What Is The Best Version Of Microsoft Office For Mac

Posted By admin On 15.02.22

Microsoft Office is proprietary software and is not available for free. It is one of the 'cash cows' (very big source of revenue) for Microsoft, thus you might find some discounted versions (for students or non-profits), you will not find a free version. I highly recommend to look for free and open.

What Is The Best Version Of Microsoft Office For Mac

You may not have noticed, but of late there’s been a mind shift at Microsoft. First with the introduction of Office for iPad in 2014, then the addition of OneNote for Mac and iOS and an updated and useful version of Office for iPhone. Then, just a few weeks ago, Outlook for iOS, which may just be the best email app you’ll find for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Today? The preview release of Office 2016.

What Is The Best Alternative To Microsoft Office For Mac

What’s key about all of these releases is what seems to be a significant philosophical shift at Microsoft. What was once a “PC first. Mac? Whatever…” way of thinking has now become, “All features, all platforms, all at once.” No half measures. No, “Our studies show that Mac users aren’t interested in those features.” Quite simply, Office 2016 is Office on the Mac, as it should be, without compromising Office’s features or requiring Mac users to conform to a Windows way of working.

A Preview of Office is free for anyone starting today, but Microsoft is quick to note that Office 2016 will not follow the same model that Office for iOS has. Which is to say that while the Preview is free, when the suite ships for real a little later this year, it will require an Office 365 subscription or the purchase of a standalone copy for anything more than read/print-only access to Office documents.

This is a Preview (née beta) release and, thus, this is not a review. So, while I’ll take a deep dive First Look at the Office for Mac 2016 Preview, I’ll save any critical assessments for the final release. (Hey you! Yeah, you! I see your finger poised over the comments section ready to chew me out for schilling for Microsoft. Save it for the review, pal! I know who you are…)

The suite

The Office 2016 Preview updates all five apps in Microsoft’s office suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. The suite requires that your Mac is running Yosemite and, while the interface remains familiar, every application has a softer Yosemite-like look and feel. All the apps designed to work with Microsoft’s OneDrive services, including OneDrive for Business and private SharePoints, and are optimized for retina displays.

According to Microsoft, Office 2016 is designed to unify the look and feel of the applications across all platforms, so that no matter where you use Office—Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Web—the way you work remains the same. To that end, Microsoft has updated the “ribbon,” that tabbed toolbar running across the top of every Office document, so it looks like Office 2013 for Windows, and according to Microsoft, the user interface is now the same across all versions. Looking at the Windows and Mac versions side-by-side I’d say that’s accurate, although, to my somewhat biased eye, Office 2016 is easier on the eyes.

If you want a little more workspace, the ribbon can be hidden with a single click on the currently active tab or by clicking a small arrow appearing at the ribbon’s far right side. Microsoft has also added a new “Help Improve Office?” button to the ribbon, which you can use to send feedback. According to the rep I spoke with, this isn’t a beta-only feature that will disappear once the product ships. It’s designed to let you tell Microsoft about the things you do or don’t love about a particular product.

True story: The Microsoft rep I spoke with said that this feature is no joke. He acknowledged that there is a public perception that any feedback of this sort gets sent directly to the bit bucket, but he assured me that he sees “telemetry reports” from these submissions on a daily basis. The aim of this feature is to help eliminate that public perception by proactively responding to reported issues.

Office now supports Yosemite’s native full-screen mode, but does not support Yosemite’s native auto-save features nor does it support renaming, moving, tagging, or locking documents using the document title bar. And it should be noted that it’s unlikely you’ll see support for these features in any future versions of Office, as, according to Microsoft, Yosemite’s autosave feature and OneDrive don’t play well together. The one notable autosave exception is (pun intended) OneNote, which has had its own version of autosave and synchronization since it was first released.


Word and PowerPoint share two new collaboration features: co-authoring and threaded comments. Co-authoring allows several people to work on the same document at the same time. The Microsoft rep wouldn’t commit to a specific number of total editors that could simultaneously make changes to a document, but did state that they’d seen it handle at least 10 collaborators at once. (A number that’s quite a bit north of what I’d hope to see working on any one document.) While editing, you can see who is working alongside you and also see the changes those users are making in real time.

To handle synchronization and change commitment, Microsoft uses a technology they call cobalt syncing. Cobalt is able to determine which changes users have made, and in the event that two users edit the same information at the same time, marks those changes and conflicts for human intervention.

Threaded comments let editors interact within document comments, in much the same way as threaded comments work on websites, but hopefully with far less snark.

Word also includes a new document navigation pane that tracks your location within a document and makes it easy to move your way through a document. A new style pane allows you to make quick changes to styles being used in your documents.


