Differences Between Win and Mac Word
Word on the Macintosh is basically Word for Windows re-compiled to run on the Mac. It's not just "compatible". It's not just "like" Word for the PC. It is Microsoft Word, the same one Microsoft makes for every platform.
The cost and number of person-hours spent developing Word is mind-boggling. It's well over a billion dollars, and there are well over ten thousand person-years of effort in it. Making a new one just for the Mac would have been so expensive that a copy of Word would cost several thousand dollars. You might buy two at that price, but the rest of us couldn't afford it!
Because it is the same software, and Microsoft has a policy of bringing the two versions closer together, the differences will become less over time. Essentially, each version on the PC is matched a year later by a version on the Mac (Microsoft is trying to reduce that gap, but the Mac Business Unit has to wait for the Windows Office Business Unit to "finish" their version before MBU can finalize theirs).
|Macintosh||Equivalent PC Version|
|Word 2004||Word 2000|
|Word v.X||Word 2000|
|Word 2001||Word 2000|
|Word 98||Word 97|
|Word 6||Word 95|
|Word 5||Word 6|
Differences in Appearance
On each platform, Word adopts the default appearance of the Operating System. There is almost nothing that you see on the screen that is drawn by Word: on the Mac, the display is created by Mac OS; on the PC, by Windows. It saves money and it saves vast amounts of disk space and processor power.
The only difference you are likely to notice is that if you are in OS X, the window controls are on the opposite side to Windows.
On the Mac the Command (Apple) key is the Control Key in Windows, whereas the Control Key from the Mac is the Right-Click in Windows.
On a Windows keyboard, the Control key is always labeled Ctrl. On a Mac keyboard, expect to find the ⌘ or ? symbol on the Command key. (These characters will not display on the PC; they should look like this:.) This paragraph is a classic example of the cross-platform font difficulties you will experience. There is no default font common to the PC and the Mac that contains both of those characters (in case you are interested, that's "Lucida Grande", the most wide-ranging of the Mac OS X Unicode fonts). On the PC, you can use characters with impunity: the PC will find the closest font that contains the character. On the Mac, in Word 2004 and above,you can use the exact same range of characters because Word 2004 is running in Unicode; however, because you cannot embed the font in the document, you need to make sure that the character that you use exists in one or more of the Unicode fonts your recipient has. If in doubt, for PC compatibility, use only fonts that Microsoft supplies. In lower versions of Mac Word, you must use the font that contains the character you want and both you and your recipient must have that font.
Word is very right-click-centric. If you do not have a two-button mouse, you will find it is a very worthwhile investment if you are going to spend much time in Word.
|Control Key||Command (Apple) Key|
|ctrl key||Option Key|
|File>New Task Pane||Project Gallery|
|Mail Merge Task Pane||Data Merge Palette|
The Control-Click (or Right-Click) brings up the "context menu" wherever you happen to be. In Word almost everything you want to do, or everything you want to know, will appear on the right-click. The menus that appear vary dramatically depending on where your mouse-pointer is.
Word also responds to the scroll-wheel if you have one. (Not all windows; for example preferences and options dialogs do not...). Mouse scroll wheel support in Word pre-X depends totally on the mouse drivers. Microsoft drivers for the Microsoft Mouse generally work (and will often drive other companies' mice!).
In Windows, the keyboard shortcuts are listed in the Help, in a topic surprisingly enough called "keyword shortcuts". On the Mac, only some of the keystrokes are listed, in various topics such as "About using shortcut keys" and "Select text and graphics". To find the list on either platform, use Search from the Microsoft Office Help to look for the word "keyboard".
You can look at the Key Assignments by using Tools>Customize>Keyboard on either platform. If you select a command, and it has a key assignment, the Customize dialog will tell you what it is. This is a better place to look than the Help, because users can (and should) change their keystrokes to suit themselves on either platform. The Customize dialog also includes a handy Reset button if you decide you do not like the keystrokes you inherited from the previous user on that computer.
Finally, each version of Word enables you to print a list of the currently-assigned keystrokes so you can stick them on the wall. To print them on the Mac:
- Go to Tools>Macro>Macros
- In the Macros In pop-up menu, click Word Commands
- In the Macro name box click ListCommands
- Click Run
- In the List Commands dialog, click Current Menu and Keyboard settings and OK
- On the File menu, click Print.
You do it exactly the same way in Windows, or see here for a more extensive pre-built list.
One keystroke that will catch you out a few times is Command + h. Ctrl + h in Windows is the shortcut for the Replace dialog. On Mac OS X, Command + h hides the application! Use Command + Shift + H for the Replace dialog on OS X.
With OS X, Apple changed some of the keystrokes reserved for the operating system and added some new ones. On each version of Mac OS, Word follows system convention.
