Excel for Mac: Should You Buy a Mac?
5 January 2024
This week in our series about Microsoft Excel for Mac, we’ll point out some important features that aren’t available Excel for Mac, which should help you decide whether a Mac is right for you.
Buying a computer and deciding whether to get a Mac or a PC is a big decision, especially if you use Excel. In recent years, more and more companies offer the choice to their employees, but we’ve heard that some specifically consider what type of work the employee will need to. Prior to 2020, the decision was fairly clear. There were just too many deficiencies in Excel for Mac, so if you were going to use Excel to any great extent, you would need to choose a PC.
The good news is that Microsoft has been steadily reducing those deficiencies by adding more and more features in their monthly updates. However, there are still a few important differences that you should consider.
PowerPivot / Data Model
If you need to use Power Pivot (Data Model) in Excel, then you should choose a PC. Power Pivot is not available on the Mac and it likely won’t be available, since it relies on some operating system API’s that only exist on Windows.
Before 2023, if you needed Power Query, then a Mac would not be a good choice. Thankfully, Microsoft has added most of the Power Query capability to Excel for Mac, so it’s less likely to be important when deciding whether to buy a Mac. As of late 2023, the most popular data sources are available, but there are still some missing. Based upon how Power Query has been progressing, it is likely that more and more data sources will be made available in monthly updates. If you use Power Query, you might want to verify that the data sources you need are available before switching to a Mac.
There are other features not available on Mac, but hopefully they’re not as critical as Power Pivot and Power Query. Most of the popular features are available on Mac, so hopefully the ones mentioned here won’t impact your decision. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but hits on some of the highlights.
Features not available on Mac:
- Evaluate Formula: although this feature is missing, Microsoft introduced the Value Preview ToolTips to help you debug your formulae. It’s a nice alternative to ‘Evaluate Formula’
- ENCODEURL(), FILTERXML() and WEBSERVICE(): these functions rely on operating system capability on Windows, so they won’t work on a Mac
- editing UserForms in the VBA editor. If you’re creating UserForms, you’ll need to use a PC. They can be used on a Mac, but you can’t create or edit them
- publish to Power BI
- Spreadsheet Inquire and Spreadsheet Compare are missing (COM add-ins don’t work on a Mac)
- PivotTable Wizard / Consolidate Ranges
- XML Map pane / XML Tools
- OLE: you can’t insert PDF as an icon, and double-clicking on one will not open the PDF document
- ActiveX: this is a Windows technology, so it will not be available on a Mac. Use Form Controls instead because they work on both Mac and PC.
Please come back for future posts in this series, as we cover much more about Excel for Mac.