5 Amazing Note-taking Alternatives to Evernote – Make Tech Easier

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Evernote has become almost an industry-standard tool for storing all manner of information online. Data can be easy accessed from any computer with an internet connection and a range of mobile apps allows for access on various devices as well.

Whether you are working on your own or collaborating as part of a team, Evernote is a flexible tool that can be used for everything from project management to storing recipes. But it is not going to be to everyone’s taste. If you are looking for something that can be used to store notes online, take a look at these Evernote alternatives and see what you think.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Making a lot of noise in recent years is iA Writer, the minimal typing app that actually doubles up very well as a note-taking app too. It keeps everything in traditional typewriter font, eschewing fancy colours and typefaces in favour of something that just lets you write.

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It may seem like more of a word processor than a note app, but it supports Markdown, lets you flick between pages quickly, lay text out coherently, and quickly look for text with a search feature. It flourishes more when writing medium- to long-form notes, such as lectures, talks, conferences and so on.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Browser

It’s a very simple tool, but for basic lists this is a great tool. It can be used for storing reminders rather like sticky note but there is also scope to use it for note-taking. This is a Google product, so it should come as no surprise that there is not only an Android app (which has a wonderfully useful widget), but also a Chrome extension as well as an online version.

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It is delightfully simple, and everything is kept in sync so you can access your notes no matter which devices you happen to use. Google Keep is really an Android app and the Chrome extension and online version are just nice extras — few people will feel enticed into use the extension on its own.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Browser

Quip is a note tool that’s available for iOS and Android and well as Mac, PC and online. This is a tool designed with collaborative work in mind and there are plenty of features that relate to this. Files, or folders filled with files, can be easily shared with others and there is an integrated chat feature that is great for group projects.

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There is the option of keeping some notes private if you want to use the tool for business and personal tasks at the same time, but it is the real-time collaborative work that really makes Quip shine. There are nice touches such as Twitter-style mentions, and read notifications so you can keep an eye on who has seen the changes you have made.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux Browser

Microsoft’s note-taking offering OneNote is something that has developed a great deal over the years. Available as part of Office 365, the tool can also be downloaded separately for iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, and Android free of charge. Note-taking can take a number of forms: lists, photos and voice notes, and all will be synced for easy access on different devices.

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Mobile widgets mean that accessing the app is quick and simple, helping to eliminate the risk of forgetting what you wanted to jot down. The ability to create notes based on pictures, or even with your voice, makes this a highly flexible tool, and while it may not be as feature-packed as some Evernote alternatives, it is still well worth a look.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux Browser

Simplenote lives up to its name and keeps things very simple indeed. There is a web app available but also dedicated apps for iOS, Android, Kindle and Mac, and much like Google Keep this is not a tool that is weighed down with extra features; it’s here to get a job done with as few distractions as possible. Every note you create is automatically backed up and synced online so it can be accessed from other devices, and there’s a lightning fast search tool to help you to find what you’re looking for.

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Note organisation is also helped by support for tags. An extremely interesting option is versioning. If you make changes to a note which you later regret, you can step back in time to an earlier version. While there is not scope for collaborative word through Simple Note, it is possible to share note with others — and to other apps.

So, if you’ve tried Evernote and found that it is not quite the tool for you, there are plenty of other apps and services to choose from. Take them for a test drive and you’re sure to find something that suits your needs perfectly. If you think we’ve missed an important tool from the list, let us know!





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How To Fix a Blurry Photo

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Undesired blur in a photograph is annoying. It can take a great image and ruin it, either because of an operator error or subject movement that couldn’t be controlled. While blur can be used to great artistic effect when employed intentionally, accidental blur is far less desirable. Some of this blur can be fixed with image-editing programs, like GIMP and Photoshop.

When you describe a photo as “blurry,” that’s a fairly broad category. It means that the subject isn’t sharp, yes. But there are several kinds of blur. Identifying the type of blur is important to knowing how to fix it.

  • Motion blur results from the subject or the camera moving during the exposure.
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The dog moved significantly during the capture, so it appears blurred in the final image. Notice the streaking characteristic to motion blur.

