Office 2016 for Mac: Hands-on with new features and enhancements

It’s about time, Microsoft Office for Mac is getting its first major update since 2011. The company rolled out on Thursday, a new preview of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook as part of the 2016 suite of apps.

After years of waiting for a new release, Microsoft has said that from now on Office for Mac will be updated as regularly as the version on Windows. This includes, new features and new functionalities, as long you have an Office 365 subscription.

Those who are not an Office 365 subscribers will be able to use Office 2016 for Mac free of charge, but functionality will be limited and they will only receive bug fixes.

If you’re a Mac user, you’ll be able to use Office 2016 free, but it’s required that you have an Microsoft account to access some of the applications like Outlook and OneNote; in the rest of the applications, you’ll need to sign-in, if you want to create and save files to OneDrive.

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The new version of Office brings the same look and feel users are used to in Windows, which it may not seem like very significant, but it’s important that users get the same experience regardless the platform.

Once you create your first document, the new user interface will remind you at the 2010 version, but with elements in 2013 for Windows, as you can now sign-in with your Microsoft account and share documents by inviting people, copying the link, or sending document as an attachment.

Another feature added in Office 2016 is a new search functionality at the title bar to do searches within the document.

While the installation package is about 3GB, the actual installation is huge, around 6GB. Another installation aspect worth pointing out is that in previous version Microsoft used to create an Office folder inside the Applications folder, dumping all the apps in there; in the 2016 version, the installation simply drops all the Office 2016 apps in the Applications folder.

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App shortcuts no longer appear by default in dock after installation, which means that users will have to manually drag and drop Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook into the dock — if that’s the way they want it.

One thing to keep in mind is that some apps cannot be access without a Microsoft account. This is the case of OneNote, which will not work without you signing in to your account. The same thing will happen with Outlook.

Here is a great hands-on video from the BJTechNews YouTube channel reviewing the suite of apps:

In this new version of Office for Apple computers, Microsoft will finally bring the app features to the same level as the existing Windows and mobile apps. For example, Word and PowerPoint include the same level of real-time collaboration features that Windows users have had for quite some time, which means that several people will be able to collaborate and have a conversation in a document in real-time.

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The software giant is making the preview version of Office 2016 for Mac available for download immediately free of charge. Also check out my previous write up for more details and features for this new version of Office.

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