Excel offers several new features, but one in particular really caught my eye, as it’s likely to make the transition from Excel for Windows to Excel for Mac much easier for switchers. Excel for Mac now supports a majority of the Windows version’s keyboard shortcuts. So while all your favorite Mac keyboard commands still work, you don’t have to learn a completely new set of commands if this is your first time using Excel on a Mac. Control-C copies text in a cell, and Control-V pastes it.

You’ll also find that Excel has more sophisticated analysis tools, including advanced statistical functions, slicers for pivot tables, and auto-complete features for inserting functions and filling in cell data.


In addition to the collaboration features mentioned above, PowerPoint offers a redesigned Presenter View that makes it easy to switch your presentation from one display to another and offers a customizable presenter window where you can view notes, your next slide, and where you are in the current sequence of slides.

There are also several new transitions and a new animation pane that helps you to better see, manage, edit, and update the animations being used on every slide.


Outlook for Mac has been available to anyone with an Office 365 account for a few months now, and offers a few interesting features, chief of which is a side-by-side calendar view that lets you look at two different calendars together. Even better, using this side-by-side view, you can drag one calendar on top of the other, merging the view of those calendars so you can easily see conflicts or crossover for specific events.

While I stated earlier that, because this is essentially a beta of Office 2016, I wasn’t going to take a critical look at any of the apps in the suite, I do have to point out that Outlook isn’t quite where it needs to be. While I was able to easily add my personal email account hosted on a private server, Outlook could not add my Gmail or iCloud accounts and, when attempting to connect to my Gmail account I immediately received a message from Google letting me know that someone knew my account password and was using unsecure methods to connect to their mail servers.


OneNote remains one of my favorite Microsoft applications for collecting information on the fly. As this app has been regularly updated and remains free on the App Store, there’s not a whole lot more to report here, with one exception: If you’re using OneDrive, OneNote can now provide OCR for documents added to the cloud.

Final thoughts

I’ve only had a few hours to play with the Office 2016 for Mac Preview, which is not enough time to dig deep into each of these applications, but so far, I’m impressed. While this is essentially a beta, with the exception of Outlook’s connection issues, Office 2016 seems like a solid collection of well-designed applications. But more importantly, Office 2016 for Mac shows that Microsoft is no longer treating Mac users as an afterthought. This is Office on your Mac, just like it is everywhere else. Solid, seamless, and ready for work.

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It’s fairly easy to leave Windows behind. Just buy a Mac, take a couple of days to settle in, and never look back. But for Microsoft Office users, the need to buy Office for Mac again can be a hassle.

If you work in a traditional office environment that runs on Excel and Word, you might have to bite the bullet. But if you’ve outgrown that world and still need to edit and send Office documents every now and then, you have alternative options.

If you’re not ready to buy Microsoft Office, here are your best Microsoft Office alternatives for Mac that are free.

1. Google Suite

If you’re going to let go of the Microsoft world, your best bet is to join the Google alliance. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are the three alternatives to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. There’s no real alternative to Outlook beyond Gmail, and you can get OneNote on Mac for free.

Google’s suite is really good and integrates well with your Google account. You’ll be able to open an Excel file you received via Gmail in Google Sheets with a quick button press.

You can easily import Microsoft Office files to work on them, then export them again in Microsoft Office formats to pass them around. And if what you’re doing is fairly basic, with standard fonts and formatting, you can get away with it. The other party will never find out that you’re not using Microsoft Office proper.

In some ways, Google Docs is more powerful than Microsoft Word. There’s an extensive add-on gallery, beautiful templates, superior research tools built-in, and Google search capabilities to boot.

Plus, there’s the advantage of Google’s cloud prowess. Collaborating with multiple users simultaneously in a document is a pure joy. It’s a little benefit, but it does wonders for productivity.

The entire suite is free and you get 15GB of storage included. The only problem is that there’s no real desktop app for any of these (though you can work offline on documents in Chrome, using the Offline mode). Accompanying apps for iPhone and iPad are great too.

Visit: Google Docs Google Sheets Google Slides

2. LibreOffice

LibreOffice is widely recognized as the best open source alternative to Microsoft Office suite. This means it’s completely free and available on a host of platforms. It’s the best Office alternative for Mac.

If you’re used to the Microsoft Office user interface (pre-Ribbon era), it won’t take you long to adjust to LibreOffice. Unlike Google’s apps, the LibreOffice suite comes with fully featured offline desktop apps with all the pro features you expect.

To make the deal even sweeter, LibreOffice recently added an online component. So you can sync files from Google Drive or OneDrive and edit them right in LibreOffice (there’s no collaboration feature, though).

