I think the Ribbon is ugly. Can I disable it and return to normal toolbars? First of all, it's not an either/or thing: The Ribbon doesn't replace "normal toobars." Those toobars are all still there. Secondly, it's easy to make the Ribbon go away: You can hide it temporarily by clicking on an arrow in the upper right of Word's window. Or, if you want to get rid of it altogether, you can go to the Ribbon pane in Word's preferences and uncheck Turn On The Ribbon. If you really wanted to, you could make Word 2011 look just like Word 2008 by disabling the Ribbon and then selecting View -> Toolbars and enabling the floating toolbars.
All that said, don't assume that you'll want to get rid of the Ribbon before you try it. It's true that some who've used Word 2010 for Windows hated its version of the Ribbon. But the Ribbon has evolved; many (including some Macworld editors) have grown to like it. Don't be too quick to turn back the clock.
One thing I really hate about Word 2008 (and Excel) is that when you open the application, a new document automatically appears. I then have to delete the new document before I can open the existing document I want to edit. Does Word 2011 fix this? By default, Word 2011 opens the Document Gallery when it launches. You can turn it off (in Preferences -> General)--but then the program will open a blank document on launch. And I haven't yet found a way to turn that off.
Can I simplify the toolbar so that it has exactly the same things on it that I had on it in Word 5.1 (in my opinion, the best Mac version of Word ever)? You can customize toolbars by going to View -> Toolbars -> Customize Toolbars And Menus. This command is also available by Control-clicking or right-clicking on the standard toolbar.
Is it possible to make Paste & Match Style the default action for Command-V? No, that isn't an option.
Can I set up Word so that when I insert an image in a document and double-click on it, it will open in the image editor of my choice? Unfortunately, no. Office 2011 does include its own set of image editing features--located on the Format Picture Ribbon tab--that allow you to adjust brightness and contrast, correct colors, and remove backgrounds.
Does Word's spelling checker use Mac OS X's built-in dictionary? No, Microsoft uses its own spelling dictionaries and proofing tools. (Created, the company says, in conjunction with "a focused team of language experts." You can add custom terms to the spelling dictionary.
Have the Mail Merge capabilities been enhanced at all? Does it still merge with a FileMaker Pro data source? Microsoft did not introduce any new Mail Merge functionality in Word 2011, but you can still merge with FileMaker.
Does Word 2011 provide full Unicode support for right-to-left languages and languages with complex character sets? In our preliminary tests, Word was able to open and properly display documents containing these languages, but it was not able to create new documents using them. We're still waiting for a final answer from Microsoft on this and some other Unicode font questions.
Is SharePoint necessary for simultaneous editing of the same document? For simultaneous editing, you need to store documents either on SharePoint or on SkyDrive. SharePoint is for businesses, as it requires a SharePoint server; SkyDrive is a free service for consumers. For SkyDrive, you need to establish a Windows Live account. That done, you can share documents with anyone, whether or not they're on Windows Live.
Does Word have a built-in connection to SharePoint? Does that eliminate the need for the Mac-only Document Connection? With Office 2011, you can save and load Office files directly to a SharePoint site, and you can use the new File -> Open URL to specify a path to a document in a SharePoint location. Document Connection is part of the Office 2011 installer and you can still use it to view and manage your SharePoint document libraries.
Can Office 2011 open and save to older file formats, such as rich text, AppleWorks, Microsoft Works, and so on? With Word 2011, you can open and save rich-text, plain-text, and Unicode-text files; Web pages; and Word XML files. There's also a Retrieve Text From Any File option that may help with other file formats.
Can I configure Word to use pre-XML file formats (.doc instead of .docx)? Can I set the default to save as .doc? Yes to both. Select Word -> Preferences and then open the Save tab. There you will see the Save Word Files As drop-down menu; choose whatever default format you want for saving files.
Can I save a Word 2011 document as a PDF and maintain embedded HTML links? No, Word 2011 uses OS X's built-in Save As PDF feature. Though links will be formatted in blue, they won't be live.
Can Word generate documents in ePub format? No, you cannot directly export a document into ePub format.
Will files created in Word X be compatible with Word 2011, and vice versa? Yes, but to make the trip from Word 2011 to Word X, you will need to be sure to save files in the .doc format, not the .docx format. Some features in Office 2004, 2008, and 2011 will not be fully supported in Word X, but document content should be preserved going between these versions.
Can I set the menus and Ribbons in Word 2011 so they're the same as those in Word 2007 for Windows? While similar in layout, the Ribbon controls in Word 2011 are not 100% identical to those in Word 2007 or 2010 for Windows. When creating the Ribbon for Office 2011, Microsoft took into account the menu bar, toolbar, and other elements of the Mac interface.
Your review says that Word 2011 matches the features of its Windows counterpart. Does that parity extend to contextual menus that appear when you're highlighting text, cutting and pasting text, formatting tables, and so on? Many of those menus will be the same or similar, but they aren't exactly the same.
Does Word 2011 support font embedding? The Windows version has done so forever. Word 2011 doesn't support font embedding.
Does Word 2011 support book-fold printing? Word 2010 for Windows does. No, that output option is not available.
Will Word be able to display and let you edit mathematical equations created in Office 2007 or 2010? Yes. Word 2011 uses the same Office equations engine used in Word 2007 and 2010. You will find options for inserting and editing equations in the Document Elements Ribbon tab.
In Word 2010, each comment is assigned a number--very useful. Does Word 2011 do that? Yes, you will see a comment number in the comment bubbles.
Can I move files from the Windows version of Word to the Mac version and visa versa? Yes. You can do so in any of the usual ways (as e-mail attachments, via shared network drives, and so on), or you can use a SharePoint site or SkyDrive to store Office files online and then access them from either platform.
I run Word 2010 and have dozens of macros. How complete is the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) support in Word 2011? Will I have to tweak any of my macros for them to run under Word 2011? Office 2011 uses the same VBA engine as the latest version of Office for Windows. However, there are some differences; for example, ActiveX controls are not supported in Office 2011.
This story, "Mac Office 2011: Word FAQ" was originally published by Macworld.