In Word 2011 for the Mac, it's possible to view tracked changes inline -- that is, see the changes made on the screen within the text itself, as opposed seeing them in a balloon off to the side. (Such a balloon would read "Text deleted - "on the screen".)

However, there's currently no way of doing this while simultaneously viewing comments.

You can view comments as well as changes simultaneously, but the only way to do this is in balloons off to the side, so you have balloons reading "This text is confusing because [reason]" and also ones saying "text deleted - [foo]". This is extremely confusing.

To clarify, here are some threads on the MS forums about this:

My question:

It's pretty clear there's no workaround that will allow authors and editors to view changes inline, while simultaneously seeing notes with their pointers to the text being referred to. (Seeing notes within the reviewing pane while in draft view doesn't work, since you can't easily tell which notes relate to what text.) Is it possible to use VBA to change this behavior in Word on the Mac? Or would this simply break in future revisions?

This is an important missing feature in Word for the Mac. (You can do this in Word for Windows.) Reading through the above threads, this has been the case for the last two major versions Word for the Mac.

I'll consider add-ons, scripting, pretty much anything that won't destabilize my system. (If the answer is that this is impossible, well, I won't be happy, but at least I'll know.)

(I'm running a MacBook Pro with OSX 10.6.7 if that helps. Currently running Word 2011, v.14.0.1.)

  • 1
    This is a huge gap in Word for the Mac, and it's an important issue to me as a freelance editor; I'm starting a bounty. Are there any parts of the question that are unclear that I could edit to make this more answerable? May 1, 2011 at 4:06
  • Nothing at all? Wow, that's a waste of a bounty. Maybe I should have asked this on the Apple site instead? May 4, 2011 at 22:36
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    I checked it out and I am not seeing any way to make this happen unless you had a crack at the source code. I checked the applescript dictionary and saw things relating to the word comments, but I am garbage at applescript, and best case you could hack something together to tell current position and show an overlay of comments in it. Quite hacky and beyond me frankly. Sorry! May 5, 2011 at 18:40
  • @hobs - Thanks for checking in any case. If there's any way to do this, I think it would have to be through some major coding. I suspect the answer may be that I have to live with the problem, or use OpenOffice and then export to Word. (Adding a step to the process isn't an appealing prospect.) May 5, 2011 at 19:47
  • If this is possible, it might require VBA coding. Should this maybe be migrated to Stack Overflow? Will flag it. May 24, 2011 at 2:42

1 Answer 1


You can get pretty close to what you want by turning off balloons.

In the "Track Changes" section of Word's preferences, uncheck the button that says "Use balloons to display changes."

Track Changes preference section

Now additions and deletions are shown inline, and comments are shown as highlights with a reference.

Paragraph being edited

You can view the comments by hovering over the highlight.

Viewing a comment

Or, you can display the "Review Pane" and view the comments (with additions and deletions interspersed) over there. Less distracting than balloons, though.

  • That's quite helpful! I knew how to turn balloons off, but I didn't know you could see notes by hovering. Not a perfect solution, but a good one. Do you know of there's a keyboard shortcut to open/close the reviewing pane? Feb 2, 2012 at 21:19
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    No, but you can add one by going to Mac OS X System Preferences, then the Keyboard pane, the Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Select Application Shortcuts, and add a shortcut in Microsoft Word. The exact name of the menu command is "Reviewing Pane". Feb 2, 2012 at 22:57

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