ozarque (ozarque) wrote,

This journal has been placed in memorial status. New entries cannot be posted to it.

Thursday; computer troubles...

One of the things that happened when we moved was the discovery that there was no way my antique Macintosh could be made to work in our new apartment. Which means that I now have an iMac with many bells and whistles. That's good -- except when it gets in the way of getting my work done.

I've always written everything in MacWrite Pro and then used a utility program to translate the end result into a format my publishers would be satisfied with. I loved MacWrite Pro; I had it on automatic. Now, to my dismay, I'm stuck with writing in Word, and in spite of a stack of books alleged to explain how that's done, I am constantly at a loss. I don't know how to do headers or footers, I don't know how to make the cursed program paginate, I don't know how to italicize or underline ... I'm pretty helpless. And when I turn to the books that are supposed to be so encyclopedic, they don't tell me one useful thing.

This is seriously interfering with getting my new novel written, which makes it nontrivial. I can't afford the time I'm losing.

Any suggestions?
Tags: computers
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →
I can't manage specifics but autopope is the chap to ask.


January 20 2011, 22:28:27 UTC 9 years ago Edited:  January 20 2011, 22:31:11 UTC

I'd say there are three options:

1. OpenOffice/NeoOffice/LibreOffice -- three forks of the OpenOffice open source office suite. Probably not suitable because it's too damn similar to Microsoft Office circa 2003. Pluses: it's free.

2. Apple's Pages program. It's cheap (available from the Mac App Store for about $15) and looks like a solid, fairly full-featured word processor that is firmly Mac-centric and has some page layout capabilities. Can read and write Word documents, but not MacWrite Pro -- for that, you'll need a copy of something like MacLink Plus (a file conversion tool). NB: Pages is the replacement for the word processor in AppleWorks, itself descended from ClarisWorks, which absorbed MacWrite a very long time ago (in computing years).

3. This is not a word processor, but a novel writing toolkit: Scrivener. I'm using it, and so are a bunch of other novelists; it's rather hard to describe what it does, but it combines corkboard/index card views with an outline processor and a word processor and a system for organizing your research, and it's rather amazing. If you've got to learn a new tool for writing with, then it might be better to make the leap to a tool designed for writing novels (rather than a word processor like Word, OpenOffice, or Pages which is primarily aimed at office workers or folks designing flyers for a car boot sale).

even more alternatives


9 years ago


9 years ago


9 years ago

Well... can you hire (or, maybe, just ask) someone to tutor you? And, can you do your tasks in MacWrite, so you can show someone what you need to do, and have that person walk you through the same tasks in Word a few times?

Or, maybe they can make macros or templates
(or, if you'd prefer "Maybe they can do some magic")
... so that you can have buttons to press to bring up windows to do the things you need?

For me, I think I'd need to either drill the new way to do it, over and over (wasting time now, but saving frustration in the long run), or have it done as macros and templates ("magic") so I could just click the button, type in the box, and click "save" (or close). But we all learn new things differently - I don't know if that would work for you.
MacWrite doesn't run under OSX. At all. It's about fifteen years old.

And Microsoft Word 2011 is really horrible for a Mac user -- it just doesn't work quite like anything else!

Finally? Cost per hour of hiring a tutor exceeds the cost of a new piece of word processing software after a very short period of time.


9 years ago


9 years ago


9 years ago


9 years ago

I've found successive versions of Word increasingly irritating and tricksy to use. I stick with Word 2003, which does the few, simple, basic things I want it to do, without fuss or being too clever.
Tricksy is a great word for it. I also stick with Word 2003. :)
I could come over there and help you . . . but everyone's snowed in and I have SO much that I gotta do every day just to keep Casa el Dumpo and its denizens running.

OK. Deep breath. To force a page break (which is what I think you mean--Word automagically paginates and repaginates), just finish up the last sentence on the page you want to end, do a carriage return, and then do a SHIFT-ENTER. This will make a forced page break.

Headers and footers, at least in Word 97 (I have forcibly resisted going to a higher Word because I only need what this one can do and no more--none of that other stuff is useful to me), are on the "View" menu. View headers/footers and then you can type what you want as a header/footer into the line and format it.

Underlining and italicizing should be easy from the Styles and Formatting toolbar where there will be icons for italics and underlining. You'll highlight the text you want to change and then click that icon. If you can't get the formatting toolbar turned on, you can do it the hard way through changing the font menu: under the FORMAT menu drop-down, the first choice is Font, and then you'll get a dialogue box asking you to check "bold" or "underlined" or "hidden text" or whatever you want to do with the font.

Word is daunting at first, but if you ignore all the junk that novelists don't need (all the desktop publishing junk and pasting in photos/graphs junk), you can get a lot of work done with it. There must be a "Microsoft Word for Dummies" book that's out, and these books aren't really for "dummies" at all--they are generally at a fairly good level. It would be worth getting that book and seeing what you could learn from it, I'll bet.

Anyway . . . good luck with it. It's always so painful for me to change programs!!

Pobrecita!! ("Bless your heart!")
Even easier: for existing text, highlight then control-i to turn on italics, control-i again to end italic.

OR: for new text control-I, type what you want, then control-I again to toggle off.

