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The End of Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 Is Nigh

If you still use Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, it’s time to make some decisions. Two upcoming events could make it unsuitable or even unusable in the future:

  • Microsoft is ending support for Office 2011 on 10 October 2017. Microsoft will not release any more updates for the application suite after that date. That means no more bug fixes or, more important, security updates.

  • Apple is phasing out support for 32-bit apps starting in 2018, saying that macOS 10.13 High Sierra will be the last version of macOS that will support 32-bit apps “without compromises.” What exactly that means is uncertain, but if you depend on 32-bit apps like Office 2011, you may need to find alternatives by this time next year.

Although Office 2011 should work in macOS 10.13 High Sierra, Microsoft is offering no guarantees, saying “Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Lync have not been tested on macOS 10.13 High Sierra, and no formal support for this configuration will be provided.” In other words, if you use Office 2011 in High Sierra, you’re on your own.

In summary, if you still rely on Office 2011, you should consider one of the following options:

  • Continue using Office 2011 and hold off on updating to High Sierra. This approach buys you some time but isn’t a sound long-term solution. Avoiding updates to both macOS and Microsoft Office will expose you to the inevitable security vulnerabilities.

  • Buy a copy of Office 2016. Office Home & Student 2016 costs $149.99, while Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac runs $229.99. Both are limited to one user and one Mac. The only difference between the two is that the latter includes Outlook while the former doesn’t.

  • Subscribe to Office 365, which is what Microsoft would prefer you do. Office 365 Personal costs $69.99 per year or $6.99 per month while Office 365 Home is $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. The only difference is that Office 365 Personal works for only one user, while Office 365 Home allows up to five. Both also provide other goodies, like access to the Office iOS apps, OneDrive cloud storage, and Skype minutes.

  • Switch to an alternative, such as Apple’s iWork suite, Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, and the various OpenOffice variants. However, many people rely on Microsoft Office for their jobs, and alternatives aren’t acceptable. But if you don’t use Office for work, you could save a lot of money by switching.

    Check out “Your Favorite Mac Word Processors” (17 July 2017) for guidance on the word processor front. In the spreadsheet category, I can say from personal experience that nothing quite compares to Excel — Numbers offers a few unique benefits and works well for home users, but nothing crunches numbers as well as Excel. For presentations, most people acknowledge that Keynote is superior to PowerPoint, but that’s only relevant if full PowerPoint compatibility isn’t your top priority.

Weigh your options, but make a choice soon. The longer you hold off on the transition, the more painful it will likely be.


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Comments about The End of Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 Is Nigh
(Comments are closed.)

Made the jump to 365 this year company wide. I am amazed by how little additional value is in the package six years later. A few old bugs are gone but there are new ones and some still persist so many years later. On top of it all, they have taken away and changed various shortcuts (especially in Excel) that were super useful.
Bernard  2017-08-23 15:38
This was inevitable and would not be of concern if Office 2016 for Mac were at least as good as Office 2011 for Mac. In particular, all screens are landscape so why waste vertical space by forcing the ribbon to he across the top. Let me move it to the left or right vertical, just as macOS allows the dock to be re-located. Further, why can't the icon bar at the top of the frame be customized? Another step backwards in functionality.
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2017-08-28 21:29
Thanks for the warning. I was going to check out Office 2016 but I guess I can take a pass. I hardly ever open Office anymore. But, then, I'm getting old....

