I have Microsoft Office/2008 on my MacBook Pro. Office doesn't support RTL languages like Farsi and Arabic, and I know that Office/2010 (for Windows) also has the same problem.

Do you think the lack of support is because of business competition, or some other reason?


3 Answers 3


“Why” is a question for Microsoft, but I'm guessing it boils down to a simple lack of resources on the part of the Mac Business Unit. They have to prioritize certain features, and RTL support is not a priority for them.

To address the underlying need, you have several options:

OpenOffice and NeoOffice support RTL text in Microsoft Office documents.

Mellel has a reputation as the best RTL/multilingual word processor (it certainly has a nice feature set for it, like a direction breaking space so you can mix RTL/LTR in a paragraph), but I don’t know how good its Microsoft Office document interoperability is.

This would also be a use case where it might make sense to run Office 2010 inside a Windows virtual machine.

  • 1
    I am using Iwork and OpenOffice right now But I need some features that just MS has it.
    – Am1rr3zA
    Aug 17, 2010 at 19:42
  • It would be interesting to know what MS Office–only features you need — that could help people visiting this page to know whether that need applies to them.
    – danhallock
    Aug 17, 2010 at 19:57

Microsoft has dragged their heels on support for RTL languages such as Hebrew and Arabic for years. It's always been 'coming in the next version' for as long as I've been using a Mac. Until it shows up, if it ever does, the premiere word processor for RTL languages on OS X is Mellel. It's actually quite great.


Microsoft probably doesn't have the manpower and it uses custom code for layout, plus the market is relatively small as well.

What's strange is that Apple's iWork doesn't work with RTL, although the OS (Cocoa framework) does support it.

Indeed, OpenOffice (or NeoOffice) are the best alternatives for RTL languages. Mellel should also work, but it's quite different in its approach to text editing.

  • 1
    iWork support RTL but not as good as MS office.
    – Am1rr3zA
    Aug 17, 2010 at 21:12

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