FOSS Under Mac OS X: LibreOffice

Updated 06/21/16

I just saw a notice today that the new LibreOffice 4.3.1 ( was now available. What better topic for this series, as this is probably the Open Source program, short of Linux itself, that I have been using the longest.

Well sort of, LibreOffice was forked from in 2010 and OpenOffice is what I began using years ago. OpenOffice was created as an Open Source version of the 1985 era StarOffice.
OpenOffice had been acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2000 and was being developed by them. The Oracle Corporation bought Sun Microsystems early in 2010, and in September of that year LibreOffice was forked from OpenOffice under The Document Foundation. Oracle announced in April 2011 that it was ending OpenOffice development and it donated the OpenOffice code to the Apache Software Foundation later that year.

LibreOffice is an office program suite similar to Microsoft Office which includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, diagram/drawing, math and database components. The word processing, spreadsheet and database components all support LibreOffice Basic, which is similar to Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). LibreOffice uses the international ISO/IEC Standard OpenDocument file format as the native file format, and it supports many other office suite file formats through the use of Import/Export filters.

As the LibreOffice web page says “LibreOffice is a powerful office suite; its clean interface and powerful tools let you unleash your creativity and grow your productivity. LibreOffice embeds several applications that make it the most powerful Free & Open Source Office suite on the market: Writer, the word processor, Calc, the spreadsheet application, Impress, the presentation engine, Draw, our drawing and flowcharting application, Base, our database and database frontend, and Math for editing mathematics.

With it being able to import and export MS Office files, it is a very economical (free versus $399 for Office Professional 2013), yet
powerful way of creating and working with business files. It is the only spreadsheet and presentation tool I have had on my Mac for many years, and I have had no problems with reading or editing Excel or PowerPoint files I have been sent. A user generated comparison between LibreOffice and MS Office is available which gives an overview of how the features of the two compare.

LibreOffice is available for the Windows, Linux and Mac OS X platforms at

Updated 6/18/15 – LibreOffice is now available directly from the Mac App Store! This means you can download and install LibreOffice, then get updates automatically like with other OS X Apps. Two editions are available: LibreOffice from Collabora (a consultancy firm for open source software based in the UK) and  LibreOffice Vanilla. The Collabora edition costs $10 while the Vanilla version is free. The Collabora version is targeted at the enterprise user. Read more here.
Updated 12/9/15 – One thing to keep in mind with LibreOffice is that there are add-ons that can expand the scope of features available [2].

[1] Template Management in LibreOffice 5 – added 10/27/15
[2] 6 useful LibreOffice extensions – added 12/9/15

Related Articles:

  1. 9 Effective LibreOffice Writer Tips to Boost Your Productivity – added 6/21/16

Previously-Vienna                                                                                  Next-Calibre

To see all of my Mac OS X related posts visit my MAC OS X page

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