  • Focus blur comes from focusing on the wrong part of the subject.
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The back of the center coin is in focus, rather than the front. Notice the soft blur and gradual increase in blurriness characteristic of focus blur.

We will focus on improving focus blur in this tutorial. Motion blur can also be fixed to an extent. However, it requires different techniques and more advanced tools to get the best results.

The classic way to sharpen photos is with a filter called “Unsharp Mask.” The history of the counter-intuitive name is interesting, but rest assured: it does sharpen images.

1. Open your image in GIMP or Photoshop. We will use GIMP for this example.

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2. Select “Unsharp Mask” from the “Filters” menu. In GIMP 2.10 this is under “Filters -> Enhance -> Sharpen (Unsharp Mask).” In Photoshop you’ll find it in “Filters -> Sharpen -> Unsharp Mask.”

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3. This will pop up a pane with some default settings. You can adjust these settings to better sharpen your image.

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  • Amount controls the strength of the mask. The higher the amount, the more edge contrast will be added to the image. It’s important to set this value properly. Too low and you’ll see no effect; too high, and you’ll see hideous effects.
  • Radius controls what counts as an “edge” for sharpening purposes. Small radius values will sharpen fine detail, while high radius values will apply to larger edges. Radius is easy to set too high, so keep a steady hand.
  • Threshold defines how many luminosity levels must change from one pixel to the next to define an edge. The higher the value, the less it counts as an edge. Smaller values will sharpen more edges, while higher values do the opposite.

Because each image is different, the optimal settings for each image will also be different. There is no “best” setting. You’ll gain experience through practice. Applying too much sharpening will lead to an unappealing high-contrast look that you’ll probably want to avoid.

4. Apply a mix of settings that you feel best sharpen the image. This is an art and not a science, so experiment.

While experimenting, you may want to see a comparison of your sharpened and unsharpened images. By ticking the “Preview” box on and off, you can toggle between the two images. You can also click “Split View” to see a side-by-side comparison. The split view tool is only available in GIMP.

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Another method of sharpening is the high pass filter, which applies a different method of detecting edges.

1. First, duplicate your layer by right-clicking the layer and choosing “Duplicate Layer” from the context menu.

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2. With your new layer selected, choose “Filter -> Enhance -> High Pass” in GIMP or “Filter -> Other -> High Pass” in Photoshop.

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3. Adjust the settings until you can see the edges you want to sharpen, then click “OK” to apply.

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4. Change the blending mode for the layer to “Overlay” from the dropdown menu.

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For more detailed control, you can adjust the opacity of the high pass layer after changing the blending mode.

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Newbies frequently oversharpen images. Use the image above as a guide. The image should be less blurry, but not distressingly high contrast or haloed. Try for the middle eye and avoid the bottom.

Fixing blur in photos is an art. It requires a careful and patient hand. Despite the incredible power of today’s computers, not all blur can be fixed. Extreme blur will remain unfixable, likely forever. When there isn’t enough data to create a sharp image, the computer can’t just imagine one. But light blurring can be recovered in many cases.

Image credit: Ru_dagon



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4 Apps That Turn Your Windows PC Into a WiFi Hotspot – Make Tech Easier

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If you have a Windows PC with an active Internet connection and would like to share your connection with your other devices, it is quite easy to do that thanks to the hotspot apps available out there. The following apps let you turn your Windows PC into a WiFi hotspot that people can connect to and enjoy your Internet connection.

In the following roundup we cover four apps from our Software Discovery section that help you transform your PC into a WiFi hotspot.

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mHotspot is a completely free software that converts your Windows 7 or 8 laptop into a virtual WiFi router and creates a secure WiFi hotspot.

You can share a single internet connection (LAN, Ethernet, Data-Card, 3G/4G, Wifi) on multiple devices like laptops, iPhones, Android phones, PDAs, iPads etc.

No router or external hardware is required apart from your existing one.

