Mac: Word Niggles

Now Microsoft may well be the biggest software developer for the Mac platform after Apple themselves, but that doesn’t mean that they produce software which plays nice with the Mac platform. It has to be said that one of the primary reasons we have Office for the Mac is to allow us to interoperate with PC owners particularly with regards to Church where quite often reports and so forth will be sent around as Word documents. Whatever people may say about alternatives like OpenOffice, or that AppleWorks or iWork can load Microsoft Word files, by far the easiest way to interoperate is to use Microsoft Office for Mac itself.

However it’s not without it’s niggles, and points where it doesn’t play nice with MacOS X. One area of regular annoyance is around printing. In both the previous version, and our current 2004 version the way that Word copes with page orientation changes mid-document is to break the print out into multiple prints. That’s not too much of a problem if you’re printing out, but it is a pain if you’re using the Mac’s built in PDF functionality as the multiple prints get changed into multiple identically named PDF files, so not surprisingly you end up with only the last section as a PDF. Producing a PDF of the same document in the windows version doesn’t have the same problem, and other applications on the Mac can manage orientation changes just fine too. Over the weekend I’ve been fighting another annoying problem too. It is a new one for Word 2004, and is related to the fact that Word does not honour the default page size. Like the whole of the rest of the world aside from the US and Canada, the UK has standard paper sizes as laid down in ISO 216, so my printer is loaded with A4 paper, and that is how the printer in MacOS X is configured. It’s no problem in the majority of applications, I just print things out and it works. However it doesn’t work like that in Word 2004. Even if I change the paper size and save the normal template, still whenever I open the application, Word will default the paper size to US Letter. In fact in certain situations where I’ve received Word documents from other people I’ve found that it has changed the paper size on those documents to US Letter too. It is worth noting that this isn’t just a problem for the rest of the world, it occurs with US users too, who have Word defaulting to a different variation of their letter paper size. Indeed the Word MVP site has a whole article on hacking your printer driver to get around the problem.

There have been two service releases of Word 2004, and I’m running the latest version, and it does seem that getting Word to honour the default page size, or even getting Word to honour the page size saved in it’s own Normal template would help…

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