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Install and Use Add-Ins in Office 2011 for Mac

An add-in enhances or works with Office 2011 for Mac software in some way. Add-ins are sometimes called plug-ins or add-ons. Here are three examples of excellent commercial-quality add-ins that work with Mac Office:

  • EndNote ( A high-end bibliography product for Microsoft Word.

  • MathType ( The full version of Equation Editor that's included in Office. It lets you put mathematical symbols in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

  • TurningPoint ( Use clickers to capture audience responses in real time and present the results on PowerPoint slides. This software is used in classrooms, quiz shows, marketing studies, and more.

Many add-ins made for Office for Windows can work on your Mac, so be sure to check their system requirements. Almost all add-ins can be made Mac-compatible with a little effort, but you may have to request the developer of a nonfunctioning add-in to make that extra effort.

You can put add-ins anywhere in Finder. If you want to make an add-in available to all Mac OS X user accounts on a computer, put them into Applications:Microsoft Office 14:Office:Add-Ins. The Documents folder is a good place to put add-ins to be used by a particular OS X user account.

A few commercially produced add-ins are installed using the Mac OS X installer program. Because making an installer is an art of its own and takes extra time and effort on the add-in developer's part, you install most add-ins manually using the Add-Ins dialog in Office.

A Word add-in is a template file that contains VBA (Visual Basic Editor) code. You can add such a template to the Templates and Add-Ins dialog. In PowerPoint and Excel, an add-in has a special file extension and is not necessarily a template.

Add-In Extensions
Application New Add-In File Extension Old Add-In File Extension
Word .dotm .dot
Excel .xlam .xla
Excel macro enabled template .xltm .xlt
PowerPoint .ppam .ppa
PowerPoint macro enabled template .potm .pot

To open the Add-Ins dialog, here's what you do:

  • Word: Choose Tools→Templates and Add-Ins.

  • Excel and PowerPoint: Choose Tools→Add-Ins.

  • Word, Excel, and PowerPoint: Click the Developer tab on the Ribbon and then click Add-Ins→Add-Ins.


When you have the Add-Ins dialog open, you can do the following simple tasks to add, remove, load, and unload add-ins:

  • Load: Same as selecting the check box next to the add-in's name. Loading also runs the add-in. (Available only in Excel and PowerPoint.)

  • Unload: Same as deselecting an add-in's check box. Unloading disables the add-in. (Available only in Excel and PowerPoint.)

  • Add: Click to open the Choose a File browser, where you can browse to an add-in template in Finder and add your add-in to the list.

  • Remove: Click to remove the selected add-in from the list.

In Word, when you select an add-in's check box or click the Add button, you load the template, thereby making the VBA routines that it has available globally within all open documents in Word. A loaded template is called a global template. Revisit the Templates and Add-Ins dialog to re-load your template(s). To disable an add-in, deselect its check box or click the Remove button.

Excel and PowerPoint add-ins are also loaded and unloaded using check boxes. When you close Excel or PowerPoint, add-ins that were loaded at closing reload themselves when you reopen the application.

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