Bye bye Microsoft Word

I’ve been using Word on the Mac for a long time, but since Office 2008 I’ve encountered an extremely annoying problem: documents get corrupted. It doesn’t happen very often, and it appears to be connected to the Send File button: when I send a file by email, Word does something to the document that means it can’t be opened: it’s not a valid file any more. It won’t work in Word for the Mac, Word on PC, any Office clones or anything else. It’s a dead file.

It’s annoying, but it’s not the end of the world: I can retrieve the emailed copy from my Sent email folder and resurrect it.

Still, it’s annoying enough that I was ready to buy the New! Improved! Microsoft Office for Mac to stop it happening again.

Unfortunately the problem hasn’t gone away in the new version; it’s got worse. Yesterday I was working across eight Word documents. Nothing fancy, just plain text. Several thousand words in all. And Word corrupted six of them beyond repair (I don’t have Time Machine running at the moment so I couldn’t roll back time, unfortunately). The files couldn’t be moved, or copied, or emailed, or anything. They were completely and utterly screwed.

It’s a known problem, it seems, and it *may* have something to do with unusual characters in filenames or folder paths. However, my documents didn’t have unusual characters in filenames or folder paths, and no other program on my Mac does this. Just Word.

I like Word, but I can’t have the electronic equivalent of a family dog that mauls the kids. So it’s off to Pages I go.

12 thoughts on “Bye bye Microsoft Word

  1. Rhian says:

    Is Pages any good? I’ve been using NeoOffice on my new Mac while saving for Word, but am actually getting on pretty well with it and reconsidering the upgrade. (though it doesn’t give you a live word count, you have to go through the menu which is pretty annoying)

  2. Gary says:

    It’s got a live word count, which immediately gives it a gold star :) Yeah, it’s quite nice. Once you’ve mucked about with the styles and changed them to the default template it’s a nice working environment. Much nicer than neooffice IMO.

    I think it depends on what you want to do. 99% of what I do is plaintext with the odd bit of formatting, so minimalist is good; I’m a bit of a geek about how text looks on screen and I like the way Pages renders Helvetica :)

    For big projects I’d probably use Scrivener for its organising features; if Word compatibility didn’t matter I’d use Writeroom. But for now I think Pages is the one for me.

    Apple does a 30-day trial of iWork btw – and if you like Pages you can buy it via the App Store for twelve quid.

  3. Ronnie says:

    What about Open Office? I actually use MS Office on my Mac (not noticed the same problems) because of a licensing agreement with my workplace. Before I knew about this, I used Open Office and was pretty happy with it.

  4. Gary says:

    I really don’t like the openoffice UI. When you spend as long as I do staring at a word processor, it can’t be ugly :)

  5. Squander Two says:

    Neooffice is basically Openoffice that doesn’t look shit, isn’t it? It’s OK. Openoffice for Mac was utterly awful last time I tried it.

    I really like Scrivener.

  6. G24 says:

    I mostly use Pages now, there’s a lot to like about it. OpenOffice is useful for those rare occasions when a bit if extra MS compatibility is needed, tho it is an ugly clone of some ugly software.

    For text entry with basic formatting I’m using Google Docs increasingly since last year’s ‘engine rewrite’ made it usable. Revisions, collaboration, cloud storage, etc making a difference, more than I expected.

  7. Gary says:

    I can’t bring myself to rely on a cloud thing for work. Completely irrational, I know – especially when I use dropbox so much.

    Some Pages stuff is just wilfully perverse though. Not being able to customise the toolbar properly is very annoying.

  8. Ben says:

    I’m using Google Docs more and more. It’s great to quickly share text with other people, rather than “Oh I can’t open .docx/it’s corrupted/I don’t have Word..”

    We used Mac Word at college, and I saw more corrupted or screwed up documents in that year than I’ve ever seen on a PC.

  9. Squander Two says:

    I bet you’re younger than me. I used Mac Word at university from 92 to 96, and it was one of the best apps I’ve ever used. It’s shite now. Every upgrade is a downgrade.

  10. Gary says:

    Hey, if anyone cares, after a couple of weeks running Pages I haven’t lost a single document (and I’ve written a *lot* this month). Lack of customisable toolbar annoys me but otherwise it’s a nice writing environment. Full screen mode is good. I think I’ll make this move permanent.

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