too unstable). It actually doesn't feel like a Microsoft product at all. And Kashif every computer in the NHS can read docx files because there was an update released around when Office 2007 was released to allow older versions of Office to read 2004 files. Every so often you need a more permanent upgrade. Think of Office 2004 to 2007 as Mac OS 9 to OS 10.


February 21, 2009, 2:29 am

Evren - I'll consider it. Not a fan of Open Office, though.

edoreld - I never thought to try that... oops. It would be nice if the Inspector blended into full screen mode a little more still, though.

Kashif Bhatti

March 2, 2009, 8:21 pm

@aaron... not computers (a month ago) in the south... and definitely not (last week) in mersey/north yorkshire!


July 28, 2009, 8:05 pm

Is there an estimate on the timetable for the release of Office 2010 for Mac?

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