There are a surprising number of negative reviews of Office 2016 on the Microsoft web site, At least Microsoft staff responded to the negative comments I read with suggestions and contact information. Imagine how much trouble they could have saved if they had put that kind of effort into making a good product in the first place. No doubt their real efforts are going into Office 365, though some people aren't too happy with that either.
nodulman  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-08-23 17:52
Does "one user, one Mac" literally mean one user? Or is that a different kind of user from the two accounts on my Mac?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-08-24 10:34
It's per Mac, so multiple users on the same Mac should be able to use the apps.
Richard Smith  2017-08-23 20:45
Another free option that wasn't mentioned, Google Apps (Docs/Sheets/Slides)
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-08-24 10:40
Yes, of course... I've made that suggestion more general now.
jcerro  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-08-25 00:02
...or, for that matter, the free Office Online at
Jean-Pierre SMITH  2017-08-29 03:12
Interesting. What is the catch with the free Office Online ? Do you surrender ownership and privacy of created documents ?
Ian Stavert  2017-08-23 21:17
I'm not a power user and lately, don't use Office for Mac 2011, preferring to use the Apple alternatives. I do have quite a few Word, Excel and Powerpoint files, so would I need to start converting them to the Apple products for when the time comes that Office will no longer work?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-08-24 10:40
In theory, the iWork apps should open those files fine for the foreseeable future, so I wouldn't stress about converting things ahead of time.
Zoran Nesic  2017-08-24 17:55
If you work for a large-ish company with enterprise-level contract with Microsoft, check if you have access to Home Use Program. That's how I got Office Home & Business 2016 for NZ$10.
Marc Davidson  2017-08-24 23:36
Went to Libre Office. I can even open Publisher files and edit them. Not a speed demon but does the job. Regular updates.
Michael Lever  2017-08-25 02:28
Disproprtionately pricey I know but one can buy the individual Office compoments separately without having to have Office 365 much of which is in my opinion bloated -unless you are a PC fan. I run Excel 2016 but nothing else.
Oh really? All I really need/want is Excel. How does one buy the individual Office components? Will this purchase option include bug-fixes/security updates as well?

Actually, these questions are now rhetorical. I am doing the research on my own, to answer these questions myself.
Randy Spydell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Angel 2017-08-30 19:03
Phil, I'd love to hear the result of your research as I too am looking for an Excel answer. I don't particularly like Excel 2016 (I have it loaded on one iMac at home.) I'm retired but use Excel for many things, so the loss of 32 bit support means maybe I should learn something new to keep on track for OS and security updates in the future. But which one? Numbers? And I have the complicating factor of needing to answer questions occasionally from former colleagues (fading) and from my children (increasing).
Hello Randy, I have been mulling this topic around in my head a couple days now.

I was first considering picking up Excel for Mac 2016 only (no other Office parts), but I have two Macs, and so Excel-Mac-2016 is still expensive, for me. Also, the things I've heard about Excel-Mac-2016 are not very good, so that makes the cost exacerbated.

So, what I'm thinking now, is update to Sierra (I am currently at El Capitan), get the latest version of Numbers, and try how best to make it work for me in an Excel-like manner. Probably will include getting some text to help out, such as the Take-Control title for Numbers.
john solman  2017-08-25 17:14
The lack of MS support is probably not a big deal I'm still running Office 2008 without issues. The loss of 32 bit support is a big deal. Is that with High Sierra or post High Sierra?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-08-25 17:29
Post High Sierra...
Doug Lerner  2017-08-28 18:57
I switched to Office 365 a couple of years ago and have not had any problems with it. I wish I could think of more reasons to use the 1 TB of OneDrive that comes with it, but can't.

OneNote is sort of a disappointment. The search and syncing across devices is just too slow and flaky compared with Evernote. I wish they would improve that. It would make a subscription even more obvious.

But I've had no issues with Office 16 with Excel and Word, so I'm ok with this.
Eric Rosenbloom  2017-08-28 19:33
Office 2016 is a cartoon version of 2011. You can't turn off the absurd ribbon or use custom floating toolbars. Furthermore, the ribbon is duplicated at the top of every open window, which is insane. Except that it still supports Visual Basic macros, it is useless for serious editing and production work.
xandra  2017-08-29 11:22
Concur with you completely. WAY too much of WD2016 is still MIA. The "Advanced" Search and replaced is DOA: many missing options (like searching for #'s), attempts at replacing with format generally produces psychotic results. But perhaps the worst is the lack of customability -
It's truly horrific that they're killing off the last funcional versión.
Cartoon version is right, for many reasons.

Has anyone else found that after opening a comment for editing in Excel, the first typed character is almost always dropped?

