Microsoft Office is the most popular suite of productivity applications in the world, and it runs on Mac computers just as well as it does on Windows machines. The question on many Mac users’ lips seems to be, “Should I pay for Microsoft Office for Mac or use one of its many free alternatives?” In this article, we attempt to answer this question and give you all the information you need to download, install, and start using Microsoft Office for Mac — if you decide that it’s a good choice for you.

microsoft office for mac

Introduction to Microsoft Office for Mac

Microsoft Office was first released in 1990 for Windows 95. The first Mac version, called Microsoft Office 98 Macintosh Edition, wasn’t released until, you’ve guessed it, 1998. It was re-engineered by Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit and introduced the Internet Explorer 4.0 browser and Outlook Express. It also included Microsoft PowerPoint 98, Microsoft Word 98, and Microsoft Excel 98.

Today, there’s very little difference between Microsoft Office for Mac and Microsoft Office for Windows. Since the version 15.25, Microsoft Office for Mac has become exclusively a 64-bit application, breaking compatibility with old Mac computers with 32-bit processors.

Components of Microsoft Office for Mac 2016

The latest version of Microsoft Office for Mac, Microsoft Office 2016, features the flat design and tabbed user interface that were introduced in Microsoft Office 2013. It includes Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype.

  • Word: a word processor with rudimentary desktop publishing capabilities.
  • Excel: a spreadsheet with calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications.
  • Outlook: a personal information manager with email capabilities, task manager, contact manager, note taking, and journal.
  • PowerPoint: a presentation program that has come to be very widely used in many other communication situations.
  • OneNote: a free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration program capable of gathering users’ notes, drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries.
  • OneDrive: a cloud file hosting service that allows users to store files as well as other personal data in the cloud.
  • Skype: a telecommunications application software that provides video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, and smartwatches.

office for mac 2016

Editions of Microsoft Office for Mac 2016

Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac, sometimes referred to simply as MS Office for Mac 2016, is made available in several editions, each aimed at a different market.  

  • Home & Student: this retail suite includes the core applications only.
  • Home & Business: This retail suite includes the core applications and Outlook.
  • Standard: This suite, only available through volume licensing channels, includes the core applications and Outlook.

Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac is also available as part of the Office 365 for Mac subscription services, which use a software as a service model and are intended for home and business users alike.

  • Office 365 Home: Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook plus online storage and more for up to 5 users. The Office 365 Home subscription costs $99.99 per year.
  • Office 365 Personal: Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook plus online storage and more for 1 user. The Office 365 Personal subscription costs $69.99 per year.
  • Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac: Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for 1 Mac. The Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac subscription costs $149.99 as a one-time purchase.

office 365 for mac

Why Use Microsoft Office for Mac over iWork?

iWork is an office suite of applications created by Apple for its macOS and iOS operating systems. It includes Keynote, a presentation program, Pages, a word processing and desktop publishing application, and Numbers, a spreadsheet application.

Whereas Microsoft Office for Mac is marketed towards enterprises and home users alike, iWork is generally seen as a prosumer product best suited for smaller businesses and home users. That’s because iWork doesn’t have nearly as many features as Microsoft Office for Mac does, and also because iWork has a simple user interface that adheres to Apple’s design language and usability principles.

In the past, iWork cost $79, but, in 2017, Apple decided to make iWork free for everybody.

“Previously, all of these apps were provided for free to customers who purchased a new Mac or iOS device, but now that purchase is not required to get the software. Many Apple customers were already likely eligible to download the software at no cost if they had made a device purchase in the last few years”, explained MacRumors.

Microsoft Office for Mac vs. iWork

  • Considering that iWork doesn’t cost a single penny, it might seem that the choice between it and Microsoft Office for Mac would be simple, but it isn’t. Although iWork can open Microsoft Office documents, the support for Microsoft’s complex file formats is far from perfect. If you need to share the documents, presentations, and spreadsheets you create with others you should always use the same software as the people you collaborate with use, which, most likely, will be Microsoft Office for Windows or Mac.
  • Microsoft Excel is hands down the best spreadsheet software in the world. iWork Numbers works fine for simple tracking of expenses, but it can’t match some of the more advance features of Excel, including graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications. Since learning any spreadsheet software can take a lot of time and energy, it makes sense to learn the one that’s used in the business world.
  • Finally, Microsoft Office for Mac comes with OneNote, a fantastic note-taking application whose interface provides an electronic version of a tabbed ring-binder, into which users can gather material from a wide variety of sources, including handwritten or typed notes, drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries.
  • However, iWork also has its strengths. It takes quite a bit of effort to produce a good-looking presentation with PowerPoint but accomplishing the same with iWork Keynote is effortless. If you’ve ever seen Apple’s presentation, you know how sleek and polished their slides are. Well, those slides have been created using the same presentation software that you can download for free from the App Store: iWork Keynote.

download microsoft office for mac

iWork Pages is a simple alternative to Microsoft Word that generally appeals to people who only work on relatively simple documents and seldom use features such as bibliographies and change tracking. Unfortunately, iWork Pages documents cannot be opened by Microsoft Word for Windows and Mac, making them unfit for the business world, where Microsoft Office dominates.

How to Download Microsoft Office for Mac?

To download Microsoft Office for Mac, go to and sign in with the account associated with your version of Office. Go to the Office home page and select Install Office → Install.

How to Install Microsoft Office for Mac?

An installer file will be downloaded to your computer. Launch it and follow the instructions. When you see the phrase, “You’re all set! Office is installed now,” your install is finished.

The first time you launch Microsoft Office for Mac, you will be prompted to activate your installation. Simply follow the activation wizard prompts to complete the activation process.

How to Uninstall Microsoft Office on Mac?

To uninstall Microsoft Office on Mac, open Finder and navigate to Applications. Press the Command key and click to select all of the Office 2016 for Mac applications. Keep holding the Command key and click an application you selected and click Move to Trash.

To remove leftover files:

  1. Open Finder and press the Command key + Shift + H.
  2. On the Finder menu at the top, click View → as List, and then click View → Show View Options.
  3. In the View Options dialog box, select Show Library Folder and save. Return back to Finder and navigate to Library → Containers.
  4. Finally, delete the following files:

Plus, these three additional files, which are located in Library → Group Containers:

  • UBF8T346G9.Office
  • UBF8T346G9.OfficeOsfWebHost

How to Recover Office Files on Mac?

The latest version of Microsoft Office for Mac supports cloud synchronization, but that doesn’t make Office files immune to corruption or data loss. If you don’t like the idea of seeing hours of work vanish in the blink of an eye, we highly recommend you download and install Disk Drill, a premium data recovery solution for Mac OS X.

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Unlike so many other data recovery products, Disk Drill is a first-class Mac application, featuring an attractive and highly usable user interface and too many features to name them all.

Included with Disk Drill are several free disk tools intended to help you with data backup, hard drive cleanup, disk health monitoring, and system recovery. Despite all of this, Disk Drill can be downloaded for free and tested without any functional limitations.

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole is a freelance content creator. He also has a more than 10-year experience in program development for macOS, Windows, iOS, Android. Arthur Cole is a writer with deep expertise in programming, who can easily...

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Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.