It’s not me, it’s you: Office: Mac 2011 = Crazymaking

4 Feb 2013

As an editor, and a mac user, the main tool of my trade is Office: Mac 2011.

I wish I had a better tool.

Regularly, my documents will suddenly show me a blank dialogue box. Then the dropdown menu is blank.

Then, as I can’t save my document, I’ll have to force quit word and hope that my file will be recovered.

I thought that the problem was the my Macbook was getting old, as it’s over the ripe old age (for laptops) of 5 years. I wondered whether it was because of the large files (it usually happens with larger files) and whether it had something to do with incompatability with PC versions of Word.

I did discover one bug, which had to do with my particular setup where I plugged in my laptop to a large screen (a 50 cm ASUS MW221) and used both screens at the same time (the larger one being the main one). If I happened to move a word document from the large screen to the smaller screen that was larger than the smaller screen, then Word crashed. It required me to be mindful of this and shrink the document window down to a smaller size on the larger screen before I moved it over to the smaller screen.

But that still didn’t solve all the crashes. When I bought a MacBook Air and had the same crashes without the computer being hooked up to any other screen, I knew it wasn’t just that.

Until then, I also couldn’t figure out the right google search. But I finally did. Peter Marx on his website noted the same problem and that Microsoft Office Mac 2011 is ‘too buggy‘.

There are also similar discussions on Mac Forums which note a variety of frustrations and proposed solutions. Sad to say that I don’t think any of them work: neither reinstalling the program, nor doing a verify and repair disk, works. I’ve had this problem going on for about two years, and the only conclusion I have is that it’s crazymaking.

15 Mar 2013

After another long round of frustrating edits and crashes, I decided to do another round of searching for help. Sometimes it seems I have to wait til the net catches up with me, or whether I figure out something that I should have been able to figure out before. While an acquaintance recommended switching to another word processing program (anyone tried Scrivener?). Macheads recommend Pages.

But I edit documents that come to me in Word. It’s not realistic to try to convert them to another program to edit them, and then convert them back again to send to a client.

So, I found a new string of emails on the ‘Microsoft Office Community’. It seems like one fellow was having exactly the same problems as I’ve been having and for months. The gist of the conversation was one learned fellow explaining that it’s probably crashing because there are too many ‘track changes’. This makes sense to me. I have these problems because, as an editor, I am tracking dozens of changes and adding comments on complex documents with tables, figures, graphics and various fonts and styles.

The conclusion of this… until today was one fellow recommending basically to not track changes (which is part of my job as an editor) and the other fellow saying, ‘This is ridiculous. It’s a word processing program.’ I posted up my own lament and received a response today which is promising:

There have been several updates, including a new update this week that specifically addresses crashes with tracked changes.

Oh my god, excitement. However, I try to update my copy of Office, and get a message that my Product Key is invalid (it so isn’t). So, I’ve just spent half an hour going through online help who told me to call their helpline, and then registering all my details with the helpline who then assigned me a case # and transferred me to the technical department (huh?) who then asked me for my name and case # and told me that no one is available to help me with Office for Mac. But they’ll call me in about an hour… (when he gets back from coffee?) Stay tuned…

17 Mar 2013

Oh the moment when you realise that even though you think you are competent at I.T., you are so NOT. I was clicking on ‘upgrade’ office, which then gave me a prompt to enter in the product code, I suppose for Office 2013, or whatever they’ve come up with. Instead, I should have been clicking simply on ‘check for updates’ (upgrade vs. update, shouldn’t I know the difference as an editor?).

I discover this by finally getting through to the IT helpdesk at Microsoft, and run a little program that gives them remote control of my computer. I tell you: that was totally frightening to be in front of my screen, while the helpdesk guy controlled my cursor – and then simply did a software update, which, ahem, I could have done myself.

His name was JC, which I wanted to ask if it was short for Jesus Christ, which later would have made even more sense since in closing the conversation, he kept saying ‘God Bless You’. Seriously. I think their helpdesk must be in the USA somewhere.

So, now I’m upgraded, and the upgrade said that it fixes an issues of crashing when ‘scrolling’ when there are multiple track changes. Will this fix my long-standing problem? Who knows? Stay tuned…

13 April 2013

Wow. I did have to provide an update. It’s been a month now, and I’ve been doing a lot of editing… and no crashes. Woohoo. After two years of Office for Mac: PAIN, it seems (knock wood) that they fixed the problem.

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