LibreOffice 6: Free Office Suite, Updated.

LibreOffice-Initial-Artwork-Logo-ColorLogoBasic-500pxI quit using Microsoft Office a couple years ago, and I haven’t missed it. If you feel trapped paying the Microsoft tax, you can relax. There is an alternative.

Since 2015, I’ve used LibreOffice 5 on Mac, Linux and Windows as a replacement for Microsoft Word and Excel. I was excited when The Document Foundation announced version 6 two days ago. I installed it on my laptop yesterday and my first impressions are good. For example, the last version took about 7 seconds to launch on my old MacBook. This new version launches in 5 seconds. Overall, it seems smooth and fast. I’ve only had a few hours to explore the new features, so I plan to write follow-up articles as I get into the details. Here’s some of the highlights from the official press release:

In Writer, a Form menu has been added, making it easier to access one of the most powerful – and often unknown – LibreOffice features: the ability to design forms, and create standards-compliant PDF forms.

Good news – LibreOffice can replace Adobe Acrobat for most general office tasks. I use it to create new and edit existing PDF files. Version 6 makes it even easier.

The Mail Merge function has been improved, and it is now possible to use either a Writer document or an XLSX file as data source.

Other improvements:

Import/export of Microsoft format documents is improved. LibreOffice Writer can now export to ePub and QuarkExpress (important for authors who want to create e-books), the help system is improved, and there are new user interface options. If you prefer the look of the Microsoft “ribbon” menus, LibreOffice has the “Notebookbar” option so you can choose your favorite menu style.

Other exciting news:

The upcoming release of LibreOffice Viewer for Android will be able to create new documents, will offer a tab-based toolbar with formatting options, and will let users add pictures either from the camera or from a file stored locally or in the cloud. In addition, the Calc user interface will be improved with column headers, while Impress will offer a presentation mode. The release is planned during the first quarter of 2018.

Did I mention it’s free?