Migration from Office for Mac 2011 options?

(Norm Harris) #1

Just reading the recent TidBITS post about Office 2019.

I’m currently using Office 2011 on High Sierra.

I’m not a power user at all but I’m a very frequent user of both Excel and Word. I never use the other MS Office modules/apps.

I would appreciate any advice or experience on whether to upgrade to MS Office 2019 (purchase or sub), or

Move to Apple Pages and Numbers?

Thank you in advance for any experience/advice or links to info about this.

(Will M) #2

I’m in a somewhat similar situation, especially as far as using only Excel and (less frequently) Word. I have tried using Numbers, and while I do not consider myself to be anything close to a power user of Excel, Numbers simply seems broken by comparison. I have shifted some of my word processing to Pages, and it mostly meets my needs, which are quite simple. Perhaps I’ve been using the Microsoft products for too long (30 years), but the interfaces of Numbers and Pages are not comfortable for me.

Since I do not use other peoples’ documents, I have no intention of transitioning to Office 2019.

(gastropod) #3

Norm Harris wrote “I would appreciate any advice or experience on whether to upgrade to MS Office 2019 (purchase or sub), or Move to Apple Pages and Numbers?”

Open some of your most complex files in Numbers and Pages, and see if they can cope. Make changes, save them, and make sure they open again with no funny stuff.

It’s worth trying out LibreOffice as well. It’s free and does quite well with Word files, though is missing things that can make collaborating difficult. I’ve heard that it’s not as good with Excel files, presumably depending on specific features and complexity. I keep it around because it’s also pretty good at recovering corrupted MS Office files.


(Diane D) #4

I tried to switch to Pages and Numbers - and was successful for a few years. But then some of my larger spreadsheets couldn’t handle the formulas I was using, they were not very complex either. And it is difficult to go between Word and Pages if you work with others. Formatting would change for Word users.

My .02. I bought Office 2011 3-4 years ago and have been happy with it.


(John Burt) #5

Depending on what you use in Word and Excel, you might be able switch to Openoffice or Libreoffice.

I keep my 7000 row flat spreadsheet in Openoffice as an xls file for maximum compatibility. It works fine but it is just data, no calculations.

On the other hand, I use the “advanced replace” command in Word 2011 on most Word documents. Openoffice does not have that command as near as I can tell.

Openoffice can read xlsx files but will not save in that formate. I don’t know about Libreoffice.


Like you, I use MS Office just for Word and Excel. I tried switching to Pages and Numbers, but the stuff I turned over to clients didn’t format equally between them, there was no way I could continue. And I’m talking big messes, especially in Excel. It happened whether the documents were opened on Macs or PCs. So I ended up springing for Office.

(John Burt) #7

I also tested Pages and Numbers and agree. Pages and Numbers are not good choices for multi-platform and long term compatibility.

(Peter Drake) #8

I’ve been using LibreOffice for a year or so now and generally it’s fine for my fairly simple needs. I chose it because it coped very well with two particular Office 2008 documents I use a lot - an Excel spreadsheet set up to record my bank transactions including the running balance after each transaction, and a Word table with multiple, colour-coded columns that I use to keep a daily weather record (I live on a small island with interesting weather). Pages and Numbers both failed miserably at opening these in anything like the proper formatting, but with LibreOffice I only had to do some minor tweaking.
It does have its little quirks and irritations, particularly when the interface does things differently from Microsoft Office and sometimes not quite as easily, but the Help function is very good.

(Diane D) #9

I did use OpenOffice for awhile, not sure why I stopped. I use a lot of keyboard shortcuts. I’ve been using Excel since it first came out, so change was really difficult for that.


(John Burt) #10

Took me a while to learn to not use shortcuts & I still make mistakes that Open office is not very forgiving about.

(Dennis Swaney) #11

Did you just send them the Pages file or did you export them to a Word file first?


I tried both ways on numerous occasions,

(David J Brugger) #13

I just bought it new. Micro says they will no longer support Office from 2011, my reason for buying it new. I also use it for Word and Excel mostly because I have clients who feel a need to receive info in that format. Personally I find no redeeming value in using it. Word is a new design of what the screen looks like and they have made it harder to find what you want if what you want is your former look because you know where every tool is on. Watch your preferences. I could not locate the dictionary which used to be there automatically. Now you have to go into preferences and choose as if you never used a dictionary. I found going through every preference screen is worth the time. I do have Tech Support to thank for their help in my transition.

(Alan Ralph) #14

For personal stuff, I usually go with Pages or Numbers. However, I have an Office 365 Home subscription as well. Partly this is because I have need to work on other folks’ Word or Excel documents from time to time, and doing so in Apple’s equivalent apps can have unintended consequences that may not be immediately obvious. That isn’t a knock on Pages or Numbers, it’s more to do with the peculiarities of Microsoft’s file formats*.

