What is LibreOffice?

LibreOffice is a suite of programs for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, and vector drawings. It is free to download, use, and distribute. It is available in many languages and runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows.

LibreOffice’s native file formats are OpenDocument (*.ODT, *.ODS, *.ODP, etc.), but it can open and save to many other formats, including Microsoft Office formats (*.DOC, *.XLS, *.PPT, etc.).

To download LibreOffice, go to the LibreOffice website.

LibreOffice is a project of the not-for-profit organization, The Document Foundation.

Writer Guide for Mac users

Cover of Writer Guide macOS editionI revised the Writer Guide to make a macOS-specific edition, and the LibreOffice Documentation Team accepted it as one of the official books.

You can download the PDF free here.

I will produce a printed version soon.

LibreOffice Documentation Year in Review

Olivier Hallot has published a detailed summary of the Documentation Team’s successes during 2021 and a look ahead at plans for 2022.

2021: The Year the LibreOffice Documentation Team Shined

New user guide for Base

LibreOffice 7.2 Base GuideAnother user guide was published by the LibreOffice documentation team on December 8: the LibreOffice 7.2 Base Guide, for the database component. It is available in free PDF or ODT from the LibreOffice website, or in a low-cost printed copy from Lulu.com.

Given the very few changes in Base since LibreOffice 6.4, the team decided to just rebrand the previous book, as part of an effort to produce a complete set of books for v7.2. If you want printed copies and already have the Base 6.4 book, you could choose to save some money by not buying this one.

Visit the Documentation page on the LibreOffice website for links.

Two new user guides: Impress and Calc

Cover of Impress 7.2 GuideCover of Calc 7.2 GuideThe latest user guides from the LibreOffice documentation team are LibreOffice 7.2 Impress and LibreOffice 7.2 Calc, available in free PDF, ODT, or to read in a browser. Low-cost printed copies are available from Lulu.com.

Visit the Documentation page on the LibreOffice website for links.

Workaround for a bug in Base on macOS

EDIT/UPDATE: The bug has been fixed in version 7.1.3.

On macOS (but not on Windows or Linux), in versions 7.1.x and 7.2.x of LibreOffice, a bug in Base causes the Memo (LONGVARCHAR) field type to have a dark background, so the contents are not visible. Other field type [date, number, TEXT (VARCHAR), and so on] have a normal white background. When clicked, the black fields turn white and I can type into them, but when I click or Tab to another field, they return to black. When I use a form to enter data, the form fields are normal, but the results in the database itself have the black field background. The database otherwise works as it should.

This behaviour has been reported as Bug 140854. The workaround is to use an older version of LibreOffice, such as 7.0.x, where the bug does not occur. You can find a link to version 7.0.6 near the bottom of the download page.

Fortunately, it is easy to install more than one version of LibreOffice on macOS, so you don’t have to completely give up the latest version if you want to use it for other components. Simply rename the existing version to something else; I usually change “LibreOffice” to “LibreOffice721” or similar. Then install a second version as usual by double-clicking the downloaded DMG file. Both versions will share the same user profile, so it’s easy to switch among them. Note: You can set up separate user profiles (for example, for testing purposes), but that’s beyond the scope of this article; see this wiki page if you want to go there.