For pure productivity type work, your G5 is just as solid as other workstations. You have plenty of options to create and edit various word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet files. Let your creative juices flow with tons of slick, sophisticated tools to make beautiful art. Keep in mind that there aren’t many options that are up to date. You may have to search eBay, resellers, and the used market to find the software packages you want.
Last Updated: 9/18/2020
iWork ’09 is the hands down best productivity suite for your Power Mac G5. It’s elegant, gorgeous, bug free, and robust. However, Apple does not sell it anymore, so you may have to dig around with resellers, eBay, and other spots to purchase a copy of yourself. You won’t regret it though. Keynote is one of the best presentation apps available. Pages serves a nice hybrid spot between great word processor and capable desktop publisher. Numbers is an effective spreadsheet option. You simply cannot go wrong with iWork.
If you want to stick with Microsoft Office, you’ll find two options – Microsoft Office 2004 and 2008. Both are capable suites. Microsoft Office 2004 may run better on slower machines, but it lacks built-in .docx support, for instance. Microsoft Office 2008 ended up dropping VisualBasic & macro support, making it less attractive to some power users. If you want the latest, 2008 is your last option.
Other word processing options:
- TextEdit – Leopard’s built-in text/rtf editor works great for basic documents, note taking, and simple editing. While it does not have nearly the extensive features of other programs, it works, and it comes with the OS.
- Mellel – This is a solid, venerable word processing option for the Mac that has special features for various languages, robust layout tools, and rock solid dependability. Last PowerPC compatible version is 2.9.1.
- Bean – Bean gives you the basics of word processing in a free, open source package. I keep hoping someone will step forward to keep this project alive for PowerPC Macs.
- Mariner Write – A long developed word processing option, Mariner Write has deep roots that go back to pre-Mac OS X days. 3.9.0 is the last option for PowerPC Macs.
- LibreOffice – This open source office suite is not something I recommend. It has annoyed me early on with its non-Mac-friendly interface, its bloat, and its slow speed. And now, it is no longer developed for PowerPC. The last official version that runs on PPC is 188.8.131.52. Check out these updated LibreOfficeDev builds here.
Dealing with DOCX Files
If you need to work with .docx files sent by co-workers, friends, or family members, you’ve got some options.
- TextEdit in Leopard opens .docx files. More complicated files probably do not work well, since TextEdit is basically a glorified RTF editor. Still, this is the most cost effective option by far.
- Microsoft Office is the most native approach. You probably can open those more complex files using Office 2008.
- Pages 09 handles .docx files pretty well, with some caveats. I haven’t seen much issue with them, but there is occasionally a graphic or complex chart that comes out looking a little off.
- LibreOfficeDev (184.108.40.206) offers to open .docx files, but it does produce funky results. For example, a two page file ends up being several pages long as LibreOffice puts page breaks in everywhere it can. Very strange. More testing to come.
Distraction Free Writing
If you like distraction free writing, WriteRoom is a solid, elegant choice. This app really only does RTF files, so there’s not a ton of layout type options. When you write though, you have an option to go full screen and hide those emails, messages, and other annoyances grabbing your attention. Version 2.5.1 is the last to run on PowerPC machines.
If you are looking for MarkDown support for your Power Mac, here are a few options.
- SimpleMark is a custom built MarkDown editor being developed specifically for PowerPC machines. You can download it from this site.
- nvALT is a spiritual successor to Notational Velocity and is more of a note taker than a pure MarkDown editor. Version 2.0 is the last to work on PowerPC.
- MultiMarkDown is a powerful command line utility, easily compiled for your Mac, which can take any text file with MarkDown code and export it to HTML, RTF, or LaTeX.
iLife ’09 is the last version of Apple’s content creation suite, including great apps like iMovie HD, GarageBand, iPhoto, and others. It’s really excellent software to have and extends the usefulness and possibilities of your Power Mac G5 immensely. The suite is still available from resellers for around $40, maybe less on eBay. iTunes (although you don’t need iLife to get it) is still the best option for buying and enjoying great music on your Mac.
BTW, if you need the last version of iTunes for Power Macs, find it here.
Power Mac G5s make capable machines for video editing. There are a variety of video editing options for your G5, from free to expensive, though you will have to search around for older copies to purchase. Keep in mind that it is hard for me to recommend one video editing application, since most videographers and producers tend to be partial to a particular suite. Use the one that you know best.
Seashore is an open source Mac native photo editor for Mac OS X Tiger and up based on the technology behind GIMP. It’s pretty solid software and looks much better than other open source alternatives. Current version is 0.5.1.
If you want to try GIMP, here’s a port for Mac. This has been improving, but at times, the interface has been one of the worst examples of GUI design in the world of software.
What about Adobe CS?
The venerable and richly featured Adobe CS packages make excellent content creation tools for your Mac. Once again, you may have to search among resellers and used markets for packages that will work for you. The last version to work on PowerPC Macs is Adobe CS 4.
Preview is built in to Leopard, and it’s super fast and awesome. More than just a PDF viewer, Preview lets you rearrange PDFs, modify images, fill in some forms, and export files to different formats. I use it regularly to grab icons from apps for this website. Very useful.
- PDF Lab is a great swiss army knife tool for PDFs, letting you merge different PDF files into one, split them, add watermarks, and more. Very useful. Evidently, the app was buggy on later versions of Mac OS X, and it’s a little harder to find. I am sharing a link to it to via my DropBox account.
- Skim is another great PDF viewer that includes note taking ability and lots of other fun features. It has a nice full screen reading option too. The latest version for Leopard is 1.3.22.
Audacity is an open source, rock solid audio recorder and editor for Mac. The current version still works on PowerPC machines. You don’t really need anything more than this great app to capture audio, modify it, save it in various formats, and enjoy life doing podcasting or basic recording. Go for it.
Amadeus Pro is another solid option for recording and manipulating audio files. It bills itself as a multitrack audio recorder. Very robust and very solid. I use version 1.5.5, but it appears version 2.0.8 was the last compatible with PowerPC Macs.