Office 2016 questions after reinstalling

It appears you are correct. However, I had success and failure. The version of Excel (16.16.27) says that is part of Office for Mac 2016. However, it never asked for my Office for Mac 2016 license code; instead it asked for other information (email and maybe something else) related to an educational institution with which I have an affiliation (and which has a site license for Office 365 such that I could legally run it at home) and now the license information says Office 365. That’s fine, I don’t care how Microsoft decides that I’m legal. But Auto-Save is now disabled for files saved locally and there are other subtle changes that I can’t put my finger on right now. (Alright, I can put my finger on one. The ribbon has changed. It’s slightly worse in my opinion, but it’s definitely different.) Did I mess up when I installed using Microsoft_Office_16.16.20101200_Installer.pkg? The version says that’s what I have. Did I miss an alternative way to enter license information? Do I have any hope of getting the behavior that I had on an Intel Mac running Mojave? Thanks for any insight.

If you are using an institutional Office365 subscription (enterprise, educational, etc.), you are not asked for license keys. Your organization’s login credentials are used, which are validated against the list of users supplied by your organization. This sounds like the way you activated your copy.

It’s not a problem, but your license will expire if you should leave the organization - at which point, you’ll need to sign out from your organization’s account and sign in to a personal Microsoft ID and pay for your own subscription (or provide a license key if you have a perpetual license.)

As for auto-save, as far as I know, auto-save only works for documents that are stored on a Microsoft cloud server (e.g. OneDrive or SharePoint). I have never seen a modern version of office auto-save to local storage.

As for UI changes, that’s the nature of an Office365 subscription. You will always have the latest version (or the latest that your organization has authorized), but that also means there is no way to go back to older versions.

It appears that your organization has not authorized your account to get the latest version (or maybe you just haven’t run auto-update yet). My installation Excel365 is version 16.47.21032301 (which I assume means a March 21, 2021 release). Other Office365 apps are slightly older, at version 16.47.21031401 (which I assume is March 14).

I certainly do not recall getting a Microsoft ID when I purchased the license for Office 2016. I did get a 25 character license code that I was hoping to enter when I was asked for the institutional information. I believe Auto-Save worked fine with locally saved files on the old Mac. I assume that Office 2016 is not a “modern version” of Office.

Part of what’s confusing me is that I installed from an Office 2016 installer package and the version information indicates that it is a 2016 version of Excel, but it isn’t behaving like the version on the old Mac. It’s like the Office 2016 installer package actually installed Office 365. If that’s the case, I have older installer packages and the updaters that I ran as they became available, but that’s a lot of effort to go through just in case it works.

In short, I guess, my question is how do I get Office 2016 to request and accept the license code that I got when I purchased it? And would that make any difference?

Microsoft only distributes one Office isntallation package. If you activate it with a perpetual license key, then it never expires and you don’t have access to any 365-specific features. If you activate it with an Office365 key, then you get all the features and the license will expire when your subscription runs out.

When you signed in with your organization’s ID, Microsoft activated your installation with their subscription, so you got the full set of features, but the license will expire when you leave the organization or when their subscription ends.

You should be able sign out from Office365 using the “Sign Out…” option on the app menu (e.g. Excel → Sign Out…). Once that’s done, you’ll be running in an unlicensed mode again.

As for how to activate with your product key, I’m not sure. In the past, as you know, the app would prompt you for a license key, which you could type in. That’s what I remember the last time I used a perpetual license (which was Office 2011).

I did some web searching and found this Microsoft article about activation:

It appears, if I understand this article correctly, that all activations are not done through a Microsoft ID. You should log on to Microsoft’s Office web site with your personal ID (not your organization’s ID), creating once if you don’t have it.

Once logged in, you can add your perpetual license key to your account. Then, you can sign in to your account with your installed Office app(s) to activate them using that license.

At least that’s what the article seems to indicate.

Assuming this is correct (has anyone here recently activated Office with a perpetual license?), there are still two possible problems here:

  • Office 2016 is unsupported. I don’t know if the servers will still recognize the key. You may need to phone Microsoft for it to work.

  • If the license was previously used on another computer (e.g. an old Mac you’re no longer using), then the server will say it’s already been used. You will need to phone Microsoft for them to move that activation to the new computer.

Good luck.

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Thank you so much for the research you did. I followed the links, and then followed more links, and then followed more links, and realized I was going in circles. It reminded me of a signature I saw in some Mac newsgroup on usenet (remember that?): “You are in a twisty maze of Word dialog boxes, all different.”

I assumed “not” means “now” and then tried to figure out how to avoid creating a Microsoft ID. (I have too many accounts in too many places.) Anyway, one web page said “select I don’t want to sign in or create an account (at the bottom of the screen) and enter your product key.” That page was for Home Use Program installations (which I believe mine is) but did not list my product (Office 2016 for Mac) and I hope that’s because it is no longer supported but the instructions will work.

Golly, I hope you’re mistaken. I did find instructions on how to uninstall, but I don’t see how following those instructions would release the key.

Anyway, since Office is functional, I’ll set this aside for another day when I’m fresher. It sounds like I need to install again to get the Welcome screen, and I suppose I should uninstall first. Thank you again for the pointers.

In the past, the license terms would let you move an installation to new computers as long as it was not installed on two computers at once. Sometimes the authentication server would play nice and you could just reinstall with the same key, but other times it wouldn’t work and you’d need to perform an activation-by-phone.

Today’s perpetual licenses, however, have different terms. Microsoft is calling them “one time” licenses and my reading of the web pages seems to indicate that they are no longer transferrable to new computers.

But the current release is Office 2019 and that’s what the web site is describing. I don’t know what the policy is for 2016.