Excel for Mac vs Excel for Windows: Features and Differences

Discover the functionalities and variations between Excel for Mac and Excel for Windows. Learn which version suits your needs best.
Excel for Mac vs Excel for Windows comparison

When comparing Excel for Mac and Excel for Windows, there may not be significant differences for most users. Workbooks created on one platform can usually be opened and used on the other without major issues. However, power users, especially those who rely on complex macros, may encounter limitations when using Excel for Mac.

Explore the following sections to delve deeper into the functionalities and differences between Excel for Mac and Excel for Windows, and determine which version best suits your needs.

Table of Contents

  1. What are Excel for Mac and Excel for Windows
  2. Excel for Mac
  3. Excel for Windows
  4. Power Pivot Functionality Difference
  5. Pivot Chart Functionality Difference
  6. Quick Access Toolbar Difference
  7. VBA Functionality Difference
  8. Other Differences
  9. FAQs
  10. Final Thoughts

What are Excel for Mac and Excel for Windows

Excel for Mac and Excel for Windows are two different versions of Microsoft Excel, the popular spreadsheet software. They are designed to run on different operating systems:

Excel for Mac

Excel for Mac is specifically developed to run on macOS, the operating system used on Apple Macintosh computers. It is tailored to match the design principles and user interface of macOS, providing a seamless experience for Mac users.

Excel for Windows

Excel for Windows is designed to run on the Microsoft Windows operating system, which is widely used on PCs and laptops. It follows the design conventions and user interface of Windows, integrating with other Microsoft Office applications and taking advantage of Windows-specific features.

Both versions of Excel share a similar core functionality, allowing users to create, edit, and analyze spreadsheets. They offer features such as formulas, charts, data analysis tools, collaboration options, and more. 

Power Pivot Functionality Difference

One major difference between Excel for Windows and Excel for Mac is the absence of the Power Pivot function in Excel for Mac. Power Pivot is an advanced feature introduced in Excel 2010 as an add-in and later became an in-built feature in Excel 2016 and 365 for Windows.

Power Pivot allows users to import and analyze large amounts of data from multiple sources, create relationships between heterogeneous data, and generate columns, charts, Pivot Tables, and Pivot Charts. It is a powerful tool for data analysis and business intelligence, enabling users to make informed decisions without relying on IT support.

Power Pivot Functionality Difference

Unfortunately, Excel for Mac does not include the Power Pivot function. Mac users are unable to access this feature, limiting their ability to leverage advanced data analysis capabilities within Excel. Although requests have been made to add Power Pivot to Excel for Mac, there is no official update from Microsoft regarding the introduction of this function for Mac users.

Despite this limitation, Mac users can still open and work with files containing Pivot Tables and charts created using Power Pivot on Windows. However, they won't have access to the exclusive Power Pivot functionalities when using Excel for Mac.

Pivot Chart Functionality Difference

Pivot Tables are a powerful tool for data analysis and summarization, available in both Excel for Mac and Excel for Windows. However, the functionality of Pivot Charts, which are interactive visual representations of Pivot Tables, differs between the two versions.

In Excel for Windows, users can easily convert a Pivot Table into a Pivot Chart with a single click. Pivot Charts dynamically update as the source data changes, providing an interactive visualization experience. Users can switch fields and the chart responds accordingly.

Pivot Chart Functionality Difference

Unfortunately, Excel for Mac does not offer the same Pivot Charts feature. Instead, Pivot Charts in Excel for Mac are more like static screenshots, lacking interactivity with the source Pivot Table. This limitation means that Mac users cannot enjoy the same level of dynamic visualizations as Windows users.

However, there is a workaround for Mac users. They can create a Pivot Table from their data and then generate a regular graph from the Pivot Table. Although this graph won't have the same level of interactivity as Pivot Charts, users can still manipulate the Pivot Table by changing fields to see corresponding changes in the graph.

Quick Access Toolbar Difference

The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in Excel is a convenient feature that provides quick access to frequently used commands. In Excel for Windows, users have the ability to customize the QAT extensively.

