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     & PAINT




What is Appleworks?

AppleWorks, originally called ClarisWorks, is an office program which was bundled with new Macs from the early 1990s until the move to Intel Macs. It was also available for purchase separately, and was not particularly expensive. It has a number of modules: Word Processing, Draw, Paint, Database, Spreadsheet, and originally a Terminal application (dating back the the pre-internet days when one would log directly into remote computers over the phone line) which was later replaced by a Presentation module.

It's a remarkable piece of programming: a reasonable size, and quite fast, but also very powerful and flexible. Each module stands up well on its own (though the Paint module is now well outdated) but they can also integrate well, allowing you for example to copy fields out from a database into a Word Processing document while retaining text formatting, or copy objects from a Draw document into a Word Processing document.

Unless you need advanced Word Processing capabilities - for example if you are writing a textbook and need footnotes and indexing - the Word Processing module is likely to fill all your needs: you can also add draw objects and pictures to it in a far easier and controlled manner than many other word processors. You can have text boxes (which can be linked to carry the text from one to the next), wrap body text round draw objects, and have multiple columns, headers and footers, spell checking, and word count.

The Draw module is in effect the same as the Word Processing module without the word processing layer: it's possible to do complex magazine-style layouts or involved technical drawings with relative ease.

The Database has an easy to understand graphical format, and can have multiple layouts, field formats including date, number and calculation, and do complex searches.

The Spreadsheet module is not as powerful as Excel, but has a good range of calculation functions: spreadsheet frames can be embedded in Draw or Word Processing documents while retaining calculation abilities.

Why abandon it?

Why would anyone want to abandon such a useful program? It does have a few faults - its display of small font sizes is unsatisfactory as it can't take advantage of OSX font smoothing, and attempts to use Unicode input will crash it; but it's still capable of more than almost any other single program.

However it's a very old piece of programming, originally intended for OS7 and up, and later reworked for OSX. It can't run directly on Intel Macs, and requires Rosetta (in effect a PPC emulator built into OSX). I understand that for technical and practical reasons it was not possible to upgrade the coding: and it has been officially 'end-of-lifed' by Apple for some years now: it's no longer sold by them, nor is it supported. So far it works fine on Snow Leopard on Intel Macs (though a couple of quite minor bugs have emerged): but OSX Lion and later versions do not support Rosetta and so it's impossible to run Appleworks on them. However it's worth emphasising that it's not going to stop working suddenly on its own: it will only happen if you upgrade your System or machine to a version which won't support it.

For people with a long-standing investment in it the prospect of its possible demise is extremely annoying. In some cases it is possible to open Appleworks documents in other programs: but in others it isn't, and it will be necessary to do any conversions before making changes which may disable Appleworks.
 To summarize the position:
  • Word Processing documents can be opened directly in Pages 4 (AppleWorks 6 only) but this is no longer available from Apple - later versions do not open AppleWorks documents. (The older version is contained in the iWork '09 box set which may still be available from Amazon and other independent retailers.) Panergy Software's docXConverter v3.3 ($19.95) can convert Appleworks 5 and 6 Word Processing documents to RTF (though it has been reported that it can only handle documents which contain only text, not those which include images or frames). The latest version of the free LibreOffice has announced that it can open AppleWorks 6 Word Processing documents and an ability to open ClarisWorks documents has been reported: it does appear to be able to handle at least some embedded images.

  • Draw Documents can be opened directly only in EazyDraw (the more expensive version from their website, not the cheaper one from the Mac App Store, and you will need v4.0 'Retro' not the most recent version) or Intaglio (though this appears not to be able to handle very complex drawings). LibreOffice will open simple Draw documents but I found it very unreliable with complex ones.

  • Spreadsheets can be opened directly in the older versions of  Numbers - the new version will not do this. The old version is no longer available from Apple. (Again, the older version is contained in the iWork '09 box set which may still be available from Amazon and other independent retailers.) LibreOffice can open spreadsheets though some adjustment after doing so may be necessary.

  • Presentations can be opened directly only in the older versions Keynote; again, the new version will not do this. The old version is no longer available from Apple. (The older version is contained in the iWork '09 box set which may still be available from Amazon and other independent retailers.)

  • LibreOffice will open at least some Databases in spreadsheet format, though without any formating or calculations. (LibreOffice is now available in the Mac App Store in the Applications folder.)

Otherwise you will need to export documents from AppleWorks for them to be accessible to other programs. Therefore it is important not to wait to migrate your documents until you have made an upgrade which has broken Appleworks.

However, I repeat that this can only happen if you yourself apply an upgrade: AppleWorks will continue to work fine on existing setups.

If you have upgraded to Lion or above and have AppleWorks documents you cannot open, then you should be able to install Snow Leopard on an external hard disk and start from that (provided that the Mac did not come with anything higher than Snow Leopard originally installed). (Snow Leopard doesn't appear in Apple's Search any more but may still be available in the USA and UK.)

Success has been reported in running Snow Leopard Server under emulation in Parallels - the method is described here: Snow Leopard Server may still available in the Apple Store (by telephone: there are reports of its being no longer available though this may vary with location) and is preferable to using ordinary Snow Leopard which is quite tricky. I haven't tried this myself: use at your own discretion. You can then run AppleWorks as an emergency measure.

Subsequent pages in this essay will examine possible alternatives to the various modules in more detail. The next page deals with the Word Processing module.

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Roger Wilmut. This site is not associated with Apple.