5 Spreadsheet Apps for Mac

Although spreadsheets aren’t the most interesting or exciting application to discuss, many of us interact with them on a regular basis. Whether it’s for tracking mortgage payments or arranging your kid’s football schedule – spreadsheets are incredibly versatile.

Microsoft Excel has long been the market leader, but various other software is available. Today we’ll be taking a look at 5 different options for Mac users – from the pricey behemoth of Office for Mac, right through to completely free solutions such as OpenOffice.

Numbers

Numbers

Numbers

Numbers is a relatively new spreadsheet application from Apple, bundled as part of their iWork software. Numbers really shines in the user interface, and quality of charts and graphics produced.

It comes with a variety of different templates for various requirements, usually providing a good base on which to build. It also plays nicely with Microsoft Excel documents for good measure.

Price: $79.00
Developer: Apple
Requires: Mac OS X v10.4.11 or later

Excel

Excel

Microsoft Excel

The old workhorse. Microsoft Excel is available for Mac as part of their Office 2008 package, though comes at a fairly hefty price. The latest version has a much improved interface, though my personal experience is fairly dire. I find Office to be fairly slow, prone to crashing, and fairly poor at integrating with OS X in general.

If you need full compatibility with the .xls file format, this is certainly the way to go. Otherwise I would recommend considering the other options available before settling straight away for Excel.

Price: $149.95
Developer: Microsoft
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later

OpenOffice Calc

OpenOffice Calc

OpenOffice

An impressive free spreadsheet utility is included with OpenOffice – Calc. It’s fairly intuitive and easy to learn, though has many of the advanced features expected of an Excel competitor.

One particularly useful feature is that of “natural language formulas”, which help to make writing a long formula somewhat less daunting. As with Numbers, Calc is capable of reading from and writing to the Excel file format.

Price: Free (Open Source)
Developer: OpenOffice (Open Source)
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

Tables

Tables

Tables

Tables is a fairly basic spreadsheet app, albeit with a very simple and clean interface. It has a wide range of calculation options, along with different settings to present data as a number, an amount, a percentage or as date & time (it covers the basics).

It is capable of producing some good looking charts, but doesn’t come close to those created by Numbers. Tables is a good mid-range option if you don’t want to shell out the extra $25 for Apple’s iWork suite.

Price: $52
Developer: Impressum
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or newer

Mesa

Mesa

Mesa

Mesa is a slightly dated spreadsheet application, but is still worth noting. It has multiple worksheets (like Excel) and uses a subset of Excel’s commands and functions (as well as some all it’s own). You can also produce charts and reports for easy export.

It doesn’t include macros or ODBC capabilities and lacks functionality found in the more expensive software.

Price: $34
Developer: P & L Software
Requires: Mac OS X Tiger (various versions available)

Conclusion

Despite Microsoft Excel being the industry standard, a variety of other tools offer a great experience (and Excel compatibility) on OS X. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Numbers and completely replaced Excel with Apple’s spreadsheet application several months ago.

Do let me know what tools you use for managing numerical information – do you still enjoy the feature set and familiarity of Excel, or have you jumped ship for something a little different?


  • Dennis

    Office and iWork cost way less on Amazon…… and OpenOffice is free to use, but more a DonationWare I guess….

  • Nick

    Personally, when I switched to Mac I also switched to iWork and haven’t looked back since. I can’t stand the Office Mac UI and from what I hear it is prone to crashing.

  • http://thomasmaier.me/ Thomas Maier

    iWork is for 90% of the users the best choice – but for 10% pros it is Excel. The others are way behind – because of features and because of the lack of the feeling a good mac app provides.

  • http://www.arvinbautista.com Arvin Motion Graphics

    The Calc functionality of NeoOffice, the OpenOffice client specifically tweaked for Mac, runs so much better than OpenOffice’s own Mac client. As soon as I switched to NeoOffice I haven’t looked back.

  • anonymous_coward

    I agree with Arvin Motion Graphics. I mostly use either NeoOffice or OpenOffice to open and process spreadsheets I receive from other people (usually created under Windoze) and have encountered very few compatibility issues apart from silly animations that a few people inexplicably choose to create in Excel!

  • Fred

    I’m also a huge fan of Numbers and never use Excel anymore.

  • JJ

    Mariner Soft’s “Calc” is also pretty good, though I personally switched to OpenOffice once X11 was no longer required to use it.

  • http://www.davidchinphoto.com/ David Chin

    I just discovered that Numbers has the DATEDIF function, which I’d used on Excel for a long time.

    One less reason to use Excel, for me.

  • Sajdak

    I’m a huge fan of Numbers, but I also love NeoOffice which I have used for a long time. I prefer Numbers for a better (nicer) output in graph. It’s something that I need for completing layouts in some magazines I prepare for our customers.

    • Tim

      NeoOffice has problems printing Excel spreadsheets a lot of times. It will print way more pages than it needs to or will sometimes print horizontally rather than vertically.

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  • http://www.cmography.com/blog Chris Mathews

    Numbers FTW!

  • http://www.m65jacket.com m65

    iwork is the best

  • BerliBoy

    Google (Docs &) Spreadsheets is not a native Mac-software, rather a web-based service (Saas = Software-as-a-service), offering very basic functionality. I think it is a great service great for sharing with co-workers.

  • http://www.martinvaresio.com.ar Martin Varesio

    It’s something that I need for completing layouts in some magazines I prepare for our customers.

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    I see the concernsoI am very l happy to hear that you got your Supra fixed: I remember reading about some of your questions2x2 !.

  • lycosman

    My favorite is Numbers by far. I can do everything I did on Excel but it is (or at least seems) a lot easier.

    Besides, I think you should mention the individual price for Numbers, since you can buy it alone on the App Store for a lot less if you’re only interested in that app (€15.99 on the App Store Portugal, can’t figure out how to access other stores – but since iWork costs €79, I guess that each app is sold by $15.99).

  • zlawell

    OpenOffice all the way!!

  • Paul Johnson

    as far as i can tell Open Office doesn’t exist any more.. ?
    no page that refers to it seems to open..

  • Eric

    If you’re serious about spreadsheets then Excel 2004 and 2011 are the only real options. None of the others support macros, financial plugging or stats analysts. If you’re in business or pushing a university degree then no choice.

  • http://[email protected] dhruvil matalia

    i m a gr8 fan of numbers…………

  • http://[email protected] aditya bavishi

    hey frnds i luv 2 play wid numbers n m a biiiig fan of numbers…………..

  • Stacie

    Im new to Mac and have been using windows spreedsheets to keep up with husbands contract labor and materials ect!! wich app do you think I need to purchase? Need simple with simple math. So lost!!!

  • Ken Riner

    The old Microsoft Works spreadsheet on my old PC is the easiest program I’ve ever used to make a simple spreadsheet. I’ve struggled to conquer MAC’s Numbers in iworks 6 and 8 but the spreadsheet does eratic things for no apparent reason. The “inspector” feature for changing things is an abomination compared to Microsoft Works. AppleWorks 6 was fairly easy to use but my new MAC no longer supports it.
    Doesn’t anyone have a simple spreadsheet for the home user who needs nothing fancy?

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Actually, your best bet might be web apps. Both Google Docs and Microsoft’s Office Web Apps on Skydrive have spreadsheets that have much of the power of, say, full Excel or Numbers, but are much simpler to use.

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