Without being considered a full-fledged Apple “fanboy,” I am a longtime, loyal Mac user. I started typing this blog running Word 2016 for Mac on a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro while saving to OneDrive for Business. Later, while using mobile, I was using Safari connected to Word Online, CDW’s Office 365 tenant. Furthermore, at a recent Apple event, Phil Schiller introduced Kirk Koenigsbauer, Vice President of Microsoft Office, to the stage. When Schiller said, “Who’s to know better about productivity than Microsoft? Yeah, these guys know productivity,” this got me thinking about my Mac and how much easier it is to be productive in the Enterprise.

Apple has implemented Open Directory into OS X, which offers directory and network authentication services including standards like Kerberos. Apple has integrated Service Message Block (SMB) to connect to Windows file shares. Apple has also recently built and strengthened partnerships with IBM, Cisco and Microsoft. This culminated with the launch of Office 2016 in July for Mac users through Office 365.

There is a lot to love about MS Office for Mac 2016. When you install Microsoft Office 365, it comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook. This modernized Office suite is an improvement over the last version, Office 2011. For those of you who ran Office 2011, there was no parity with our Windows peers. With Office 2016 for Mac, I feel like a first-class Microsoft citizen. Upon first launching any of the Office applications, you will notice how sharp and crisp the applications look now that they support the Retina display. Next, you will notice the updated ribbon across the top. The ribbon helps to intuitively organize the most common features so you can quickly find what you need. So, if you have used a PC with Office 2013 in the past, you will feel right at home. Upon launching any of the Office applications, you will be prompted for credentials. These are not local credentials, but the Office 365 credentials provided by your school, work or home.

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If you choose to open or save a file in an alternate location, you will notice cloud options for OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint. One of my favorite features is the full screen view achieved by clicking the green button at the top left of the program.

 

There is a lot to love about Office 2016 for Mac. #cdwsolutionsblog

 

This gets everything else out of the way so you can focus in on the application. By pressing Esc, you have the option of getting out of full screen mode. Office 2016 now also provides support for multi-touch gestures to easily navigate your documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

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Microsoft Outlook

Let us start with launching Outlook. Outlook is the application you will use to manage your mail, calendar, contacts, tasks and notes. Outlook for Mac was released first as a standalone application while the rest of Office for Mac was being developed. As mentioned, this looks and interacts like the Outlook 2013 on a PC, so features like conversation view are available. This is a good thing considering how many businesses have standardized on Exchange and Outlook. Upon launching Outlook, you will notice the “Search This Folder” in the upper right hand. Going to “Tools” in the menu, you will see the option for Public Folders if your organization still uses them. A new feature called “Clutter” will assist in sorting low priority messages and moving them to a separate folder from your inbox.

One thing that I was surprised about was when I went into the calendar view I noticed the weather forecast. Now you no longer have to separately check the weather when thinking about having that meeting outside the office. Upon receiving a meeting invite, you can now “Propose New Time.” One of the missing features in Outlook for Mac is an “Ignore Email” button. This is available in Outlook 2013 for Windows and Outlook for Web App. This is my most used Outlook feature. For instance, how many times does one receive email that is unimportant or not relevant to your job? “Ignore” moves all email items of the conversation to your Deleted Items folder and creates a rule to move all future items in this conversation to your Deleted Items folder.

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Microsoft Word

Word is the application you will use to create documents containing rich pictures and media, including movies and audio files. The Word application menu and ribbon bar makes it easy to locate familiar options from previous versions. Some less familiar options that have surfaced such as “Mailings,” makes it easy to create a mail merge. Another new option in the “Review” menu is Tracking for keeping up with changes as multiple people edit a document. “Protect” and “Restrict Permission” are options available in prior versions, but are now easier to find. Your organization might use “Restrictions” to make it easy to set permissions on content across not only Word, but Excel and PowerPoint as well. The “Design” tab keeps the design features in one place versus spread out like in prior versions. The feature I am most excited about for users is the new co-authoring feature. Similar to making edits in a document on Google Drive, Mac users in Word 2016 can see where other collaborators are in the document. Paragraph locking makes it possible to make your edits without having to wait for someone to check-in the document.

