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 for Mac 2018 coming out?

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 new features for the MacBook Pro Touch Bar.

Two years has passed since the initial release of Office for Mac 2016, but we're not expecting Office for Mac 2018 any time soon. In fact, it's unlikely to happen at all. There was a five-year gap between this current version of Office for Mac and its predecessor, Microsoft Office for Mac 2011. So it's more likely we'll see a 2021 release of the next Office!

There are regular updates to Office for Mac, though, which you'll find out more about below.

If you've been waiting for a new version of Office for Mac before updating from Office for Mac 2011, your time is running out and now is the time to upgrade. macOS High Sierra is now 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.

Design updates in 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?

Office 365 is Microsoft's subscroption service. This 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.

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 the 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 for 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.

How long does Microsoft usually take to update Office for Mac?

As a rule new versions happen about every three years, and usually the Mac version of Office comes out some time after the PC version. The extra time - often as much as a year - gives Microsoft's Mac development team time to produce a Mac version of the software suite, rather than just port the Windows version.

Office for Mac 2011 launched in October 2010, almost five years before Office for Mac 2016 arrived. The wait was exacerbated because Office 2013 for Windows launched in January 2013 but nothing arrived for the Mac.

By comparison, Office 2010 for Windows launched in June 2010 and Office for Mac 2011 launched just 4 months later in October 2010.

Prefer the Apple alternative? Check out: Word vs Pages