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Word 2016 for Windows and Mac

Word 2016 for Windows and Mac

Finally Word for Mac 2016 has the same version number and looks superficially like Word for Windows 2016 but dig a little deeper and it soon becomes apparent that the Mac version is missing many of the most useful features of its Windows cousin. We are, of course, biased towards Windows, where most of our work is, and there may possibly be some useful features in the Mac version that don’t exist in Windows.

When developing templates to run on both platforms these are some of the problems that we’ve come across recently:


On Windows you can easily define colour and font themes. On a Mac you can only select from built-in themes unless you know how to create xml files and where to store them.

Content Controls

On Windows you can insert and customise a range of content controls. On a Mac, although Word does now recognise content controls you can’t insert or customise them.

Building Blocks

On Windows you can create and categorise building blocks and use Quick Part previews. On a Mac you can only use AutoText via the menu.

Drawing Canvas

In a Drawing canvas on Windows you can nudge the shapes with the keyboard but you can’t use the alignment commands. On a Mac you can’t insert a Drawing Canvas but it does recognise one if the document was created in Windows. In a Drawing canvas on a Mac you can’t nudge the shapes with the keyboard but you can use the alignment commands, the exact opposite of what you can do in Windows.

Visual Basic for Applications

Word the Mac doesn’t fully support VBA and the Visual Basic Editor is beyond a joke.

Ribbon Customisation

On Windows you can use xml to customise the ribbon of a template. There appears to be no way to do this on a Mac.

If we are developing a template for use in Word for Mac 2016 we will do it in Word for Windows, bearing in mind the problems listed above and then test it on the Mac to make sure it still works. We know we can use themes and content controls and limited building blocks but we will avoid the drawing canvas, VBA macros and ribbon customisation.

Perhaps, one day, Microsoft will actually produce a product that is functionally the same on both platforms. We live in hope.

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