  • Connect up to ten devices to the hotspot
  • You can set your own hotspot name without any restrictions
  • Share any type of Internet Connection (LAN, Ethernet, 3G/4G, Wifi, etc.)
  • Android phones, ipads, PDAs, tablets and other devices can access Internet
  • Stream videos and shares files with clients
  • See the details of the connected device (name, IP address, Mac address)
  • See the network usage (upload and download speed, transfer rates)
  • Secures your wireless hotspot with WPA2 PSK password security
  • Set maximum number of devices that can be connected
  • Extends your Wifi range (Acts as a repeater)
  • In-app Internet selection
  • Works with Windows 7, 8, 10

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OSToto Hotspot is a free and professional WiFi hotspot creator tool for your computer. It enables you to build a stable and personal (or public) hotspot without wireless router.

You can freely share your computer Internet connection with all WiFi-enabled devices, like phones, tablets, laptops, etc.

The tool is available for free for Windows PCs.

  • Share your network to other computers, iPhone, iPad, Android devices, etc.
  • Works as a wireless transmitter/router
  • Customize your WiFi sharing with handy features
  • Detect network speed at hand
  • Easy to use and set up in seconds

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MyPublicWiFi is an easy-to-use software that turns your laptop/PC into a WiFi wireless access point. Anyone nearby can surf the Internet through you. This is also an ideal solution for setting up a temporary access point in a hotel room, meeting room, at home or the like.

The MyPublicWiFi Firewall can be used to restrict user access to specific servers. You can also prevent the use of certain Internet services (e.g. file sharing programs). MyPublicWiFi allows you to record and track all visited URLs on your virtual WiFi hotspot.

It’s available for free for Windows PCs.

  • Create a WiFi hotspot
  • Integrated firewall
  • URL logging
  • List of connected clients
  • Free

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Virtual Router Plus is a free, open-source software-based router for PCs running Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012.

Using Virtual Router Plus, users can wirelessly share any Internet connection (WiFi, LAN, cable modem, dial-up, cellular, etc.) with any WiFi device (laptop, smartphone, iPod Touch, iPhone, Android phone, Zune, Netbook, wireless printer, etc.) These devices connect to Virtual Router just like any other access point, and the connection is completely secure using WPA2.

  • Works on Windows 8 and Windows 2012
  • No installation needed
  • Do not start background service so anything is under your control

By using these apps you will be able to share your existing Internet connection with all of your devices, and it eliminates the need of getting a separate Internet connection for your other devices. Be sure to check out our Software Discovery section that has a number of useful apps like these. Let us know what you think about our software list in the comments below.



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5 Smart Clipboard Managers For Your Mac – Make Tech Easier

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Clipboard apps have come a long way and have evolved from just a basic copy/paste tool. Today, clipboard apps have become so advanced that they let you copy content on one device and paste onto another. Some of the apps even let you retain your clipboard content after you reboot your machine.

In the following roundup we cover five smart clipboard managers for Mac from our Software Discovery section. Explore what you can do beyond just copying content with these clipboard manager apps.

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Scrapbook is an innovative clipboard which enables you to store more than one item for future use. All of your clipboard entries will remain even if you restart your computer.

  • Stores up to hundreds of items
  • Stores plain or formatted text
  • Fast access via menubar
  • Icon in dock and/or menubar
  • Naming of clips
  • Lock individual entries
  • Pre-defined tools
  • Writing direction: support for RTL/LTR
  • Self-defined JavaScript-filter
  • Snippets for often reusable text
  • Manage snippets in folders
  • Search slips and snippets
  • Free configurable keyboard shortcuts
  • Easy integrated text editor
  • Quick lock integration
  • Backup/restore of scrapbook and snippets
  • Full drag and drop support
  • Notification center
  • Stores several picture and file formats
  • Abbreviations for snippets
  • Hotkeys for clips
  • Hotkeys for snippets
  • Automatic update via Sparkle

copia-featured

Copia is a really smart and elegant clipboard manager for Mac. It remembers every time you copy something so that you can reuse it later on.