Another thing to bear in mind is that with Office 365 Home, if you’ve got a Windows installation inside of Parallels Desktop on your Mac, you can also install the Office apps there. This helped me out a LOT with a previous client who did their planning documents in Microsoft Publisher - I could open their document in Publisher in Windows and export it as a PDF which I could then review at my leisure using Preview in macOS. A niche case, perhaps, but I’m glad I have all my bases covered!

[* Ugh, I have decades of bitter experience of the surprises that await when you open a document created in one version of an Office app in an earlier or later version. And occasionally even in the save version but on a different PC. And don’t get me started on the occasions where people have supplied artwork as Word or Powerpoint files. At least the 2007+ Office apps could export to PDF and some level of sanity. Before that, it was a case of feeding the artwork to CorelDraw very carefully… ]

(David Bogart) #15

I have found Pages to be a more than adequate substitute for Word. Since Word 2008, it has been increasingly hard to find the menu commands I’m looking for. Word 2011 was worse. So Pages is more straightforward for document creation. And creating tables with numbers that I want to add up - e.g. total rows, is a breeze in Pages. They behave just like a spreadsheet. Try it in Word, not so much.
My wife and I recently worked with shared documents in Pages and got along well. So collaboration features are there.
Document change tracking also functions nicely, even when shared with Word users on Windows.
I’ve not often had to create documents for others to open with Word. The few times I did, I haven’t had complaints. But YMMV, as others have written.
For the same reasons - simplicity - I like Numbers fine, compared to Excel. I’m not a power user with huge spreadsheets, and never mastered Macros, so I don’t miss them. Otherwise, Numbers works nicely.
While I’m no Jony Ives acolyte, I do like the relatively uncluttered interface for Pages and Numbers. Office 2011 just tries to cram in too much functionality. Try finding something like adding a superscript to a number, for example.
Keynote gets my vote again over PowerPoint. Just too hard to find the command to e.g. control animations or transitions. And the animations work more smoothly. There isn’t much difference for basic bullet slides, but if you need something more more involved, Keynote has more artistic templates, is more accessible, capable without rarely used complexity and
Switching from the iOS versions to the desktop versions has become highly reliable. You do have to allow for the differing ways of doing tasks in a mouse/keyboard environment, vs a touch environment, but the documents don’t get mangled when edited/revised on differing platforms.
Finally, you can’t beat the price. No charge for the Works suite, vs the annual subscription or the considerable one-time charge.

(Randy B. Singer) #16

And now for something completely different…

Lots of folks want an alternative to Microsoft Office, and it seems that LibreOffice isn’t the answer for many. I may have a solution.

On our discussion list for Mac-using attorneys (MILO) we’ve been discussing FreeOffice/SoftMaker Office:

FreeOffice (free) (from SoftMaker)

SoftMakerOffice ($70/$40 or by subscription)

A comparison chart of the features and costs of each of the three versions:

SoftMaker offers three versions of their Office product, one of which is entirely free and surprisingly competent. The product’s compatibility with the Microsoft Office file format took me by surprise. It was perfect in my tests.

FreeOffice/SoftMakerOffice is very similar to MS Office, so if you are coming from MS Office, you will be comfortable almost right away. (I don’t think you will find it to be such with Pages/Numbers.)

This is a disarmingly good alternative to MS Office, and the free version might be all that you need. At the price, it’s worth checking out the free version. Even if you decide you need to step up to one of the paid versions, they are a fraction of the price of MS Office.

If you try any version, please let us know what you think.

Randy B. Singer • Attorney at Law
Co-author of The Macintosh Bible (4th, 5th, and 6th editions)
Mac OS X Routine Maintenance • http://www.macattorney.com/ts.html

(Tom Gewecke) #17


My initial testing seems to indicate that the free version can’t handle a lot of the languages used in Asia, including Chinese and Japanese. Such a limitation, if correct, is pretty unusual these days. Perhaps there is a setting I am missing…

(John Burt) #18

From the comparison page, can open but not save XLS, DOC, or ODT files. (BTW, the comparison page is a good example of bad web design in that it lacks the ability to adapt to various screen sizes.)

(Randy B. Singer) #19

From the comparison page, can open but not save XLS, DOC, or ODT files.

The free version can open those formats and then save in the more modern Microsoft formats.

The pay versions can open and save in either the older Microsoft formats or the newer ones.

Randy B. Singer
Co-author of The Macintosh Bible (4th, 5th, and 6th editions)
Mac OS X Routine Maintenance • http://www.macattorney.com/ts.html

(John Burt) #20

I try to not do subscription software - not 100% successfully. :wink: