Software

3 tips to maximize Apple's free Pages word processing app

Pages, Apple's alternative to Microsoft Word, is deceptively simple. Here are three ways to get the most of Apple's free word processing app, including a Pages cheat sheet.

Apple's Pages is a free word processing tool whose iCloud integration and numerous features make it a worthy replacement for Microsoft Word, which would reduce your office's tech expenses. If you're new to Pages or you're considering replacing your office's Word dependency with Pages, here are three keys to maximizing your usage of Pages.

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1. Run with the basics of Apple Pages

Pages is a deceptively powerful word processing program. Load Pages and the first thing you'll notice is the user interface is strikingly clean. While the app appears simple, due to the lack of repetitive rows of icons and a dizzying array of options, it can fulfill most offices' word processing needs (Figure A).

Figure A

apple-pages-word-processing.jpg
Image: Apple Inc.

The trick is knowing where commonly used functions are in Pages, as most users are understandably familiar with those functions' locations within Microsoft Word. Get up to speed on basic operations in Pages using this quick cheat sheet.

  • Change font attributes: Change fonts, font sizes, and styles by clicking the Format icon or highlighting the text you wish to change and confirming the Format icon is selected, which ensures the formatting Inspector menu appears on the program's right side. Alternatively, you can click Format from the top menu and select Font.
  • Adjust text alignment: As with changing font attributes, ensure you click the Format icon or select the text to adjust and click the Format icon to display the formatting window, which also lists text alignment options. Alternatively, you can click Format from the top menu and select Text.
  • Use bullets and lists: Add bullets and lists using the Format toolbar, which appears to the right of the screen whenever you click the Format icon.
  • Insert a table: Insert a table by clicking the Table icon that appears at the top of the Pages app. Alternatively, you can click Insert on the top menu and select Table.
  • Insert charts: Insert a chart by clicking the Chart icon that appears at the top of the Pages app. Alternatively, you can click Insert on the top menu and select Chart.
  • Perform common cut-and-paste actions: While toolbar icons don't appear for cutting-and-pasting text, right-click a document to display the corresponding pop-up menu or click Edit from the app menu and select the corresponding action.
  • Display word count: Display a document's word count by clicking View from the program menu and selecting Show Word Count.
  • Adjust the view: Customize Pages view options by clicking the Zoom drop-down box that appears at the top of the app or clicking the View drop-down icon next to it to display and select document viewing options.
  • Adjust page size: Perform common page configurations, such as specifying portrait or landscape printing, by displaying the corresponding Inspector tools on the app's right side by clicking the Document icon (adjacent to the Format icon) at the app's top right corner. Configure paper size, orientation, margins, header and footer settings, and other common document properties using the provided settings.
  • Insert page numbers: Click Insert and select Page Number. You can also specify a "page four of five" configuration by clicking Insert and selecting Page Count in the location where you wish the total page count to appear within the document.

SEE: Forget Microsoft and Google, Apple's next tech arch-enemy is Amazon (ZDNet)

2. Leverage Apple Pages' compatibility with Microsoft Word

Apple Pages is compatible with Microsoft Word. If you're creating documents in collaboration with Word users, or if you're sending your Pages file to a Microsoft Word user, you can save the Pages files as a Word document or export the Pages file as a Word document to ensure no issues arise.

Read step-by-step instructions for saving a Pages file in Microsoft Word's format in my TechRepublic article How to convert an iWork Pages file to Microsoft Word format.

While most document elements translate very well between both platforms, there are limitations; for example, some complex charts are imported differently by Pages when opening Word docs within the Apple program. See Apple's complete list of Word-to-Pages compatibility features and benefits.

SEE: Tech budgets 2018: A CXO's guide (PDF download) (ZDNet/TechRepublic special report)

3. Tap iCloud integration features

Apple integrates all iWork applications, including Pages, within iCloud. iCloud users will find separate directories created by default for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote files.

When creating new Pages files, at least until you specify a different directory (on macOS, Pages remembers the last directory in which you saved a file), Pages tries to store the file within the Pages iCloud directory—this is true on iOS devices as well as Macs.

At first I found the behavior slightly aggravating, as I use numerous directories to store personal, business, volunteer, and other files. But as I've increasingly become dependent upon cloud services, including iCloud, to share, view, edit, and access Pages documents on multiple devices, including iPhones, iPads, and numerous Macs and even Windows devices, automatically storing my Pages documents within the iCloud Pages directory has proven helpful and saved time. So, I've learned to quit swimming upstream and take advantage of the efficiency the automatic integration provides—the odds are you will, too.

More tips about Apple Pages

After you master the basics of Apple's Pages, be sure to extend your Pages expertise by using pre-formatted templates, comments and change tracking and built-in charts.

Also see

pageshero.jpg
Image: Apple Inc.

About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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