LibreOffice Review

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LibreOffice is a free Microsoft Office alternative, complete with spreadsheet, database, presentation, and word processor programs. With support for the major file types used by MS Office programs like Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint, this free office suite should work for just about anyone.

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More About LibreOffice

LibreOffice includes the following in its program suite: Base (Access), Calc (Excel), Impress (PowerPoint), and Writer (Word).

In addition to already-mentioned MS Office alternatives, LibreOffice also installs Draw, a graphics and diagram tool, and Math, a formula editor.

Pros:

  • Works with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems
  • Automatic spell check in all parts of the suite
  • Writer can open all the same file types MS Word can open
  • Calc and Impress support many of the same file formats as Excel and PowerPoint
  • Supports templates and extensions to add more features
  • portable version is available

Cons:

  • Database files like ACCDB and MDB can not be used with LibreOffice
  • Unable to save files as PowerPoint/Excel/Word macro-enabled files
  • LibreOffice can't save files as MS Office template files
  • Must install the whole suite at once (can't install just Writer, etc.)

LibreOffice File Formats

LibreOffice fully supports the following file types, meaning that you can open and save back to these formats:

CSV, DBF, DIF, DOC, DOCX, DOT, FODS, FODT, HTML, ODG, ODP, ODS, ODT, OTP, OTS, OTT, POT, POTM, PPSX, PPT, PPTX, RTF, SLK, STC, STW, SXC, SXI, SXW, TXT, UOP, UOS, XLS, XLSX, XLT, XML

As you can see, DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX, popular formats found in Microsoft's Office programs, are all fully supported in LibreOffice.

The file formats below can be opened with one of LibreOffice's programs but can not be saved back to the same format. You'll need to choose a format listed above to save one of these file types to after opening:

123, 602, ABW, BMP, CFR, CGM, CMX, CWK, DOCM, DOTM, DOTX, DUMMY, DXF, EMF, EPS, FB2, GIF, HQX, HWP, JPEG, JPG, KEY, LRF, LWP, MCW, MET, MW, MWD, NX^D, ODM, OTH, PBM, PCD, PCT, PCX, PDB, PDF, PGM, PICT, POTX, PPM, PPTM, PSD, PUB, RAS, SGF, SGV, SVM, SYLK, TGA, UOF, VDX, VSD, VSDM, VSDX, WB2, WK1, WKS, WMF, WN, WPD, WPG, WPS, XLC, XLK, XLM, XLSB, XLSM, XLTM, XLTX, XLW, ZABW, ZIP

LibreOffice vs Microsoft Office

There are numerous things included in both LibreOffice and Microsoft Office that make it difficult to compare with each other. When looking at the two office suites as a whole, it's obvious that they can both function as a spreadsheet, word processor, database, and presentation program, but there are differences as well.

LibreOffice can edit math functions and equations like fractions, exponents, and the like. Also included is software which can build photo albums, flowcharts, and other graphical documents. On the other hand, Microsoft Office includes different products, such as an email client, communications platform, and note-taking software.

Though Microsoft Office and LibreOffice can use some of the same file formats and include similar office products, they are still two different suites that should be looked at individually to determine which is more appropriate for a certain task.

My Thoughts on LibreOffice

My initial response to LibreOffice is positive because of the number of office products it includes at absolutely no cost. Of all the free office suite programs I've used, each portion of this suite seems to be more responsive and easier to use than those in similar programs.

I like the initial program launcher that opens when you start LibreOffice, giving you the opportunity to then open Writer, Calc, etc. Also from this screen is a list of recently saved files and the ability to open any of the supported file formats from above without having to first open a specific office product, which can be a nice time saver.

It's uncommon to find such a large program available in portable form, but we see this with LibreOffice, which is wonderful for using office on the go. The extracted files require around 300 MB of space, which isn't asking too much if using something like a decently sized flash drive.

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