How to Use General Microsoft Office Downloads with Office:Mac
Most templates offered on the Microsoft Office for PC download site can be used with Microsoft Office for Macintosh. However, on the Mac, we have to install them manually. This article tells you how. (The website installs them automatically on a PC running PC Office). This article has been updated to work around a bug in Stuffit running on Intel Macs.
Obviously the best place to start is Mactopia. The templates offered there are the most popular Microsoft Office templates, re-engineered to work with no issues on your Mac.
However, if the template you want is not among them, look on the general Office templates page. Almost every imaginable template that you can obtain without payment is there.
Right: Let’s cover a few ground rules before we get started:
- The templates Microsoft offers are the best you can get for no charge.
- The templates designed for PC Office are not all going to work on the Mac.
- You’re not on your own! If you download a template and it doesn’t quite work, we’re here to help!
- Use the latest browser.
- Make sure you have the most up-to-date, free Stuffit Expander installed; the older versions won't do the job.
Templates customised to exactly solve your business problem can be a fairly large investment. I just quoted a customer $27,000 for one set. I have one that automatically makes up multiple-choice examinations: a copy will cost you $499.00. If I were you, I would try very hard to make the nice templates Microsoft offers for free fit your need!
Most (almost all…) of them will work, but some just won’t. We can’t tell you which is which: you will just have to try them.
As a rule of thumb, any template offered for PC Office 2000 or earlier “should” work unchanged on the Mac. Later versions may contain active content that “may not” work well on the Mac. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are totally without value: in many cases you can use the content just fine, disregard the broken automation, and type into them yourself!
Anything offered for Office 2007 or later is going to be a problem. If you have the Office File Format converter from Microsoft Mactopia installed, some of them may be useful. Without the converter, they will not open at all in Mac Office versions earlier than 2008.
For help, click here to access the Mac Word newsgroup:
Just a word to the wise: If you’re going to ask for help, be detailed, and be nice. “Heeeelp!!! It doesn’t work” tells us exactly nothing about your problem, your computer, or the programs you are using. And when you come in, remember we’re in the bar having a quiet one with our friends after work (yeah, 24 hours a day: this is a world-wide operation – it’s always 5:00 p.m. somewhere!). If you come barging in shouting that we should leap up and serve you instantly for no charge, you’ll get treated much like you would be in a bar. We do not work for Microsoft! We're just other Word users, like you, but with some accumulated knowledge and experience that we're happy to share.
The MS Download site is a complex active server site, and early versions of Safari will struggle with it.
You are going to need to decompress content that OS X’s built-in Zip utility can’t handle.
First, Catch Your Rabbit
No, Mrs. Beeton didn’t say it in her celebrated recipe for rabbit stew, but I will. Spend some time looking around before choosing. The Office site is huge. Stick to templates produced for the programs you own, and you will have a much higher chance of success: anything written for Word, Excel or PowerPoint is very likely to work. Anything written for Access, OneNote, InfoPath, Project, Publisher or Visio just won’t.
In Word, be careful of anything that promises a “booklet”. Word 2003 has a booklet function we do not have on the Mac.
Also, for non-US users, remember that most templates are in US Letter. When you change page size to A4, some template features will be thrown off (such as the perforation lines for business card templates), so be prepared to make adjustments.
When you find one you think might be suitable, click the Download Now button.
If all goes well, you will see the Your operating system does not meet system requirements error page.
That’s a good result! That page was placed there specifically at the request of us Mac Addicts, to explain what to do next. The rest of this article gives you the same explanation with a little more detail.
Click the Download Now button on that page.
Opening the CAB
You will download a file whose name consists entirely of a number and which has the extension .cab. A .cab is a Microsoft “cabinet” file: essentially it’s a Zipped folder structure with the ability to store longer file names.
Depending on your version of Mac OS, the built-in Zip utility may not be able to open it, but there are programs that can. If you are on a Power PC-version Mac (A G3 or a G4 or a G5...) then Stuffit Expander will do the trick. If you have an Intel-processor Mac, Stuffit has a bug that may prevent it. Only one way to find out...
- If your browser is correctly set up, it will leave the file in your Downloads folder with a subfolder above it containing the unpacked content.
- If you can’t find it, start Stuffit and drag the .cab onto it.
- Stuffit will either issue an error message, or it will leave a folder containing the template in the same folder as the .cab file. If you get an "Error 17540" from Stuffit, that means "Can't understand the format" and the extracted template file will not be useable.
If this happens to you:
- Download File Juicer, install it, and run it.
- It will open a window onto which you drag the .cab file.
- File Juicer will then show you the folder structure inside the .cab.
