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alternatives to MS office that actually work?  RSS feed

 
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What alternatives to MS office are there that actually work?

Windows 10 PC

I need something that can talk to MS Word and Excel without the formatting looking crap

I need something that does email - and has a print preview before it prints.

I need it to be idiot-proof.

I also need to be able to buy it without a cell phone (MS office requires a cell phone to make an account)

I would like it to be Grammarly compatible.  

Basically, I need email, word processor, and whatever excel is.  Maybe some extra stuff in the near future.
 
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Have you tried Open Office? I used it on my previous PC a few years ago. It is free. I found it to be easy to use and quite capable for running a small home office business.

https://www.openoffice.org/
 
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Libre is a great program,  it's free,  and I like ie better than open office, which is also good.
 
r ranson
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I've tried both libre and open office.  I cannot get them to meet my requirements.

Any other programmes out there?
 
pollinator
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r ranson wrote:I've tried both libre and open office.  I cannot get them to meet my requirements.

Any other programmes out there?



What is it about openoffice and libre that don't work for you? They are the best i've found and my only problem is that i can't get them to talk to apple programs at all.
 
r ranson
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Openoffice had too many bugs in it - aka, not idiot proof.  I had a lot of trouble getting the auto-correct to stay off.

I thought I would give it another go, but having trouble installing it.

Libre won't save the formatting in a way that computers with MS office can understand.  It's also too difficult to get the dictionary I want installed and their 'help' button takes me to a 404 webpage.  

Neither of them work with the templates for stick labels I bought from avery.  
 
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R ranson,

I don’t like being trapped my MS either.  I use Open Office and I like it a lot, but it does default to own file format system—ods.  I can adjust mine to a save to a more typical type format.

Maybe this can help?

Eric
 
r ranson
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Eric Hanson wrote:R ranson,

I don’t like being trapped my MS either.  I use Open Office and I like it a lot, but it does default to own file format system—ods.  I can adjust mine to a save to a more typical type format.

Maybe this can help?

Eric



I've tried this too.

I saved the documents in about 4 different file format types to see what work, go to my friend's computer with MS office, and none of them had the formatting I created.

I wish I could just buy MS office and be done with it, but fate conspires against me.  No cell phone.  

Any other viable alternatives out there?  
 
Eric Hanson
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R ranson,

I just checked with my computer whiz-kid 16-year old son.  He is pretty good at these sorts of things, builds his own computers, etc.

According to him, the only office suite compatible with grammarly is MS Office.  Sad.

Assuming you don’t want to go down the route of going with yet another forced MS product, is there a substitute for grammarly that you could use?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that grammarly is only compatible with MS.  I don’t like it either.

Eric
 
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Why not just use the google docs suite of tools? I use and love them for a whole host of things, and particularly love the integration of forms with spreadsheets and the like. The only catch is that it is a web based service, so your files are stored in the cloud. But for me that is a plus as I used half a dozen different devices over the course of a week, and everything is instantly available.

Regarding things like grammarly; I have the plugin installed on my chrome browser, which works perfectly while editing documents in google docs. There are a huge number of plugins; so many that I have barely scratched the surface of exploring them. I have particularly liked Mendeley, which works to create top notch references for technical documents, and another plug in the takes form information (for example submitted by a client/customer) and generates a pretty pdf email to anyone you like.
 
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Trace Oswald wrote:Libre is a great program,  it's free,  and I like ie better than open office, which is also good.



Trace,...thanks for bringing this up.  I'm just about ready to download and install a 'portable' version of ElementaryOS on a USB flash drive and was hoping to try Libre on that system.  This way I don't have to junk my older 32-bit laptop running Win7 and can just run ElementaryOS in the RAM of that laptop.  Do you find documents created in Libre to be somewhat (or even highly) compatible with those made in MS Office?  Also, do you know if ElemenaryOS includes drivers for the different (standard) ports on a typical laptop or do these need to be downloaded and installed on the USB drive harboring the OS?  Either way, I'm looking forward to trying it out.  thanks!
 
r ranson
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Grammarly has a beta that works with google docs.  I like it.  It's not quite as good as their regular plugins yet, but it's getting there.

I like google docs quite a bit and have been using these for collaborative efforts.  Two issues with this program... okay, three issues.