LibreOffice also does a good job in regards to formatting when importing Microsoft Office documents. Even complex Excel spreadsheets imported into LibreOffice Calc work like they should.

LibreOffice actually grew out of OpenOffice, which used to be the de facto alternative to Microsoft Office. But OpenOffice hasn’t seen any meaningful updates recently, and its management is considering retiring the project. So we advise you to stay away from OpenOffice. Conversely, LibreOffice’s track record in the recent past has been great.

Download: LibreOffice (Free)

3. iWork Suite

Be the best version of you quote

Included with your Mac is the iWork Suite: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. These are Apple’s own alternatives to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Pages, for instance, is the best Word alternative for Mac.

As these are Mac-centric apps, the UI is quite different. Instead of being top-heavy, the options show up in a contextual menu on the side. And you don’t have as many options as the Microsoft Office suite. Since all three apps are now matured, all the basics are covered.

Once you get used to them, they’re actually pleasant to use (something we can’t necessarily say about Microsoft Office). While customization options are limited, everything that’s available is quite polished. When you create a presentation in Keynote, chances are you’ll end up creating something beautiful. The same goes with Pages—moving text, images, and graphs around is a seamless experience that doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out.

The iWork Suite lets you import and export documents in Microsoft Office formats (it will save to the default iWork format, though). And as long as you don’t use a Mac-specific font, doing a back-and-forth with Office documents shouldn’t be a big problem.

iWork also has online collaboration options but frankly, I wouldn’t recommend using them. They’re nowhere near as reliable as Google’s offering.

Download: Pages Numbers Keynote (Free)

4. Office Online

When nothing else will do, just open Office.com. It essentially gives you access to free Office for Mac. Office Online is Microsoft’s free and basic Microsoft Office service that works in any browser.

While the feature set is limited, the basics of document editing, spreadsheet formulas, and presentation options are all covered. You’ll get access to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Visit: Office Online

5. Edit Office Documents in Dropbox

Dropbox’s partnership with Microsoft means you can open a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document shared with you on Dropbox. You don’t need an Office 365 license, but you’ll require a free Microsoft account. Using this option opens your document in Office Online.

6. Ditch PowerPoint for Better Online Tools

PowerPoint is powerful, but it’s also pretty old-school. If you want to stand out with your presentations, try some more modern online presentation tools:

  • Slides: This is my personal favorite for creating beautiful presentations easily. The free account lets you create and present documents online. To export, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account.
  • Prezi: While this service is geared more towards startups, the visual tools offered by Prezi are beyond anything you can get with PowerPoint.
  • Canva: Canva is an online image editor, but it has an extensive library of presentation templates. Plus, Canva gives you all the important tools for creating a customized presentation.

7. Embrace Markdown

Here’s an idea purely out of left field. If you given up Windows and embraced the Mac platform, you must have started appreciating macOS’s simplicity by now. If you want more of that for creating and editing plain text documents, you should try using Markdown.

Markdown is a syntaxWhat Is Markdown? 4 Reasons Why You Should Learn It NowWhat Is Markdown? 4 Reasons Why You Should Learn It NowTired of HTML and WYSIWYG editors? Then Markdown is the answer for you no matter who you are.Read More like HTML, but it’s much simpler. When you use a Markdown app to write, you don’t get lost in dozens of menu options. All the formatting happens using shortcodes.

So for example, to make a word italic, you wrap it with asterisks. You can create a complex formatted document without ever lifting your fingers from the keyboard. Plus, Markdown exports as clean HTML and you can generate beautiful PDFs using apps like Ulysses.

If Needed, Use Microsoft Office Without Paying for It

Buying the latest version of Microsoft Office will cost you a few hundred dollars (or a subscription for Office 365). Most of the time, the options listed above will suffice for you. Google Docs works as a great alternative to Word, and the same goes for Sheets and Excel. If you’re looking for offline alternatives, LibreOffice should be more than enough.

But there might be times where you have to use Office for a particular task or for a limited period of time. There are a couple of ways to do this without paying, including using Office Online or one of the mobile apps. We’ve outlined all your options in our guide to using Microsoft Office without paying for it6 Ways You Can Get a Microsoft Office License for Free6 Ways You Can Get a Microsoft Office License for FreeFree Microsoft Office licenses are hard to get, but they do exist. This article covers six ways to get Word and Excel for free.Read More.

And for one more option, take a look at what OnlyOffice has to offerThe ONLYOFFICE Suite Offers Collaboration, Cloud Storage, and ChoiceThe ONLYOFFICE Suite Offers Collaboration, Cloud Storage, and ChoiceONLYOFFICE offers an exciting alternative to Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365. Here's why it's worth a look.Read More.

