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Microsoft Excel for Mac? Isn't that Heresy?

Using Excel on a Mac is not so different than a PC ( I can't believe I said that). The version I use here is Excel for Mac 2004 According to John B., "You should try the new Mac:Office 2011...it is wonderful!!!!!!" Last year in response to my "Viruses Really Suck article, John wrote, "Easiest way to prevent 99% of all viruses---GET A MAC!!!"


It's hard to believe that PC's really started out as Macs. But yes indeed, Bill Gates and Microsoft did steal Operating Systems Lisa and Mac from Apple. At the same time Gates had a license to use the Apple OS's. To understand this I have copied a piece of an article by Bryan Chaffin at The Mac Observer, dated July 8th, 2004.

The Back Page - Yes, Microsoft Did Steal Apple's Interface (Under License)( "Microsoft shipped Windows on November 20 [1985], and two days later during Fall COMDEX (a huge industry trade show) in Las Vegas, Gates and Sculley signed a confidential, three-page agreement that granted Microsoft a "non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, nontransferable license to use these derivative works in present and future software programs, and to license them to and through third parties for use in their software programs."

In other words, Apple got Microsoft's commitment to upgrade Word for Macintosh, delay Excel for Windows until October 1, 1986, plus an acknowledgement that "the visual displays in [Excel, Windows, Word, and Multiplan] are derivative works of the visual displays generated by Apple's Lisa and Macintosh graphic user interface programs."

In other words, Microsoft got Apple's crown jewels, and Apple got shafted. Not since British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain appeased Adolf Hitler with the Munich Pact of 1938 had the world seen such a fine demonstration of negotiation skills.


Setting up Mac and Excel Preferences

You can make your Excel life a lot easier by setting up your preferences and your toolbars (Standard and Formatting) before you use the program.

If Excel (or anything else on your desktop) looks distorted: too big, too small or stretched out, click on the blue Apple icon at the top left side of your screen then click on System Preferences.

In System Preferences click on Display, the box on the left will pop up. If your text is too large, click on 1024x640 or higher. If it still doesn't look good, keep clicking on higher numbers, eventually you'll choose a clear resolution. Text too small, use the lower numbers (800x600).

To change your Excel Preferences click on Edit in the Menu Bar and then Preferences, the box below will pop up. On the left you see the choices you have to change the way your Excel works, looks or acts. Mac users will be relieved to know there is not a choice to make your Mac Excel act like PC Excel.

Moving Around in Excel for Mac 2004

In the window above I show how you can move around the Excel spreadsheet. The boxes you see are called cells. You can insert words, formulas and numbers, etc. in the cells. To delete something you put in a cell just click on the cell and hit delete on your keyboard.

Using a Special Shortcut

One of my favorite shortcuts on a PC is "right clicking." On a PC I actually click on the right mouse button and up pops the Context Menu. On a Mac you hold down the Control/CTRL key and then click on whatever object it is you'd like to change. In Excel the Context Menu contains many choices such as copy, cut, paste, format cells, clear contents, filter and sort. To get to these commands without "right clicking" can mean clicking a menu where the command can be buried deep within a menu.


Having the congruent icons on your toolbars will make you faster, more efficient and let's admit it less confused. You can hover your arrow over an icon and the name will pop up. Below, from the top of the window down are the Menu Bar, Standard Bar, Formatting Bar, the Formula Bar and finally the Title Bar (Workbook1), which I just realized you can't see, it's behind the Context Menu. I held down the Control/CTRL key and then clicked on the Standard Bar to get the Context Menu (below). With this Context Menu you can customize the toolbar, by hiding it (clicking on the) or by using the Customize Toolbars/Menus at the bottom of Context Window.

Customizing Toolbars/Menus

While the Customize Toolbars/Menus window is open (below) you can remove icons by clicking on an icons in any of the Toolbars, hold down and drag the icon off the Toolbar, a neat cloud of smoke will puff up when you release your mouse button. To add icons to your Toolbars, click on the icon you want (in the window below) and then drag it to your Toolbar. Below for example, click on Down in the right window and drag it up to the Formatting Bar.

Using Excel for Mac

In the workbook above, I created a text series by filling in 2 cells (Monday, Tuesday) and then highlighting them (by clicking and dragging mouse over Monday - Tuesday) I then grabbed the "handle" below the words/numbers and pulled it across/down the row. It is important for you to show the program your pattern (i.e. 1, 2 or Sunday, Monday, etc.) before you pull the handle down the column.

Headers (& Footers)

Headers are in their own universe (like my dog Xena is in her own Xenaverse). You do not format them from the Menu Bar (Format), you use the tool bar you can see below to change font, add in page number, put in a date, etc. I've typed My Header in the header box. To change it I would highlight My Header and then use the Header Tool Bar to make my changes. What is nice is that if you insert a page number the program will keep track of it when you add or delete pages, in other words, it's automatic.

Changing Column and Row Widths

In the window below the words in the worksheet are larger than the rows. In this case you would put your cursor up between A and B, move it around until you get a line with 2 arrows on either side and then drag right of left to make the column bigger or smaller.

Formating Cells

Highlight the row or column in which you wish to change the formatting. Hold your Control/CTRL key down and click in one of the highlighted cells. See window below.

In the window below (Format Cells Window) you have many, many choices for giving your cells special qualities. You can add the $ to numbers you want to be currency. You can adjust how the date will be shown. You can also format alignment, font, border, patterns and protections. The Format Cells Window can be lots of fun!

Using the Function Key

In the window below are several series with the name of the function at the top of the column. To create these series you set up a column or row of numbers and then click on the empty cell at the end of the numbers, then click on the arrow next to the function key ∑ and choose one of the functions in the submenu.

And finally...

Freeze Panes
See and read instructions on window below because it's Friday afternoon at 4:08 and I've just run out of energy.


Last modified onMonday, 05 January 2015 12:34

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