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Office for Mac 2011 - Office for Mac 2011

By Hugo Jobling



  • Editors choice
Office for Mac 2011


Our Score:


The most obvious change you’ll notice in all Office for Mac 2011 programs is the introduction of the Ribbon interface. 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. Left enabled as intended, however, the Ribbon does every bit as good a job of giving quick easy and context-sensitive access to the tools you're likely to need at any given moment.

The Ribbon also makes for an improved feeling of consistency across all the Office applications. Whether you’re in Word, Excel or PowerPoint you’ll find the options relating to inserting and formatting charts logically placed under the Charts tab, for example. It’s worth mentioning, too, that the Ribbon’s appearance of Office for Mac makes life easier if you transition between Windows and OS X frequently (as some of us blasphemously do).

New to PowerPoint, Excel and Word is the Templates Gallery. Shown on start-up by default (but not if you tell it not to) this gives you not only a huge range of build-in template options, from calendars, to invoices, to curriculums vitae, but also provides an online portal where user-submitted templates can be found. Some of these are very impressive; even this early into the suites lifetime (thanks to the prolonged Beta period no doubt). If you’ve used iWork this will seem oddly familiar, but we’re not going to complain when Microsoft choses to take inspiration from good features of rival products.

On the subject of galleries, Office for Mac 2011 features a much improved media browser, which integrates much more fully with other OS X, most notably with iLife. As well as browsing using folders, as previously, it’s now also possible to import media using Places, Faces and other ‘tags’ provided by Apple’s applications.

Word, Powerpoint, and Excel also offer limited editing options when importing images. These are pretty much limited to rotating, resizing and adjusting the colour cast of your pictures, but it should mean you won’t have to jump into a dedicated program to tweak your photos quite as often, which is a useful time saver.


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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