I really wanted to love Microsoft Office on the Mac, truly I did.

Since making the move to OS X a few years ago I really haven’t looked back, almost everything I do day-to-day (including supporting a mostly Windows estate) is just easier and more intuitive but that’s not to say there aren’t frustrations.  The thing I missed the most was Microsoft Office.  Apple to their credit produce a very good alternative, namely Numbers, Pages & Keynote but after using Microsoft’s products for so many years I found like so many others I missed the familiarity of Word, Excel & PowerPoint and of course the file compatibility when working with colleagues.  So after a few weeks of persevering with Apple’s equivalents, I decided it was time to install Microsoft Office for Mac 2011.

The problem is that you soon realise how poor Microsoft Office for Mac is compared to the equivalent Windows product; it’s not that I am critising Microsoft because I am not, in fact I applaud them for creating a native Office suite for OS X but it’s not until you live with Office for Mac that you realise how far behind it is in terms of feature set and usability compared to it’s Windows siblings.  It’s a real shame to be honest.

So, almost as soon as I installed Office it was time to uninstall it again and really get to grips with Apple’s offerings but that’s where the problems really began, Microsoft in their wisdom do not provide an uninstallation routine and the only option is to manually remove each element yourself.  So, just how do you clean remove Office for Mac?  Read on.

Note: In order for this guide to work, you must make sure that you quit all running applications and are logged onto your machine as an administrator.

Step 1 – Quit all Office for Mac applications

• Locate any running Office application that is currently running in your Dock, right click the icon and select Quit.

Step 2 – Remove the Microsoft Office 2011 folder

1. On the Go menu, click Applications.
2. Drag the Microsoft Office 2011 folder to the Trash.

Step 3 – Remove Office preferences

Caveat: Removing preferences will delete any cutomisations that you may have made within Office, this may include changes to toolbars, custom dictionaries and any keyboard shortcuts that you made have made; if you need these back at a later date or they are used by another application they will need to be recreated.

Firstly, remove “com.microsoft” files:

1. On the Go menu, click Home.
2. Open Library (by default, the Library folder on OS X is hidden, if you have not previously unhidden it by following this guide, hold down the Option key when you click the Go menu).
3. Open Preferences.
4. Arrange files and folders into alphabetical order.
5. Drag all files that begin with “com.microsoft” to the Trash.

Next, remove the Office 2011 folder:

1. On the Go menu, click Home.
2. Open Library (by default, the Library folder on OS X is hidden, if you have not previously unhidden it by following this guide, hold down the Option key when you click the Go menu).
3. Open Preferences, and then open Microsoft (if you have Service Pack 2 or above installed, open Application Support instead of Preferences).
4. Drag the Office 2011 folder to the Trash.

Finally, remove the “com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper.plist” and “com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper” files:

1. On the Go menu, click Computer.
2. Double click on your hard drive icon; by default the name will be Macintosh HD or Apple SSD.
3. Open Library, and then open LaunchDaemons.
4. Drag com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper.plist to the Trash.
5. Go up a level back to Library and then open PrivilegedHelperFiles.
6. Drag com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper to the Trash.

Step 4 – Remove the license file

1. On the Go menu, click Computer.
2. Double click on your hard drive icon; by default the name will be Macintosh HD or Apple SSD.
3. Open Library, and then open Preferences.
4. Drag com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist to the Trash.

Step 5 – Remove /Library/Application Support/Microsoft

Caveat: If the Microsoft Silverlight plugin is installed on your Mac you may have to reinstall it after deleting this folder.

1. On the Go menu, click Computer.
2. Double click on your hard drive icon; by default the name will be Macintosh HD or Apple SSD.
3. Open Library, and then open Application Support.
4. Drag the Microsoft folder to the Trash.

Step 6 – Remove receipts

Note: The amount of files you will find here will vary on your machine and it’s usage so you may or may not find these; delete as necessary.

1. On the Go menu, click Computer.
2. Double click on your hard drive icon; by default the name will be Macintosh HD or Apple SSD.
3. Open Library, and then open Receipts.
4. Drag all files that begin with Office2011_ to the Trash.

If you are still using OS X 10.6 or 10.7 (Snow Leopard or Lion), you’ll also need to do the following:

5. On the Go menu, click Go to Folder.
6. Type this in the Go to Folder box, and then click Go.
7. Arrange files and folders into alphabetical order.
8. Drag all files that begin with com.microsoft.office to the Trash.

Step 7 – Remove /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/

Caveat: This will delete any custom template files that you may have created previously.

1. On the Go menu, click Home.
2. Open Library (by default, the Library folder on OS X is hidden, if you have not previously unhidden it by following this guide, hold down the Option key when you click the Go menu).
3. Open Application Support.
4. Open Microsoft, and then drag the Office folder to the Trash.

