Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac - Excel 2011 review

VBA scripting finally returns to Mac spreadsheets with Excel 2011, but is that all there is to the latest version of Microsoft's venerable number cruncher? Adam Banks takes a closer look.

Price
£162

The biggest news in Excel 2011 is that macros are back. For many Mac-based Excel users, Office 2008's lack of support for Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) scripting was a deal-breaker. Dependent on existing macro code for business processes, they had no choice but to stick with Excel 2004.

Not that the 2008 edition was completely unscriptable: the old XLM macro language was still supported, as was AppleScript. Neither, however, had the power of VBA to bend Excel fully to the user's will, and porting macros between the three was a major task. With the Visual Basic Editor back under the Tools > Macros menu, Excel for Mac matches the Window version's macro handling again. Microsoft warns, however, that some VBA-dependent add-ons may still not work; and we did find macros ran slightly slower than in Excel 2004.

A more immediately obvious change is to the user interface. Excel for Mac previously felt rather bitty, with a stack of toolbars and a slew of floating palettes required to reach all its features. The Ribbon does away with almost all of this; the Home tab, for example, shows most of the options previously found in the Formatting palette, without the hassle of finding somewhere on screen to keep it. Although it will take some getting used to, it's clearly more efficient. The Ribbon's similarity to the Windows version is only skin deep though: it resembles Excel 2007 more than 2010, and many commands are still in different places and work in different ways.

Excel for Mac previously had limited facilities for handling data tables. These have been much improved, with new filter and PivotTable options helping to make sense of your figures. To create a PivotTable, you select PivotTable from the Data menu, much the same as in Excel 2008. Excel 2010's more intuitive interface of having a PivotTable command under the Insert tab isn't supported, since Office 2011's Ribbon has no Insert tab and the equivalent commands aren't in the Insert menu. In place of the PivotTable toolbar, a new Ribbon tab now appears only when you create a PivotTable.

Featured Resources

The ultimate law enforcement agency guide to going mobile

Best practices for implementing a mobile device program

Free download

The business value of Red Hat OpenShift

Platform cost savings, ROI, and the challenges and opportunities of Red Hat OpenShift

Free download

Managing security and risk across the IT supply chain: A practical approach

Best practices for IT supply chain security

Free download

Digital remote monitoring and dispatch services’ impact on edge computing and data centres

Seven trends redefining remote monitoring and field service dispatch service requirements

Free download

Recommended

Apple unveils redesigned MacBook Pro with M1 Pro, M1 Max chips
Laptops

Apple unveils redesigned MacBook Pro with M1 Pro, M1 Max chips

18 Oct 2021
Apple reportedly slashes iPhone 13 production due to chip crisis
components

Apple reportedly slashes iPhone 13 production due to chip crisis

13 Oct 2021
Apple expected to unveil MacBook Pro revamp at 18 October event
Laptops

Apple expected to unveil MacBook Pro revamp at 18 October event

13 Oct 2021
Apple iPad (2021) review: The best entry-level iPad
tablets

Apple iPad (2021) review: The best entry-level iPad

12 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

11 Oct 2021
HPE wins networking contract with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
Network & Internet

HPE wins networking contract with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

15 Oct 2021
What is cyber warfare?
Security

What is cyber warfare?

15 Oct 2021