In Excel for Windows, users can easily access the QAT by going to File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar. This allows them to add various commands and functions to the toolbar for quick and easy access.

Quick Access Toolbar Difference

One notable feature of the QAT in Excel for Windows is the Import/Export functionality. Users can export their QAT customization as a file, which can then be imported into Excel on a different device. This enables users to have the same customized QAT across multiple devices, ensuring consistency and familiarity in their Excel workflow.

On the other hand, Excel for Mac does not provide the same level of customization for the QAT. Mac users have limited options for customizing the QAT and do not have the Import/Export feature available.

This difference in QAT functionality means that Windows users have more flexibility and control over their QAT customization, allowing them to optimize their workflow. Mac users, on the other hand, have a more limited ability to customize the QAT and cannot easily transfer their customizations to other devices.

VBA Functionality Difference

Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the programming language used in Microsoft Excel for creating macros and automating tasks. While VBA is supported in Excel for Mac, there are several drawbacks and missing functionalities compared to the Windows version.

  1. User Form: Creating or editing user forms in Excel for Mac is more challenging and time-consuming compared to the Windows version. User forms may encounter size issues when exported from Windows to Mac, resulting in readability problems.
  2. Properties Window: The VBA Properties window, which allows easy modification of object properties, is not available in Excel for Mac.
  3. Import/Export of VBA Codes: Excel for Mac does not provide seamless import/export functionality for VBA codes, making it inconvenient for developers who frequently work with VBA codes.
  4. Visual Basic Editor: The Visual Basic Editor (VBE) in Excel for Mac has fewer features and capabilities compared to its Windows counterpart. For example, Excel 2008 for Mac does not support running macros at all, and the VBA functionality in Excel for Mac was relatively limited until the release of Excel 2016.

Other Differences

Data Connections

Excel for Windows offers a wide range of options for importing and connecting to external data sources, including web data, Access, ODBC SQL, JSON, PDF, XML, Oracle, Azure, SharePoint, and more. In contrast, Excel for Mac has a more limited list of data connection options, such as ODBC SQL, Text, HTML, and Databases.

Page Break View

Excel for Windows provides three view modes for each sheet: Normal, Page Layout, and Page Break view. However, Excel for Mac has historically offered only two view modes, Normal and Page Layout. The Page Break View was introduced to Microsoft Office 365 users on Mac, while users of previous versions are still limited to the Normal and Page Layout views.

For power users who heavily rely on macros and VBA, it is generally recommended to use Excel for Windows. Microsoft tends to develop new and advanced features for Windows first, with a lag of several years before introducing them to the Mac version. 

Additionally, some advanced features may never be introduced to Excel for Mac.


Is Excel the same in Macbook and Windows?

Excel has many similarities between Mac and Windows versions, but there are also some differences in functionalities and features.

Is Windows Excel better than Mac?

The perception of whether Windows Excel is better than Mac Excel may vary depending on individual needs and preferences.

What is the same as Excel on Mac?

Both Excel on Mac and Windows offer core spreadsheet functionalities such as formulas, data analysis tools, charts, and basic formatting options.

Is Microsoft Office for Mac different from PC?

While Microsoft Office for Mac and PC share many similarities, there can be differences in terms of features, interface design, and compatibility with certain file formats or third-party add-ins.

Is Macbook better than Windows for Office work?

The suitability of a Macbook or Windows for office work depends on factors such as specific software requirements, personal preferences, and compatibility needs with colleagues or clients.

Final Thoughts

Excel for Mac and Excel for Windows have functional similarities, but there are significant differences. Windows Excel often receives new features and updates before the Mac version. 

Power users, especially those relying on advanced features like macros and VBA, may find Windows Excel more comprehensive. Mac users in creative fields or small enterprises may find Excel for Mac suitable if they don't heavily depend on advanced functionalities. 

Consider specific feature needs and compatibility requirements when choosing between the two versions.

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