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Office for Mac 2011 review



  • Editors choice
Office for Mac 2011


Our Score


Review Price £74.05

Microsoft certainly isn’t letting Apple have it easy. If iWork ’09 was a shot across the bows of Office for Mac 2008, Office for Mac 2011 is a full salvo aimed right at the waterline of the USS iWork ’09. It’s almost hard to believe just how much improvement Microsoft has made with the latest version of Office, bearing in mind that the previous version was a massive step forwards in and of itself.

Then again, when we’ve already seen Office 2010 for Windows prove just how good an office application suite Microsoft can produce when it puts its mind to it, we’d have been surprised if Office for Mac 2011 wasn’t a resounding success.

Some of the changes are as minor as a new set of icons and snazzier splash screens as applications load. Others are as significant as the finally realised dream of many an Office for Mac user: the death of Entourage and its replacement with a Mac version of Outlook.

Big and small alike, these changes all combine to create what is without a doubt the slickest version of Office we’ve ever had the pleasure of using. Not only are there numerous improvements imported from Office 2010, but there are even some Mac-exclusive enhancements, not to mention some excellent integration with not only OS X itself but also a number of Apple’s own applications that give Office for Mac 2011 an appeal that’s hard to resist.

The least appealing aspect of Office is the pricing, which is significantly more than the £50ish for which iWork can be picked up. Those able to get along without an extra email client on their Macs can grab Home and Student for £89.99 with Home and Business adding Outlook for a heftier £189.99. Home and Student, and Home and Business also come in two-user and three-user versions, priced at 109.99 and 239.99 respectively.

As we know, more important than the price is what Office for Mac 2011 has to offer for it. So just what’s so fantastic about this latest version of Office? The following pages are the place to find out.

Next page


October 8, 2010, 3:07 pm

"In a concession to the knowledge that some users can’t or won’t adjust to what is, to put it bluntly, a much easier and faster way of working with your documents, this can be turned off."

And the Dvorak keyboard layout is, in tests, a faster way of typing.

But if you're a busy person with a pile of stuff to do you're going to resent like crazy someone swapping out the Qwerty keyboard on which you're proficient and sending you back to square one, making you frustrated and inefficient.

In my last job I had colleagues who worked all day in Excel creating spreadsheet models... after years of doing this they could put together complex spreadsheets at breakneck speed - kind of amazing to watch, they knew countless cutesy time-saving tricks. But give them the ribbon bar and they were really struggling (my employer stopped the rollout).

So great, I'm sure it makes life easier for casual users who've never bothered to learn all the tricks of the old UI. And this is probably 95% of Office buyers. But a change that makes life worse for your hardcore power users who live and breathe Excel can't be good, surely?

Thankfully MS have now made this 'concession' - I'm surprised it's taken so long.


October 8, 2010, 5:10 pm

I look forward to this coming to Microsoft's Home User Program. I paid £9 for my current copy of Mac Office 2008 (and hate it).


October 9, 2010, 1:24 am

Will have to see if my sister can pick this up for me from software4students when it gets released. Have to say this is one of the best scores I've seen for a piece of software (or hardware) on TR, and makes me want to get a copy for my Mac.


October 9, 2010, 3:01 pm

Can't help thinking that Entourage users have been royally screwed by Microsoft's decision to move the application out of the Home & Student Edition and only include it in the Business Edition.

Irrespective of the target audience for a Microsoft email client for OS X, or the merits of Entourage/Outlook vs. Mail.app, Thunderbird, etc., if you bought Office:Mac 2008 Home & Student Edition sporting the 'Free Upgrade to 2011' sticker, and assumed that this means ALL the applications in your Office suite would be upgraded, then you're in for a nasty surprise.

Incidentally, my understanding is that when you install Office 2011 it searches out and removes any previous version of Office. For the unwary this means that their email client could actually get hosed?


October 9, 2010, 6:09 pm

Office 2010 was similarly accoladed. Andy and I both think that the respective suites are the pinnacle of their art (so to speak) on their respective platforms and that sounds like 10/10 to me :)


October 11, 2010, 5:43 pm


I live and breath Excel all day at work and can only wish that we actually got 2010 at work as opposed to 2000 which I'm stuck with.

All of the old keyboard shortcuts still work fine and that's what real power users use. It's not often that I use the mouse to do anything so whatever UI is at the top of the screen is fairly irrelevant.

Personally I like the ribbon but if I didn't I wouldn't need it too much. And the new functionality more than makes up for it IMHO.


October 13, 2010, 12:17 am


Started to reply detailing the specific UI changes that threw grit in the cogs of our Excel development, but found it a tedious list even by my standards and abandoned it!

At the end of the day, you get on with the new UI, as do the majority of users - not surprising as that's the sort of data MS get back from their usability testing.

The problem for the minority is having the new UI *imposed* on them, which is why I celebrate the fact it's a choice in this release.

Outlook Lab

February 12, 2014, 9:00 am

No doubt, Outlook 2011 provides new kind of experience at Mac machine like unified inbox, social engagement, attractive GUI and calender. But you can face some kind of issues with Apple Script that can affect its compatibility with inbuilt plug-in.

Matt James

March 20, 2014, 11:34 am

There's no way that Office for Mac deserves top marks. There's no way that Office deserves top marks in any form, and the Mac version is hobbled and flakey in various directions. I've found the whole move to Mac really disappointing after all the hype, and the only thing keeping me on Mac is the sheer horror of Windows 8.

Outlook is without doubt much better than Apple's Mail and Calendar programs, especially for business use, but it's very disappointing to keep finding basic functionality disabled or just dysfunctional on the Mac version. For a trivial example, address fields in contacts are horrendous to edit, and the 'Details' (birthdays, PA, etc) and 'Organisation' tabs don't work at all, meaning that any detail brought over in these tabs from a PC will be lost.

Powerpoint seems to work fine but compatibility is often an issue when you move the output between Mac and PC - things jump around, fonts change etc. This makes me very nervous when somebody asks me to send my presentation in advance and I know it's going on to a PC.

I've not had many problems with Word or Excel, but Word isn't great in any guise - so much functionality, so many basic flaws (Oh, why has the font just gone back to Times New Roman? And why am I back to US Spelling yet again despite having changed the default 100 times, most recently two minutes ago? And why don't these bullets line up with the ones above? And why has half my table disappeared off the bottom of the page? etc).

Excel is great unless you want to use plug-ins like PowerPivot, which don't exist for Mac.

So, as with so many things Apple and Microsoft, we're all going to buy it and we all have to live with it. But a 10/10 it is not.


March 20, 2014, 12:04 pm

Hi Matt
This is quite an old review and I think the reviewer was essentially scoring it comparative to whatever else was on offer for Mac in 2011.

Matt James

March 20, 2014, 12:07 pm

Yes, but it is still widely on sale in this version at March 2014, and the issues I describe continue to apply.


March 20, 2014, 1:12 pm

I see where you're coming from. It's a tricky one from our end as we tend to leave scores once we've reviewed a product unless it's service based e.g. Netflix etc. Otherwise we'd be going back and changing the score of old products (e.g. for the original iPad) because by today's tablet standards it's rubbish...

It's good that you've highlighted this in the comments though. It means people thinking of purchasing this now can think twice.

Matt James

March 20, 2014, 1:47 pm

I'm not expecting that you should change the score! Thank you for even contemplating doing so in response to a reader's views, but that would not be appropriate. You have to score it as you find it, and certainly shouldn't change anything retrospectively. I'm just adding my tuppenceworth.

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