1. I can't get the rulers to work in imperial.  It only seems to understand metric.
2. there aren't as many formatting options as I need
3. the same problem I have with all the others - the formatting doesn't translate well to MS office.

The big problem is that I don't have a printer.  I'm working from home to create files to be printed on computers with MS office.  I had a really devastating time last week when I saved a 23 google doc file as an MS office file to be printed.  The other person didn't look at the file before printing and it ended up being 108 pages long because the footnotes each got their own page.  It was devastating because I only had 100 pieces of paper and a bunch of stuff that needed printing before someone came for a class in 10 minutes ago.  
 
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John Weiland wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:Libre is a great program,  it's free,  and I like ie better than open office, which is also good.



Trace,...thanks for bringing this up.  I'm just about ready to download and install a 'portable' version of ElementaryOS on a USB flash drive and was hoping to try Libre on that system.  This way I don't have to junk my older 32-bit laptop running Win7 and can just run ElementaryOS in the RAM of that laptop.  Do you find documents created in Libre to be somewhat (or even highly) compatible with those made in MS Office?  Also, do you know if ElemenaryOS includes drivers for the different (standard) ports on a typical laptop or do these need to be downloaded and installed on the USB drive harboring the OS?  Either way, I'm looking forward to trying it out.  thanks!



I have had really good results with compatibility between Libre and Office.

I run Elementary OS on my laptop and haven't had any issues with drivers.  I ran from a USB drive for about 10 minutes before I did the install :)  I love it.  It's a really beautiful OS.
 
Michael Cox
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r ranson wrote:
The big problem is that I don't have a printer.  I'm working from home to create files to be printed on computers with MS office.  I had a really devastating time last week when I saved a 23 google doc file as an MS office file to be printed.  The other person didn't look at the file before printing and it ended up being 108 pages long because the footnotes each got their own page.  It was devastating because I only had 100 pieces of paper and a bunch of stuff that needed printing before someone came for a class in 10 minutes ago.  



That is, quite literally, the whole reason "pdf" exists. It stands for "portable document format". Any of the office suites proposed above will let you "save as" or "export as" pdf. Unless I have a very good reason to share the working document I will always share a pdf for just that reason. My pupils can open it on a laptop, phone, tablet etc... and it is guaranteed to display correctly and print correctly. If I need to share a working document then it is done as a google docs, so that edits are live and there is none of that file-email tennis that goes back and forward.

I vividly remember one nightmare file that I had to work with, back when I was doing my teacher training. It was a template document with the teaching standards on it, that we were supposed to open and print to use in our records. But the file was garbage because it inherited setting from the original document maker that were not compatible with anyones personal computers. When you printed it, it spilled over 4 times as many pages, columns didn't align properly etc... I ended up cutting and pasting the text into a new document because I simply couldn't get the settings on the original to work. I begged the course organiser to send it to me as a pdf, but that degree of technological sophistication was simply beyond them. As far as they were concerned the file opened fine for them on their computer so everything else was obviously my fault. I'm still bitter about it, because I think I wasted about 20 hours on it all told, for something that should have been a 60 second resolution..... "save as" then send in an email.
 
r ranson
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If I send the file as a PDF, the other person cannot add their details to the file before printing.

They also want it as something they can edit later to change dates or names in the file.  We can't figure out how to do this with a pdf.
 
Michael Cox
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In that case, I'd recommend going with google docs - it opens in the browser, so doens't depend on the software the recipient has. And if you need to send it to someone to print they can still do it as pdf.
 
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If the end user has Adobe Pro, they can convert it back to Word to edit - but sometimes it can mess up formatting.

If you BOTH have Adobe Pro - you write a doc in whatever program you like best for the writing process, export it to pdf, edit it in Pro to get the formatting right, and send it to the editor - who can make edits in Pro without changing the formatting.
it stays PDF the whole time after creation.

unfortunately it's not free - i use it at work.
 
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https://degooglisons-internet.org/en/

here are some alternatives to the big corporate players. If you search for the services, you see that there is a non-google alternative to google docs.
 
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So… summarizing the requirements:
- Talk to MS Office and Exel: Given MS politics no other program will work reliable. People have tried and failed over and over again.
- does E-Mail. I can recommend Thunderbird

I can recommend LibreOffice as well.
For printing, as mentioned the only way to get reliable output is PDF (which can't be edited).

