10 Things You Need to Know about Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac

Microsoft unveiled Office 2016 for Mac in July 2015. This productivity suite aims to please the legions of Apple Macintosh users who have been clamoring for an update to Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac. It also aims to attract new Mac users.

Here are 10 things to consider if you are thinking about using Office 2016 for Mac:

1. You Need OS X 10.10 and Lots of Memory

Office 2016 for Mac requires Mac OS X 10.10 or a later version. It also requires 6 gigabytes of hard disk space in the Mac OS Extended Format (HFS+).

To operate, Office 2016 for Mac needs 4 gigabytes of memory. This is four times more memory than Office 2011 for Mac requires.

2. You Can Get It as Part of a Subscription or as a Standalone Product

Office 2016 for Mac is available through Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions for consumers and businesses. It is also available through Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service Center. Office 365 and volume-licensing users do not have to pay extra for Office 2016 for Mac, as they are paying for the software as part of their subscriptions.

If you do not want an Office 365 or volume-licensing subscription, you can buy Office 2016 for Mac separately. Microsoft offers a one-time-purchase version.

3. OneNote Is Included but Not Access or Publisher

Like its predecessor, Office 2016 for Mac includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. There is also a new addition to the suite: OneNote. You might already be familiar with OneNote. It has been available as a free download from the Mac App Store since March 2014. OneNote lets you enter text, add images, and even record audio clips in digital notebooks.

Office 2016 for Mac does not include Access or Publisher. Microsoft has not created Mac versions of these programs.

4. It Supports Many OS X Technologies

Office 2016 for Mac supports more OS X technologies than its 2011 counterpart. One noteworthy improvement is that you can use OS X Multi-Touch gestures in all the productivity suite's programs. For example, you can pinch to zoom in on a specific part of a Word file or Excel spreadsheet.

The productivity suite also fully supports the Retina display screens found in many Apple products. Its Retina-optimized graphics provide high-definition images and text to users running the suite on a Mac with Retina display.

5. It Looks and Feels a Lot like Office for Windows

Office 2016 for Mac looks and feels a lot like Office for Windows, thanks in large part to the redesigned ribbons at the top of the programs. Gone are the hybrid gray ribbons that integrated elements from both the Mac and Windows worlds. The redesigned ribbons sport a streamlined look and each program's traditional colors (e.g., blue for Word, green for Excel).

Making the Mac version look and feel like the Windows version did produce some critics. Some Mac users are unhappy with the loss of Mac's distinctiveness. They are concerned there will be a steeper learning curve for Mac users new to the productivity suite. However, it will help users who need to work with Office on both the Mac and Windows platforms.

6. Ribbons Feature New Tabs

Ribbons provide an easy way to access programs' commands and tools, which are grouped into tabs. Office 2016 for Mac includes some new tabs in its programs' ribbons. For example, Microsoft added the Mailings tab to Word for Mac. Although the Windows version of Word has had this tab for a long time, it was not present in past Mac versions.

Microsoft also added a new Design tab to both the Mac and Windows versions of Word. It contains the graphics and formatting tools previously found in the Home tab.

7. Collaboration Is Easier

Some new features in Office 2016 for Mac make collaborating with colleagues, friends, and family easier. For instance, with the co-authoring feature, you and several colleagues can work on the same document or presentation at the same time.

Threaded comments can help you keep track of the feedback in that document or presentation. When you need to set up a meeting with your colleagues, Outlook for Mac lets you see their calendars side-by-side, making the scheduling process quicker.

8. Most but Not All Features Are Comparable

Most of the features in Office 2016 for Mac are comparable to those in the Windows counterpart. There are exceptions, though. One notable exception is that you cannot import PDF files and create editable documents from their contents.A few features have disappeared in Office 2016 for Mac.

For instance, you can no longer rearrange the tab order in ribbons or save a PowerPoint presentation as a movie.

9. SpamSieve Does Not Work with Outlook 2016 for Mac

SpamSieve is popular client-side spam filter among Mac users.

This third-party software will not work in Outlook 2016 for Mac. Microsoft dropped the ability to run AppleScript scripts in Outlook 2016. SpamSieve relies on this type of script to catch and handle spam.

10. You Can Expect Large Updates

Microsoft published an update for Office 2016 for Mac about three weeks after its release. This update mainly fixes bugs and improves features. More updates are likely. This is something to consider if you have a slow Internet connection. The updates are very large in size. They are basically full re-installations of each program in the suite.

Using Microsoft Auto Update for Mac is the easiest way to update the productivity suite, as it automatically updates the programs. Another option is