Excel without a Mac

by Gregory on February 8, 2013

I sold my 15″ MacBook Pro yesterday and am waiting on a 21.5″ iMac to arrive in 2-3 weeks. So no more adventures with Excel 2011 for a bit.

Time to dust off the Dell desktop and reacquaint myself with the “real” Excel. That of the Windows variety. I’m putting Excel 2003 in my rear view mirror (finally) and will focus on Excel 2007 and 2010.

I would love to get Excel 2013 and test it out, but the Dell will need to be replaced this year so I’ll wait until I have a new PC. I would like it to be a PC / Tablet combo machine with Windows 8, but am going to wait until the dust settles on the new operating system.

When upgrading to a new version of Windows I usually make it a practice to wait until after “service pack 1” is released before making the switch.

So Excel without a Mac is a survivable condition when you have a Windows PC for a backup. The converse is not true. Having a Mac without Excel would be the worst form of torture. Living with Numbers is not, in my opinion, a survivable condition. Excel on a Mac is a challenge, but nirvana when compared to Numbers.

Which leads me to wonder when the next version of Excel for the Mac will come out. I have high expectations: Power Pivot, Name Manager, Evaluate Formula dialog box, Status Bar Functions that aren’t circa Excel 2003, and elimination of the Menu bar.

However, my expectations might just be the result of some wishful thinking rooted in a dream state.


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Oz February 9, 2013 at 10:55 am

I have a Mac and a PC and my serious Excel work happens on the PC. As you point out: Name Manager and the Formula Auditor on Excel for Windows is AWESOME! There are also slicers and pivot charts.

With Excel 2013 the chasm between Excel for PC and Excel for Mac is even wider

Now, Slicers can be used with Tables. It’s so beautiful. It’s beautiful until I put slicers in a spreadsheet and have to remove them before I send them to a Mac user. Mac has a fit when it tries to open a document with slicers or pivot charts. Mac asks if the user wants to repair the document.

2 years ago I was transitioning from the PC world to the Mac world and as I looked for important features in Excel for Mac, more and more replies were “sorry, that’s not on the Mac version.” Good thing I gave away just one of my PCs and stopped the second one as it was headed out the door.

Dave Bruns February 10, 2013 at 10:11 am

Have you tried VMware’s Fusion?

It’s kind of a resource pig, but it general it’s a very good way to run windows on your Mac. http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/overview.html

One of the best aspects of this approach is that you can “virtualize” your existing Windows machine into a single (large) file that can be launched by Fusion. Once its running, you’ll swear you’re on your old PC…except for the keyboard 🙂

You can set up Fusion so that it has access to the Mac file system, so you can work with the same set of documents in both systems. With all documents on the mac, you can throwaway, or replace the virtual windows environment whenever you like. Keep a backup on a large external drive and just grab it whenever you need it. Windows will need to chug through a long list of updates that have occurred since it was last booted, but otherwise the environment will be exactly as originally virtualized.

It’s not quite as nice as a dedicated Windows machine, but it’s a great way to bring an existing Windows setup fully onto your Mac, so it’s there when you need it.

Gregory February 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I haven’t tried VMware’s Fusion. It sounds similar to Parallels, which I have used on my MacBook Pro. I thought I had written a blog post about that, but apparently not.

The new version of Parallels (Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac) is $79.99 and the upgrade is $49.99. A new version of VMware Fusion 5 is only $49.99 and it looks tempting. I might give it a try when I get my new iMac.

Thanks for the info and link.

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