Apple’s free suite of iWork apps gives Mac, iPad, and even iPhone users a great way to create newsletters, spreadsheets, and presentations. However, as intuitive and attractive as pages, Numbersand Opening speech are, it’s also fair to say that they have always lagged behind their well-known Microsoft counterparts.
Apple’s iWork apps are free, while Microsoft’s Word, Exceland power point must be purchased separately. Of course, these apps are much more powerful and can be worth it if you can find a good deal.
With today’s update pages, however, there may be one less reason to use Microsoft Word; Apple has finally integrated direct mail automation into its writing application.
Mail merge, which lets you create a single document or envelope template that can be used for dozens of recipients, has always been a glaring omission in Apple’s word-processing application. 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 in such demand that enterprising developers have created third-party apps to fill the void. Thanks to Pages’ AppleScript support, more tech-savvy users were also able to cobble together their own homemade solutions. However, all of these were hacks to make up for a feature Apple really should have built in from the start.
Worth the wait?
Although it’s been a long time coming, direct mail has finally arrived in Pages 12.1 – and it’s not just available on the Mac; iPad and even iPhone users can also enjoy it.
It’s a nice improvement over Microsoft Word, which offers solid mail merge functionality on the desktop, but not on the iPhone or iPad. That’s no surprise because Apple works hard to deliver feature parity as much as possible across its entire family of devices.
Word, Exceland power point for iPhone and iPad are functional enough for the standard edition, but they lack the advanced features of their desktop counterparts. On the other hand, there are very few pages, Numbersand Opening speech things you can do on the Mac that you can’t do on your iPad or iPhone.
Apple has also integrated its Mail Merge feature much more tightly throughout the macOS and iOS experience. More importantly, if you’re sending a letter to a group of friends, family, or co-workers, you don’t need to create a separate spreadsheet; you can pull the information directly from the Contacts app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
When setting up mail merge in pagesyou will be able to drop in the name and address fields that match your contacts, and when you perform the merge, you will be able to select the contact list or group whose names you want to extract.
Almost any field in your contacts is fair game for a direct mail in pages; the only exception is the Notes field. This includes things like birthdays, anniversaries and other dates, social media handles, associated names and even URLs.
Of course, you can still use a traditional spreadsheet, in which case you can create whatever fields you want. This could be useful if you were sending thank you letters for gifts or donations after a fundraising event, for example, where you might want to indicate the amount or gift given in the body of the letter.
What else is new in Pages, Numbers and Keynote?
Although mail merge is undoubtedly the most important new feature coming pages this time, Apple also added some “elegant new templates for event invitations and student certificates” to help people get ready for grad season. You can also now export your Pages documents to plain text files.
Numbers achieve performance improvements when inserting rows and columns into large tables, while Opening speech adds dynamic backgrounds that move as you move between slides, plus additional animated themes to showcase these new backgrounds. It is also now possible to skip or undo all slides in a collapsed group.