Word 2016

Has the five-year wait been worth it Word users?

Mac Format - - RATED -

Half a decade on from the last ma­jor version of Mi­crosoft’s Word for the Mac, we have a new one. Word 2016 can be bought as part of Of­fice 2016, along with Ex­cel and Pow­erPoint (see p103-104) or as part of an Of­fice 365 sub­scrip­tion.

Much of what’s new is aimed at bring­ing par­ity with the Win­dows version and im­prov­ing the way that Mac and iOS ver­sions work to­gether. Hand­off sup­port, how­ever, is no­table by its omis­sion.

The most im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous im­prove­ment is the look and feel of Word’s in­ter­face. It’s had a com­plete over­haul and now shares the flat­ter look of OS X. You can choose to make the rib­bon in­ter­face ‘colour­ful’, making it blue in Word – each Of­fice app has its own colour – though whether that’s a good thing or not is very much a mat­ter of per­sonal pref­er­ence. Multi-Touch ges­tures such as pinch and un­pinch are sup­ported, as is OS X’s full-screen mode, and Split View in El Cap­i­tan.

Other changes to the in­ter­face in­clude a new De­sign tab, and the re­moval of the Ta­bles, Charts, and Smart Art tabs. Their fea­tures are still present, but the re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of the in­ter­face makes it less clut­tered and more pleas­ant to use.

A new tool in the Re­view tab, Smart Lookup, al­lows you to se­lect a term in a doc­u­ment and search for in­for­ma­tion about it on the web, with­out leav­ing Word. The Re­sume Read­ing fea­ture au­to­mat­i­cally book­marks your read­ing po­si­tion in a doc­u­ment and takes you back there when you re­open it, and threaded com­ments in Re­view al­low doc­u­ment au­thors to re­ply to in­di­vid­ual com­ments from oth­ers.

Word, like all the Of­fice 2016 apps, in­cludes sup­port for Mi­crosoft’s OneDrive cloud stor­age ser­vice. In­stall the OneDrive app on your Mac and you can save doc­u­ments there and ac­cess them on your iPhone, iPad or in the web version of Word. If you pre­fer to use iCloud Drive or Drop­box for shar­ing files, you can save there, of course.

In terms of per­for­mance, Word feels much more re­spon­sive than its pre­de­ces­sor. Word 2011 long ago be­came un­wieldy and slug­gish, and the 2016 version is far from that. There have been re­ports of it crash­ing in El Cap­i­tan; at the time of writ­ing, a fix is ex­pected soon and may well have been is­sued by the time you read this.

Word 2016 is a big im­prove­ment, but that’s the least we’d ex­pect. It has plenty to of­fer those wed­ded to Mi­crosoft Of­fice at work, or any­one who has per­se­vered with Of­fice 2011. The prob­lem is that there are now so many ex­cel­lent al­ter­na­tives for Mac users, that, un­less you have to use Of­fice, it’s dif­fi­cult to find a com­pelling rea­son to use Word. Kenny Hem­phill

The most im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous im­prove­ment is the look and feel of Word’s in­ter­face

A wor­thy up­grade to Word, with much to com­mend it. But is it too lit­tle too late for most Mac users?

Word’s Smart Lookup fea­ture al­lows you to re­search the con­tent of doc­u­ments from within the app.

The new De­sign tab pulls to­gether sev­eral use­ful fea­tures in or­der to mod­ify doc­u­ments.

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