  • Neat and versatile
  • Identify and classify items
  • Always responsive
  • All items are presented in a consistent and recognizable way
  • Sharp and minimal
  • Appears on your chosen side of the screen
  • Multilingual

flycut-featured

Flycut is a clean and simple free clipboard manager for developers. It’s based on an open source app called Jumpcut.

Every time you copy a code piece, Flycut stores it in history. Later, you can paste it using Shift-Command-V even if you have something different in your current clipboard. You can change the hotkey and other settings in preferences.

  • Clean and simple
  • Copy content without it getting replaced by latest copied content
  • Paste old content using the hotkey Shift-Command-V
  • Free and open source

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1Clipboard is a universal clipboard managing app that makes it easy to access your clipboard from anywhere on any device.

It is available for free for Windows and Mac platforms.

  • Synchronize everything you copy and access it from anywhere on any device
  • Copy as usual then paste it to any other device whenever you need it
  • Clipboard history
  • Mark your favorites
  • Search your past

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CopyQ is an advanced clipboard manager with editing and scripting features.

It monitors the system clipboard and saves its content in customized tabs. Saved clipboard content can be later copied and pasted directly into any application.

It’s available for free for Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.

  • Support for Linux, Windows and OS X 10.9+
  • Store text, HTML, images or any other custom formats
  • Quickly browse and filter items in clipboard history
  • Sort, create, edit, remove, copy/paste, and drag and drop items in tabs
  • Add notes or tags to items
  • System-wide shortcuts with customizable commands
  • Paste items with shortcut or from tray or main window
  • Fully customizable appearance
  • Advanced command-line interface and scripting
  • Ignore clipboard copied from certain windows or containing certain text
  • Support for simple Vim-like editor and shortcuts

With these clipboard replacements, you will be able to be more productive while working with clipboard tasks on your Mac. Feel free to check out our Software Discovery section that contains clipboard managers for other operating systems and many other useful apps you might want to install on your machine. Let us know what you think about it in the comments below.



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6 Uninstallers That Help You Get Rid of Apps On Your Devices – Make Tech Easier

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While most systems come with at least one uninstaller to help you get rid of unwanted apps from your device, these uninstallers are usually not perfect and often leave leftover files after the apps are uninstalled. Over time, these leftover files build up and consume a large chunk of memory on your device.

Fortunately, there are now third-party uninstallers that let you uninstall apps as well as remove all of their files from your device. This means when an app is uninstalled, all of its files are also gone. These uninstallers have been taken from our Software Discovery section.

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Easy Uninstaller is an easy, fast, and handy uninstall tool for Android that helps you remove apps with several taps. It cleans up storage and frees up more spaces.

  • Remove apps
  • Batch uninstall
  • Virus scan
  • Battery usage tracking
  • App usage tracking
  • Uninstall with one click
  • Show app details
  • Search apps by name
  • Cached app list
  • Supports App2SD
  • Uninstall History (Recycle Bin)
  • Uninstall Reminder

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Total-Uninstaller is a Windows software uninstaller that helps you easily remove unwanted software from your computer.

  • Uninstall unwanted software
  • Log file
  • Easy to use

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Omni Remover is a free, agile and easy-to-use Mac App Uninstaller software built for removing stubborn apps and cleaning up app leftover junk on your Mac.

  • Remove apps
  • Delete leftover files
  • Reset apps
  • Tune plugins
  • Mac cleaning

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With App Cleaner, you can uninstall applications or delete only unwanted service files and even “remains” – files from previously removed apps. With the app you can manage Mac extensions and disable all unwanted startup items with one button.

  • Completely remove apps
  • Reset applications
  • Cleanup remains
  • Remove extensions

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Bulk Crap Uninstaller is a free (as in speech) program uninstaller. It excels at removing large amounts of applications with minimal user input. It can clean up leftovers, detect orphaned applications, run uninstallers according to premade lists, and much more.

