Tag: Productivity

Office 2011 for Mac Sneak Preview

Works Just Like Office, but on a Mac

Overview: Microsoft Office for Mac suite is being updated for 2011. This is an overview / preview of the notable new features.Microsoft office 2011 mac preview

Product: Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac

Price: Not announced yet

Availability: Some time in 2011

Finally, a Good Reason to Install Office on a Mac

If you have ever tried to work with Office files on a Mac, you know it can often be a frustrating experience. Microsoft has made a version of their Office suite (Microsoft Office for Mac ) for Mac users for a while now. That however, does not mean it’s the same as using Office on a PC. It’s just not! Sure, there are other options available; Open Office (free), Apple iWork ($75), or some of the web-based options like Google or Zoho. While they are all “acceptable” and have their merits, they’re just not Microsoft Office on a PC.

I have been very vocal about how much I hated Office 2008 for Mac and have used many terrible workarounds to overcome its lousy user experience. So when I heard that there was a beta preview for Office 2011 for Mac floating around I had to take a look. First off, as of today (May 10, 2010) you can’t officially get a copy from Microsoft’s website. It is supposed to be more widely available some time this summer. As for how I got a copy to test…. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Seriously, if you hunt around on your favorite torrent sites, you will find a perfectly functional demo copy to try out.

So how good is it? Let’s take a look.

Look and Feel

The most prominent thing about this version of Office for the Mac is the addition of the “Ribbon” which was introduced in Office 2007 for Windows. It was not added to Office 2008 for Mac. This is a wonderful addition to the software. Not only do you get the benefits of the Ribbon, you still get the standard Mac menu across the top of the screen. I wish that the Windows version had a better blend of the Ribbon and Menu system.

Ribbon interface on windows 2011 for mac

As you can see, it is very similar to Office 2007. Plus, if you double-click on any of the tabs, they will collapse to give you more screen real estate. Just double-click again to restore the menu.

This is a very nice overhaul.

If you take a look at the Excel interface, you can see that it looks like regular old Excel, not that unusable abomination in Office 2008.

excel interface for office 2011

Welcome to my home computer old friend.

Cool New Features

Other than the interface overhaul, the best update to the suite is that piece of crap Entourage has been thrown into the dungheap where it belongs and replaced with….. Wait for it….. Outlook!!! Thank god. As a Windows user who converted to a Mac a while back, I can’t stand any of the iCal, Address Book, or Mail applications on my Mac.

Microsoft Outlook 2011 for mac

This version of Outlook works just like you would expect. Major improvement!

There are also several nice little additions to all of the apps. They expanded upon the SmartArt, Templates, and Themes available to allow you to make any documents look beautiful.

smartart for mac office 2011

Overview

Pros:

  • The “Ribbon” interface works great
  • Real Excel that really works
  • Microsoft Outlook instead of Entourage
  • Works just like Office for Windows, but with cool Mac stuff in there
Cons:

  • Still a quarter of a step behind the Windows version
  • It won’t be cheap

What I Would Change

The Windows 2010 preview had a really nice screenshot feature on the Insert tab of each application that would have been great here too. I would have liked it if the Ribbon tabs were more “identical” between the Windows and Mac version as I switch back and forth between machines daily. All-in-all, these are some minute nit picks though.

Overall Rating

I would rate the Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac suite about a 9.75 out of 10. This is about as good as it gets. Everything you need from Office with everything you love about your Mac.

Bravo!!!

Is it Upgrade Worthy?

If you need to do any work in Excel, PowerPoint, or Word; you MUST purchase this update as soon as it goes on sale. This is such a significant upgrade over any previous version of Office for Mac, or iWork, or Open Office that it is worth every penny.

See Office 2011 for Mac in Action

This video overview shows the beta of Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac and covers some of the major changes.

Don’t Take My Word for It

Here are a few other reviews of this beta preview:

  1. Download Microsoft Office 2011 For Mac Beta 2 14.0.0.100326 Leaked

  2. Microsoft stepping closer to Mac Office 2011 with Messenger Beta

  3. Microsoft announces Office for Mac 2011 | Software | Working Mac

  4. First Screenshots of Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 Surface – Mac

  5. Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac Gets Undressed – Mac office 2010

  6. Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac screenshots leaked

  7. Microsoft debuts Office for Mac 2011 | MacNN

Take a Look at My Review of the New Office 2010 for Windows

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85 Free Apps that will Save you Thousands of Dollars

Save Tons of Cash with the Best Free Software

OVERVIEW: You can replace the most expensive applications on a typical computer with excellent, free software and internet services and never miss a beat.

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Why Pay More?

Equipping your computer with the software that you need to get everything done can be insanely expensive. However, you don’t need to put off your retirement to have a very effective computer that is loaded with everything you need. You don’t need to by the most expensive apps to take care of occasional things. I compiled a list of ways to replace the most expensive software that typically sits on most people’s home or work computers.

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Create a Portable Document Scanner for your iPhone

Getting All of those Scraps into your Computer

Overview: You will learn how to turn your iphone into a portable document scanner for free in under 15 minutes. This will all be done using one piece of cardboard, a ruler, a utility knife and a pencil.

build-portable-document-scanner.jpg

Getting Things Done With Creativity and Elbow Grease

Occasionally I need to get digital copies of papers into my home and/or work computers. I don’t feel like having two full-blown scanners wasting space on my desks, nor do I feel like buying them.

What’s my quick, free, space saving solution? Build a stand that allows me to use my iPhone to make quick images of documents.

I have a few simple requirements for this document scanner:

  1. Must be able to be assembled quickly and easily
  2. Muse capture 8.5″ x 11″ documents perfectly (no cropping)
  3. Must be able to be disassembled, and stored quickly and easily
  4. Must be cheap (better yet, FREE!)

I searched for a few alternatives and found this really cool option by Kyle Koch.

kyle-koch-scanner-stand.jpeg

He sells them for $15 here. This is an awesome idea and $15 is very fair price. But what fun would that be? I decided to try to build my own for free.

This is my finished prototype:

portable-document-scanner.JPG


I place the document on the tray and the phone on the top supports with the camera application running. Then, I just press the “shoot” button and have a decent scan of the document. The key is to have the USB cable plugged in so that you can just grab them using the computer’s file manager. Also, the better the lighting, the happier you’ll be.

With a little bit of practice, I was able to get acceptable results on each documents first try.

Here are some of the document scans that I produced: (scaled down for this article)

scanned-docs.jpg

Not bad for $0 and 20 minutes time.

Instructions for Building your iPhone Document Scanner

I know, you want to build yourself one of these handy gadgets, right? Well believe me, it’s very simple.

What you Will Need

Supplies: Utility Knife , Pencil, Ruler or Yardstick, piece of cardboard (15″ X 30″), scissor.

Instructions:

Print out and assemble the Templates diagram

instructions.png

Trace two Stand pieces on the cardboard

template2.jpg

Cut out the Stand pieces using the Yardstick and Utility Knife (be very careful)

template3.jpg

Trace and cut out the two Bottom Brackets

Trace and cut out the two Top Brackets

Cut the notches into the Stands and Braces as shown on the diagram

packed.jpg

Insert the notches on top and bottom to assemble the Stand

insert-slots.gif

Place the rectangular base into the stand

portable-document-scanner.gif

Place a document on the rectangular base

document-on-scanner.jpg

Turn the phone’s camera application on and place it on the top braces so that the document is in the picture

Take the picture.

scanned-docs.jpg

Portable Document Scanner Video Tutorial

The following video tutorial shows you how to perform all of the steps necessary to make your scanner.

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