Step 8 – Remove the Microsoft fonts

You may wish to keep the fonts that were installed as part of the Office 2011 installation (although as you are removing the license I’m not sure whether you are technically allowed to keep these) but if not do the following:

1. On the Go menu, click Computer.
2. Double click on your hard drive icon; by default the name will be Macintosh HD or Apple SSD.
3. Open Library, and then open Fonts.
4. Drag the Microsoft folder to the Trash.

Step 9 – Empty the Trash

• Right click the Trash icon on your dock and click Empty Trash.

Step 10 – Move the Microsoft user Data folder to the desktop

1. On the Go menu, click Documents.
2. Drag the Microsoft User Data folder to the desktop.
3. On the Apple menu, click Restart.

Step 11 – Remove Office application icons from the Dock

• Right click any Office icon in the dock and click Options, followed by Remove from Dock.

That’s it, Office for Mac is now completely uninstalled from your machine; all you need to do now is spend some time getting to know Numbers, Pages & Keynote properly but that’s a story for another day!

I hope this has been helpful.  Enjoy!

Viewing the Library Folder in OS X   October 21st, 2013

Ever since the good old faithful OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard days Apple has decided to remove by default users access to the Library folder, now I guess this makes a lot of sense given the popularity these days of OS X but for users who are familiar with the operating system and may need to access frequently, it can be quite a pain.  Fortunately it really isn’t difficult to re-enable permanent access to ~/Library/ and all you need to do is launch Terminal and enter the following command:

chflags nohidden ~/Library/

Your Library folder will be immediately visible once again.

To undo the changes simply enter the following command in Terminal once again:

chflags hidden ~/Library/

Again, changes will take effect immediately.  Enjoy.

Ideas? Contributions?   October 16th, 2013

I haven’t forgotten about my blog I promise.

Things have been very busy for me over this past year meaning I haven’t had the time I once did to regularly update my blog; it’s made me think.  I was amazed by the popularity of some of my articles when I first put this blog together, it wasn’t too long before these pages were getting tens of thousands of unique monthly hits, not bad for a no-one like me scribing some random words together! So how do I go forward?  I’d really like to get things back on track, add more quality posts and interest and get the monthly hits back to where they once were, but how?

I’ve just spent some time clearing out SPAM from the comments and was genuinely surprised and impressed by the contributions that you guys have made to help one another out over the last year, it’s great to know that whilst I haven’t added much content this year people are still visiting frequently; not only new visitors either, a lot of you are coming back to answer comments time and time again – I thank you all.

With this in mind, I’d like to make an open invitation for anyone who wishes to contribute articles to let me know; hopefully this will continue to add interest and attract more visitors but also give you an audience if you don’t have a web presence of your own.  All I ask is that the articles are of a technical nature, or, a random post that is topical and not offensive in any way.  Simples.  Needless to say you will take credit for your own work.

So if you are interested, click here and drop me a note.

I regularly have the need to use a linebreak in an Excel spreadsheet but annoyingly whilst I know to use Alt-Enter within Windows, I have been unable to figure how how to add a linebreak in Excel for Mac.  It turns out after a lot of trial and error the solution is actually quite simple (aren’t they always?), so, to enter a linebreak you simply need to hit Control-Alt-Enter (or for my American friends Control-Option-Enter).


Windows Control Panel Applets   March 14th, 2012

I was working on a machine earlier today that had seemingly lost a number of control panel applets.  Of course, just because the control panel applets were not visible doesn’t mean the features themselves had gone; so just how do you access an applet when seemingly it’s no longer there?  Well, the control panel itself only shows shortcuts to the actual applets, the applets themselves are located elsewhere.  Each applet is stored individually as a separate file, folder or DLL and can also be launched manually using the ‘Run’ command.

The locations of the applets can be found in the following locations within the registry:

  1. HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Control Panel\Cpls
    This registry location contains the location of all .cpl files on the hard drive that are used within the control panel in string format.
  2. HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Explorer\ControlPanel\Namespace
    Here you’ll find the location of the CLSID variables for all applets on the local machine not included as .cpl files; these are normally folders or shell applets.

It’s these locations that the control panel would normally use to locate the available applets and load them into the control panel.