Some Mac keyboards do not have a Forward Delete key. Word needs one: there is a difference in Word between Forward Delete and Back Delete. You will strike it most often in tables: in a Table, Delete becomes "Clear" which removes the cell contents without removing the cells. Use Cut to delete the cells themselves. Back Delete will remove text within a cell but has no effect if more than one cell is selected. If you are on a Mac laptop, the Forward Delete key is probably Function + Delete.
The Mac has an Option Key, Windows does not have an equivalent. Generally what you expect from the Option key will be on the Control Key in Windows.
Three very commonly-used shortcuts are Command + c (Copy), Command + v (Paste), and Command + s (Save). On Windows these are Ctrl + v, Ctrl + c, and Ctrl + s.
A keystroke that may catch you out a few times is Clear Formatting: on the PC it's Ctrl + q to restore paragraph formatting to that of the underlying style, and Ctrl + Space Bar to restore character (font) formatting. On Mac OS 9, they are the same. On Mac OS X, these are Command + Option + q and Ctrl + Space Bar.
Later versions of Word have an Edit>Clear>Formats command on the Menu bar, which will save you trying to remember the other two. However, note that Clear>Formats resets the formatting back to the formatting of Normal Style (it applies Normal Style) whereas the individual commands simply reset a paragraph to the formatting of the current style.
One thing that will catch you out all the time is that on the Mac, Word adopts the Mac convention of having a Preferences command. In OS X it's on the Application (Word) menu, in OS 9 it's on the Edit menu, again, following the OS convention. On the PC, this is Tools>Options on the Tools menu. It's the same thing, the tabs are exactly the same inside.
Word on the Mac still has a Work menu you can put on your menu bar; this has been replaced by the Task Pane (which is nowhere near as convenient) in later versions of PC Word.
Mac Word also has a Font menu which the PC lacks.
Different Print Mechanism
In order to display a document in WYSIWYG mode, Word needs to know a lot about the capabilities of the printer the document will eventually be sent to.
In Windows this is very simple: Word reads all the information it needs from the printer driver for the printer set as the Windows default. On the Mac, it attempts to do the same thing, but the mechanism is vastly more complex. Look here for more detail.
Some Features Didn't Make it
Making software is a depressingly manual activity. Every line of code has to be planned, typed, and checked. There are more than 30 million of them in Microsoft Office. There simply was not enough time and money to bring all the features of PC Word across to the Mac. And some of them we wouldn't want, anyway! Most of the omissions are of interest only to solution developers:
- Font embedding is not supported on the Mac.
- Customized toolbar buttons are supported on the Mac, but the Icon Editor is missing.
- Speech recognition is apparently built into the operating system in OS 10.2 and above. Since Apple doesn't actually mention this on their website, the cynical amongst us suspect that it does not actually work very well (in Windows it's built into Office XP, but you need a supercomputer to run it and it works properly only in American English and with particular accents...).
- HTML support in Word for the Mac is not at the same level as it is in Word on the PC: many web pages load as a shattered mess. The code stripping utility HTML Filter 2 available for the PC is not available for the Mac. In Windows you type a web address into File>Open, in Mac Word, it's available only on a separate web toolbar.
- Word on the PC has a menu item enabling you to Export to Compact HTML. On the Mac, this is an option on the File>Save As Web Page menu option named Save only display information into HTML. The other option, Save entire file into HTML is the equivalent of the Word PC's Save As Web Page; it saves a Word document expressed in XML.
Restricted Unicode Support
- Unicode support is patchy on the Mac pre Word 2004. Word runs internally in Unicode, and has since Word 97. But the Carbon libraries Word was built with do not support Unicode characters that are not in the Macintosh Character Set, and many Mac fonts do not have the glyphs to support Unicode properly. For a possible solution that will enable you to use single characters in Word X, Word 2001 and Word 98, click here.
VBA a Level Behind
- Visual Basic for Applications on the Mac is at version 5 (on the PC, this is Word 97's level of VBA); Word 2000 on the PC is at version 6, and 2002 is 6.1. Code you write on the Mac will run on the PC if you are careful. Expect code you write on the PC in Word 2000 or above to generate compile- or run-time errors on the Mac.
- Developers should read George Clark's article for more detail.
- ActiveX is not supported on the Mac at all. If you create userforms, use only the controls provided in the Forms Toolbar on the Mac, anything else you bring from the PC will generate an error when the user opens the document.
- Digital Signatures are not supported on the Mac, and neither is code signing. You will not be able to open a signed project in Mac Word. If the signature prevents you from changing a macro, the code will be execute-only on the Mac.
- AppleScript is very badly broken in Word on the Mac prior to Word 2004, and not available at all on the PC. RealBasic is a good alternative: it is available on both platforms and is included with Word for the Mac. VBA is very powerful: investigate scripting your application from AppleScript with VBA, using the "Do Visual Basic" command.
- The VBA Integrated Development Environment had to be severely cut back on the Mac. If you plan to develop much VBA, invest in a copy of Virtual PC: the productivity you gain is enormous. Hint: Use Windows 2000 and NTFS disk format; I have had problems with Windows XP Virtual PCs corrupting on the Mac.