  • Uninstall countless applications quickly
  • Remove all leftovers from uninstallations
  • Detect orphaned applications
  • Startup manager
  • Multiple languages
  • Uninstall lists and searching
  • Verification of certificates
  • Detection and uninstallation of Windows Store apps
  • Uninstallation of multiple items at once (with collision prevention)
  • Advanced grouping, sorting, filtering and searching
  • Automatic detection and closing of running applications
  • Automatic updating and error reporting
  • Custom commands can be executed before and after uninstallation

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AppCleaner is a small application that allows you to thoroughly uninstall unwanted apps.

Installing an application distributes many files throughout your System using the space of your hard drive unnecessarily. AppCleaner finds all these small files and safely deletes them.

Simply drop an application onto the AppCleaner window. It will search for related files; you can get rid of them by clicking the delete button.

With these uninstallers, you will be able to clean-up all the leftover files of the apps that you have uninstalled from your device. If you like these apps, you might want to check out our Software Discovery section that has many more cleanup apps to help you keep your system clean. Let us know what you think about our software section in the comments below.



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5 Network Utilities to Manage and Analyze Networks – Make Tech Easier

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Managing and securing your networks is important, as unattended networks often come with leak holes for hackers to get into your system and access your confidential information.

In this week’s roundup we cover five network utilities from our Software Discovery section that will let you manage and analyze your networks. From letting you see all the devices on your network to helping you find the default password for your router, these apps will definitely help you make your network more secure and optimized.

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Router Default Password is a utility for Windows that allows you to find out the default password to access your router’s settings page. It works for many routers.

  • Find the default password of a router
  • Support for a number of routers

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LanScan is a free, simple and effective macOS network scanner that discovers all active devices on your Local Area Network (LAN).

  • Auto-detection of interfaces: Airport, Ethernet, Virtual Interfaces
  • Discover all devices on your network
  • Display the IP address, MAC address and vendor associated with it
  • mDNS resolution
  • SMB resolution
  • DNS hostname resolution
  • Custom hostname edition

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ship.sh is a simple, handy network-addressing multitool with plenty of features.

  • Shows all network interfaces.
  • Shows all active network interfaces.
  • Shows the driver used of each active network interface.
  • Shows the gateway of each online interface.
  • Shows the addresses of each active network interface with or without CIDR notation.
  • Shows the public/external IPs.
  • Shows active hosts on current network with or without MAC address.
  • Shows all valid addresses (IPv4, IPv6, MAC) extracted.
  • Shows the route to a network host using the three most common tools. It checks which ones are installed and decides to run the fastest one for each case scenario.

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Nmap (“Network Mapper”) is a free and open-source (licensed) utility for network discovery and security auditing.

Many systems and network administrators also find it useful for tasks such as network inventory, managing service upgrade schedules, and monitoring host or service uptime.

Nmap uses raw IP packets in novel ways to determine what hosts are available on the network, what services (application name and version) those hosts are offering, what operating systems (and OS versions) they are running, what type of packet filters/firewalls are in use, and dozens of other characteristics.

It was designed to rapidly scan large networks but works fine against single hosts. Nmap runs on all major computer operating systems, and official binary packages are available for Linux, Windows, and macOS.

  • Supports dozens of advanced techniques for mapping out networks filled with IP filters, firewalls, routers, and other obstacles
  • Nmap has been used to scan huge networks of literally hundreds of thousands of machines
  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • Free and open source

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Angry IP scanner is a very fast IP address and port scanner.

It can scan IP addresses in any range as well as any of their ports. It is cross-platform and lightweight. Not requiring any installation, it can be freely copied and used anywhere.

Angry IP scanner simply pings each IP address to check if it’s alive, then optionally resolves its hostname, determines the MAC address, scans ports, etc. The amount of gathered data about each host can be extended with plugins.

  • Scan IP addresses
  • Scan ports
  • Cross platform
  • Lightweight
  • NetBIOS information
  • Web server detection
  • Customizable openers

We’re sure the above apps will give you some ideas to optimize your networks by analyzing them and letting you know what can be improved in them. If you like these apps, you might want to check out our Software Discovery section that is full of apps like these. Feel free to visit and let us know what you think about it.



