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Apple's office productivity package now handles spreadsheets in addition to word processing and presentations.

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Pages lets you edit .doc files from Microsoft Word.

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When we used a USB drive to transfer a file in Microsoft Word 2007's new .docx format to our Mac, Pages opened the file without a hitch. The same applies to .pptx and .xlsx files from PowerPoint and Excel 2007. However, when we e-mailed ourselves a .docx file, Pages could not open it. Our Mac treated the .docx as a collection of XML content.

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The new Change Tracking feature in Pages highlights edits to your document and displays the altered text to the side. Pages '08 also now automatically formats numbered lists into bulleted points.

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iWork '08 introduces conditional formatting, which means that the feature menus change to reflect what you're doing at the moment. When you select an image in Pages, for instance, options appear for changing the image's opacity, shadows, and placement.

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The new Instant Alpha feature lets you remove unwanted colors from an image. To take the dirt out of this picture, we just selected it with a circle and kept going until the dirt disappeared.

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Instant Alpha is imperfect, however, when dealing with jagged or fuzzy edges, such as the dirt we tried to delete from around the leaf. This feature works best when you're trying to cut out colors from distinct, clearly outlined shapes.

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Numbers includes various templates. When you open them, however, they remain filled with sample data and images that you'll have to replace.

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Numbers allows you to organize multiple spreadsheets within one document, which allows for flexible layering of charts, grids, text, comments, and images.

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Just like Microsoft Excel, Numbers displays the contents and coding of a selected cell just beneath the toolbar of features.

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The Edit Mask feature, found in all iWork applications, lets you drag a slider bar to resize an image.

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Numbers lets you drag a business card contact directly into a spreadsheet, organizing the name, number, and e-mail address into the appropriate columns.

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If you double-click an .xls file on a Mac that already has Excel installed, then Excel will open the spreadsheet. When using Numbers to open an .xls spreadsheet, the application warned us of potential changes to the sorting and formatting of our data.

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Numbers offers various chart options. But unlike Microsoft Excel 2007, it offers fewer styles, and it doesn't preview how they will look.

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You can add various shapes to a Numbers spreadsheet and manipulate them with a slider bar. We added a star and dragged the slider bar to expand its five points into a 17-point sunburst.

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During print preview, Numbers allows you to resize elements on the page to make them fit, thereby wasting less paper.

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Keynote, Apple's answer to PowerPoint, has not changed radically.

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Keynote's Smart Builds offer controls for changing the appearance of a slide and of transitions between slides.

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Keynote offers 28 effects for transitions between slides, including neat 3D patterns.

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Now you can add sound to a slide show. But if you create a voice narration, you'll have to record a perfect take for the length of the project. If you goof, unfortunately, you'll have to rerecord from scratch, and there are no per-slide playback controls.

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It's easy to add movie files to a Keynote presentation.

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