Pages for OS X is a beautiful word processor that has a ton of features, but lacks many common attributes that make Microsoft Word so familiar and easy to use.
I hope to not sound biased, but after so many years on Microsoft Word, Pages just feels so much less intuitive to use than Word does.
Pages is a great program for basic text input. The interface is very simplistic and easy to use for the most part and the full screen mode is one of the best features of a word processor I have every seen. The full screen mode creates just as I described – a full screen mode that has the page in the center with black bars along the side (depending on how much zoom you have on the document. The taskbar is available by taking your mouse to the top of the screen, along with the basic formatting tools that are available for Pages such as bold, underline, and italics.
Pages also does a great job with presenting text. The text just looks so good in Pages compared to Word for some reason and the layout options and templates are stunning.
Pages and the whole iWorks suite really beats Microsoft Office’s use of charts and graphics. In the iWorks suite everything just looks so much more refined and well done when it comes to those things, so for chart junkies, Pages is the way to go.
Sadly Pages falls short in many areas. First, since the interface is so simple, the application lacks some functionality and ease of use. For example, although the Word interface is crowded and always growing – you can easily access most common things without going to a menu. In Pages, you must have the Inspector up and click between the different menus there to get even the most basic things done (like bullets).
The worst part of Pages is that it doesn’t work great with native Word documents. Today there is one major word format (well two, but let’s not go there, .docx), and thus everyone has to play by Microsoft’s rules. Pages will load most Word documents fine (not .docx) but many times, formatting and alignment get messed up, as well as missing fonts, and other problems that can be a huge hassle.
Pages is a great, cheap, alternative for Word on a Mac, but it does fall short in many regards, serious writers are going to be frustrated by the flaws and will revert back to Word fairly soon after the transition. For others (like me) who mainly use a word processor to post to the internet, Pages is a great choice, but flexibility is not its greatest asset.