Control-b for bold, control-u to underline.

This assuming they haven't changed it since Word 2003!

Re: You can do this!


9 years ago

Re: You can do this!


9 years ago

Re: You can do this!


9 years ago

It might be worth "losing" a day just playing around with the software. That's how I learned most of the packages I used. (And working with "junk documents" means that I never had to worry about losing real work, etc.)

I also sympathize with fighting against Word; I've been using it on both Mac and PC for almost 20 years, and the new "ribbon" interface does nothing but get in my way. As far as I'm concerned, Word 4 on the Mac was just about the perfect WYSIWYG word processor; everything since then has been bells and whistles.

Regarding your specifics, assuming you're using a fairly recent version of Word (I've got 2008):

Headers and Footers:
1. View -> Print Layout
2. View -> Header and Footer
You can insert page numbers and other things using Insert -> AutoText. If you have the formatting palette open, you can also control whether you have different odd/even headers, or whether the header should appear on the first page of each section.

Pagination: Not sure exactly what you mean here. Word continuously auto-paginates; you shouldn't have to do it yourself. If you want to force a page break, you can use Insert -> Breaks -> Page Break.

(If you're doing each chapter as a separate document, then there are other techniques for having Word automatically run page numbers through them. Honestly, on modern hardware, there shouldn't be nearly as much need to do that. Using a single document with sections for chapters is much easier to manage.)

Italicize and Underline: These are pretty universal across all Mac applications. Select the text you want to modify, and then hold down the Command key (Apple key, four-leaf-clover key) and press I (for italics), B (for bold), or U (for underline). You can also use the formatting palette, or even Format -> Font... for full details.

(Aside: if you have many separate parts of your manuscript that you want to have in a consistent format, you might consider using named styles instead of doing manual formatting on a case-by-case basis. E.g., if I were writing a paper that had many code samples in it, I would set up a separate style for the code. In addition to ensuring consistency, I can also change all the instances of that style at once.)

Hope this helps. If you're using 2011, the instructions are probably different; if so, please let me know, and I'll see if I can try to help you further.

Good luck!
I use WriteRoom, which may be too far in the other extreme. But it's great for distraction-free writing.
No suggestions, but a whole lot of sympathy.
Italics, underline, bold, etc are easy - apple key at the same time as the appropriate initial. apple i, apple u, apple b. Word is unnecessarily complicated, for sure, though. Took me years to get used to using it, and I still only know how to use the things I use all the time. The rest of it is a mystery about which I have no curiosity. :)
bold / italicize / underline -- select the word or phrase to format, hold down the apple key and press b / i / u as appropriate.

to access headers/footers -- double click at the top/bottom of a page, and word will open them and give you a toolbar to edit them with.

to paginate (the easy way) - set your margins (usually in Page Layout, if you have a recent version of Word), then if you need to manually set a page break press Shift+Command+Return (that notation means press them simultaneously)

also see: http://www.baycongroup.com/wlesson0.htm
There are "virtual machine" programs that will emulate an old-style macintosh on a modern mac. Basically you run the emulator, and then inside the emulator you can run old mac software on a new mac. So, assuming we can get everything working right, you could go back to using Macwrite Pro on your new computer.

Mini vMac (http://minivmac.sourceforge.net/) appears to be one of the better choices of virtual mac emulators. The instructions on the website are rather straightforward and not too technical.

One thing: mini vmac requires a copy of the old mac's system ROM, and if your old mac has died, that becomes difficult. I can email you a copy of the ROM file if you decide to go this route.

PS: If you need a copy of macwrite pro (since your new mac doesn't have a floppy drive), you can download it from the "macintosh garden" site (http://macintoshgarden.org/apps/macwrite-pro-15 - they also have v1.4).
I worked for Microsoft for the better part of a decade and Word still manages to confuse me at times. I will second the suggestion for Scrivener, if it's for writing.

For other stuff, I often use Google Docs (docs.google.com), which has the advantage that I can access the document no matter what computer I'm on. I also like the interface and how easy it is to use. The only problem is that Google is on occasion flakey, and while it's rare, it usually seems to pick whatever moment will be most frustrating. Your mileage may vary.
MacWrite Pro was the best designed word processor I've ever seen. Pages is pretty good. I use it a lot. It has a word processing mode and a page layout mode. If you stick to the word processing mode, it's comparable to MacWrite Pro, just not quite as elegant and polished. But nothing else is, and it's still far easier to use than Word or OpenOffice.
Agreed, if you don't go with the Mini vMac emulator, Pages isn't too bad. Certainly less of a pain in the butt than OpenOffice or NeoOffice or Word.


January 21 2011, 01:32:32 UTC 9 years ago

Pages, from Apple, works very well. It's intuitive, has great help files, and can read AND write Word files. The only trouble in the transfer Pages to Word files is in embedded graphics, but if you're working on text only, you'll be in great shape.

Pages. It will seem normal.
If you'd prefer a visual demonstration to a written explanation, I see there are quite a number on YouTube, including ones produced by Apple. If there is an Apple Store you can get to, they have classes - you can sign up on line. My experience with them has been positive.

You can install this vintage Mac emulator for free:


It runs MacWrite. So you can go on using it!


← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →