Excel 2011 for Mac – Installation, Preferences, and VBA

by Gregory on November 2, 2010

Office 2011 Icons

After reading all the great things about Microsoft Excel for Mac 2011 that were written before its release, I decided to purchase a copy. My primary goal was to have an Excel version on my MacBook Pro that allowed VBA macros, however the full Office software suite seemed to be a really great value.

I paid $174.99 USD for the Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 – 1 Pack edition on amazon.com after pre-ordering and receiving a $25 discount from their price assurance guarantee.

Excel 2011 Software Installation

What you get with the Office 2011 Home and Business Edition:

  • Word 2011
  • PowerPoint 2011
  • Excel 2011
  • Outlook 2011
  • Microsoft Office Web App support
  • Messenger for Mac 8
  • Remote Desktop for Mac 2 (drive your Windows-based PC from your Mac)
  • Technical support 1 year

The installation took about 15 minutes. The program loaded, I entered the product key, activated and registered the software, then launched Excel, and got a welcome screen telling me all about the new features.

Whats New Excel 2011

And then I had to face the Excel Workbook Gallery, which is the default screen that appears when you open Excel 2011. Nice for all of 15 seconds.

At the bottom of this screen there’s a box you can check: Don’t show this when opening Excel, but I ignored it and went straightaway to a blank Excel workbook.

Excel 2011 Preferences

The first thing I wanted to check out was the Options, oops pardon my Windows speak, I mean Preferences, by using the menu selection Excel → Preferences or the keyboard shortcut Cmd+apostrophe ( ⌘ , ).

Excel 2011 Preferences

Within these preferences is standard stuff you’d find in a Windows version of Excel, but I want to review some of the settings for General, Edit, AutoComplete, Compatability, and Ribbon.

General Preference

In the General dialog box I unchecked the box beside: Open Excel Workbook Gallery when application opens so that Excel opens to a blank worksheet.

General Settings Change

Edit Preference

On the Edit dialog box, a new option for Excel 2011 is Automatically convert date system. As you can see in the Description box below, this option converts the date system of the source data to match the date system of the target workbook.

I’m not exactly sure how this preference option works and will be looking into it, but with Excel’s two different date systems (1900 & 1904) this setting becomes more important now that Excel 2011 and Excel 2010 can share workbooks on the web in Windows SkyDrive.

Excel 2011 Edit Dialog Box

AutoComplete Preference

In the AutoComplete dialog box the setting for Show the menu only after I’ve typed x letters (x set at 1, range 0-9) seems to be one that I’ll revisit soon. I’m not sure I want AutoComplete popping up after typing only 1 letter.

AutoComplete Dialog Box

CompatibilityPreference

On the Compatibility dialog box, under Transition, the Save files in this format: is defaulted to Excel Workbook (.xlsx) and can be set to a number of different things.

Excel 2011 Compatibility Dialog Box

Changing the default file format to Excel 97-2004 Workbook (.xls) might be prudent should you share files frequently with people using older versions of Excel.

Ribbon Preference

On the Ribbon dialog box, under Show or hide tabs, I noticed that you can drag them in the order you prefer. I added the Developer tab to the Excel Ribbon by checking the box for Developer.

Ribbon Dialog Box

The VBA Editor – A Quick Look

I had to peek at the VBA editor just to check it out. Going to the Developer tab and clicking Editor opened the VBA Editor, where I added a module and wrote a quick test macro, as you can see below.

Excel 2011 VBA Editor

Not a bad start.

Next I’ll compare the Ribbons of Excel 2011 and 2010.

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