Technical notes index


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     & PAINT





Though not having the power of Excel, the industry standard, the spreadsheet module in Appleworks is reasonably powerful, with a good range of calculation functions. If you simply copy the contents of your sheet and paste it into another program such as Excel you will lose all calculations - calculation fields will show the current result only, so you would have to set up all the calculations again, but you will have better success by exporting to Excel format (see below). The free Office programs OpenOffice.org, its close relation NeoOffice, and a more recent version LibreOffice, all have Spreadsheet modules with a reasonable range of functions. There are two useful spreadsheet programs, Tables and Mesa, which have more limited functionality but are easy to use and suitable for all but the more complex requirements. All of these work with Snow Leopard and later.

Of these, only LibreOffice will open AppleWorks spreadsheets directly (some adjustments may be necessary after doing to. Only the older versions of Apple's 'Numbers' will open AppleWorks spreadsheets directly, including calculations and headers and footers. It has slightly fewer calculation functions,  so if you are using any of the more obscure functions they may not work. The calculation syntax is similar to AppleWorks, and functions can be inserted from a list.

However Numbers has now been updated to v3.6 - Yosemite required - and this does not open AppleWorks spreadsheets. The older version is no longer available from Apple (it may be possible to find the boxed iWork set in independent retailers or Ebay) and v3 has lost a number of important features, effectively crippling it.

It is, however, possible to 'Save As' from AppleWorks spreadsheets in a variety of Excel formats, the most suitable probably being 'Excel Win 97, 2000, XP 2002 spr' (Maclink Plus - usually bundled - required). Tables, Mesa and LibreOffice will all import this together with the calculation fields intact (apart from one or two more esoteric functions which are not supported) though some formatting won't make the transfer. Of these, Tables and Mesa are attractive and easy to use but fairly limited. LibreOffice is quite powerful though stability may be an issue. Excel would be an obvious choice (if anything it's too powerful) but is only available as part of the Microsoft Office suite and is very expensive (and may only be installed on one computer per purchase at the lowest price option).


The presentation module in AppleWorks was very limited, and probably not many people were using it. The 'Keynote' module of the older version of iWork can open AppleWorks presentation files directly (and with the advantage of running them without resetting the monitor resolution the way AppleWorks does, upsetting your Desktop layout in the process).The new version, v6, requiring Yosemite, does not open AppleWorks files and has lost various functions.


AppleWorks' Paint module is stuck firmly in the distant past, designed to work at 72 dpi (the original printer standard) though it will handle higher resolutions. Though nothing else can open these documents it's easy to save them as PICTs, whereupon they can be opened in any other pixel-based program such as GraphicConverter or Photoshop. The latter in particular, even in the cheaper Elements version, allows multiple layers so that individual items can be selected and edited - something not available in AppleWorks, where the whole document is one layer and individual objects can't be separately selected.

There is also a free open-source program called GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program): older versions required you to install the X11 Windowing Layer (from the 'Optional Installs' installed on your installer disk if it's not been installed by default) but this is no longer necessary; some of its behaviour is not very Mac-like.

The next page deals with the Database module.

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Roger Wilmut. This site is not associated with Apple.