Lightweight alternatives to Apple Pages, Numbers and Keynote

Do you need Apple Pages, Numbers and Keynote? save the disk space and use these lightweight alternatives instead. They will save a gigabyte or more of disk space.

Apple’s office suite - Pages, Numbers and Keynote - are huge apps that are getting bigger with each update. If you have a low end Mac with a small disk, here are lightweight alternatives.

Just how big are these apps getting? Very big!

Pages = 429MB
Numbers = 356MB
Keynote = 684MB

That is just under 1.5GB of software!

Some of the MacBooks currently available from Apple have disks that are just 128GB. Bear in mind that macOS will take a large portion of this and so there isn’t a lot of space left for your software.

Big apps require lots of memory and processing power too. Base specification MacBooks are still quite well specified, but running huge apps while having several other windows open at the same time can be a problem.

All MacBooks now come with 8GB of memory as standard, but it wasn’t always so. If your MacBook is a few years old, it might have just 4GB of RAM. Those big Apple office apps are a problem.

The solution is to use lightweight alternatives that are better suited to MacBooks with low disk space and limited memory. Here are some great alternatives you should consider.

1Doc

This is a free word processing app in the Mac App Store that requires just 8MB of disk space. Surely it cannot be very good when it is 421MB less than Pages!

If your word processing requirements are fairly simple, it is OK. The free version has some limitations, such no images, no printing and some export restrictions. However, there are enough features to create simple documents and letters.

It handles text quite well. It does not have the clever layout features that Pages has, but it does have tables, multiple columns of newspaper style text, bullet styles, headers, footers, line spacing and much more.

It saves to rtfd and Microsoft Word docx files.

1Doc word processor for the Apple Mac

Bean

Bean word processor for macOS is not in the Mac App Store, but can be downloaded from www.bean-osx.com. It is under 7MB installed, which is incredibly small for a modern app, but it is fast and lightweight.

If you don’t need to create complex documents and just write essays, letters, memos and similar things, Bean is fine. It doesn’t come with any templates, but you can create your own.

It has headers and footers, you can insert text and images, and insert tables, links, and more. You can work with multiple documents on tabs and it saves to rtf, rtfd, Microsoft Word doc, PDF and plain text. Multiple columns of text can be printed, although they don’t show in the editor.

Bean cannot compare to Pages, but it is a step up from TextEdit.

Bean word processor for the Apple Mac

Polaris Office

Polaris Office is a free Mac App Store suite of office programs and it mirrors Apple’s office suite, offering Word (word processor), Sheet (spreadsheets) and Slide (presentations). The company claims that 50 million people use it!

Instead of 1.5GB, Polaris Office is just 235MB installed, which is a considerable saving in disk space.

This is a powerful suite of applications and they have a comprehensive range of features. Online storage is included and with the free plan, you get 1GB of online space and a 60MB monthly allowance. It loads and saves files to the Mac’s disk, but the online storage is able to provide real-time collaborative editing, it makes documents viewable and editable on other computers, iPhones and iPads, and there are even more benefits.

Polaris Office word processor for the Apple Mac

All the apps have extensive features and the word processor for example, has drop caps, text boxes, images, headers, footers, shapes, charts, links, bookmarks, columns, horizontal and vertical text directions and more.

The spreadsheet module has all the features most people need such as a wide range of functions, Excel import, pivot tables, a variety of charts, pictures, shapes and more.

Sheet is more like Excel than Numbers, but Apple’s app is a bit different to a traditional spreadsheet application.

Polaris Office spreadsheets for the Apple Mac

Slide, the slideshow creator, is a worthy alternative to Keynote and it has a great range of features. Here are just a few: Insert tables, pictures, shapes, text, charts, video, audio, define headers and footers, add slide transitions, comments, and more.

iCloud.com

If you want to use Apple’s office suite of applications, but don’t want to install 1.5GB of software on your MacBook’s disk, the iCloud website has the three office apps and Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Reminders and, of course, iCloud Drive.

All these apps run in a browser window and so they don’t require any disk space at all. When they are running, they use no more memory than a typical web page. This makes it perfect for low specification MacBooks.

Not every feature is in the web-based apps, but it is surprising how good apps running in Safari or Chrome can be. Complex documents can be created, spreadsheets with charts and formulas, attractive slideshows can be created and so on.

iCloud online office suite from Apple

If you are desperate for disk space on your Mac and your documents, spreadsheets and slideshows are not that complicated, copy the files to iCloud if they are not already there, and delete the apps (they can be reinstalled if you change your mind). Use iCloud in a browser instead.

Other alternatives

I have not included LibreOffice, which is excellent and has an impressive range of features, but it isn't exactly a lightweight app. It is a 312MB download and is probably double that when installed. Some disk savings can be made, but not enough.

Google Docs is a fine office suite and it provides online storage, word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, forms and drawings. I switched from Microsoft Office to Google Docs more than two years ago and use it for all my office work. It runs in a browser and Safari is fine, but Chrome is the natural choice for Google Docs users.

Microsoft Office web apps at the onedrive.com website are excellent and are like cur down versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, plus lots of other apps too. They are excellent and, of course, enable you to work natively with Office files. If you regularly exchange Word, Excel and PowerPoint files with people, it is well worth it. Everything runs in a browser and no disk space is used, and little memory beyond a normal browser tab.

 

 

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