Comments About Open Office (Aqua)?

In my never ending quest to get rid of all vestiges of Microsoft from my computer, someone recently pointed me to Open Office. So I downloaded it last night (150+ mb). If you have an updated version of OS X (Mac) then you need the Aqua edition rather than the X11 edition (which wasn’t completely clear at first). 

So far It seems to open my Word and Excel files. I haven’t done much with it but I have to write an essay or two this month so I’m going to give it a spin. They say that the Aqua version is “not for production.” Does that mean ” Don’t use this to try to actually do anything” or does “production” stand for something else? 

I would be grateful for your wisdom on this. Can I really abandon Word? Is it really possible to delete MS Office (even though I paid $400 for it! Aaarrgghh! less than a year ago)? Be still my beating heart.

Oh yes, this is fun.

UPDATE 7 July 08. OpOffice has begun crashing regularly. Had to bail out and go back to Word. Next stop neo office?

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. I have Macs since 1984 and have a completely Microsoft-free system for several years. I used Microsoft Word since version one on the Mac and I made the MS-free system once I moved to Mac OS X. I use Pages for most of my work but have OpenOffice 3 (current beta) and also NeoOffice. NeoOffice is based on the OpenOffice 2 with Java making the windowing system rather than the X11 windowing server.

    OpenOffice 3 has not given me any problems. One item that needs ironing out is slow scroll on larger documents. I never liked the MS Word menu layout and interface and for what I do Pages works well. My daughter (will be in your class this fall) uses NeoOffice and Pages for all her papers (and is on a MS-free system as well.) Feel free to email me question you may have…

  2. Hi Vaclav,

    Thanks for the leads. I’m new to Open Office etc so this is very helpful. Do you prefer neo-office to open office?

    I have thought about pages too but having spent so much money on MS Office for the Mac I’m reluctant to spend any more.

    I look forward to meeting your daughter and learning more about Neo-office.

  3. Hi Scott.

    NeoOffice tends to be very slow. And other than being free neither OpenOffice or NeoOffice have any advantage over MS Office. If cost is the only consideration they will do fine, but if you’re willing to try out something different, try Mellel from

    Mellel is different enough from MS Office (or anything else trying to replace it) that it takes some getting used to, but has some strengths like great handling of mixed languages in the same document, great outlining, and etc. The developers respond well to user questions and comments, too. Their online forum is very helpful as well. You will find a lot of people on their forum who write SBL type papers.

    Ken Han

  4. I do like Pages a lot for what I do. I used NeoOffice for a few years and it came a long way. It looks like a Mac program now and not like MS Windows 95 but when I tried OpenOffice 3 it clearly is my second choice after Pages. The reason I have them all is for translating from MS Word as I do get a lot of MS Word documents and Pages does a good job translating them except that 2% of documents then I try OpenOffice or NeoOffice which will do a better translation of some documents than Pages. I used Mellel and Nisus Writer after moving to Mac OS X. I liked Nisus a lot and it did a great job in reading MS Word files but the developers were slow to make a full-features product at that time and so I went to the NeoOffice and then to Pages.

    Clearly, it depends on your personal needs what will work best for you…How you are tied to the MS user interface, etc. Pages works well for me and the way I work and I also use the Keynote and Numbers from iWork on a daily basis. If you are used to use many of the MS Word features and are fluent where to find most of them OpenOffice will work for you as it has been made to follow MS Word usage and layout.

  5. I have used Open Office for quite some time now, and I really like it, not least because the code is so sleek that it hardly takes up any space at all compared to Microsoft’s apps. Occasionally there will be a wierd blip, but nothing to be concerned about. It will open any document, and you can save documents in almost any format you want.

  6. Heh, I survived seminary with Appleworks (ancient precursor of iWork). Maybe one day I’ll move to Pages. Especially since I can get it at half cost here. Does anyone know how iWork compares with Appleworks?

    I used to like Framemaker for more high powered stuff, but Adobe never released a version that will run on OSX. Then I used LaTeX, but that’s probably not so useful outside of scientific writing.

    I have M$ office on my computer but find that I never use it unless forced to (which unfortunately sometimes still happens). I use a miniscule fraction of their features and spend way too much time trying figure out how to turn the rest of them off. What it comes down to is what program is good enough for you. I haven’t tried Open Office yet because I haven’t had to do anything so far that I couldn’t do on Appleworks. I’d be careful with the open source stuff, especially after each new release/update (save early, save often, keep a backup of bug-free old versions of your files). But if you try Open Office or Neo Office and find it less annoying than MS Office, then go for it.

  7. Dr. Clark, when I was using Windows I used OpenOffice, mainly for spreadsheets. Now that I’m on a Mac, I use NeoOffice. I think their both great. I’m able to save in any format including pdf.

    Noticed no one mentioned yet, so there it is : )

  8. So far OO (on WinXP) has put me through seminary (i.e. notes, papers, and a spreadsheet or two) just fine. I really like the plugin-feature which integrates OO with GoogleDocs as well.

  9. Then I used LaTeX, but that’s probably not so useful outside of scientific writing.

    I know around here we like our two kingdoms, but LaTeX is clear evidence that Christians write the best software. But you’re right, it’s not for everyone. It’s not that it’s just for science/math; it’s that it’s less of a word processing system, and more of a typography system (like Framemaker).

    As an engineer I’m used to OpenOffice on PC/Linux and Sun/Solaris setups. For your purposes OpenOffice will do just fine. Don’t throw away that Office CD though — you did pay good money for it, and you still might run into the odd MS document with advanced features (spreadsheet graphs/charts, powerpoint animations, ???) that needs the real deal.

  10. RR,

    I wouldn’t throw away the CD. I still have windows CDs that I can’t/won’t use anymore. (I could run windows on my Mac, but I refuse).

    You think that I could maybe delete MS ofc from my hd?

  11. I’d consider for MS ofc a rule of thumb like I’ve heard for clothes; if you don’t use it in 6 months, get rid of it. But are you really that starved for disk space?

  12. Well, my 80gb HD is getting a little full. I do need some space. Good rule of thumb. I have to write 2-3 essays this month so I’ll find out how OO works.

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