I have been using Microsoft Office Mac since the 2004 version. Right now, I have Office 2011 running on my trusty 2010 MacBook Pro with a Core i7 2.66 gHz CPU and 8 GB of memory.

Starting with Mac Office 2004, I noticed that it is always slower than its Windows counterparts. For instance, Word opens in a few seconds on a Windows system, but takes ~10 seconds on a Mac.

Is this generally true for everyone? Or is it just a fluke that Office has always been very slow for me on a Mac?

  • 2
    give iWork (or just Pages if you don't need spread sheets) it is compatible with all Office file types. Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 8:02
  • Do you mean slower on startup or performing operations on large documents? Microsoft Office installations on Windows by default preloads parts of Office at boot time just to enable quick startups of the apps themselves later. Besides, Excel recalculations and Word reformatting and scrolling are about as fast on both of my comparatively spec'ed computers running latest Office apps for their platforms. It's a tough comparison because you need to compare different versions on different hardware.
    – geoO
    Commented Dec 17, 2012 at 7:17
  • @geoO I was talking about slow startup times on the Mac. But I guess that Windows pre-loads Office upon boot would explain a big chunk of the difference?
    – hpy
    Commented Dec 17, 2012 at 18:39
  • I feel the exact same thing with Office 2016. Microsoft products seem very un-responsive.
    – TCB13
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 20:16

3 Answers 3


Since the Windows version pre-loads some of the apps at boot time, here's how to do a comparison.

  1. Start with your Mac turned off.
  2. Press the power button and start your timer.
  3. Wait for the Mac to boot, then open Word. When Word is open, stop your timer.
  4. Then repeat the test for a Windows PC, starting with the PC turned off.

Also note that Office 2004 was written for PowerPC chips, but you're running it on an Intel Mac. That slows things down because Intel Macs have to translate all that PowerPC code into Intel code. If you upgrade to Office 2008 or 2011, you'll have an Intel version of Office for Mac, and it should run faster.

  • Hello, actually I am running the latest Office 2011 on my Mac. This test appears to make sense except both operating systems start a bunch of stuff during start up, and depending on OS version the start up times may be different, too. Also, is there a way to simply disable the pre-loading of Office in Windows so that the start of time of,say, Word, could really be tested on Windows?
    – hpy
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 3:21

You shouldn't be very surprised since Microsoft depends on office's reputation as a selling point of windows. Why would they make it just as good on the mac? If you want speed I highly suggest you give iWork a shot

  • You've also got Open Office, that runs pretty good these days and costs nothing to try.
    – geoO
    Commented Dec 17, 2012 at 7:18

Office 2004 for Mac was Microsoft's 1st attempt to get their products across to the Macintosh. To have all the features from Windows still working for the Mac (I guess) they had to work around some issues, especially since Apple was using PowerPC processors, they had to ensure compatibility with those as well, making their 1st product a rather slow one.

Now though Office 2011 for Mac and Office 2010 for Windows (which are literally the same but for different OS) starts as quickly on Mac OS X Lion as it on Windows 7.

  • FYI: I'm running a MacBook Pro @ 2.2GHz i7 with 8GB DDR3RAM. Word, PowerPoint, Excel 2011 startup time on Mac ~6s, ~5s & ~5s respectively. Word, PowerPoint & Excel 2010 start up time on Win7 ~5s, ~7s & ~6s respectively. I just tried it out, so don't worry. I recon due to the new layout PC and Mac just has to load much more graphics and so on slowing the startup down for both. The only way to reduce this is by replacing your hard drive with a solid state.
    – Max Z.
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 0:38
  • 4
    You are wrong by 20 years. You wrote "Office 2004 for Mac was Microsoft's 1st attempt to get their products across to the Macintosh." I think you are forgetting that Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel for Macintosh were released in 1984, simultaneous with the first Apple Macintosh computer. These products were not available on Microsoft MS-DOS at the time, and Microsoft Windows did not appear until several years later.
    – user9290
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 1:53
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    As Wheat points out, Microsoft was one of the first Mac developers (though some details were incorrect); their Mac spreadsheet, which predated Excel, was called Multiplan, and was one of the very first Mac programs available in 1984. Word 1 for the Mac followed in 1985. The availability of MacWrite led Microsoft to prioritize their spreadsheet program over a word processor. I wrote "Microsoft Office 98 for Macs for Dummies," "Microsoft Office 2001 for Macs for Dummies," and "Microsoft Office v. X Inside Out," all of which predated Office 2004.
    – Negrino
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 9:28
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    Sorry for that, but I'm not old enough to have worked with any Mac OS less than 10.4. So sorry if I wasn't very explicit in saying that Microsofts Office 2004 was the only one available (for me) at this time. And out of experience I can only state that it has been very slow in comparison to its Windows rivals. (Again, my guess is compatibility). Now 2010/2011 they both are equally slow due to the more complex UI, as I supported with my test-starts further up.
    – Max Z.
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 9:47

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