Words Program for Mac: If you’re looking for a free version of Microsoft Word on your Mac, there are some good options and some bad ones. We show which are the ones to choose
Following ‘How to get Word for free videos’ on YouTube
It takes about 30 seconds to find videos on YouTube that will show you how to download, install and get Word (plus all the other MS Office software) up and running on your Mac for nothing.
These might look enticing, but the truth is that all the ones we’ve investigated require some sort of serial code-cracking program to be bought and downloaded to your machine. While this might seem like a victimless crime to some – Microsoft are a multi-billion-dollar company while the user is just a single person with no money – the real victim is most likely to be you.
It’s true that some hackers are benevolent, wanting only to free the information so that anyone can use it, but sadly others are most definitely not. Downloading and installing things like this on your Mac is one of the easiest ways to contract malware or spyware software that can cause havoc with your data. That’s aside from the fact that you’re contravening copyright, which is rather naughty.
Our advice would be to keep well away from these ‘free’ routes to Word.
Have you tried Microsoft Office Online?
If your needs are simple, then the free online version of Microsoft Word is the best option. You’ll need to create a free Microsoft account, but after that you’ll have access to a stripped-down version of the word processor that supports Word document formatting and can create, edit, and save new or existing files.
The one major restriction is that Word Online, as the name suggests, is only available via your browser when you have an internet connection. It’s not going to be something you’ll use for heavyweight documents, but for resumes, smaller projects, letters, reports and other basic documents it could well be a very useful tool.
Get a free month of Office365
Those who only need to use Word for a short period – maybe to work on a project – have the option to sign up for a month’s free trial of the full Office365 suite, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and OneDrive.
These are all the most up-to-date versions of the software which normally costs £79.99/$99.99 per year for the Home version that entitles users to share the apps with up to six people or £59.99/$69.99 for the Personal tier which supports a single person.
These are both also available on monthly subscriptions costing, respectively, £7.99/$9.99 or £5.99/$6.99. Alternatively, you can make a one-off purchase for the Personal suite for £119.99/$149.99.
Free alternatives to Microsoft Word
Unless you specifically need Microsoft Word, you’ll find that there are plenty of great word processors out there that won’t cost you a penny. Any new Mac will come with a free copy of Apple’s Pages software, which is a hugely powerful tool for creating and editing documents, and also works well with its iOS/iPadOS counterpart app.
Google Docs is a perennial favourite as the web-based software is free and easy to use. You won’t find incredibly advanced features like those on the full-blown Microsoft Word, but for most people it’s all they’ll ever need.
LibreOffice Writer is another one that’s always worth checking out. The open-source software is completely free and yet offers a complete solution for those who want the functionality of MS Word. Yes, it’s not quite the smooth and aesthetically pleasing experience of its inspiration, but you can get so much done on Writer that you won’t care.
Remember that the iPad version of Microsoft Word is free
It’s worth considering that you can get MS Word for free on your iPad or iPhone. While the latter can be something of a challenge due to the screen size, iPads are an excellent option if you have a Bluetooth keyboard.
Word Processing on Your Mac
Some of us are old enough to recall life before word processors. (It wasn’t that long ago.) Consider this sentence:
How did we survive in the days before every last one of us had access to word processors and computers on our respective desks?
That’s not a great sentence — it’s kind of wordy and repetitious. The following sentence is much more concise:
It’s hard to imagine how any of us got along without word processors.
The purpose of this mini-editing exercise is to illustrate the splendor of word processing. Had you produced these sentences on a typewriter instead of a computer, changing even a few words would hardly seem worth it. You would have to use correction fluid to erase your previous comments and type over them. If things got really messy, or if you wanted to take your writing in a different direction, you would end up yanking the sheet of paper from the typewriter in disgust and begin pecking away anew on a blank page.
Word processing lets you substitute words at will, move entire blocks of text around with panache, and apply different fonts and typefaces to the characters. You won’t even take a productivity hit swapping typewriter ribbons in the middle of a project.
Before running out to buy Microsoft Word (or another industrial-strength and expensive) word processing program for your Mac, remember that Apple includes a respectable word processor with OS X. The program is TextEdit, and it call s the Applications folder home.
The first order of business when using TextEdit (or pretty much any word processor) is to create a new document. There’s really not much to it. It’s about as easy as opening the program itself. The moment you do so, a window with a large blank area on which to type appears.
Have a look around the window. At the top, you see Untitled because no one at Apple is presumptuous enough to come up with a name for your yet-to-be-produced manuscript.
Notice the blinking vertical line at the upper-left edge of the screen, just below the ruler. That line, called the insertion point, might as well be tapping out Morse code for “start typing here.”
Indeed, you have come to the most challenging point in the entire word processing experience, and it has nothing to do with technology. The burden is on you to produce clever, witty, and inventive prose, lest all that blank space go to waste.
Okay, got it? At the blinking insertion point, type with abandon. Type something original like this:
It was a dark and stormy night
If you typed too quickly, you may have accidentally produced this:
It was a drk and stormy nihgt
Use one of the following options instead:
- Use the left-facing arrow key (found on the lower-right side of the keyboard) to move the insertion point to the spot just to the right of the word you want to deep-six. No characters are eliminated when you move the insertion point that way. Only when the insertion point is where it ought to be do you again hire your reliable keyboard hit-man, Delete.
- Eschew the keyboard and click with the mouse to reach this same spot to the right of the misspelled word. Then press Delete.
Now try this helpful remedy. Right-click anywhere on the misspelled word. A list appears with suggestions. Single-click the correct word and, voilà, TextEdit instantly replaces the mistake. Be careful in this example not to choose dork.
Fortunately, your amiable word processor has your best interests at heart. See the dotted red line below drk and nihgt? That’s TextEdit’s not-so-subtle way of flagging a likely typo. (This presumes that you’ve left the default Check Spelling as You Type activated in TextEdit Preferences.)
You can address these snafus in several ways. You can use the computer’s Delete key to wipe out all the letters to the left of the insertion point. (Delete functions like the backspace key on the Smith Coronayou put out to pasture years ago.) After the misspelled word has been quietly sent to Siberia, you can type over the space more carefully. All traces of your sloppiness disappear.
Delete is a wonderfully handy key. You can use it to eliminate a single word such as nihgt. But in this little case study, you have to repair drk too. And using Delete to erase drk means sacrificing and and stormy as well. That’s a bit of overkill.