13 Exciting New Features in Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac

Microsoft released the much-anticipated Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac. It includes some excellent new features which we’ll look at below. Microsoft’s update makes the suite more useful to Office 365 users who work on more than one computer or use Office on both a Mac and a Windows PC. So here’s a list of the 13 most exciting new features in Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac.

office 2016 for mac preview

Before we jump into the list, here’s how to get the new version of Office for Mac 2016. Head over to the Office for Mac website. If you’re already an Office 365 subscriber, then log into the site and download the Mac version. It includes the following programs:

  • Microsoft Word 2016 for Mac
  • Microsoft Excel 2016 for Mac
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2016 for Mac
  • Microsoft OneNote 2016 for Mac
  • Microsoft Outlook 2016 for Mac

Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac OneDrive Integration

Storing files in OneDrive saves space on the user’s local storage. Owners of a MacBook with limited storage will enjoy freeing up some local storage. This also makes it easy to share files between a Mac, a PC and mobile apps running on iOS or Android.

office 2016 for mac save as box add service

Microsoft took a unique step with their iPad version of the Office apps. They added integration with Dropbox. That’s not in the Office 2016 programs, but we do see where they might add it. Create a file and then choose Save As from the File menu. Click on Add a Service with the plus icon next to. This opens the box above. It only shows OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint. Let’s hope they follow the iOS versions and put Dropbox there.

Adding a service like OneDrive means users don’t need to store all of their files on their limited flash storage drive, like the ones we find on the 128GB MacBooks or older 64GB drives. Plus, a subscription to Office 365 gives users unlimited file storage so long as the subscription stays current.

office for mac 2016 files on my mac

Work with files on the Mac using the On My Mac button in the file dialog box.


Users can still work with files stored locally. Click on the On My Mac button seen in the image above. This opens the traditional OS X file saving/opening dialog box.

Addition of OneNote into Suite

onenote for mac

Mac users could download the free Mac version of Microsoft OneNote from the Mac App Store. Mac users get most of the features their Windows using friends enjoy. This makes OneNote a more compelling tool on the iPad, iPhone and Mac.

OneNote organizes itself into notebooks, with tabs in each notebook and pages on each tab. Think of each notebook in OneNote like a three-ring binder with those manilla separator sheets between each section. The manilla sheets correspond to the tabs in OneNote. Add pages on each tab like one would add them behind the manilla sheet in a physical notebook.

Users can insert text, images, PDF files, links, to-do lists, tables, charts and more. Draw or type on each page. Format them like you would with a Word document.

Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac Retina Support

Open up any Office program on a MacBook Pro or iMac with a Retina Display and the improvement becomes obvious. The programs take full advantage of the high-resolution of the Retina Display and look crisp.

Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac Modern User Interface Update

office for mac 2011 vs office for mac 2016

Compare the new version on the left to the old version on the right.

Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac now looks more like its Windows cousin. Everything looks better and fits into the Office way of doing things with modern icons.

insert ribbon office 2016 for mac word

Here’s the Insert ribbon in Office 2016 for Mac.

In the new version all the Ribbons look different compared to the old Mac version. They all include the same features, but in different spots. That will take time for users to acclimate themselves to this arrangement, but Windows Office users will feel more at home.

office for mac 2016 ribbon design

The icons used to launch each program look like their Windows counterparts too.

Recent Documents

recent documents in excel

Like the Windows versions, Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac stores a list of recent documents in the open dialog box. Click on the Recent button and it lists them. This makes opening a recently edited document, spreadsheet or presentation fast.

New Themes, Styles and Templates

powerpoint themes

When a user opens Word, Excel or PowerPoint there’s a New dialog box that shows templates or themes.

word templates

New Presenter View in PowerPoint

powerpoint presenter view

The new Presenter View in PowerPoint shows what the Windows version showed. We get the current slide, the thumbnails of slides in the presentation at the bottom, the next slide in the upper right and notes in the lower right. The timing shows up above the slide.

Presenters can see their content quickly and it’s displayed cleanly.

Better PowerPoint Timing and Transitions

powerpoint slide animation path

Microsoft improved the timing of animations and the slide transitions in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac. For example, look at the new Path Animation tool, which animates an item on a predetermined path on top of the slide background.

The transition tools that edit how the presentation moves from one slide to the next makes it more efficient to effectively create attractive slide animations.

Microsoft Excel Data Manipulation Improvements

Power users will love the new data manipulation improvements. I’m not a power user, so view the Microsoft demo video at the beginning of this post to understand what they added. One example of these improvements includes the ability to take a formula and drag and drop to create the same formula on a number of columns based on the first cell in the selection.

The new Formula Builder helps the user learn Excel or use it without needing to know all the formulas. The builder will create complex formulas for the user.

formula builder in excel

Built-in PDF Printing

Like most Mac programs, Office apps now include PDF printing within the app. Use the Print dialog box and choose PDF from the lower left corner of the box.

Threaded Comments in Collaboration Tools

threaded comments in office 2016 for mac

When someone sends a colleague a Word document, PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet, the recipient can make comments about possible edits, for example. Then the recipient can send it back. The creator of the file can open those and then comment right below the editor’s comments. Threaded comments make collaborating easier in Office 2016 for Mac.

Better Styles in Word

styles pane in word 2016 for mac

The Styles in Word got an update. A style in Word applies formatting with one click. I can create text that centered, 18 points high, using Arial font and Red. The Styles pane in Word 2016 for Mac shows off the user’s styles and makes it easier to create new ones, apply existing styles and see what styles the document uses. It does this all with a few clicks. Open the Styles Pane on the Home ribbon.

office 2016 for mac design ribbon

Here’s the Design Ribbon in Office 2016 for Mac.

On the Design ribbon, there’s a new feature called Style Themes. Click the drop down button at the left end of the ribbon to change the Styles theme in a document. This quickly changes the look of the document using a consistently designed theme of styles.

Share Documents from Inside Office Apps

share documents inside office 2016 for mac programs

Once the document or file looks the way you want, click on the icon in the far upper right corner that looks like a person’s silhouette with a plus next to it. The above drop down box appears and lets the user share their document in a few ways. They can invite people in an organization to become an editor. They can also copy a link to paste in an email or social networking tool. Finally, they can send it as an email attachment. This feature sets the document’s permission so the recipient can edit the document or file.


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