A list of excel 2016 issues on a mac

Let's forgo the niceties. Excel 2016 for Mac is an abomination. I have been mistified by the issues I have run into. I have posted a few here and there, but I wanted to create a new discussion that takes a more holistic approach. At first I thought that the issues I was experiencing were so fundamental that certainly they would be fixed in the next update. But updates have come and gone and the issues remain unaddressed. Thus I have created the following list of grievances in the hope that someone at MS will see it and think "wow, we really have a problem here". 

1. Scrolling. This problem has been documented since the very beginning of the beta. The scrolling in excel is very choppy and gets hung up at certain points. For me, this is especially prominent when scrolling from row ~300 to the top of the file. Often my view will get stuck at around row 100 and no amount of scroll wheeling with make the view go higher. The only way to get back to the top of the file is to drag and drop the scroll bar. 

2. Scroll bar invisibility. The scroll bars in excel take the trendy new approach where they hide when not in use. This would be fine, if they didn't appear and disappear randomly when in use. About 50% of the time they will appear right under your mouse and then disappear when you click so you click the cells below instead. This is particularly prominent in the left to right scroll bar. 

3. Auto propagate. The double click lower right corner auto propagate feature at times will turn off. This is the feature that is created when the cross hairs turn solid black. This feature will just shut off and not be possible until a restart brings it back.

4.  Cursor offset. The cursor position at times will get an offset error. When this occurs the actual cursor position will be nearly exactly 1/2 row higher. It is always this offset. I have no experienced any left right error only up and always by 1/2 a row. 

5. Formula bar select all. Select all does not work in the formula bar.  

6. Formula bar cursor location. The cursor in the formula bar shows up in random locations. Sometimes its in the middle of a character. Other times it appears to be on one side of a character, but no, its on the other side so you start typing in the wrong place. 

7. Series input location randomizer. When changing the series in a plot or equation that is on another sheet the calculation of the equation will send you to a random location in the sheet. IE, lets say a formula was being entered that was A1 in the current sheet multiplied by A1 in the second sheet in the file. You select both cells and hit enter. BAM! You are teleported to cell AB354 which does not even exist in your sheet yet. 

8. Edit window scroll issues. When the edit window is open to the right and you scroll you will be teleported way to the right of your file. Usually about 100-300 columns. 

9. Lag. When entering numbers on a larger file there will be a consistent lag drop of your first character. IE, you might type 100 but only 00 get entered. Oddly waiting does not fix this. If you put a long pause between clicking a cell and actually typing the first character will still be dropped. 

Well, that's what I got for now. There are other things I am forgetting so if you too hate office 2016, please add them below! 


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Last updated March 28, 2020 Views 11,570 Applies to:

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Thank you for starting this discussion! 

As MVP I can tell you that the first thing Microsoft will ask us to do is to prioritize which things we would like them to work on first, and which things can be put off until later. Of course, we want Microsoft to fixe everything right away and they will reply that they don't have the resources to do that. Our reply is then "get the resources" and they reply that the resources don't exist or cost too much. Then we accede to their request and offer our prioritization suggestions.

What we probably need is an additional forum to the Excel suggestion box, one that is for bug fixes and missing features. It should have a voting scheme similar to that found in the suggestion box. I'll run this by Microsoft through the MVP program and see what they say.

For this discussion thread, everyone who wants to help can post replies here with links to existing Q&A in the forum along with fresh contributions. Also include your thoughts about which bug/broken/missing feature needs to be addressed first and which would be nice to fix but isn't immediately critical.

