Like the title says - how similar is Microsoft Excel for Mac to Excel for Windows? Is it confusing when you have to keep switching from one to the other when working on a complicated excel file? (For example using a Mac at home and Windows at work). Are the formatting and formula inputs exactly the same? Thanks for any answers!

4 Answers 4


My Excel in the Mac doesn't open some password-protected files of my Windows ExceL: in Windows, the Excel passwords can have an almos limitless number of caracters, but in the Mac the password must be 16 or less.

The only solution I found was to reduce the number of characters in the password of the Windows files.

If you have Office for Mac 2011, there is a 100 percent compatibility ratio, as described on the BrightHub review.

I work with both and personally, I find Excel for Windows much more intuitive and more user friendly, but basically you can do (almost) the same with both versions.

But the most important part is, the two versions are 100% compatible with each other.

  • 'Almost the same'?.. Could you possibly expand on that?
    – user22253
    Apr 30, 2012 at 11:54
  • 1
    I meant qua lay-out. All functions and formatting are the same.
    – Michiel
    Apr 30, 2012 at 11:59

I have Excel for Mac 11 and also use Excel 97, Excel 07 and Excel 10 on various Windows machines. Needless to say, there is confusion all over the place with the different menus, shortcuts, ribbons. Shortcuts are different, keyboards are different. They do the same things, and that really depends on how complex your spreadsheets are as I think even with newer software, most people don't get too complex with Excel, be prepared that it will have to be done differently from machine to machine. I think MS will let you do a trial so can get get a feel for it.


Your mileage may vary depending on your requirements.

Visual Basic Applications (VBA) macros while supported in Excel 2011 don't always work when they were set up in Excel for Windows. Also ActiveX controls do not work in Excel 2011.

I wouldn't call that 100% compatibility but it is a lot better than previous versions of Excel for Mac.


I'm an advanced Office 2003/7 Excel user (Windows). I've recently been using Excel for Mac 2011 and while you can do a lot of things with the Mac version, learning how to do them a different way for Mac makes it a royal pain in the proverbial. Ultimately, all the design has gone into the first Windows version and in the Windows environment is an awesome tool. On a complex file, you might as well be learning a new application. I don't have the time to effectively learn a new application, so will be Windowsizing my Mac solely to use Office.

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