Office on the Mac has always been considered a bit of an after-thought – it’s perhaps understandably driven by the Windows version, which is obviously far more lucrative, but while Office for Mac 2011 takes elements from both Office 2007 and 2010 on the PC, it’s still very much a Mac application in look and feel.
As with previous versions of Office for Mac, only the core Office applications – Word, Excel and PowerPoint (plus Outlook in the Home and Business Edition – a brand new application replacing Entourage) – are provided here. The biggest change in this 2011 version is the addition of the Office ribbon in place of floating toolbars, bringing all the key tools together in one accessible location that won’t quickly descend into a mess. Microsoft also claims the program is far more compatible with its Windows sibling, although there’s some evidence that this is at the expense of compatibility with Office for Mac 2008. Collaboration is now easier – multiple people can edit the same document simultaneously – and performance appears to be vastly improved too.
Word 2011 is more of an evolution than revolution when compared to its immediate predecessor. Existing features have been fine-tuned – there are more templates and themes, for example, a navigation sidebar makes moving around your document easier and the Spotlight search immediately highlights search results. Visual Styles lets you preview changes before they’re made and there’s a full-screen option for editing without the distractions of toolbars and other screen real estate.
Similar changes and improvements can be found in the other applications too: Excel 2011 regains support for macros, and there’s improvements in conditional formatting too. Like its Windows equivalent, PowerPoint now embeds videos directly into the presentation and a handy Reorder Objects feature allows you to view multiple layers as a 3D fan, enabling you to stack them in the correct order quickly and easily. Finally, Outlook 2011 is a brand new application, built from the ground up – it follows the 2010 version of Outlook on the PC and succeeds in providing a much cleaner and navigable interface than Entourage, which it replaces.
Office for Mac 2011 Home and Business is licensed for one individual on up to two Macs, and is suitable for commercial use.
Superior performance, improved user interface and a smattering of useful new features makes this by far the best version of Office on the Mac yet.