Office for Mac 2016 full review

This is our original review of the Word for Mac 2016 preview release, which we wrote in July 2015. See the previous page for our updated review from February 2016.

One of the big boasts of the new Office for Mac is cloud collaboration and Word perhaps benefits most. Provided you're working from OneDrive or a SharePoint server (the option to connect to these appears in the File Open dialog box of all the new Office apps), somebody else can open the same file and edit/work alongside you. They might do so using the iOS version of Word, for example, or online at the Office website.

Wondering when the final version will launch? Keep up-to-date with the rumours at Microsoft Office for Mac release date rumours

This isn't quite as seamless as Google Docs, where you can actually see the other person’s cursor and what they're typing, because their changes only appear when they save the document (which is one reason why Word on iOS automatically saves by default). However, it does work well otherwise, and Microsoft has put in place some nifty conflict resolution that avoids a document getting jammed by people editing the same data - a problem that blights the iWork apps and iCloud. If two or more people work on the same sentence or paragraph and then save their changes, both edits will be recorded and then flagged-up for somebody to fix. This works within the framework of a new inline commenting system that's also a boon to collaborative working.

The cluttered and frankly useless ribbon design of the older Word has been massively overhauled throughout the Office apps and in Word are consolidated into more logical selections, with the Design ribbon in particular providing quick access to readymade formatting, colour schemes and matching font choices.

As with the other new Office apps, the Inspector/Toolbox has gone from Word and its features spread either over the new ribbon design, or a sidebar that appears at the right of the window when needed. For example, arguably one of the most useful features of the Inspector was quickly applying and modifying text styles. Well, now you only need click the Styles Pane icon on the Home ribbon and a virtually identical listing appears in a pane at the right of the window. Click and drag the header of this and it can be "torn away" like a browser tab, thereby creating a floating window that's always on top. We couldn't figure out how to reintegrate this with the main window, however, other than closing it and clicking the ribbon button again.

Check out the rest of our Office 2016 previews: Excel for Mac 2016 preview | PowerPoint for Mac 2016 preview | Outlook for Mac 2016 preview

The Navigation Pane at the left of the window has been redesigned and can be accessed via the View ribbon. As with the older version of Word, this provides quick access to a thumbnail view of pages, as well as the document map and any tracked changes.

Find and Replace also finds a new home there, although as with the older version of Word we find ourselves wishing there was a more accessible Replace tool that didn't require so much effort to use.

On the whole, Word's new interface looks a lot cleaner and significantly less cluttered. However if you've avoided the ribbon in the older Word, and you probably did, then it can still be confusing finding where things have gone. Those thinking of making the brave leap to this beta software show be aware that the help file doesn't yet exist, so you're pretty much on your own glaring at the screen until what you want reveals itself.

Read:

Guide to using Pages for Mac

Alternatives to Pages

How to find files lost in the Office 2011 AutoRecovery folder

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