The writer's journey to great formatting software is often made more difficult with the Mac vs PC issue. Some authors love their Macs and others swear by their PCs. There's no right or wrong here, just preferences. But the fact remains that Vellum, an incredibly popular formatting software, is only available on Mac.
But before you shell out the money to get a Mac of your own, take a moment to check out this article. There's a couple of workarounds, and more importantly, one cheaper alternative. Let's dive in.
- Whether you should use Vellum on Windows or use an alternative
- Step-by-Step Instructions on Using Vellum on Windows
- Alternatives to Vellum for Popular Operating Systems
Table of contents
- Should You Still Use Vellum?
- Using Vellum on Windows
- Other Alternatives
- Use Atticus
Should You Still Use Vellum?
Before we dive into the ways that you can use Vellum, the question needs to be asked: do you even need to use Vellum on Windows?
While Vellum, frustratingly, has never released a Windows version of their software, it wasn't until recently (as of this writing) that any good alternative existed.
Atticus has a number of features that makes it equal or superior to Vellum, including:
- All the same formatting features
- A much cheaper price tag
- It works on all platforms, Windows, Mac, Linux, and even Chromebooks
- It can be accessed by a browser
Honestly, this is a much sweeter deal. So I would encourage you to take a look at Atticus before you go buying Vellum to use on a Windows machine.
All that said, let's say you've already bought Vellum and are determined to jump through the hoops necessary to use it on a Windows machine. Read on to find out how.
Using Vellum on Windows
Now to the nitty gritty. You have several options when it comes to using Vellum on Windows: MacInCloud and Oracle VM VirtualBox are the two big ones. I'll also tell you about some other services that you can use which basically do the same thing as these two.
So, let's dive into MacInCloud first.
MacInCloud is a service that allows you to access a Mac remotely through your internet connection. But it comes with a fee (starting at $1 per hour with a minimum $30 preload) and they give you access to a Mac you don't own.
You can open up a window on the internet browser of your choice and get to work using Vellum software from your Windows operating system. So make sure you have a decent Internet connection.
However, although you can use Vellum as long as you like as a “free trial,” you'll still have to pay a one-time fee of either $199 (eBook) or $249 (eBook and print book) when you're ready to generate the finished product.
Still, if you're a PC user who's not sure whether Vellum is right for you, MacInCloud is an inexpensive way to play around with the book formatting software to see if you like it. Keep in mind that some users report some small glitches and lag time when using Vellum through MacInCloud.
Here's how to use MacInCloud to access Vellum.
1. Sign up for MacInCloud
Head over to MacInCloud.com and select the pricing plan that's right for you. I suggest using the hourly option, but you can also sign up for a monthly plan if you're confident you'll use the service often.
2. Review the Options
Once you select your plan and hit “Sign Up,” you'll be taken to a page like this:
For our purposes, I would suggest leaving all the options at default, although you may want to select a location nearest you if it isn’t already selected.
Check to see that everything looks good and hit the “Next” button.
3. Fill Out Your Info
The next page is pretty standard contact and payment information. Fill it all out and get ready to go.
4. Check Your Email
Once you've paid you'll receive a confirmation email with a detailed outline on how to sign in and get started. Make sure to read the entire email before you sign in, as the information there will help you make the best of your experience.
5. Sign Into Your Virtual Mac
Follow the steps in the confirmation email to sign into your account at MacInCloud.com. Once you've followed these instructions, you'll have a window (or tab) open on your computer showing the desktop screen of a Mac! Now all you have to do is find Vellum.
To do this, look for this symbol:
If you don't see it along the tool bar (also known as the Dock) at the bottom of the screen, you may need to search for it by clicking the blue and white face (usually located on the left side of the toolbar). If for some strange reason the Mac you're accessing doesn't have Vellum installed (which is unlikely), you'll need to contact support at MacInCloud to remedy the situation.
6. Keep These Tips in Mind
It can be hard to remember that you're actually using a Mac interface while you're in Vellum. If you're not familiar with the differences between Mac and Windows, there will be a bit of a learning curve. And if you're not familiar with Vellum, that curve will be even steeper.
Here are the big things to keep in mind while using Vellum through MacInCloud:
- You can't use key shortcuts for cutting, copying, and pasting while on Vellum through MacInCloud. You'll have to do this with your mouse.
- You'll need to use the ” key to write @ when you enter email addresses.
7. Transferring Files to and from Vellum
Since you don't have access to your local storage when using MacInCloud, you'll need to have a plan for transferring your Word doc to Vellum. You can do this a couple of ways.
You can use a cloud-based file sharing service like Dropbox or Google Drive. Simply place your word doc (remember that it needs to be in docx format) in the file-sharing account of your choice from your PC, then log in to that service form the MacInCloud window and retrieve the file.
If you do decide to use Vellum's print or eBook conversion option to export an EPUB, PDF, or other Vellum file, you'll need to place it in your file sharing service as well. This way you can access it from your Windows OS.
You can also email Vellum eBook and print files to yourself in order to access them through MacInCloud. This is good for one or two books, but any author with more books to format will be better off using a file sharing service.
There are some other services similar to MacInCloud out there that you can explore, but MacInCloud seems to be the best and most reliable option. It's also worth mentioning the Oracle VM VirtualBox option that you may come across while searching for ways to run Vellum on Windows.
Oracle VM VirtualBox
It's possible to run the MacOS of your choice on your Windows PC by using Oracle VM VirtualBox. There are plenty of people who do this and there are many tutorials online in both video and blog post format.
However, according to Apple's software licenses, doing this isn't strictly legal. As such, I can't recommend this option as a viable way to get Vellum on your PC.
In addition, it's complicated and time-consuming to do this through VM VirtualBox, which is another good reason to stick with MacInCloud or similar services.
People like Vellum because it allows them to make a beautiful book with relative ease. It has been the best option for converting a word document into a professional-looking finished book file for a long time.
But I can say with confidence that Atticus is the best alternative for Vellum, not just for Windows users, but for Mac users as well.
People have been saying for years that an alternative to Vellum for PC would be a huge help to indie authors everywhere. Well, that's just what Atticus is. It takes all that's good about Vellum and improves on it.
But the best part is that it doesn't matter whether you're a Mac user or a Windows user — you can get Atticus for all major operating systems. In fact, you can use it in a web browser as well as a software download.
If you're tired of writing in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you can use Atticus as a word processor, a formatting tool, a collaboration tool, and a place to outline your next book.
You can choose which book style you want and preview it in real time. Choose your favorite template from premade options or customize your eBook and print book with just a few clicks. Plus, you can export your book as a PDF, a generic EPUB, or a docx file.
Just like the Vellum software, you can get Atticus for a one time fee that includes all future updates, but it's actually a LOT cheaper than Vellum. And you'll never have to worry about eBook or print book formatting again.
If you're an indie author, you've likely heard about Vellum at some point. But if you don't have a Mac, you may have a hard time using the software. Using MacInCloud for a small fee, you can experiment with Vellum on your Windows operating system in just a few steps.
When it comes time to export your print and/or eBook file, you'll need to decide whether you want to shell out the considerable cost of the popular software.
Of course, there are other options out there that you can use on any operating system, such as Atticus (developed by yours truly and my awesome team). Still, it's good to know that you don't have to have a Mac to use Vellum.