Apple’s free suite of iWork apps offers an excellent way for Mac, iPad, and even iPhone users to create newsletters, spreadsheets, and presentations. However, as intuitive and attractive as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are, it’s also fair to say they’ve always lagged behind their well-known Microsoft counterparts.
Apple’s iWork apps are free, whereas Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and Powerpoint have to be purchased separately. Of course, these apps are much more powerful and may be well worth it if you can find a good deal.
With today’s update to Pages, though, there may be one less reason to use Microsoft Word; Apple has finally brought Mail Merge automation to its writing app.
Mail Merge, which lets you create a single document or envelope template that can be used for dozens of recipients, has always been a conspicuous omission in Apple’s word processing app. It’s something that’s been a core feature of other word processing apps for over 30 years, and many Pages users are shocked when they find it missing.
This feature is so in-demand that enterprising developers have built third-party apps to fill the gap. Thanks to Pages’ support for AppleScript, more tech-savvy users have also been able to cobble together their own homegrown solutions. However, all of these have been hacks to make up for a feature that Apple really should have baked in from the beginning.
Worth the Wait?
While it’s been a long time coming, Mail Merge has finally arrived in Pages 12.1 — and it’s not only available on the Mac; iPad and even iPhone users can take advantage of it, too.
That’s a nice improvement over Microsoft Word, which offers a solid Mail Merge feature on the desktop, but not on the iPhone or iPad. That’s not surprising since Apple works hard to deliver feature parity across its entire family of devices as much as possible.
Word, Excel, and Powerpoint for iPhone and iPad are quite functional for standard editing, but they lack the advanced features of their desktop counterparts. On the other hand, there’s very little in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote that you can do on the Mac that you can’t also…