I am an unpaid volunteer and do not work for Microsoft. "Independent Advisors" work for contractors hired by Microsoft. "Microsoft Agents" work for Microsoft Support.
Yeah, that sounds about right. I'm all about following the process, but I want to highlight just how silly this is. Excel is a 30 year old program and the bugs I am reporting are things like scrolling, cursor position, and general viewing. I think that you should tell MS to get their sh*t together. To continue the list above 10. Decimal Points. Excel seems **** bent on adding decimal points to my calculations. If I have two cells with numbers that I have set to 2 decimal points and I multiply them in a virgin cell with no formatting excel will add ~10 decimal point which fills the cell with #####. Why is that the default? All modern languages like python have an auto decimal that just works. If that's not an option because MS developers are two "busy" then they could at least just make it the same as the source cells. 11. The comma. Why does the comma separator button automatically change the formatting to accounting. I just want to add comma separators. If I wanted to make it accounting I would select that. The button should either be changed to just toggling the comma separator or the bottom image should be changed to say "accounting" or something. In short, I think Excel 2016 for mac is a disgrace. I would leave all MS Office products today if there were an alternative, but they know they have a monopoly and so they are being extremely lazy. I am having all my engineers explore open office and numbers, but I am sure it will be too hard to switch. The point is, I respectfully reject your idea that we need to prioritise. I am not asking for features. I am asking for a working program. Right now MS 2016 is non-functional.

Well done murenrb for nearly biting your lip.  The MVP response was little short of patronising and quite literally added no value whatsoever.  That said, the footnote speaks volumes " he doesn't work for Microsoft " and by all accounts not too many people do !!

Abomination is very strong but I think that deliberately Machiavellian is appropriate.  There are simply too many issues with Office for Mac 2016 to support any credible show of intent by Microsoft to retain its significant Apple User community.  That and an obvious desire to simply take money without any conscious regard for the customer.  Microsoft now obviously feels that they have the monopoly and poor performance and reputation are no longer important.

Advice to the MVP's - guard your blind loyalty carefully - it may well bite you in the end.  

I've tasked my team to review LibreOffice as, quite viably, they have more than addressed many of the failings that Microsoft seem content to roll with.  Not only that but they genuinely respect all Platforms and are not biased by a single community - oh and they're so free that the donation gifting is exceptional. 

Oh, and I don't work for LibreOffice either !



I submitted feedback requesting a forum specifically for bugs/missing/incomplete features. Maybe Microsoft will think it's a suggestion worth pursuing, maybe not. I would be happy if they do it, but I won't be heartbroken if they don't.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint were converted to Cocoa for 2016. That's a big challenge. Meanwhile, Apple keeps popping out new versions of Mac OS X that include new technologies like Metal. Big changes in the core software of Office coupled with big changes in the OS the supports it all can cause glitches. I don't think Microsoft intended that any long-establshed interface behaviors get messed up. The trouble with the formula bar is probably something that Apple and Microsoft have to work together on to fix. That said, we're on update 18 to Office and I think it is reasonable to expect that most of this sort of glitch should have been fixed by now. At the very least, some sort of acknowledgement of "we know, we're working on it, look for a fix by (whenever)."

LibreOffice looks good by simply standing still. OpenOffice (LibreOffice is the current incarnation) has changed in very small increments since 1997. Recent changes to support the newer open standard (OOXML) as well as the old standard (ODF) file formats have kept LibreOffice relevant. Those changes took a decade or more to get up to speed. Don't kid yourself. Even though LibreOffice has a Mac version, I think LibreOffice people are as anti-Apple as they are ant-Microsoft. For example, there is no AppleScript support in LibreOffice. Microsoft at least makes an effort to support Apple technologies by supporting AppleScript, Automator, and incorporating niceties of Mac OS X within Office.

Focusing on the original request of this discussion - a list of issues for Excel 2016 for Mac - I am solidly behind this endeavor. Number formatting in Excel should be the same as it always was. If it isn't that's a bug.

I am an unpaid volunteer and do not work for Microsoft. "Independent Advisors" work for contractors hired by Microsoft. "Microsoft Agents" work for Microsoft Support.

