The Low End Mac Mailbag

AppleWorks: The Death of a Great Program

Dan Knight - 2007.08.15

Wow, my article on the death of AppleWorks resulted in a lot of email. Lots of people agree that AppleWorks remains a very useful program - one even prefers it to Pages and Microsoft Word.

One reader reports that Pages and Numbers does import AppleWorks word processing and spreadsheet files. Good news!

We've also heard from Bob Hearn, one of the authors of ClarisWorks, and we've learned that Microsoft Works didn't create the "Works" class of software - AppleWorks for the Apple II did. Ah, that old Apple innovation!

One writer suggests that Apple should make "obsolete" programs like AppleWorks and Claris Home Page open source, allowing them to be updated and improved by the user community. Great idea! - Tip Jar

AppleWorks Beats Word and Pages

Steve Wood, who wrote View from the Classroom for Low End Mac in 1999 and 2000 (it later moved to his own MathDittos2 site), writes:

Hi Dan,

Saw your column on AppleWorks and iWork. I lined up with the lemmings and bought family packs of both iLife and iWorks, but I really haven't done much more than install them.

I still use AppleWorks when I get to something I just can't get right in Word. We're supposedly an all PC shop here at Rose-Hulman, but I still work on a Mac I brought in. :-) When I can't get my graphics to behave in stuff that must be done in Word, I just use AppleWorks 6 and save it as a Word document. My boss often will ask, "How did you do that?" I find that I just can't do what I want as easily with Pages as I can in AppleWorks.

Hope life is treating you well these days,

Steve Wood
PRISM Community Liaison
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

wedding photoSteve,

It's great to hear from you again! I have to agree with you about Microsoft Word. I have Office 2004 on my Mac, and I just find the program confusing. It's far easier to use AppleWorks, which I'm very comfortable with, create a document that works like I want, and export it to Word format if someone else needs to edit or complete the project.

Life is treating me very well. I've been married 6-1/2 weeks, I'm doing what I love for a living, and life has never been better.

I hope life is treating you as well. :-)


Death of AppleWorks Not Slashworthy

Bob Hearn, the co-creator of ClarisWorks, writes:

Hi Dan,

Just wanted to say, thanks for the kind words! And thanks for noting ClarisWorks' demise. I thought it was newsworthy - in fact, I posted to Slashdot about it, but the editors don't seem to agree.

Bob Hearn

iWork Does Import AppleWorks Files


Just wanted to point out that iWork '08 does import AppleWorks files. From the press release:

"iWork '08 can import Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and AppleWorks® word processing, presentation and spreadsheet files, and can export documents in Microsoft Office file formats or PDFs for easy sharing."

I've already imported a few AppleWorks spreadsheets in Numbers.

Thought you'd be happy to hear.

- James


Thanks for the excellent news. I may have to download the demo and play with it now.


Origin of 'Works' Software

Steve Hix says:


One minor nit to pick on the introduction; MS didn't create the "works" market, although they later owned it.

In 1983 a fellow named Rupert (or some reason he later changed his name to Robert - no idea why) Lissner wrote a combination application for the Apple // (later ported to the Apple ///) called "AppleWorks". Text only, it even simulated tabs and windows. Apple released it the next year.

It had word processing, spreadsheet, and database components.

Later on we got Microsoft Works, ClarisWorks (which was AppleWorks renamed when Claris was spun off from Apple), Beagle Works, etc. Microsoft Works popped up between the time that AppleWorks launched and ClarisWorks was written for the Mac. (I was in Apple // engineering during the same time, and while we didn't hear much, we did get some hints of things going on in the software side of things, even after Claris was spun off to placate some competing software makers who developed products for Apple.)

/end nit pick

Meanwhile, not having been touched for years, and with pretty much all the developer group gone, it's taken a while to get something produced and polished enough to take over AppleWorks niche. My guess is another year to wait for a database app to join the iWork set. (Files?)

AppleWorks is dead. But you can still have integrated; NeoOffice does that.

Sorry. :}



Thanks for the info. I forgot all about the original AppleWorks on the Apple II.

As for iWork gaining a database, I doubt Apple will step on the toes of FileMaker, Inc., their wholly owned subsidiary that works exclusively in the database field. I think we're more likely to see an image editing program, although Photoshop and Photoshop Elements fill that niche nicely, or maybe iDraw, a drawing module along the lines of Illustrator and Freehand.

Time will tell.


AppleWorks Not Dead, Still for Sale at

Ronin says:

Do your homework.


Just because something is for sale doesn't mean it's current. Car dealers have blowout sales to get rid of the discontinued models when the new ones come in. And just because Apple is still selling AppleWorks doesn't mean it's current.

I have AppleWorks 6.2.9 on my Mac, the last update produced. It's copyright 2003, and that's because of the updates. Version 6.0 came out in early 2000. After seven years without a major upgrade and four years without even a minor update, I think it's safe to call it dead.


Death of AppleWorks

I agree with you. I wish Apple had not killed off AppleWorks. I still use it almost daily. The only other works program I have is NeoOffice. I haven't written programs in a decade or more, but I started teaching myself Cocoa wondering if I could write an AppleWorks 7. I just don't have the time needed to focus on it.

