Office:mac 2004 on life support

Most Mac heads use Microsoft Office for word processing, spreadsheets and maybe even email, but do you really use it?I consider myself an Office power user (8+ hours per day) and increasingly find that Microsoft Office:mac 2004 is bordering on unusable in a couple of key areas.

Office for Mac 2004 on life support
Most Mac heads use Microsoft Office for word processing, spreadsheets and maybe even email, but do you really use it?

I consider myself an Office power user (8+ hours per day) and increasingly find that Microsoft Office:mac 2004 is bordering on unusable in a couple of key areas. It's to the point now, where I've be forced to switch to iWork '08 to get even basic workflow functionality.

Take for the example the ability to embed an Excel spreadsheet in a Word document. Simple enough, right? Not on a Mac.

What should be a simple, basic function of an integrated office suite is an exercise in futility. If you create a proposal, for example, in Word and embed a table of prices (from Excel) you cannot properly select the range of cells to embed. Sometimes it gets the cells you need, other times it lops off random rows or columns. Other times large areas of the spreadsheet are completely blank–even when printing. I found this out the hard way when Office didn't include the last few rows of my embedded spreadsheet–which happened to be critical notes.

Once an Excel spreadsheet is embedded in a Word document try adjusting its size or position–good luck. A former colleague was forced to open her files Mac Office documents on a PC just so that she could resize a spreadsheet embedded in Word.

Ever try working with Word's headers and footers? Clicking out to de-select the header or footer jumps you back to the first page of the document. Why?

The Find functionality in both Word and Excel is horrible. You have to click the button or hit the return key to Find Next (there's no command-G like most Mac apps) and if you leave the Find dialog open, it ties up the application so that other applications can't communicate with it.

Microsoft-Excel-Busy

Even the basic "Save As..." feature doesn't have a keyboard shortcut in Office:mac 2004. I use this feature about 50 times per day necessitating grabbing the mouse and clicking on the file menu. While I'm at it: Office Mac 2008 desperately needs keyboard shortcut preferences with full customization for every function of the application. Why do I need to buy a piece of shareware to do this?

One thing that Mac Office 2008 needs to learn from iWork '08 is the simple but incredibly handy "Paste and Match Style" feature. When pasting text into any of Apple's iApps (Pages, Numbers, iWeb) holding down the control key gives you the option to paste the copied text in the style of the existing text, saving you a trip to the font panel. There's even a keyboard command. This is a huge time saver for me.

Microsoft Mac Office 2008

The new Mac Office 2008 looks promising, but with only six weeks to go before its announcement at Macworld Expo SF in January I'm concerned. The Mac Business Unit (BU) hasn't offered a public (or private) beta version of their flagship Mac software so no one knows what it fixes.

If some of these core features aren't already baked into the new software, it's not happening by Expo. I hope that some basic functionality is added to Mac Office 2008 or I'm headed to the hills of iWork and never looking back.

What bugs you about Office:mac 2004?

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