If you want to edit the same file on different computers, you have to use the same software and the same software version. There is no other solution.
That can mean that you have to install MS Office, or that they have to install LibreOffice.
 
r ranson
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Thanks everyone.

Great ideas here.

Looks like I'm going to have to go with MS office for my needs.
 
Eric Hanson
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R Ranson,

For what it’s worth, you are welcome.  Too bad it not work out.

Back in 2011, I stopped buying my computers and started building them.  To reduce the cost further, I scoured the internet looking for free software for my various tasks.  I already had to purchase the OS from Microsoft (I am not versed in Linux) so I was reluctant to give them an additional $100 for Word.  That is when I found Open Office which I actually like better than Word (it interfaces in the classic form which I like much better than the new Word).  I eventually found a lot of free or cheap software to do the tasks for which I would otherwise need to pay.  It is sort of my Permies approach to computers—learn to do it yourself.

I did at one point find one last piece of software that might be helpful.  If you can get a pdf document to interface with grammarly, I did find a pdf editor that let me treat a pdf like a Word document.

If you are still interested, I will look it up for you.  If not then I guess it means you have to by Word.  Too bad.

At any rate, it’s a shame that the whole computing world seemingly has to go through Microsoft.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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R Ranson, others,

I just checked.  I have used Nitro, a free PDF editor and I think it works well.  I had some old files from old format (like works) that I needed in a compatible file format.  In a roundabout fashion I got them converted to PDFs which did not format perfectly (why MS made MS Works and then made an almost completely incompatible WS Word is frustratingly incomprehensible to me).

At any rate, Nitro is free, or there is an expanded version I think I paid about $20.  I don’t know current pricing, but I was able to convert various text files to PDF and edit and even spellcheck in the PDF.  Basically, Nitro worked much like Word for the purpose of editing  a PDF.

Again, maybe this will work for you.  I am not a fan of paying MS for basic word processing software, especially after I have already purchased an OS.  When building a computer I need to keep the costs down and this was one option I have.  

I hope this can be helpful for you or to anyone.

Eric
 
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Just updating this thread with some comments and questions.  First a question.....I've successfully installed Elementary OS on a USB drive and can boot to it when not wanting the machine to boot to Win7.  (Seems a bit trickier with Win10 where accessing the boot menu on my Gateway laptop is a bit more labyrinthian...)  What is unclear is (a) which version of LibreOffice should be used with this latest version of Elementary OS (Juno5?) and (b) whether the download of that LibreOffice should be directed to the USB drive, or to the computer's hard drive, and then telling the installer to put the app on the USB drive?  Any advice would be appreciated....

Secondly, in the process of navigating the LibreOffice site, I came across an "OS-less" portable version of LibreOffice that apparently runs independent of location or traditional OS.  Since it was only a few Mb for the install, I did this and it works pretty nicely, even if a bit slow in comparison to MS Office.....and it's free!  More reading took me to the PortableApps.com site where the phenomenon of OS-less apps seems to be flourishing.  As a non-user of a smart-phone, I imagine most are already accustomed to portable apps that run on phones, etc., but the portable app/software package on a full computer was a bit of a surprise to this geezer.   In addition to open-source culture in general, is this OS-free portability the future of computer interfacing?  Is there any reason/advantages I should continue with the download of LibreOffice for Elementary OS instead of using the portable version?
 
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One thing not mentioned, is rtf format. For basic document formatting, it renders faithfully across multiple apps.

Its still a bit clunky in that if youbare not careful when saving or opening the app you are using may tend to update it to its preferred format. But its a zero cost tweak that just might work.
 
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John Weiland wrote:...(b) whether the download of that LibreOffice should be directed to the USB drive, or to the computer's hard drive, and then telling the installer to put the app on the USB drive?  Any advice would be appreciated....



More power to you if you can get that to work. Seems like every Linux stick I've ever had considers the USB drive off limits. Can't mount it, can't write to it. Consequently, nothing I change persists through a reboot. Installed programs, changed desktop wallpaper, changes to OS settings, all wiped clean. Every boot is a clean, out of the box install. This has been true of Ubuntu, Mint, and now Android (Nougat, I think. Could be Oreo.) Maybe if you are better with the command prompt, you can change the permissions or something. (Super user privilidges?) I learned on Windoze, and though I avoid it like the plague, I'm still pretty reliant on the GUI.
 
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