Best Excel: Mac Vs Windows - The Programs Comparison
Microsoft Excel is one of the most important programs for any company's development. Every business intelligence must know how to work properly with any version of Excel. The software allows them to identify trends, sort and organize important information from multiple data sources, and control business expenses and employees' working hours, for instance.
But, many users must know that there is more than one Excel version available. An example of the difference is Windows Excel and Excel for Mac OS. The same program but built for different operating systems, bringing a few differences between them.
Which Companies Use Mac or Windows Operating System?
Most companies prefer to go for standard PCs with the Windows platform. On the other hand, you will see a lot of Macs in areas or companies directly related to creative productions and special content. When we talk about personal use, Windows laptops also outperform macOS completely.
What never changes is that Excel is fundamental in any desktop, and it appears on practically all macs and PCs. That’s why talking about such a platform, its shortcuts, features, and possibilities are so important.
Is There a Best Version of Excel?
Those who try both Windows and Mac versions of Excel will see the programs are similar, but they are far from equal. And if you’re looking for the best Excel, you must go for the Windows version, as Mac users are behind in terms of Excel possibilities and features.
Any power user, who needs to apply complicated formulas and macros in any pivot table, will see how the Windows version overcomes the mac version. Excel has a lot of functionality that is not available in Excel for Mac.
But besides these missing features, Mac users may find some bugs. But Mac Excel has macro-enabled workbooks, so if you’re not a power user and just want to create calculated columns and use some macros, the mac version of Excel will be just fine.
For those who want a better understanding of the differences in the Mac vs Windows comparison, it's time to make a deeper trip. That way, we can explain why Windows versions will always be better and far more recommended, to the point that some users decide to install Excel for Windows via boot camp or something similar. Even though Windows counterpart works fine as well.
Microsoft’s Attention and Care
So, if we can make the same things, like creating power pivot tables and pivot charts, creating workbooks with formulas and macros, and exploring the other main features and functions, why is one version better than another? The first reason is Microsoft’s strategy.
Well, Microsoft Excel doesn’t have this name for no reason. The whole office suite was created by Microsoft, just like Windows. And, since Microsoft is the operating system's creator, it’s natural that they prefer people to use Windows instead of macOS. This is exactly why they will focus on improving the Windows version of Excel, bringing new features, and correcting bugs as fast as possible.
On the other hand, they will take their time to make the same changes to the Apple laptop version of the software. Worse support and the lack of features such as user forms will make most users prefer the Windows version over the mac version.
Differences between the Mac Version and the Windows Version
Now that we have already talked about the different importance Microsoft gives to the Windows and the mac version, it’s time to talk about the differences that make Windows version the best you can use.
Form Controls and Quick Access Toolbar
The first limitations we have to discuss in more detail are the form control and the quick access toolbar (QAT). You won’t be able to export your toolbar to help with your calculations in a new worksheet in a new Excel.
You will have to rebuild it. Besides that, one thing every user complained about once is the form controls. They are ugly and hard to understand in the Windows version but even worse in the Mac version.
Power Pivot is one of the most important features of Excel. It is one of the things that make the program from Microsoft so important for business intelligence. Since it is a little complicated to explain exactly what Pivot tables are, we can use the explanation of Microsoft itself.
“an add-in for Microsoft Excel 2010 that enables you to import millions of rows of data from multiple data sources into a single Excel workbook, create relationships between heterogeneous data, create calculated columns and measures using formulas, build PivotTables and PivotCharts, and then further analyze the data so that you can make timely business decisions without requiring IT assistance.”
As you can see, it is extremely important and allows any company to identify trends and patterns and decide the next steps. This tool that helps with big data analytics isn’t available in the Mac version of Excel.
You can open files containing a pivot table with source data based on the excel data model. But you will see that you are kind of stuck, have no filters, and practically no functionality to work with. At least the power query is available in both versions of Excel.
Pivot Chats and Pivot Tables
These Pivot tables are a special kind of table that allows you to work the way you want with different types of information, choosing how to display them and exactly what will be visible. Pivot tables are a feature available in the mac version.
The problem is the pivot charts. Like the tables, they are interactive and allow you to display the information in a preferred manner. The only problem is that these pivot charts aren’t available in Mac Excel.
The Visual Basic for Applications, or VBA, is the programming language that determines how things appear in your Excel workbook. You will find VBA in all Office suite applications, as Microsoft uses the language in all of them.
And VBA language is available in Mac Excel. The problem is that it is far from being as good as the Windows version. You won’t be able to export your VBA works the way you do with Windows. A lot of properties and other functions are missing.
