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  1. Computer Skills
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Getting Started With Pages on OS X

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Read Time: 10 mins

When it comes to creating a document, I think I'm safe in saying that most people turn to Microsoft Word. And with good reason. As much as I dislike Microsoft (no, I'm not an Apple fanboy – I was a committed Windows user for nearly all my life – I just prefer OS X), I still find myself using one of its products almost every day, whether it be Microsoft Office at university to finish off that important essay or Skype to talk to my friends in faraway lands.

But what really gets to me is the fact that iWork, Apple's default office suite, is often seriously neglected, which is a real shame – especially when you consider that for most documents, spreadsheets and presentations, iWork will do as good a job (and in some cases, a better job) than Microsoft Office. Although the last major release was back in 2009 with iWork '09, Apple have still kept the project alive with endless updates and improvements, and for the price (each app costs $19.99 from the App Store) it really can give Microsoft a run for its money.

In this tutorial, I'll be introducing you to the Pages interface and walking you through the creation of a simple document. Let's get started.

Getting Started

If you haven't already got Pages, then you can grab it from the Mac App Store. You can also specify when buying a new Mac to have iWork pre-installed (which is often no cheaper than buying it directly from the App Store, but I think it's worth it for the convenience!). Once you've installed it on your computer then load it up – you'll be presented with the following dialogue:

Pages SplashPages SplashPages Splash
The splash screen, which will greet you when you first load up Pages.

Ever since version 4.2 of Pages '09, which was released back in July of last year, you can store your documents in iCloud, which allows you to view and edit them on any of your iOS devices also running the iOS version of Pages (unfortunately, though, you'll have to buy this separately!). Although this one isn't as rich in features as the OS X version, you can still do some basic editing to your documents whilst you're on the move. For this tutorial, though, we'll create a new blank document, so go ahead and click on New Document in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. You'll then be presented with the Templates box.

Choosing a TemplateChoosing a TemplateChoosing a Template
Which template will you choose?

Pages features two basic modes, Word Processing and Page Layout. The former is designed for basic documents such as letters, forms, resumes, reports and so on, and the latter is designed for more advanced stuff, such as newsletters, brochures, posters and so on. These are really useful if you're looking to writer something quickly (like a letter to your bank), but so we can really explore Pages, we'll create a new blank document by clicking on Blank under Word Processing then Blank again (Portrait view).

In my opinion, Pages is a lot simpler to use than Microsoft Word (especially seeing as they've cemented that nasty Ribbon interface over the top of everything, meaning that you have to hunt through endless menus to find what you're looking for) and it does not take long to get used to. It's probably worth mentioning here that you can import Word documents into Pages by simply clicking on File then Open then selecting your file.

Pages ToolbarPages ToolbarPages Toolbar
The default toolbar in Pages.

Running along the top, you can change the View of your document, look at its Outline, add individual Sections to your document (such as a title or contents page, depending on your template), add a Text Box and individual Shapes, add a Table or Chart (using Numbers, something which I'll cover in a later tutorial!) and work with Comments. The icon that you'll be working with the most is Inspector, though, which I'll look in greater detail in a bit. To the right of this, you can add Media from your iPhoto and Aperture libraries, as well as any image on your Mac; add a bit of colour to your document using Colors and finally play around with individual Fonts.

Writing Your First Document

Now we've looked at the interface in a bit of detail, it's time to get writing! I'm going to take it for granted that everyone reading this tutorial has used some form of word processor before, so I won't insult your intelligence by giving you a 101 tutorial! What I am going to show you instead is how Pages works in all its little intricacies.

Formatting your documents will throw up no nasty surprises. All the tools you really need are in the toolbar (as you can see in the previous screenshot) which allows you to play around with the font and its layout, as well as the line spacing (currently we are set to single line spacing) and, if you prefer, the number of columns in your document (this is useful if, say, you are designing a newsletter). You can also start lists (either bulleted or numbered) from this toolbar as well.

Header and FooterHeader and FooterHeader and Footer
Adding a header in Pages.

Unlike Word, you don't necessarily have to set headers and footers by yourself – Pages includes them automatically in the document. Simply hover over the top of your document (in this case, just above the blinking cursor) and a little box will appear where you can type in anything you want – it'll automatically be included on all the pages of your document.

