Here’s what to do if Office won’t work on Mac after upgrading to Catalina
Q: I upgraded to Catalina on my Mac and now Microsoft Office won’t work; what can I do?
A: One of the side effects of tech companies taking their platforms to new levels is that, oftentimes, older software programs will no longer work.
The most recent version of Apple’s MacOS — known as Catalina — is having a major impact on those that upgraded without understanding that their older 32-bit programs would no longer run.
If your version of Microsoft Office is older than Office 2016 v15.35, you’ll have to choose from a variety of costly or time-consuming and complicated options.
If you have Office 2016, you should be able to upgrade to the 64-bit version through Microsoft’s standard upgrade process if for some reason it hasn’t already been updated.
Option 1: Purchase new software
You can purchase the Office Home and Student 2019 bundle from Microsoft for $149.99 or the Office Home and Business bundle for $249.99. The primary difference in the two packages is the Business version includes Outlook.
Option 2: Start renting Microsoft Office
Microsoft is trying to get users to convert from a single purchase package that will eventually expire to their subscription “SaaS” (Software as a Service) platform known as Office 365.
This means you either pay monthly ($6.99 for Home and Student) or annually ($69.99 for Home and Student or $99 for Business) from now on.
Option 3: Switch to Google’s offerings
If your needs for productivity software are very basic, you may find the free options available from Google through a Google Drive account to be acceptable.
It includes Docs, Sheets and Slides, which are Google’s version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, although nowhere near as powerful. Though it’s a web-based tool, there are options for editing your documents when you are offline.
Option 4: Revert back to Mojave
There is no simple way to go back to the previous version (Mojave), so this option is very time consuming and complicated, as you’ll have to wipe your hard drive and reinstall everything. Depending upon which version of the MacOS your computer shipped with, you may have to use an external hard drive to complete the reversion.
How to check for 32-bit programs
For those that are considering an upgrade to Catalina, a good first step is to see what 32-bit programs you are currently running to determine if they are important to you or not.
To do this, click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner, then on “About This Mac” and then on “System Report.” When the report opens up, scroll down to the “Software” section and click on “Applications.”
An alphabetical list of applications will appear with various details about each one. If you scroll to the far right, you should see a column that says “64-Bit” and the words “Yes” or “No” for each application. To make it easier to see the application name and whether it’s 64-bit or not, drag the 64-bit header from the far right to the far left so it’s right next to the “Application Name” column.
Go through the list looking for your critical programs to make sure they are 64-bit or to see if a 64-bit version is available from the creator of the program before upgrading to Catalina.