The sizes of the updaters also annoy me. For Office 2011, there will be one updater for Office; for Office 2016, each product will have its own updater, often larger than the 2011 updater. (I like to download the updater itself rather than run it on-line, a habit I developed when I had a slow internet connection.)
David Weintraub  2017-08-28 20:25
I remember that at one time MS Office and Quicken were so important, Steve Jobs begged the companies to continue their Mac support. When I upgraded my Mac five years ago and Quixken didn’t work, I had no problems abandoning it.

Last year, I got a new MacBook and couldn’t find my Microsoft Office DVD. I ended up using iWork and I hadn’t missed MS Office. I even used Pages, Keynote, and Numbers at work without a problem.

Office isn’t as important as it once was. At one time, not having Office and a PC meant no work when people even emailed Word documents to each other. Now, I don’t miss it at all.
Art Landrey  2017-08-29 00:18
FWIW: Quicken 2007 still is working here (even with the High Sierra beta).
janesprando  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-08-28 20:57
Can iWork open Word docs and Excel spreadsheets, especially from PCs?
asm732  2017-08-28 22:19
I know Pages can open .doc and .docx files. There may be an issue with fonts not being available in Pages or Word.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-08-29 09:25
Generally speaking, yes.
Gregory Koster  2017-08-28 21:23
I have Office 2016 but un-installed it because it can't recognize PostScript fonts. Every document I have created since the Apple LaserWriter uses ITC Bookman and looks terrible when O16 reformats it. This may force me to switch to Pages!
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2017-08-28 21:31
Thanks, Josh, for the heads up.
Scott M.  2017-08-28 23:33
Cheaper way to Office 365 is to buy the card from a site like NewEgg. They usually have the 5 computer version for like $79 as opposed to $99. And they then also have frequent 10% off Microsoft product deals that get you down to about $72 per year. I assume similar for the one computer version, I did the 5 computer version for the multiple Macs/Windows computers I have.

I don't use it as much as I used to, but I have noticed it is slower to launch then Office 2011.
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-08-29 11:22
Nice tip!
Jean-Pierre SMITH  2017-08-29 03:15
Office 2011, licensed under Microsoft home use program when I was working.

I am retired now. I used Word as a lawyer but can certainly live, now, with many other word processors like Open Office if I want interoperability with PC users, or Pages, or else. I never wanted to integrate Word or Excel documents into presentations as investment bankers do, so I don't care about Powerpoint and can use Keynote. Excel, which I have been using since Excel 1.4 for mac, is the real sticky point. For my bicycle club, I use accounting software and forms on Excel (XLS, *not XLSX) tables, compatible with Open Office. The key question for me is about finding an acceptable, interoperable with Windows users, alternative to Excel. Numbers would not be interoperable. I do not like Open Office (too sloppy and incomplete compared to Excel). I have posted separately, above, a question about the free Office online. What else would do ? Google ?
Question for Josh and/or Adam:

If I replace Office-2011 with Numbers (etc), Apple does regularly check for and apply security updates and bug fixes, as well. Correct assumption?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-01 15:03
Yes, Apple updates the iWork apps regularly. You can search on iWork in TidBITS see our coverage:
Adam: Thanks so much for the response.
Nigel French  2017-09-04 10:33
I have a few spreadsheets with VBA macros. Will these still work in Excel 2016? Is there a viable alternative to Excel in this respect now and/or in the future? Any advice/help greatly appreciated.
Excel 2016 works with macros that I recorded in an earlier version of Excel, and under Tools -> Macro, there is a command Visual Basic Editor. Are VBA macros the only macros in Excel?

I know of no viable alternative to Excel for my needs, even if I gave up macros. Numbers is just too much a toy, or I am too ignorant to harness its power properly.
Nigel French  2017-09-06 17:24
Thank you. I thought as much, but it's good to have confirmation from someone using Excel 2016. I agree entirely about Numbers and, having looked at OpenOffice, I guess I'm stuck with paying for Excel 2016 :-(
james churchill  2017-10-03 08:45
I installed Office 2016. Dreadful! Painfully slow, no discernible advantage and many drawbacks. a week later I uninstalled it and reinstalled 2011 office. worked my way through the updates to get back where i was before installing office. I would be very reluctant to use it again.