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Microsoft Excel

Excel is the application you will use to create spreadsheets. As I started using Excel, the first feature I went looking for was “Auto Fill.” This option can quickly make you more productive. You start by selecting the cells that contain the data that you want to fill into adjacent cells. Drag the fill handle across the cells that you want to fill and Excel looks for a pattern and fills them in. This works great for a series of numbers or dates like days, weeks, months or years. Select some appropriate text and go to the “Insert” option in the menu and you will notice “Recommended Charts.” With “Get External Data,” there is now support for external data connectors, which should make many Excel power users very happy.

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Microsoft PowerPoint

Let us touch on PowerPoint. In my role, I spend a lot of time creating presentations. When creating a slide, I tend to use Smart Art to capture the ideas I am trying to communicate. Smart Art is friendly and easy to use. As with many of the Office 2016 for Mac applications, new patches have come out since launch that are adding new and relevant features. For example, a recent patch for PowerPoint allowed for resumed reading. You can quickly return to where you left off the last time you were editing a presentation. A new “Presenter View” now shows the current slide, next slide, speaker notes and timer. The Animation pane now makes it easier to include or fine tune animations and slide transitions.

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Microsoft OneNote

Last but not least is OneNote. OneNote is a note-taking application, your digital notebook. I highly recommend it if you are an Evernote or Notability user, to try OneNote. You might be surprised at its functionality. Even if you do not own Office 2016 for Mac yet, OneNote is free to download the Mac App Store. The power of OneNote and the integration with OneDrive for Business is definitely an exciting feature. Now it is incredibly easy to share my notes both internally and externally outside my organization. Of course, IT gets the control to choose to allow for externally collaboration in OneDrive for Business.

I highly recommend going to the “Help” menu in each of the Office applications. There, Microsoft has essential information about what is new, a quick start guide, and even a comparison from 2016 to the prior version 2011. There are links to downloadable basic training; perhaps an internal training curriculum for users take advantage of new features. I see many organizations struggle with adoption of key office features and I think this training can definitely help. I have included links below.

Training Links

Office 2016 for Mac has countless great features, but it’s not perfect. It is missing some important components that are available on the PC, such as Skype for Business and OneDrive for Business clients.

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OneDrive for Business is your personal storage space for Office 365. Microsoft released a public preview of OneDrive for Business Mac sync client back in January 2015, but has not announced when the final version will be available. If the preview is any indication, it is missing an important piece: syncing SharePoint document libraries. The current preview client only syncs your personal storage in OneDrive for Business. You cannot sync team libraries offline that you and your coworkers have access to. A quick search in the Mac App Store on “OneDrive for Business” shows three third party sync clients for OneDrive for Business, Beckish, AirFile and Cloud Commander. I have not used these so I cannot talk to their abilities so your mileage may vary. I am currently using the Microsoft preview client with hope for a release soon. The other alternative is to continue using your third party cloud storage providers like Box or Dropbox if you need to sync centrally-accessed files for offline use. Perhaps the organization Harmon.ie is reading this blog and can announce their plans for a Mac client. They have an outstanding client for Windows PCs.

With Skype for Business, no updated client is available, nor has it been announced for Mac. Until this changes, you can install the Lync 2011 client for Mac to interact with your coworkers. Though the client was originally released in 2011, many updates have occurred to add new features. Some of the more important features missing from the most recent version 14.05 include:

  • You cannot tag a contact for status change alerts
  • There is not a feed tab or conversation history tab
  • You cannot setup privacy relationships among contacts
  • You cannot save conversations to Conversation History folder in Outlook (though the conversations can be saved locally)

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I wanted to provide some additional information around licensing Office 2016 for Mac. When launched back in July, Office 2016 was only available as an Office 365 Home or Business plan. Microsoft recently made some announcements.

  • September 22nd, Office 2016 for Mac suite for Home edition. This excludes Outlook but can available for a one-time purchase for those not wishing to access through subscription.
  • October 1st, the volume license version will also be available

In summary, Office 2016 for Mac with Office 365 is an amazing productivity experience. Microsoft has given Mac users an Office client almost on par with the Windows version.

If your business is not on Office 365 and are interested in giving Office 2016 for Mac a spin, give your CDW account manager a call. CDW is happy to assist with an Office 365 trial where you can download Office 2016 for Mac and see for yourself how much more productive you could be.

Lastly, for the latest in software news, check out BizTech Magazine to stay on top of new developments in the ever-changing application space.

 

 

 

 

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