Office for Mac, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other productivity tools, is available in various different forms. Here, we help dispel the confusion with our complete guide to Office for Mac 2016 (the latest version) and Office 365 (Microsoft's subscription service), including a breakdown of exactly what you get with each Office option and how much it'll cost you.

When is Office 2019 for Mac coming out?

Two years have passed since the initial release of Office for Mac 2016, but we're not expecting a new Office for Mac any time soon. There was a five-year gap between this current version of Office for Mac and its predecessor, Microsoft Office for Mac 2011. So on that basis it's more likely we'll see a 2021 release of the next Office!

The next main standalone version of Office is Office 2019, which is due out in the second half of 2018. However Microsoft has so far only confirmed that it will be supported on Windows 10, so a version for Macs looks unlikely.

We detail some of the new features that have been added by the regular updates to Office for Mac in the next section.

What's in the latest version of Office for Mac?

Office for Mac 2016 was first launched as part of Office 365 in July 2015. Since then, several new features have been introduced to the software package, including features for the MacBook Pro Touch Bar (we look at the Touch Bar features below).

In January 2018 Office 2016 For Mac (version 16.9) gained real-time collaborative editing in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, for example. The January 2018 update also adds automatic saves so that everyone who is collaborating on a document, spreadsheet, or presentation can see the most up-to-date version. Earlier versions can be easily accessed though, so there should be no risk of losing information. 

Excel gets some new features including support for PivotTable charts and quicker multi-threaded calculation. PowerPoint users are now able to use their mouse as a laser pointer in Slide Show mode. It's also possible to edit the start and end of audio clips from within PowerPoint.

Outlook users weren't left out. They can now use trackpad gestures to archive and delete emails.

If you've been waiting before updating from Office for Mac 2011, your time is running out and now is the time to upgrade. macOS High Sierra is out, and spells the end for the older version of Office. On 10 October 2017, Microsoft ended support for Office for Mac 2011, and it will not work if you decide to install and run High Sierra on your Mac.

New features coming to Office for Mac

At its Ignite conference at the end of September 2017, Microsoft revealed some details about upcoming changes to Office, and particularly its Mac version - which will, in an intriguing step for the company, have a significantly different interface to the Windows one. The firm emphasised that it's working to make a suite that is more "authentic" to the Mac platform (while remaining true to the Microsoft design ethos, of course).

You can see the new design in the video embedded below; as Ars Technica observes, it looks rather like the iOS edition of Outlook, albeit with a larger and desktop-appropriate feature set. That set will soon include a customisable ribbon, greater gesture support, improved search and calendar features and more. 

How much does Office for Mac cost?

Office for Mac 2016 is available in two forms with a one-off payment: Home & Student or Home & Business. Buy either, and you've got Office for life, but you won't get updated to the next major Office release unless you pay another one-off payment for it.

This option is for those that don't like the idea of a monthly payment and have a bigger lump sum available to spend on Office now. It's also for those who aren't worried about upgrading to the newest version of Office for Mac when it comes out, or are willing to spend another chunk of cash in order to get it.

The alternative is Office 365, which uses a subscription service - more on that below.

Here are the two full Office for Mac versions, how much they cost and what they include.

Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac

Price: £119.99 ($149.99)

Includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote

Install on: 1 Mac

OneDrive storage: 15GB

Skype: n/a

See now on the UK Microsoft Store | See now on the US Microsoft Store

Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac

Price: £229.99 ($229.99)

Includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook

Install on: 1 Mac

OneDrive storage: 15GB

Skype: n/a

See now on the UK Microsoft Store | See now on the US Microsoft Store

How much does Office 365 cost?

You can buy Office for Mac as a one time purchase (as above) or as part of Microsoft's Office 365 subscription service. The subscription route will cost you less upfront, and is available on a month-by-month basis or a yearly basis. When Microsoft launches new versions of Office, you'll get them as part of your subscription. You are also able to install Office 365 on more devices, and you'll get some additional features as part of the package.

At WWDC 2018 Apple announced that Office 365 will be coming to the Mac App Store later in the year - which would mean you can install and update it along with all the rest of your apps - but didn't give a more precise timeframe. It's likely this will come after macOS Mojave releases in the autumn though, so it might not be worth holding out until then. Read on if you're ready to sign up now.

Office 365 Home

Subscribe for £79.99 a year ($99.99)

Subscribe for £7.99 a month ($9.99)

Includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher (PC only), and Access (PC only)

Install on: 5 PCs or Macs, 5 tablets and 5 phones

OneDrive storage: 1TB per user for up to 5 users

Skype: 60 minutes calls to mobiles and landlines per month for 5 users

See now on the UK Microsoft Store | See now on the US Microsoft Store

Office 365 Personal

Subscribe for £59.99 a year ($69.99)

Subscribe for £5.99 a month ($6.99)

Includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher (PC only), and Access (PC only)

Install on: 1 PC or Mac, 1 tablet and 1 phone

OneDrive storage: 1TB

Skype: 60 minutes calls to mobiles and landlines per month

See now on the UK Microsoft Store | See now on the US Microsoft Store

Office 365 University

Subscribe for £59.99 for 4 years ($79.99)

Includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher (PC only), and Access (PC only)

Install on: 2 PCs or Macs or tablets, 2 phones

OneDrive storage: 1TB

Skype: 60 minutes calls to mobiles and landlines per month

See now on the UK Microsoft Store | See now on the US Microsoft Store

Office 365 Business

Subscribe for £7.90 per user per month for 1 year

Includes: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher (PC only) and OneDrive for business. (Upgrade to Business Premium for more Office 365 services including Skype, Exchange and SharePoint).

Install on: 5 PCs or Macs, 5 phones, 5 tablets per user.

OneDrive storage: 1TB

Will my Mac run Office for Mac 2016?

Office 2016 for Mac requires Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite and 4GB RAM.

The following Macs should therefore be able to run Office 2016 for Mac.

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminium, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

There are also iOS versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Microsoft Office Touch Bar features

New features added to Microsoft Office for Mac in February 2017 include a number of new functions made possible by the Track Pad and Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro.

Touch Bar features in Word:

In Word, you can use the Touch Bar to insert photos, hyperlinks, or comments in your document.

The Word Focus Mode feature hides all ribbons and controls from the screen so that you could focus on writing in Word, while keeping the most relevant commands at your fingertips thanks to the Touch Bar.

Touch Bar features in PowerPoint:

In PowerPoint, the Touch Bar gets "view-specific controls" to present a slideshow.

The Touch Bar integrates slide thumbnails so you can move through your presentation, and it also includes a timer to keep you on time.

Touch Bar features in Excel:

In Excel, pressing the equal sign launches the most recently used commands on the Touch Bar. From there you can tap to select a range and perform a specific function.

Touch Bar features in Outlook:

When composing an email, for example, the Touch Bar will surface recent files so that you can add an attachment with one tap.

In Outlook's Today view, you can use the Touch Bar to get a quick glimpse of your calendar events for the day, or quickly launch a Skype for Business call.

MacBook Pro users can access these features by going to Help > Check for updates in any of their Office for Mac apps.