In case you come across this yourself, here is a list of the commonly used applets:

  • access.cpl (Accessibility Options)
    Here you can configure and control a number of accessibility options on your machine; it contains a number of settings aimed mainly at users with disabilities or who may be experiencing hardware issues preventing normal interaction.  Some of the options that can be set are: the behavior of the keyboard (Sticky Keys, Filter Keys and Toggle Keys for example); behavior of sounds (Sound Sentry and Show Sounds); high contrast mode options; keyboard cursor and the ability to control the pointer with your keyboard.
  • hdwwiz.cpl (Add New Hardware)
    Here you can invoke the new hardware wizard, allowing you to scan your machine for hardware changes and install the appropriate drivers either from the manufacturers driver disc, or directly from the online Windows repositories.
  • appwiz.cpl (Add or Remove Programs / Programs and Features)
    Probably one of my most frequently accessed applets.  Here you can view and interact with installed applications on your machine in a number of ways.  You can for example uninstall or change existing applications on your system and manually install software from an optical drive or floppy/USB drive.  You can also view and change installed Windows components from here (for example enable the Telnet client).
  • control admintools (Administrative Tools)
    Here you can launch the administrative tools folder where you’ll be able to launch tools for various aspects of your systems administration including security, performance and service configuration.  Here you’ll also be able to access the event viewer.
  • wuaucpl.cpl (Automatic Updates)
    Here you can change how you would like your machine to handle Windows Updates.
  • timedate.cpl (Date and Time)
    Here you can change the date and time of your system clock, it also allows you to enter details of an Internet Time Server to automatically synchronize the clock; you can also change the time zone.
  • desk.cpl or control desktop (Display)
    Here you can change various display options on your machine; things such as the desktop wallpaper, the screensaver, the screen resolution and the system theme.  You can also change some advanced options such as which default icons will appear on the desktop, ClearType settings, and monitor settings such as colour depth and refresh rate.
  • control folders (Folder Options)
    Here you can configure how files and folders are shown in Windows Explorer; specifically it allows you to change a number of general settings for example, whether a folder will open in a new window or an existing one.  You can also change advanced settings such as whether system files and known file extensions should be hidden or in view.  You can also modify file type associations from this applet.
  • control fonts (Fonts)
    Here you can launch the font viewer which allows you to not only see what fonts are installed on your system but also install additional fonts.
  • inetcpl.cpl (Internet Options)
    Here you can change how your computer manages internet connections as well as enabling you to change various browser settings for Internet Explorer; this is the same applet you would normally launch from Internet Explorer directly.
  • main.cpl or control keyboard (Keyboard)
    Here you can change and test keyboard settings, including cursor blink rate and key repeat rate.
  • mlcfg32.cpl and mlcfg.cpl (Mail)
    Here you can configure your mail accounts using Microsoft Outlook. If you’re using Microsoft Office 2010 64-bit then use mlcfg.cpl otherwise, mlcfg32.cpl.
  • main.cpl or control mouse (Mouse)
    Here you can configure various aspects of how you interact with your computer using your mouse including visibility options such as pointer trails.
  • ncpa.cpl or control netconnections (Network Connections)
    Here you can edit and create network connections including DUN and LAN connections.  It’s a useful applet to help with troubleshooting connectivity issues and allows you to administer advanced network card properties.
  • powercfg.cpl (Power Options)
    Here you can manage your computers energy consumption and set things such as the delay before the display turns off, and the delay before your system enters standby; you can also decide what you would like to happen when you press the on/off button.

  Here you can also choose hibernation options and how you’d like your machine to interact with a UPS (if connected).
  • control printers (Printers and Faxes)
    Here you can display all of the printers and faxes currently installed on your computer, you can also look at all of the print jobs queued for each printer (you can also pause, cancel or change the priority of existing print jobs).  You can also view and edit preferences for your printers including sharing them on your network making them available to others.
  • intil.cpl (Regional and Language Settings)
    Here you can change the regional settings globally on your machine; you can change, for example, how numbers are displayed, how currency is displayed, time and date notations and language options (including the system locale).
  • mmsys.cpl (Sounds and Audio Devices)
    Here you can choose which sound events are used for various system events as well as choosing which input and output (audio) devices are used if more than one exists.  You can change various sounds card settings and configure whether to show the volume icon in the notification area.
  • sysdm.cpl (System)
    Here you can view and change a number of core system settings, for example you can do the following: display general information about your machine such as the amount of system RAM, CPU, Windows version and manufacturer information; change the computer name and join a domain; manage and configure hardware devices in Device Manager and, specify advanced features such as performance logs and virtual memory options.  Along with appwiz.cpl this is one of my most used applets.
  • nusrmgr.cpl (User Accounts)
    Here you can configure the local user accounts on your machine including username, password, and display avatar.  If you’re logged in with an administrator account, you can also change other’s account details and enable/disable the guest account.

Needless to say the above list is by no means exhaustive.  Depending on installed hardware and attached peripherals, there are also a number of hardware specific applets that will become available; you’ll be able to see what you have available on your machine by looking at the registry locations mentioned above.

I hope this list may prove useful, feel free to add any others you may use in the comments box below.