Explore more about: Google Docs, Google Sheets, iWork, LibreOffice, Microsoft Office Alternative, Microsoft Office Online, Office Suites.

  1. Try WPS Office: http://www.wps.cn/product/wpsmac/. The Mac version is available on April 8th, 2018. Really good alternatives for Microsoft office with all the features. The only bad thing is that you need to sign in with a wechat account.

  2. Google docs is a total epic fail when it comes to exporting a PDF. It does a completely garbage job of exporting the images and Google is 100% not addressing the problem.

  3. Don’t believe the marketing and PR hype about Office 2016 for Mac being feature and function comparable with the Windows version. It’s like saying a Lexus and a Kia are both comparable cars. I’ll l ave it to you to work out which one is the Kia!

    Almost three years in on the Mac version and it is still full of embarrassing bugs and functionality gaping holes.

  4. I wish Microsoft well, I really do, but its upgrade to Word 2016 for the Mac increases the steps I need to take for common operations. When 2008 came out with .docx, I discovered that single-spaced lines I typed—the only spacing used since I got Word, perhaps in 1991—appeared as double-spaced. Single-spaced files copied from .doc files came out double-spaced, as did files copied from files on the Internet. So also Word 2011 and Word 2016. However, in several tests with 2016—original typed work, files copied from other Word files, and files copied rom the Internet, I once got two typed lines single-spaced. That did not recur.

    In 2008, I found a way to continue creating .doc files. However, 2016 requires that I convert from .doc to .docx to insert files, graphs, and charts. A workaround: Copy a picture, graph, or chart from a dummy .docx document and copy it into a .doc file. Unfortunately, the same conversion is needed when one adds a page to a document. Perhaps I could work around that as well, but I stopped trying, discouraged with Word 2016.

    I deleted 2016 from my computer, fearing a malign influence, even if caged in Trash. So I have to trust my memory that I could no longer swipe across Insert to Page Break, on the top line, which includes Word, File, Edit, etc. In 2016, as I did in 2011. With 2016, I had to go halfway down Insert to get to the Page Break choice. I use Page Break sometimes more than 10 times a day, as I import files from the Internet and add them to existing files. I have well more than 50 files from some writers and even seven by the UK’s Melanie Phillips. Microsoft staff, introducing Word 2016, wrote that one go to a Paragraph menu in the ribbon to add a Page Break, the most inefficient way to do that. (One can also use Pages, to the left of Paragraph, and choose Page Break there.) One suspects that logical engineers redid Word to suit a certain orderliness, with little regard to what actions users most commonly use.

    That new files in Word 2016 opened 5 ½ inches deep on my 27-inch (about 13 vertical inches) computer, with an inch or so of gray or grey space aside the file, seemed merely annoying and stupid. Perhaps that was to conform to smartphone use.) Why can’t a user determine what the standard file length of new files should be, in any version of Word? (I prefer a page plus three lines of another page.)

    Worst, perhaps, the 2016 version of Word does not automatically reopen files that open when one quits Word, voluntarily or forcibly. That could present a major problem if changes to an open file had not been saved before a Quit. Word 2011 does automatically reopen files. One suspects that Microsoft people did not let Apple provide that automatic reopening feature..

    I have read that Windows apps do not provide automatic reopening. Impossible to believe!

    I had also read that one needs Word 2016 in High Sierra, which prompted my upgrade. I have since been advised that Microsoft will not support 2011 in High Sierra. I do not know what that implies for Word 2011 if I upgraded to High Sierra. with Word 2011.. would do to Word 2011 if I upgraded to High Sierra. Would I lose automatic reopening of files in Word? So I have to stick with Sierra.

    I have nearly 30,000 Word files since 1991 or so, which take up nearly 9 gigabytes on my computer. I spent four intense days trying to make Word 2016 work, with the continuing nastiness of forced format conversions. The leaders at Microsoft and the leaders of ISIS think alike on forcing conversions..

    Now, I must change much, fixing on a major project that has consumed years, try to find some way to insulate my Word files from malicious people, and hope that intelligent, humane people interested in serving individual computer users will soon lead Microsoft and Apple.

  5. My friends recommend me to google 'aakeys' to get a genuine key. I got one, works so well, and will get another one very soon.

  6. My issue is that I am living in a world where MS-Office is standard. And I have noticed that you loose a lot of formatting and functionality (sequence fields...) when converting from MS to Mac and back. I would have liked that issue to be addressed more directly.

  7. If you're a Mac user, you should look at Nisus Writer Pro or Lite first of all, even before Pages. Pages is nice, but too 'lite.'

    Nisus has the mostest wonderfulest interface, and I dearly miss it, having moved on to Windows. It really deserves its own post, to be honest.