LibreOffice Review

LibreOffice Review

LibreOffice is a free and open-source document suite that’s available on all major OSes, but it still doesn’t offer online access or collaboration features. It’s also not nearly as smooth in operation as competitors. Epblogs goal is to be the tech side of trust. We are proud of our independence and of our LibreOffice Review thorough testing methods, in which we take our time with a product. We regularly check our test reports for changes and thus keep them up-to-date over a longer period of time – regardless of when a device was released.guaranteed reviews . Trust our Epblogs comprehensive reviews. We tested the products over a longer period of time and were able to see how they cope with everyday tasks. This is how we help you to find the best product for your read our guaranteed reviews .

LibreOffice now at version 7.3 is one of the best-known open-source office suites. Open-source software has real appeal for government offices, financial firms, and other privacy-conscious users, because they can examine the source code for any vulnerabilities themselves. LibreOffice is also notably one of the few desktop-style office suites that costs nothing to use yet has a feature set that rivals Microsoft 365’s. What holds back LibreOffice is its unwieldy interface and occasionally buggy performance. It also doesn’t offer any collaboration features or web-based versions of its apps.

What You Get for Free With LibreOffice

LibreOffice includes a word-processor called Writer, a spreadsheet editor called Calc, a presentation app called Impress, a vector-drawing program called Draw, a database program called Base, and a math-formula editor called Math. That’s a good set of tools for free.

You don’t get anything for managing mail, contacts, or calendars, but you probably use something else already. Whatever you use is likely to be more modern and elegant than anything LibreOffice provides. Keep in mind that LibreOffice doesn’t offer mobile apps or online collaboration, capabilities you get for free from Google Workspace and that come with most other for-pay modern office suites. Other things you don’t get include translation and research features, a dictation option, or a note-taking app. But unless you’re willing to go online to Google for those features, you’ll either have to pay Microsoft for them, or, if you have a Mac, use Apple’s Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

An Open-Source Approach

The long history of LibreOffice and its ancestors, OpenOffice and StarOffice, helps to explain how it looks and feels today. The suite has always tried to emulate Microsoft 365’s apps, right down to Office’s menu structure and shortcut keys. One advantage of this approach is that it makes LibreOffice more easily accessible to former Microsoft Office users. If you don’t know which keystroke to use in LibreOffice, there’s a good chance it’s the same as it was in Microsoft’s apps. For instance, Alt-equals acts as the Autosum key in Calc, just as it does in Excel.

A disadvantage of this approach is that almost every interface feature that has even been in Microsoft’s apps remains in LibreOffice’s, long after Microsoft radically reduced and simplified its interface to reduce clutter and overlap. What’s worse is that some of the most useful features in Microsoft’s apps never arrived on LibreOffice, partly because features seem to get added to the suite only when someone volunteers to add them. LibreOffice defaults to the familiar toolbar-and-icon menu structure that millions of users learned from older versions of Microsoft Office. Microsoft abandoned this convention years ago in favor of the new Ribbon interface, and LibreOffice now offers a similar option, too.

Interface Issues From the Start

One reason to choose LibreOffice, especially for large organizations, is its consistency; LibreOffice uses the same interface and offers the same features across every platform it supports.  Unfortunately, in contrast to the elegance of Google’s and Microsoft’s apps, LibreOffice Writer greets you with a cluttered interface. There’s a top-line menu, two icon-packed horizontal toolbars, and a ruler, plus a vertical toolbar with icons leading to panes with formatting menus, a gallery of shapes and diagrams; and a navigator panel. You can turn off any of these modules from the View menu, but this nearly incomprehensible muddle of features at the very start is all too typical of LibreOffice’s interface, which tries to satisfy everyone in a way that ends up frustrating them all.

In the View menu, you can find the User Interface submenu that lets you switch from the traditional top-line menu to the aforementioned ribbon-style Tabbed menu. Unfortunately, when I switched to the Tabbed menu, LibreOffice made it almost impossible to switch back. The User Interface menu wasn’t on the View tab anymore; it took me a long time to discover, by chance, that this menu had moved to a submenu on the three-line “hamburger” menu at the upper right of the window. 

Unlike Microsoft 365, LibreOffice doesn’t give you a box where you can type in the name of a feature and let the app show you where to find the feature on the menu. The most commonly used menus in LibreOffice’s apps are clear and spacious, especially the ones in the sidebar pane, but the Options menu is cramped and often incomprehensible unless you’ve been using the software for years.