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The Disappointing Differences in Microsoft Office for Mac – Make Tech Easier

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The first time I realized that Microsoft Office for Mac was different, I was waist-deep in a complicated Excel table. I knew that there must be some clever way to solve my data dilemma, so I googled a solution. And I found one, right away, only to discover that, mystifyingly, the tool I needed simply didn’t exist. I had the right version of Excel, and the tool wasn’t just somewhere else… it was simply gone. This disappointing difference was the first of many changes, some small and some big, between Microsoft Office for Windows and Microsoft Office for Mac.

A number of applications are simply missing from Microsoft Office for Mac.

Microsoft Publisher is a publishing app aimed at beginners and probably isn’t a huge loss for Mac users. There are tons of alternative desktop publishing applications for the platform. But if you have saved Microsoft Publisher files you were hoping to edit on your Mac, forget it.

Microsoft Access is a database management tool that’s a godsend for users stuck managing giant Excel “database” files. Unfortunately, Mac users will find no relief.

There are also a couple of office-style applications that you won’t find on Mac:

Visio, the diagramming and mapping software, and Project, the project management package. Considering these tools are in high demand by project managers, this might push you towards a Windows-only workflow.

Here’s a list of the major features you won’t find in Microsoft Office for Mac. It’s not guaranteed to cover everything, but it should hit in the highlights.

Office

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Visual Basic: Visual Basic and macro support does exist on the Mac. However, some functions are missing, and the implementation is not as fully-featured as the Windows version. Code that works in Windows might not work in macOS.

SharePoint Support: SharePoint is used for sharing files and distributing data in corporate environments. Office for Mac does include support for SharePoint, but some features are missing.

Accessibility Checker: Checks your document for formatting or content that might make it difficult to read for users with disabilities. If you have government-mandated reporting styles, or your organization cares about accessibility, this can be a great help.

Office Roaming: Windows users can connect to a streaming copy of Office on a PC for temporary use.

ODF/XPF File Formats: These formats aren’t supported on the Mac.

Right-to-left Language Support: Hebrew and Arabic text direction is not supported.

ActiveX: You might be most familiar with these macro-style document plugins as security risks. They also allow for significant programming within the Office environment.

Document Inspector: Scans for hidden data and personal data in documents, helping you stay safe when sharing files.

Word

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Embed Fonts: When sharing documents on Word for Windows, you can embed custom fonts to display with your document. macOS users instead must save PDFs which don’t allow users to easily edit them.

Booklet Printing: Printing for booklet binding is not available in Office for Mac.

Blog Publishing: This might be an underused feature on any platform, but you won’t find it on your Mac.

Built-in Screenshots: Word for Windows includes a built-in screenshot tool which can automatically take screenshots and insert them into your document.

Smart Lookup: This tool searches through Bing for the selected text. It’s useful for quickly defining a term or acronym you’re not familiar with.

Digital Ink: This digital drawing and annotation tool won’t be found on the Mac version of Word.

Open and Repair: Office for Mac can try to open damaged files, but it won’t do as much to fix them as Windows’ Open and Repair.

Excel

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PivotCharts: These charts work with PivotTables, visual information created by your new layouts to reveal patterns.

PowerPivot: This ultra-powerful add-in version of PivotTables isn’t available on the Mac.

Built-in Database Connectivity: Mac Excel cannot sync with data from external databases. Some data can be imported from external sources, but updated sync is not possible.

Customized shortcuts: You can’t assign your own keyboard shortcuts in Excel for Mac. All the modifiers are different, too, so have fun with that muscle memory.

As you can see from the pricing chart below, the cost of Microsoft Office for both Windows and macOS is the same. Basically, for Mac users, you are paying the same price for a product with less features. I am sure this can be frustrating for many.

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These missing features will almost certainly not be added to Office for Mac in the future. The operating systems have essentially two different, parallel versions, with different features and development tracks.

If you’re missing features that you simply must have, you can install Parallels to run Office in its intended environment. You can also install Boot Camp on your Mac to boot into a full version of Windows. As long as you install Word on just one of the OSes, you shouldn’t exceed a single software license. Multi-license users can install it on both operating systems.



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