Many of us was brought up with Microsoft Word on Windows or Mac. But MS Word, besides its price, it in many occasion an overkill to most of us.
If we look carefully of those documents we created using Word, I would say almost 90% of them are simple documents, i.e. letters, short articles, etc. that most features on Word are not used at all.
There are also compatibility problem that forces almost everyone using Word instead of alternatives, i.e. if you have Word, you are almost certain that you will be able to open any documents created using Word.
This is a wrong perception however. Documents created using later versions of Word does not necessarily open in earlier version of Word. To maintain compatibility, most of us will fallback to saving Word documents in Word 97-2001 format, instead of the later xml or docx (Word 2007) formats.
Word is also a bulky monster that will eat up your memory without realising, if you open Word and not closing it for long hours, it will eventually freeze and render your PC/Mac slow like turtle, a common symptom for Microsoft products.
But how are we avoid using Word while maintaining compatibility with other Word users?
Look for alternative.
There are a few alternatives one can choose from, and I will concentrate on Mac instead of on Windows.
First, determine your needs, ask yourself what kind of documents you created most, and do you need to share editable documents you created with others, or receiving editable documents from others.
Ask also whether you often write lengthly documents with fancy features like Table of Contents, footnotes, and applying style sheets to your documents.
If the above is alien to you, likely you need a simple word processor to do your job than Microsoft Word.
On Mac OSX, there are a couple of alternatives, one of them is Bean.
The name BEAN looks funny at first, BEAN is an Open Source word processor so simple that you can start working with immediately with no training. The advantage of Open Source allowing you to add features on top of what is already provided, if you are OSX/Objective-C programmer. It provides a solid foundation for you to customize word processor for your own needs.
If you are not a programmer, the core features of Bean covers daily needs on word processor.
Bean is also fast, efficient, able to open and save Word documents. As other Mac applications, saving to PDF is readily available, unlike Windows where you have to rely on 3rd party PDF printing utilities.
Bean gives you an uncluttered view of editing screen, simple, and easy to use toolbar (yes, only one toolbar instead of zillion toolbar or ribbon that occupies half of your screen in the case of Word).
Once open, just type as you would on Word. It is lightning fast, and smooth. In addition, you can type any character as long as OSX supports, means from Tamil to Arabic to Chinese to Japanese.
Bean needs no tutorial, it is not a monster like Word. Go explore yourself, and you will soon fall in love with.