Software

Find out what's new in Microsoft Excel 2016 for Mac

Microsoft Excel has long been the dominant spreadsheet application standard. Erik Eckel explores the features Apple users will find in Excel 2016 for Mac.

Excel

After so many years producing the world's most dominant spreadsheet application, Microsoft developers certainly faced challenges adding compelling features to Excel 2016 for Mac. Already boasting a popular interface, capable features and proven reliability, what really could they add to Excel to improve the application? Well, Excel 2016 for Mac is, admittedly, better. Here's what you will find in Microsoft's latest spreadsheet program for Mac.

Recognizing businesses, even smaller organizations, increasingly wrestle with large data sets and struggle to perform big data analysis and make sense of statistical information and trends, the new Excel assists users in analyzing statistical data. Excel 2016 for Mac helps users visualize numbers in creative, intuitive ways.

The program assist users in creating and designing charts by recommending the charts it believes are best suited to the data entered within the spreadsheet. The Recommended Charts button lives on the Insert ribbon. When clicked, numerous chart options appear within a drop-down menu. Users need only to click a chart sample to add it to the spreadsheet. The speed with which varying chart previews are displayed and can be navigated better enables users to quickly view proposed chart views, which ultimately helps determine whether proposed charts do, indeed, best present the information at hand.

Formula Builder assists users in developing formula calculations. Pressing [Shift]+[F3] prompts Excel 2016 for Mac to open the Formula Builder, which helps less experienced users master formula creation and offers point-and-click functionality for creating even complex formulas within a worksheet.

PivotTable slicers are also new. This feature assists users in discovering large data set patterns. The new corresponding buttons enable filtering PivotTable data, which displays the current filter results, making it easier to understand a specific PivotTable's information.

Academics, engineers, and others working with large data sets can leverage the Analysis ToolPak. The add-on performs complex statistical and engineering analyses of a worksheet's data. Accessed from within the Tools menu's Add-Ins option adds a Data Analysis command to the Data tab.

Other improvements are present, as well. Using Excel 2016 for Mac, users can print straight to a PDF file and share spreadsheets, including with Windows users, from directly within the application. Mac users will also find common Excel shortcuts, previously found on Windows, integrated within the new Mac version.

From Excel 2016 for Mac's preliminary screen, users can create a new file from a template or open recently viewed or edited spreadsheets, including from connected services such as OneDrive. When choosing to create a new file from a template, numerous preconfigured options exist for managing finances, making lists, listing travel expenses, creating a time sheet, making a departmental budget, and tracking sales, among other choices.

Overall use and operation seem as fast or faster than with previous versions of Excel. Upgrading old spreadsheets, even a 10-year-old file, to the 2016 version required only a moment and, in the unscientific tests I performed, I encountered no errors or snags.

Have you tried Excel 2016 for Mac? If so, what are your thoughts? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

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About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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