February 14, 2013

Microsoft Office: Necessary, but frustrating

My Rating: ★★★★

Microsoft Office is one of those products one buys because one has to. Word has become the industry standard in the publishing industry, so I have to have it. But feature bloat and the fact that the developers seem to move buttons and menu options and change keyboard shortcuts from each version to the next make upgrading a real hassle.

I bought a new computer at the end of last year because even though I loved my old G4 Wind Tunnel, it had become unreliable, which is just not acceptable in a machine I need to do my job. It was also dead slow, especially online, and I couldn’t upgrade any software or use new apps because new versions of everything only run on Intel processors.

So I bought the new iMac with the less-reflective screen. Love it. But of course my old version of Office wouldn’t run on the new Mac. For the most part, Mac users buy apps from the Mac App Store, but Microsoft is not in on this deal. Fortunately, ordering Office Mac 2011 Home and Business from Amazon was easy. I got a digital download, so no need to wait for a box to come in the mail. Installation went smoothly.

Excel has some great new formatting options that make it easier to use, but converting my old spreadsheets from Office 2004 to 2011 munged much of my conditional formatting. So I wound up re-building a lot of things. Hassle.

Word is still the best word processor on the planet, but the find command is now seriously messed up. Instead of opening the full-featured Find and Replace dialog box, command-F opens a search field at the top of the window. Getting to the full-feature Replace box requires using option-command-F to open the Find dialog and then clicking the Replace tab. As far as I have been able to discern, there is no way to assign a keyboard shortcut that invokes the replace dialog directly. Hassle.

Entourage, which was originally called Outlook, is now called Outlook again. All my data transferred from the old app to the new seamlessly. It's still a very good mail/calendar/to do app, but it lacks iPad integration. No hassle, I just use other apps instead: Postbox for mail, Apple's Calendar, and Errands for task management.

PowerPoint is a bit easier to use than before, once you get past the hassle of all the buttons being in new places.

I like the new Office, and I use it daily, but I don't love it.


  1. Not sure about Mac, but mine uses Ctrl+F to open that find panel on the side, and Ctrl+H to open an actual Replace dialog.

    Other than that, have you tried this? http://www.officeformachelp.com/2011/02/advanced-find-and-replace-shortcut-for-word-2011/

  2. Yes! On Mac you can get to the find/replace sidebar with command+shift+H. But it doesn't include all the options of the replace dialog box (case, wildcards, replace with formatting).

    Thanks for sharing that link; it's a good resource. :)

  3. I hate Word updates. I have a newer version at my new job and I can't find anything! All my drop down menus are replaced with "monkey-friendly icons." You know what? I'm not a monkey! Use your words!