God Bless You,
Jessie Dasher

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6, NKJV)


Thanks for writing. Even though Apple gave up development years ago, AppleWorks will remain a tool that a lot of us continue using.


Make AppleWorks Open Source


Perhaps it'd be better to see if Apple could be pressure to release AppleWorks source code into the public domain for others to improve. That'd cost them almost nothing.

- Mike Perry


Great idea. And while they're at it, Claris Home Page as well.



It'd be great if broader efforts were made to get companies to open source software they're no longer upgrading or supporting, particularly when they no have equivalent product on the market. And Apple, which exists to sell hardware, should be particularly open to the idea. Open source AppleWorks and Home Page can only mean more Mac sales.

It'd also be great if the creators of nifty one-developer applications (and there are many) would agree to open source their application if something happened to them such that they could no longer support a product. It'd remove the nagging "what if" uncertainty about those applications.

- Mike Perry

'Obsolete' Software Value

Scott Cook says:

Hey Dan,

I too love AppleWorks. I use it all the time for practically everything. I'm like you in that I'll keep using it until it doesn't work anymore . . . which reminds me, there are some serious bargains to be had on eBay for people who can boot into OS 9 or even into Classic.

I bought a full version of Adobe Photoshop 5 for $7 the other day on eBay! It runs great on my G3 iBook, even in Classic mode. I bought several package deals of OS 9 applications from eBay recently for $10 - $20. One of these collections of OS 9 software had a copy of Word 98 in it. I've only used it once to fill out a .doc form sent to me that AppleWorks didn't open properly, but hey, it was practically free.

There is/was a download page for ProTools Free on DigiDesign's website. It's a full 8 track version of the famous recording software used in professional studios. ProTools Free runs in OS 9, not OS X.

My next big software purchase will be a copy of Final Cut Pro. It looks like the OS 9 versions of FCP can be bought for under $50 on eBay(?)

Apple did me a huge favor by switching to Intel processors. They basically saved me a whole wheelbarrow full of money I would have to spend to get these cool applications. I don't have the latest version, but who really needs or understands all the features of the latest Microsoft Office suite, ProTools, Final Cut Pro, or Photoshop CS3? Their instruction manuals are 400 pages thick! The older versions are way overkill for most of us.

You could do a good story on the impact of the Intel Mac on used software prices. I am one very appreciative poor guy saying thank you Apple! (smile)

Scott Cook


Thanks for sharing your discoveries. Back in the day, I remember buying a Umax color scanner for $149 because it included a full copy of the Lite" version of Photoshop, which sold for a lot more separately. I picked up Photoshop 5.5 used on eBay several years back for under $150 and used it regularly until earlier this year.

My best find was accidental. We're putting on a musical at church, and it uses an unusual typeface called Whimsy. We paid $42 to buy a single weight of the typeface for use on the church's Windows computer. I later learned that this font was on the Mac Addict premiere issue CD. I located a copy and now have all three weights of the typeface for next to nothing.

Nothing is obsolete until it's unusable, and there are great bargains to be found in older software.


None of this great software was bargain priced until Apple made it "obsolete" though. This awesome collection of software would have cost me thousands of dollars only a few years ago. This is what I like about the new Intel Macs. I don't own one, but they sure have helped me out a lot! (smile)

Scott Cook

Killing AppleWorks and the Mac mini

Bill Doty writes:

Hi Dan

Two issues: I have used AppleWorks 6 for a long time. I go back to ClarisWorks 2. AppleWorks/ClarisWorks was seldom Microsoft compatible. I would save as RTF or text file or use DataViz MacLink translator. I did use ClarisWorks 4 for windows 98 on a laptop. It was a very good program. I heard ClarisWorks 4 was developed with help from Novel after they bought Word Perfect Works. I also think you will see a Windows version of iWork and the other new Mac software.

Second, will you please quit killing the Mac mini. It's selling. It's increasing use of Macs. It's a good basic computer. The next step up for it will be a solid state hard drive.

Like you, I would like to see a mini Quicksilver tower. I think it will happen, but not yet. Apple will want to market that machine as a move up from mini model. They haven't sold enough minis yet.

Bill Doty


I doubt Apple will port iWork to Windows. iTunes and Safari give Windows users a taste of the Mac experience and may tempt them away from the Dark Side. Selling iWork for Windows would take away a reason to buy a Mac.

As for the Mac mini, I've always maintained that it's a great little computer for its intended audience. It's not very expandable, especially internally. It's not great for 3D gaming. But for regular tasks - writing, email, browsing the Web, image work, iTunes, and even video, it's a very decent computer. The recent move to faster Core 2 chips only improves that.

The mini's drawback isn't the mini itself, but the gaping hole between it and the Mac Pro. Apple doesn't have a good hobbyist Mac, a model with some expansion slots and at least one extra drive bay. Take a mini, give it another bank for RAM, a couple of PCIe slots, and an extra drive bay, and I'd have all the power and expandability I need.


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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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