Page NumbersPage NumbersPage Numbers
Adding some page numbers to your document.

To add page numbers (either in the header or in the footer) click on Insert > Auto Page Numbers, where a little dialogue box will pop up (as you can see in the screenshot above) where you can select where you would like your pages numbers to be.

Using the Inspector

We mentioned earlier about the Inspector, now we're going to put it into practice! Think of it as the System Preferences for your document. Click on it now – a little box should appear on the right-hand side (which you can drag around). Running from the top-left to the top-right hand side of the screen are loads of little icons, which stand for Document, Layout, Wrap, Text, Graphic, Metrics, Table, Chart, Link and QuickTime. The Document view which is highlighted in the screenshot below allows you to tinker with your page layout, such as the margins, orientation, headers and footers. Clicking on the Info section inside this option shows you all the statistics about your document, such as the number of words, characters, lines, paragraphs and so on.

The Inspector view is where you can customise all the little details about your document.

The other tabs are fairly self-explanatory – one that is particularly worth mentioning is the Text one (the one with, funnily enough, the T on it). Here you can customise your document's formatting in a bit more precision, such as line spacing, spaces between characters, indent settings and so on. It's worth remembering, though, that some tabs of the Inspector are broken down into further sub-tabs (the Text tab, for example, is split down into Text, List, Tabs and More) so if you don't find something at first have a look around – it's probably there but just hidden!

Working With Images

Images are great to add to a document but anyone who has used another word processor before (yes, I'm looking at you, Microsoft Word) will find that trying to get images appear in the right place can be an absolute nightmare. Adding media to your document is really easy – simply click on the Media icon in the top-right hand corner or drag the file from Finder onto the Pages icon in your dock, where it should be imported automatically. For this tutorial, I'm going to add a picture from my Aperture library to the document, and all I need to do is drag to where I would like it to be in my document – it should appear automatically afterwards.

Here, I am adding one of my own photographs to the document I've just created.

Pages automatically wraps your document text around the image you've just inserted, and when you select your image a new toolbar will come up. Here, you can turn off text wrap if you prefer (by clicking on the right-hand most icon) and perform some basic editing to the image by playing around with the brightness, contrast, saturation and so on (I think iPhoto may have had a little part to play here!).

Image EditingImage EditingImage Editing
Pages includes some basic photo editing tools, allowing you to tweak your image without having to open it in an external image editor.

Another really useful feature is the image mask (click on the icon with two rectangles, one inside the other), which allows you to crop down images to size from right within Pages.

Image MaskImage MaskImage Mask
Working with an image mask.

You can zoom in and out of the image using the slider and select which part of the image you'd like to keep by either dragging or resizing the box that pops up.

Playing Around With Tables

Tables are a really good way to present information in an easy-to-digest form and to add one, just click on the Table icon in the toolbar. The Inspector will pop up with a load of different options where you can customise your table to your liking (for example shading, number of columns and rows and their widths).

Playing around with tables using the Inspector.

If you select an entire table then you can drag it around and drop it where you'd like it to belong. You can also resize it just as you would an image.

Exporting Your Work

Pages allows you to export your creations in either PDF, Word, RTF, plain text and ePub format. To do so, just click on File then Export where you can choose your desired format. If you save it to iCloud then it'll appear on all your iOS devices as well, where you can edit it on the move and all changes will automatically be synced when you get back. You can also revert documents back to previous versions by clicking on File then Revert To and select Browse All Versions.

The Versions view within Pages.

As you can see from the screenshot above, you'll be presented with a Time Machine-like view allowing you to scroll back through all versions of your document. Any changes you make are automatically synced, so if you've made a major error and don't fancy hitting Command + Z (undo) a hundred times, then the Versions feature can save you a lot of time!

That's It!

Congratulations, you've successfully reached the end of this tutorial! Of course, Pages is a really advanced application that allows you do an awful lot of stuff (and too much to cover in one tutorial) so I'll be covering some more specific features in future tutorials. This one is simply designed to give you an overview of it and how it works – especially if you're switching from another word processor, such as LibreOffice's Write or Microsoft's Word.

I hope it has been useful and if you need any help with anything then just ask me in the Comments section below – I'll be glad to help you out!

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