Excel on Mac vs Excel on Windows – Full Comparison (2024)

First question! Are you a Windows user or a Mac user?

This question is important because the article below will look at the differences between Excel for windows and Excel for Mac.

For basic functions and operations, Excel for Windows and Mac barely has a difference.

However, if you are an advanced Excel user, you might come across a variety of differences between both. 🤔

Continue reading the article below to know how MS Excel for Windows is different from Excel for Mac.

Difference No. 1: Power Pivot

Power Pivot is an advanced function of Microsoft Excel which was first introduced as an add-in in Excel 2010. For Excel 2016 and 365, this is an in-built feature.

What is Power Pivot?

Power Pivot enables users to import millions of rows of data into a single Excel workbook from multiple data sources. You can link heterogeneous data to create relationships between them. Power Pivot also allows formulating this data into columns, charts, Pivot Tables, and Pivot Charts.

Analyzing big data using the Power Pivot function can help make calculated decisions without any IT assistance. What’s even better – you can do all of this without slowing down your system to a turtle’s pace.

Power Pivot is also a major part of Power BI (Business Intelligence). The primary expression language of Power Pivot is Data Analysis Expressions (DAX).

Add Power Pivot to your Excel by going to File > Options > Add-ins > Power Pivot

Adding Power Pivot to Excel

That’s all about windows. But what about Excel on Mac?

With all due regret, if you are a Mac user, you won’t be able to enjoy any of the smart features above. 😔

This is because Excel for Mac doesn’t offer the Power Pivot function.

Requests are in line for adding the Power Pivot functionality to Excel. But as of now, there are no updates on whether Microsoft would introduce this function to Mac or not.

Pro Tip!

What is a windows user sending me (a Mac user) a file with Pivot Tables / Charts? Can I not use that file?

Not really. You should be able to use access such files but not the Power Pivot exclusive functions.

Difference No. 2: Pivot Charts

If you have ever had to deal with a data set that’s hundreds of rows long and thousands of columns wide – you’d know what a Pivot Table is.

Pivot Tables help such hefty datasets and allow you to squeeze them down to a table of your choice.

So you can instantly change fields and decide what data is to be shown and how.

Excel data model

Don’t worry! This feature is available to Mac users too. (Sigh of relief)

However, the bad news is yet to come.

Pivot Tables are often used together with Pivot Charts.

Pivot Charts are meant to take the ease of data visualization to a next level.

For example, we can turn the above Pivot Table into a Pivot Chart with a single click.

Pivot Chart in Excel

Pivot Chart out stands as an ordinary chart as it is interactive. It changes as the source table changes.

For each Pivot Chart, you see fields on the right side that you switch with a click. The charts react accordingly.

The Mac version fails to offer the Pivot Charts feature. On Mac, they are more like static screenshots that do not react to the source Pivot Table.

Pro Tip!

There’s a hack to everything.

If you are a Mac user, you may consider turning your data into a Pivot Table. And then into a simple graph.

This graph won’t be interactive. To make it interactive, you may manipulate the Pivot Table by changing the fields. The graph would react to the changes in the Pivot Table.

Excel on Mac doesn’t have Pivot Charts in essence!

Difference No. 3: The Quick Access Toolbar

Here’s the Quick Access Toolbar that you can readily access in Excel on Windows

The Quick Access Toolbar in Excel on Windows

Excel offers a wide variety of options that you can add to your Quick Access Toolbar.

File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar

Add Quick Access Toolbar

Also, at the bottom, we see the options for import/export of the Quick Access Toolbar.

The Import / Export button
The Import / Export feature enables users to import their QAT customization to Excel on different devices.

You can customize the QAT for Excel on any device and export the customization as a file.

Import the same file to Excel on another PC to have the same customization applied to the QAT there.

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

Excel on Mac doesn’t offer the option to Import / Export Quick Access Tool Bar Customization File.

This means you can only customize the Quick Access Toolbar by manually adding or removing the commands. And this can be very difficult, at times.

Also, once you’ve customized your QAT, everything’s good. But, whenever you update your Excel to a newer version, you’d lose all your QAT customization.

Difference No. 4: Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)

VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) is the programming language of Excel (more precisely, Microsoft Office). It is used not only in Excel but for Word, PowerPoint, and other Microsoft applications too.

You can use VBA to develop macros in Microsoft Excel. This takes some advanced coding skills. And most basic users would simply record macros instead.

VBA in Excel

The good news! Excel on Mac supports VBA. 😊

The bad news! The VBA for Excel on Mac has many drawbacks and missing functionalities. All of this makes it way difficult to use the Mac version of VBA, as compared to its Windows counterpart.

Here’s a list of all that VBA in Excel on Mac misses out on.


Excel for Mac doesn’t allow users to create or edit user forms, very easily. Not that you cannot build them at all, but that it takes too much undue effort. And the process to create user forms on Mac is way more tedious than you’d expect it to be.

Even if you build user forms on windows and export them to Mac to see if they look fine, there might be many size issues.

A user form created in windows, which looks fine, will only come out to be 75% of its size in Mac. This makes the user forms nearly unreadable on Mac.


The VBA Properties window is not available on the Mac version of Excel.

Properties (Windows version)


If you are a developer who has a lot to do with VBA codes and has many of them developed already – reconsider your decision of heading to an Apple store to get yourself a Mac Book.

Excel on Mac doesn’t allow importing/exporting VBA codes very easily.


The Visual Basic Editor feature of Excel on Mac is way poorer than its windows counterpart.

Adding VBE

Excel 2008 for Mac cannot run macros! Not at all.

Open a spreadsheet with macros in MS Excel 2008 on Mac, and the macros will die (disappear).

A very basic-leveled VBA functionality was built only into Excel 2011 for Mac. The VBA functionality of Excel for Mac was in a very poor state until Excel 2016 was launched.

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

Other Differences:

1. Data Connections

Using data connections in Excel, you can import and connect to various types of external data.

Excel on Windows offers data connections from the Web, Access, Tables, Ranges, ODBC SQL, JSON, PDF, XML, Oracle, Azure, SharePoint, and many more databases.

Data Connections for Excel on Windows

Think of any data format or source, and you’d find it in the Data Connections pane of Excel on Windows.

However, the list offered by Excel on Macs squeezes down to only a few names. It allows building data connections to ODBC SQL, Text, HTML, and Databases only.

2. Page Break View

Excel for Windows offers three view modes for each Excel sheet. These include the Normal, Page Layout, Page Break view (and Custom Views).

Workbook View in Excel on Windows

The very slow-going Mac had only made up to two view modes until Excel 2021. The Normal view and the Page Layout view. 😕

For Mac, the Page Break View is only available to Microsoft Office 365 users. Users of previous versions of Excel are still devoid of something so basic.

Pro Tip!

If you are a power user who has a lot to do with macros and VBAs, stick to Windows!

Microsoft has always developed new and advanced Excel features for Windows first. Later on, the same features are introduced to Mac. However, this not only takes a lag of many years but some advanced features are never even introduced to Mac.

That’s it – Now what?

If you use Excel to sort big data, for business intelligence purposes, or coding, you might want to install windows.

Excel was essentially designed for Windows. And so, most of its advanced features are only available for Windows.

The above article summarizes the key differences between Excel on Windows and Excel on Mac. Keeping aside the differences, there’s a lot that’s common to both, Mac and Windows. Do you know it all?

If not, register for my free 30-minute email course to have it in your inbox (and much more!).

Other relevant resources:

You can only better understand these differences when you’ve used the functions that make the prime difference between Excel on Windows and Mac.

Learn more about VBA, Power Pivot & Quick Access Toolbar Customization right here.