LibreOffice Writer’s default document font is the startlingly ugly Liberation Serif. To get an idea of how ugly this font is, just type the word “textual” and notice the way the first two letters are jammed together while the rest of the word is spaced out correctly. If you want to change the default font, don’t look to the Text or Character menus. You’ll need to find the Styles menu and scroll down to the Manage Styles submenu to make this change. By contrast, Microsoft Word, SoftMaker Office’s TextMaker, and Corel WordPerfect let you select a default document font directly from their font menus.

One other advantage of Microsoft Word is that it lets you work on documents in a wide choice of different views, depending on what you need. Microsoft offers a print view (with the option to hide the top and bottom margins), or a view that shows your documents as if they were saved to the web, or an outline view, or a no-clutter read-only view that helps you concentrate on the text. Plus, you can display multiple pages side-by-side rather than arranged vertically. LibreOffice lets you view documents in print mode, with margins showing at the top and bottom; in a web-style view, with no page formatting; and in a collapsible outline view.

Hit-or-Miss Features

LibreOffice offers some unique features, but it implements many of them in clumsy ways. LibreOffice’s handling of document redactions is one example. It’s possible to apply redactions to a document when exporting it as a PDF, but, to accomplish this, the suite opens a graphics-based image of your document in its Draw program and then exports the PDF as an image-style PDF, which can’t be searched for text. The suite can automatically redact words or strings of words you enter into a menu, too. But if you want to manually select text to redact, you have to draw boxes around the text in the Draw program instead of using typical text-selection methods. LibreOffice, however, makes it easy to embed the code for an original document into a PDF created from it. This way, someone else can edit the exported PDF in LibreOffice without going through the step of converting it to another format.

LibreOffice does offer some other convenient features. For example, the Function menu in the Calc spreadsheet editor displays functions in a clear outline form, rather than the linear form used in Excel and most other spreadsheets apps. Only WordPerfect Office offers the same convenience, though in an otherwise low-powered spreadsheet program. Then again, Calc doesn’t support web-linked data like current stock prices. 

Advanced users coming to LibreOffice will be surprised to find that recorded macros aren’t supported unless you enable them in an Advanced tab that’s buried in the Options menu. Even then, macros aren’t as flexible or easily managed as in Microsoft’s apps.

The Impress presentation app lets you save presentations to online services for easy remote viewing, but otherwise it seems limited to a relatively ancient feature set. Don’t expect fine-tuned transitions or even the most minimal controls over inserted video; you can’t even add online videos. The Base database app can connect to Access databases but can’t import or create them.

Performance and Compatibility

I hoped the new version of LibreOffice would be less crash-prone than older ones, but it still sometimes choked in testing when I tried to open or import a file. It usually works on the second attempt with the same file, so this is more of an annoyance than a dealbreaker. If you can’t open the file on the second try, you can start LibreOffice in its Safe Mode to gets things working again. I’ve also used Safe Mode to restore the suite’s default interface when I changed it in ways that were too confusing to use.

LibreOffice’s apps do have impressive power, however. LibreOffice’s Calc, for example, is the only non-Microsoft spreadsheet app that successfully opens the monster Excel worksheet I use for testing. LibreOffice’s Writer breezed through 2,000-page Word documents with speed and aplomb.

LibreOffice supports just about any document format from the past three decades. This is a major advantage over every other document suite for anyone who has to work with files created decades ago in obsolete word processors or spreadsheets. It even opens documents from older versions of Apple’s Pages, though not from the current version. If you work in a school, office, or lab with legacy documents, LibreOffice can be invaluable for this reason alone, even if you don’t use it for everyday work.

LibreOffice’s closest rival in this respect is the Windows-only Corel WordPerfect Office suite, which also opens almost any legacy document. Oddly, Corel’s office suite can’t open documents created by the last, unofficial release of Corel’s own WordPerfect for the Mac, but LibreOffice can.

For the Open-Source Crowd

LibreOffice is an impressive achievement that keeps improving with each incremental release, and everyone who has legacy documents lurking on their hard disk ought to have a copy. However, LibreOffice still suffers from a clunky interface, despite some recent improvements; it crashes more than it should; and does not offer any online editing options. Unless you have security requirements that demand open-source software or your organization needs apps that work on Linux, macOS, and Windows, you should pay for Microsoft 365 or use Google Workspace instead. I’m glad LibreOffice exists, but I’m never glad to use it for long.

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