- In one of the folders inside (the name varies a little) you will find a name like "123456.dot.doc"
- Change the extension simply to .dot, or Word is going to get a little confused.
- Manually drag the .dot file to one of your Templates folders.
- Send an angry email to Stuffit telling them they stuffed it...
- Send 10 Euros to the nice man at File Juicer.
- Your template is now available for use in Mac Office.
Usually, the .cab will contain a single file, and often it will be a template for the application you chose. So if you chose Word, it will contain a .dot, if you chose Excel it will contain an .xlt and if you chose PowerPoint there will be a .pot.
Sometimes, the CAB will contain more than one file. Here’s where you may need a little determination to try things out.
- Chances are the largest file is the one you want. If you find a .inf file in there, you can safely ignore that one: it contains instructions for the Windows Installer to install the file. An .msi is more of a problem: that’s a Windows installer file and indicates that the solution may not be complete without Windows .dlls. Carry on anyway: there’s only one way to find out!
- If you do not recognise what you got, assume that the file is a template for the application you chose. For example, if you are sent a .wiz file, and you chose a Word solution, chances are the .wiz is actually a Word template .dot (it’s a “Wizard”; the .wiz extension is not used on the Mac; it tells Word it should create a new document from the file then look for and run a startup macro.)
- Change the extension to the one appropriate to the template file type for the application you want to use. For example, in Word’s case, change the extension to “.dot”.
- Now, use your Microsoft Office application to open the file you have. Do NOT double-click it. Use File>Open… from within the application.
- If you double-click the file, strange results are quite likely. The file has arrived with the PC file-type and creator code embedded. If you double-click, your Mac OS will attempt to hand the file to the correct application. You may get lucky. If you do not, both you and the computer are going to get very confused.
- Don’t assume everything is lost if that happens: Quit whatever started, re-start Word or whichever application you thought it should be starting, and go back and use Open from the File Menu in that application (e.g. Word).
Save As to Finish
If all went well, the file will open. It may appear to be entirely blank (its only content may be hidden macro code). Don’t worry about that: simply Save As.
- Go to the File Menu and choose Save As.
- Replace the numeric file name with something you recognise.
- Leave the extension the way your application has set it, and do not change the Format setting.
- Check the Append File Extension checkbox if it wasn’t checked already, and ignore any “Compatibility Warnings” that you may get.
- Word will allow you to save the file in only one place: which is just as well, because if you save it anywhere else, you won’t be able to use it.
- Click OK, Allow the save to complete, and close the window (on the computer, silly!).
Did it Work?
- Now: Try File>Project Gallery>…
- All going well, the file you just installed will appear in your My Templates folder.
- Create a new document from it, and you should get all of the advertised text and functionality.
- You may see a “This File Contains Macros” warning. If you do, that’s good. That’s one of the main reasons for using templates: they are the place Office stores macros. Say OK and the macros should work to give you the functionality you wanted.
- The majority of the templates offered for download don’t have any macros in them, and you won’t get any problems at all.
- You’re done. Go do your work. The rest of this article is for the unfortunate few!
What if it Didn’t Work?
Here’s where you may get problems: When you say OK to the Macros dialog, Word or the other Office application you are using will try to compile the macro the template contains. That’s when you may find out that the macro is not compatible with the Mac.
The other time you may find out is when you try to use the macro. Some errors will occur only when the macro tries to run (e.g. the macro works perfectly, but it’s trying to find a file using a Windows file location…)
- If you get an “Error in Hidden Module” notice, generally, you’re pooched! Sorry about that! Microsoft applies a digital signature to their code so that it will run without warnings on the PC. Because Mac Office does not support digital code signing, the code is locked: we cannot see or edit it on the Mac.
- If you have Virtual PC and Word 2003 installed, or you have a MacIntel with Windows and Word installed, you can open the file there and try to remove the digital signature. (If you don’t have these, ask us on the newsgroup: we may find the time to do this for you…)
- If you can get rid of the digital signature, bring the file back to the Mac and cause it to blow up again. This time, you will get an error and the VBA editor will open, with the first error the compiler found highlighted in yellow.
- Come to us on the newsgroup with a very specific question (OS version, version numbers of Word, name of template, text of error message, sample of the code, which statement was highlighted) and we may be able to tell you how to work around it.
- If your question doesn’t contain enough detail, we can’t answer it (obviously). But others may try to, which may waste a lot of your time chasing down blind alleys.
- Often you can patch incompatible statements out of the code and the macro will run unchanged.
- You can always find a way to code around the problem if you are really determined. We can give you an idea of how long it might take. Whether you consider that expenditure of your time worth the result is a question you can then answer.