The Mac platform offers many tools for note-taking, cataloging, number-crunching, editing documents, desktop publishing tools, spreadsheets, presentation packages, and more. This article aims to give you a short overview of applications and widgets suitable for your Mac, which will help you stay organized, manage contacts, calendars, texts, and more.
An office suite is a set of applications which have been designed for work-related tasks. These applications include a word processor for writing and editing text, and a spreadsheet for manipulating numbers. Suites often add a program for preparing and delivering presentations, a database app, as well as email, a calendar, and organizing tools. The various components of an office suite typically share the same look and feel, and a degree of functional integration.
Many Macs ship with Apple’s own office suite, AppleWorks, which seems likely to be replaced soon by the newer iWork.
There’s also Microsoft Office, as well as various other freebies, such as OpenOffice.
Not all users need an office suite. However, every Mac comes with iCal and Address Book for scheduling, Mail for email, and TextEdit, which is a good word processor, capable of handling images and tables and offering detailed font control. TextEdit can save (and in many cases open) documents in the Microsoft Word format.
Microsoft Office is by far the world’s most widely used office suite. It is so popular, in fact, hat familiarity with its components, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook (known as Entourage on the Mac), are prerequisites in many fields of employment today. Microsoft is a powerful tool equipped with features that can infuriate users. However, if you want to be able to open office documents, or be proficient at using the applications found in practically every office, this suite is essential. For occasional letters or essays, you can just use TextEdit that comes with your Mac, as by purchasing Microsoft Office, you’ll be paying for functionalities that you’ll never use..
iWork consists of a series of applications. Pages is a word-processing and layout tool, which is particularly good for creating nice-looking letters, newsletters, etc. In fact, it’s a rather stripped-back version of Microsoft Word, but it comes with a wide range of usable templates. Keynote is an equivalent of PowerPoint, and again it lacks in features, but it is easy to use. Numbers is a spreadsheet app, which completes the package.
OpenOffice & NeoOffice
OpenOffice is a powerful, completely free office suite created by open-source programmers around the world. This program doesn’t have quite as many features as Microsoft Office, but it’s quickly catching up. In many ways, OpenOffice is easier to use. The enhanced version of OpenOffice was marketed under the brand of StarOffice, which was available for Mac and PC.
Another version of OpenOffice is known as NeoOffice, which is marketed by Apple. It also has word processing capabilities, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawing programs. NeoOffice can open and save many kinds of formats, including those of Microsoft Office.
How to Publish and Design
If you have the right software, creating newsletters, cards, pamphlets, and simple magazines isn’t too difficult on your Mac. If, for example, you want to print greeting cards, bearing your own photographs, just select an image in iPhoto, click Print, and use the Greeting Cards presets in the Style dropdown. For anything combining text and pictures, you’ll need a word processor or desktop publishing package (DTP for short). For simple tasks, OS X’s built-in TextEdit app will be more than enough, as it lets you paste pictures and add text. But for more difficult tasks, Microsoft Word provides much more flexibility, though it’s far from ideal as a page-layout program. For foolproof, professional-looking results, you can try Apple’s Pages, which comes with scores of template sets, from personal resumés, to non-profit newsletters.
TThere are many tools online to help you create the specific type of layout and design that you are looking for – from business-style reports with slick-looking tables and charts, to the most sophisticated models.
For example, if you prefer to avoid using software all together, you could opt for a set of web-based tools. Google Docs is free to use and allows you to share spreadsheets and other documents with users. You can even work together on the same docs at the same time.
Notes and Journals
Note-taking and journaling don’t have to be confined to the Dashboard. OS X comes with a Stickies widget for scribbling notes and ideas. However, its functionalities are limited, as you can’t fit much text on each note. Also, if you create many notes, they will quickly clutter your Dashboard. You can instead try Notepad Widget, which will allow you to add multiple sheets on one pad, or WikityWidget, a wiki-based tool that automatically creates hypertext links. You can also investigate some standalone apps. Some of them are great for creating logs of text and images.
Money and Business
Many personal finance tools are available for Mac OS X, including Quicken, a powerful package that has been popular for years. There are also many free alternatives which let you keep accounts, import Quicken data, create useful graphs, and much more. In fact, there are loads of Dashboard widgets specifically aimed at business users, and many are little more than corporate-looking notepads. There are also real-time currency converters, stock trackers, and more.
If you run a small business, or you’re thinking of starting one, you can look online to see whether there’s any software related to your specific industry. You’ll find specialist tools for managing everything from dance schools to medical centers’ billing and invoicing, as well as project management tools, and more.
Note that many functions of iWork or Microsoft Office, though designed primarily for business use, can be used for cataloging anything from film collections to recipes. Before you start creating a catalog, search the Web to see whether there’s a specialist option for whatever you’re trying to achieve, as many companies provide tools which help you catalog your documents with stylish interface. Some of these programs can be very useful, for example, the software designed for wine-lovers can help users manage the contents of their cellar, and even provide tasting notes! As another example, you can enter an ISBN in a cataloging tool for book collectors, and the app will grab the rest of the data from the Internet.
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