User forms are a sort of dialog box users can create and edit to affect a user data entry and make it far more controllable. You can create these user forms in Windows using the Visual Basic Editor, but it's only there. The only thing you can do in Excel for Mac is to check if these user forms are good enough. It's impossible to create and edit them through a Mac.
Whether we are taking advantage of power pivot user forms or visual basic, Excel must be able to import millions of heterogeneous data and allow us to store it all in a single Excel workbook with all the search results we need. But this is also problematic, as Excel for Mac has data connectivity issues to add to all the functionality problems.
Excel for Mac has limitations in the formats the program can read and, consequently, take data from. With Excel for Mac, you will be limited to files in these formats.
When it comes to Excel for Windows PC, you can get data from files in far more formats. For example, this functionality can make a huge difference when you build pivot tables. Some of them are.
Excel in the Windows version, among many other functions, practically doesn’t have limitations when it comes to files you need to open in a spreadsheet.
Sizes and Shapes
This is not necessarily a problem of one or another version. But if you are used to Excel for Mac or Excel for Windows and change the program version, you will see after installing that some buttons may expand or have a different range. This may happen due to compatibility or different resolutions between a Mac and a normal Pc and is not a bug of Excel.
An alternative to keeping all the commands the same size is to manipulate zooms in the display until you have a match of identity between the programs on both platforms. This resolution contrast formats and shapes generally aligned with tabs on Windows may be out of position on Mac.
Other Important Functionalities
In all the topics mentioned above, there are other minor changes in Microsoft for Windows when compared to Microsoft for Mac. Even though they are not huge, as mentioned before, they can make the user experience far better (or worse). Let’s see some of them.
These ActiveX Controls are an alternative to the forms controls and they can be used for several things, from power pivot works to simple tables. The thing is: they aren’t remembered that much by Excel users. Well, even though they are a little out of use, they can be helpful but are not present in Excel for Mac.
Far more than applying macros and formulas to ensure you perform better when using Excel, you need a way to control everything properly. The watch window enables and gives the support to keep an eye on everything on your pivot table. This Window will enable you to monitor the values of cells anywhere on your worksheet.
It will be very helpful if you work on a complex workbook with many connected worksheets, but guess what, only for Windows. Excel for Mac doesn’t have the functionality to help with your pivot table.
Autosaved Versions of Your Worksheet
Another very useful tool Windows users have at their disposal is the autosave feature. It was very common in the old days to be working on a complicated workbook and, for any reason, have it closed suddenly. The pain we felt knowing we had just kissed goodbye to a complicated pivot table had no equal. The problem was solved with the autosave feature but only for Windows, not in Excel for Mac.
This multi-item clipboard enables users to copy and paste several items at once. That way, you can modify and include any information you want faster. Another feature that is not available in Excel for Mac. At least there are different Os X add-ins.
More than a default workbook filled with data, we want our work to impress the biggest group of co-workers possible. That's why things such as visual effects are interesting. Excel for Mac has, just like the Windows version, the color set and font set, but the effects are only available for Windows users of Excel.
Custom Colors and Font Sets
And since we are talking about customization features and have already mentioned colors and fonts, let’s go with them again. Mac version of Excel doesn’t enable users to customize their colors and fonts. They are forced to use the default pre-defined colors and fonts.
The Windows version of Excel brings the live preview feature. That way, you can preview exactly how an effect will look on your work before adding it. If you hover your mouse over a specific theme, you will have a preview of it.
View Side by Side
This Windows version feature allows you to look at different workbooks side by side. That way, you can make the comparisons you decide is necessary with your file. The feature is not available in Mac Excel; you will need to use the arrange feature.
When you select a cell in Excel, the program shows a “smart tag” which gives you some customization possibilities. You will quickly create totals, charts, tables, and sparklines. This is another feature not available in Mac Excel.
Redo Drop Down Menu
The undo and redo commands are one of the most important features that exist for Excel. And Microsoft developed it even more by creating a drop-down menu that allows you to change multiple actions simultaneously. Unfortunately, for those using Excel Mac, there is only the undo dropdown menu feature available. The Redo is a Windows exclusive.
The Windows version of Excel has a feature capable of forecasting seasonal changes and identifying future values based on confidence factors. This is another feature you won’t find in the Excel Mac version.
Where Can I Get Excel for My Company?
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Now, you already know all the different things in Excel for Mac and Windows. With this long article, we hope users understand why Excel in Windows is a far stronger machine and why the program will never be as good as it is in the OS developed by Microsoft.
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