Hi murenrb,

I'm James from the Mac Excel team, and part of my responsibilities include reading (and opportunistically responding to) customer feedback.  Thanks for taking the time to list these out - here's my understanding of each of your issues:

  1. Scrolling - we've been making improvements to scrolling for a few months now (including removing the "snap-to-cell" behavior), but it seems like we're not there yet, which means we'll keep working on it - expect improvements in each monthly update until you're satisfied. For the latest info, vote on this thread at Excel for Mac's UserVoice site to subscribe to updates.
  2. Scroll bar invisibility - the behavior here is dependent on your OS X preferences, and it sounds like you're describing the system default.  To change this, set System Preferences > General > Show scroll bars to Always
  3. Auto propogate (or Autofill) - this is the first I've heard of issues with the handle disappearing. If you can give us a scenario that reliably reproduces this issue, we can work on understanding and resolving the issue.
  4. Cursor offset - same as above. I haven't personally heard about this or witnessed it, but steps to reproduce it are incredibly valuable in getting the issue fixed.
  5. Formula bar select all - this isn't supported in any version of Excel (Windows or Mac). If you'd like us to add it, submit a suggestion to the Excel for Mac UserVoice
  6. Formula bar cursor location - we have a thread about a similar issue on the UserVoice. Follow the thread here for the latest.
  7. Calculation teleportation - this is certainly not expected behavior, though I don't see this issue when I author cross-sheet formulas on my computer. We also haven't heard about this issue from other customers (we read close to 10,000 pieces/month), but if this is frequently happening when you create formulas we need to get it fixed.
  8. Edit window scroll issues - I'm not clear on what you mean by "edit window", but it sounds like more random teleporatation which is never expected behavior.  More details about this could be useful.
  9. Lag - We're always looking to improve performance, but given that a manual delay didn't help you, this sounds unrelated to performance (I'm also unable to reproduce it in a 45MB workbook). To clarify, when you put the long pause between clicking a cell and typing - is that click a single or double click? They're actually two difference actions - single click will select the cell and typing will bring you in to edit mode + insert the first character. Double click will bring you in to edit mode with no character inserted.
  10. Decimal points - If you're seeing ### in a cell, it's because the cell can't display the whole value. However, this usually only happens if a column width has been manually set (and thus the column will no longer auto-expand to fit the value).  Further, you shouldn't see ##'s if the decimal part of the value is what's taking up too much space - Excel will automatically truncate and round to the available space (to see this type 0.123456789 into a cell and manually resize the column width). What you're describing is most likely caused by number formatting in either the source or destination cells.

If you have more comments or suggestions, drop us a line at the Excel UserVoice site - we've started using that to help democratize the prioritization of the features we work on. And lastly, I'd like to say that in no way is Microsoft deprioritizing Office for Mac. As Jim mentioned, developing on an ever-changing outside platform like OS X presents lots of interesting challenges, and occasionally some nice perks. We know that now, more than ever, people want to use Excel on their favorite device, and we're committed to delivering awesome experiences to you regardless of your preferred platform.  As we continue to ship monthly updates to our Office 365 subscribers, our hope is that you'll see your list of grievances dwindling to zero.

Thanks again for the detailed feedback,

James Spotanski


Thanks for these responses. It's helpful to see that MS is paying attention. Here are some responses to your comments:

1. Voted. 

2. The procedure you suggest is just a work around NOT a solution. I am implementing it because the scrolling action is annoying, but I am well aware that scroll bars appearing is an OSX thing. What I am talking about is how bad excel does it. The bars flicker as you move over them. This is not an OSX feature. It also is not a OSX problem as I have no seen it in any other programs. Here is a link to what I am seeing (note: this only happens for medium+ size files, a fresh open wont get this bug to show up) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfCnOYlFFgE&feature=youtu.be 

3-4 and 7-9: It seems like the scrolling update may have helped with some of these. That said, it is just as hard for me to get the bugs to manifest themselves as it is for you and when I do get them to work it means that I am loosing very precious time that I could be getting work done. (just like I am writing this post!). I will try to document when they happen via the frowny face, but at the same time, this is not my job.

