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Apple iWork '09 - iWork '09 - Pages

By Hugo Jobling



  • Recommended by TR
Apple iWork '09


Our Score:


Pages '09

iWork's answer to both work processing and desktop publishing, Pages still holds its own against Word. Fundamentally everything that made Pages '08 great still applies to this version as do a few of its foibles. The built-in dictionary, thesaurus and Wikipedia look-up interface is as useful as ever, the lack of an autosave feature just as frustrating - to give but two examples.

The most obvious addition in this '09 version of iWork is Full Screen mode. This, as the name suggests, takes the active page and spans it to fill the screen and blacks out the background providing a clean, distraction-free typing interface.

Move the pointer to the top of the window and the full toolbar, including text formatting options, appears, move to the left and page selection thumbnails appear while moving to the right brings up a scroll bar. At the bottom sit page and word counts; the latter particularly useful and which simply refuse to work for me in Word's full screen mode.

Finally, it's possible to change the background colour in Full Screen mode. I'd advise against white, though, as it leads to the disconcerting appearance of text floating by itself in he middle of the screen. The only slight annoyance is that using the Inspector - from within which most document customisation is carried out - doesn't feel particularly streamlined. That's hardly a deal breaker though.

Dynamic Outlines are another feature making their debut in Pages '09. Outlines provide a neat way of laying out documents which rely heavily on sectioned groups of text. Using the tab key to progressively demote text through what Pages calls levels, each topic group can simply be typed out, and the appropriate formatting is automatically applied when Outline mode is exited. It's much more efficient than messing around manually formatting all the headings, subheadings and body text font styles in a document once typed.

To further facilitate quick navigation of large bodies of text, these levels can be selected and body text therein truncated to show only the first line. This helps with the ability to quickly format documents in outline mode by dragging topic and sub tropic groups around the document, bringing all sub-levels with them.

Dealing with media items in this view mode is also made much easier thanks to the option to toggle thumbnail views of images. For Outlines to be of use also requires some foresight when starting a document to realise it's going to be complicated enough to warrant their use as applying such formatting mid-creation isn't particularly simple.

Mail Merge functionality is expanded to enable data from Numbers to be pulled into Pages documents before sending. Combined with a bunch of new and improved templates, this makes for easy creation nifty documents with minimal effort.

A pretty niche addition is native support for embedding EndNote and MathType into documents. I'm sure there are a few mathematics and English students who'll find such integration useful.


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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