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5 reasons Apple Pages is a must-use for me

If you're serious about writing, you'll understand the importance of the right tools. Here's five reasons why Apple Pages is the right word processor for me.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Apple MacBook Air M3
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

When I write the first draft of a novel, I do so in the open-source application LibreOffice because it's efficient, flexible, powerful, and free. But after I've sent the manuscript to the publisher for edits, I have to switch away from LibreOffice and make use of Apple Pages. There's a good reason for that decision, which I'll explain in a moment. 

Also: How to password-protect a file in Apple Pages

For those who don't know, Apple Pages is a word processor that's part of the iWork office suite. It's a slick, well-designed, and user-friendly piece of software. Of course, most modern document writers can stake similar claims. But what is it about Apple Pages that makes it a must-use for me?

Let's dive in.

Comments and track changes best the competition

A few years ago, I was picked up by a new publisher and was honored to get their lead editor for my work. Prior to the switch, I was using LibreOffice for everything (first drafts, edits, formatting, etc.), so I assumed I could continue down that same road. 

However, when the editor sent me the first round of edits for the first manuscript I sent in, I opened the file in LibreOffice and everything came to a crashing halt. The main problem was that LibreOffice couldn't handle all the comments in such a large document. I would start scrolling and then the software would lock up.

Also: I've published 60 novels - and these 5 free writing tools helped make it possible

I was on a deadline and knew I had to try something else. So, I opened the file in Apple Pages and everything worked as expected. What really surprised me was the quality of track changes and comments in Apple Pages. Not only are changes and comments well laid out and easy to manage, but it's also easy to hide or show the comments sidebar and deal with changes. No other word processor that I've used can match how seamlessly Apple Pages handles comments and track changes. 

The sharing system simplifies collaboration

My editor and I email documents back and forth. Every once in a while, however, it's easier to turn on sharing and give the editor access to the document. Since she uses a Mac, she's also in the Apple ecosystem, which simplifies the process. 

Also: How to collaborate with Apple Pages via iCloud

All I have to do is share a document to iCloud, set it to collaborate, set the share permissions, and select my editor from the user list in the Share dropdown. My editor receives the invite, opens the document, and we can work together in real time. Granted, I only use this feature for specific purposes. Still, when such an instance comes up, Apple Pages' built-in collaboration feature makes sharing a no-brainer.

If you've used the sharing feature in previous iterations, it's worth noting that Apple has changed and simplified the process. You also will need to make sure that Pages is enabled for iCloud sharing in the System Settings app.

Large template library

If you're someone who makes use of templates, Apple Pages has a great library. Available template categories include reports, books, letters, resumes, flyers and posters, newsletters, stationary, and certificates. Each category includes several templates. For example, the Book category has Blank Book, Basic Photo, Contemporary Novel, Elegant Novel, Personal Novel, Edgy Novel, Simple Novel, Modern Novel, Traditional Novel, Instructional, and Textbook.

Also: How to protect and secure your password manager

The nice thing about the templates is they include basic covers and boilerplate text, such as for the title page, legal information, dedication, and chapters, which makes it easy to write your first novel without the added stress of formatting.

Inclusive export

Apple Pages makes it possible to export your text to numerous formats. By default, the app saves in the proprietary Pages format, but when it's time to export, you can choose from PDF, Word, EPUB, Plain Text, Rich Text Format, Images, and Page '09. The only option you don't have is Open Document Format. For that format, your best bet is to export to Word, open the document in LibreOffice, and then save it as an .odt file.

One thing I can say is that, when exporting to a Word format, I've never had a complaint from an editor about formatting in a document, which speaks highly to Apple Pages' transferability.

Apple's hardware doesn't hurt

Yeah, this reason feels a bit like cheating, but it has to be said. When I'm working on a novel, I prefer doing so away from my desk. When I do that, it's time to break out the Apple Silicon MacBook Pro. There are many reasons why I prefer this laptop for long novel-writing sessions, but it really boils down to size, display, and keyboard. And, sure, I could work on an Apple Pages document from within iCloud, but I'm not a big fan of saving my manuscripts to third-party cloud services. That restriction limits Apple Pages to MacOS and, thanks to the quality of the MacBook and iMac, that's not a bad thing. 

Don't get me wrong, I have a desktop setup that allows me to write with high efficiency. The only time I use Apple Pages is for edits, but that can take almost as long as writing a first draft because we typically do three rounds of edits. So, I do spend a good portion of the process in Pages and I'm certainly not going to be chained to my desk for that process, especially when it requires a higher level of artistry to do so.

And there you have it, my friends: five reasons why Apple Pages is a must-have for my writing process. If you have a Mac, I strongly suggest you add Pages to your workflow. You won't regret it.

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