A writer is only as good as his or her tools. And when it comes to writing tools, Mac often leads the way. A Macbook is the dream system if your work involves anything to do with graphics and images. It is often the goal for anyone with a creative streak, but Apple Pages isn’t a one-size fit all tool for writers.
As a result, many Mac owners end up using third-party word processors. MS Word in particular is a popular choice. It has long dominated the field of word processors and what they’re good at, which is producing documents.
The expensive licensing fees and the almost annual new versions, bugs, and fixes means a lot of MS Word writers are trapped in a love/hate relationship. Our stories, our writing, our creative results—they’re like our babies.
Better Time for Writers
In recent years the pendulum is swinging. Writers have made an impact on the world, or maybe it’s just that technology and software developers have finally reached beyond a one size fit all approach to software. Distraction-free software and customizing your experience when writing, whether it’s a text editor or a free word processor for Mac, is trending. And since we all know the story of the struggling writer, it doesn’t hurt to cut out those fees either.
So, if you’ve been waiting for the day when you’d have a choice between more than just two or three tools for your writing, or the day that you could cut the purse strings between you and recurring licensing fees, this could be it.
Below are just some of the free word processors for Mac. Pick a couple of these that you like but do some additional in-depth research. Choose the best tool to help you focus on telling your story. You may simply find a better tool to help you release your creative side, or you may find the motivation needed to finally make the big switch from PC to Mac.
Microsoft Word for Mac
Word for Mac is now available. It’s not a free word processor for Mac users, of course, but it’s worth mentioning. So, if you do happen to be an MS Word lover, you can subscribe to Office 365 for a low monthly fee of $9.99 month. Reviewers are raving that MS Word for Mac looks and acts like MS Word for the PC. So, if MS Word is what you’ve been pining for, your wait is over.
For the rest of us, below are some free word processors for Mac that will get the job done for writers:
WPS Writer by Kingsoft
WPS Office by Kingsoft is a free suite of software available for multiple platforms including Windows, iOS, Linux, and Android. Part of the WPS Office 2016 suite is WPS Writer, the word processing component of the Office suite. WPS Writer supports multiple languages in addition to English, including French, Portuguese, Polish, German, and Russian and its mobile apps boast registered users of more than 400 million. It’s free, and you can import and export from a wide range of file formats. However, exported files will include a watermark, and printing is only available to paid subscribers.
LibreOffice Writer is open source software, which means it’s available for Mac OS, Windows, and Linux operating systems. There’s also LibreViewer for Android. LibreOffice Writer supports for over 100 languages. For those who have been using MSWord, you’ll find the interface for MS Word very similar. If you prefer to get a head start, LibreOffice offers a variety of great built-in templates to choose from. One of the things you’ll like about LibreOffice is that it can handle different document types, so you’ll have no trouble at all opening those MS Word files. To learn more about how this stacks up against Word, read our LibreOffice vs MS Word article.
Another pick of free word processors for Mac users is AbiWord. Available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux users, its easy to use interface is one that former WordPerfect users will love. Some users report that the scrolling is not ideal, so it’s probably better suited for keyboard warriors who are used to scrolling using the arrow keys.
You can edit and save in multiple formats including encoded and rich text, Open document, text files and more. Spellchecker is included, and there are easy to install plugins. Support is via email, so it’s not lightning fast. There is an option to hide menus for writers looking for distraction-free writing sessions.
Google Docs is free and cloud-based, so it works well on any system. It’s become a popular option for many small businesses and consultants who need to work collaboratively on documents. Google Docs saves your changes as you type and you can even look at revision history and see who made changes to your document.
As a writer, the biggest draw to Google Docs is the ability to work collaboratively in real-time with someone else, perhaps a co-author, contributor, or even an editor. You can install a Chrome app that lets you open, edit, and save MS Word files. Personally, I could never get past the panic of not knowing for sure that my changes were saved. But if you can be comfortable with never having to save a document again, or if you have a need to work collaboratively in real-time, then Google Docs may be a good fit.
Another free word processor for Mac you may not have heard of is Lyx. It’s available for Windows and Unix/Linux users too, so no one is left out. It’s open source, and you can import and export to other document formats such as HTML, PDF, .doc, and rich text formats. Also, it’s actually a “document” processor rather than a “word” processor. This is mostly down to semantics but it means that Lyx writers can forget about formatting and focus on writing.
There are loads of longer document templates with automatic formatting to help with consistency. If you just want to write without having to figure out things like footnotes, references, or how to do a table of contents, Lyx may work well for your needs.
For the more daring among you, Bean walks the tightrope line between a full-featured word processor for Mac and a bare-bones text editor. It’s free, but there have been some bugs to work out as far as compatibility goes. So, make sure you choose the right download for your OS X system. If you don’t need the formatting capabilities of a word processor but miss the live word counts and other features some text editors don’t have, Bean may be a good fit.
Best Free Word Processors for Mac: Conclusion
In conclusion, I want to be transparent about the fact that I’m not yet a Mac user. I still dream of the day when I’ll have the Moxie to make such a transition. The information above has been provided through researching company websites and Mac user reviews. I did my best to be thorough and provide accurate information. But when it comes to choosing one of these free word processors for Mac, please do your research.