5. I will add it!

6. Voted.

10. You misunderstood what I meant because you assumed I have never used excel before. I decided just to include an image that makes clear what I mean. To produce this image I opened excel, created a new document, and typed in the formulas. I listed the actual cell entries in column D just to make it totally clear. Do you see how it is just adding the decimal points? A) This is not how significant digits work and B) This makes  working in excel with any number of sequential calculations very hard. I will add this to the user voice thing. 

Now, lets just be real for a second. This whole lean startup / user voice BS is cute. But y'all arn't developing the next social media app, you are making excel, a 30 year old program that helps its users do math. We do a lot of math, its our jobs, and when you mess with that we get pissed. When you release an update, it needs to just work. I don't want to hang around and see what trivial features or obvious bug fixes you will choose to include next month. I think for at least this one user, I'm pretty much out of patience.


well done for your attentiveness. I'm suitably impressed but whilst I live in hope of an equally comparable Excel across both Apple and PC, I'm not holding my breath in the short term.  It is simply but hugely frustrating when work I carry out at the office and here at home cannot be seamlessly done because, i.e. Certain charts do not exist on both versions, vba is more constrained on Apple devises etc.  

You ou will do well to convince the vast Apple using community that you (Microsft) have taken a deliberately more conservative approach to the Office for Mac 2016 than you have to Windows.

You are not however solely responsible and Apple has its part to play in not aggravating the situation with equally poor versions of its annual upgrades.  I believe it's widely accepted that El Capitan and Yosemite both lacked a good degree of developer diligence; Apple need to re-energise their quality control methods even if annual becomes bi-annual in the name of quality.

I've travelled several forums and the view across them all is that the standalone Office for Mac 2016 is not as good as it should be but I also acknowledge the challenge.  However with over 20 000 computers in our company - of mixed make and model, lap and desk top - synergy is key and the user experience critical to effective and efficient output. 

Kind regards and again well done for getting involved.


I notice that Excel very regularly fails when it tries to check it's subscription.

When you have pressed 'remind me later', you will have called the wrath of Excel upon you.

For every operation you perform in Excel it will start mounting all possible drives in a quest to look for some subscription details or so.

In the back a process called 'diskarbitrationd' starts spinning out of control in order to mount all (network)drives.

Pointing at a cell or copying cells, it does not matter what you do, it seems to run some subscription detail finder process.

No matter if your restart/reboot/change settings, it will show this behavior because you told Excel to remind you later.

If you finally get the subscription check dialog again and persist that it must check again,

all problems magically dissapear when it succeeds checking your license.

Microsoft should have provided us with a decent bug reporting site so that we as users could send our bugs.

My Mac is great, now only Microsoft needs to deal with the reality that it's QA team isn't as good as they pretend to be.

Microsoft Excel for Mac is a big joke if you've worked with the PC version for over a decade.


I was intrigued by #10 - Significant digits.

Excel's default behavior was never designed to deliver significant digits. However, you can make your own functions in Excel, something a lot of people are not aware of. Once you define a new function, it works just like any built-in function taking arguments and providing a result.

This page offers suggestions for custom formulas that will display significant digits. You can design your own formulas for any calculation you need.

There are nearly 3 million hits when searching about using custom Excel worksheet functions. They are very useful and popular. Custom functions highlights the importance of knowing that VBA is integral to taking full advantage of Excel.

I am an unpaid volunteer and do not work for Microsoft. "Independent Advisors" work for contractors hired by Microsoft. "Microsoft Agents" work for Microsoft Support.

Jim, I guess I am missing your point. Custom formulas have no bearing on the issue.

I am reporting a default display configuration that makes excel hard to use. Displaying all digits is not always the optimum. I don't really mind if it is not using the rules of significant digits (although why that would not be the default when excel was originally written is a great mystery).

Mostly it is just hard to use a program where I must constantly tell it to include less digits every time I multiply two numbers. If I put in two numbers with 2 digits and I multiply them, it is very unlikely that I want a number to be displayed with 4 digits. Then, if I take that number and multiply it by one of the first numbers it is even less likely that I want a value to be displayed with 8 digits! This is just a dumb way to determine the number of digits to display. 

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