7 useful Microsoft Word tips for Mac users

This short collection of tips for Word on a Mac should help you get things done more effectively.

Apple, Microsoft, Mac, macOS, Word, Office 365

Use Microsoft Word on your Intel or Apple Silicon Mac? You might need one of these tips, many of which work with other Office applications, to get more from Word.

Tell Me will guide you

Have you really explored the Tell Me item at the top application ribbon, just beside View? I was impressed by Tell Me when I first got a look at it and it continues to become increasingly useful — particularly given the extent of the tools Microsoft puts in its productivity suite.

It works like this: When you don’t know how to engage in a task within an Office app, tap Tell Me and begin typing what you need to do as simply as you can.

While you may need to change your query to get precisely what you need, you will eventually see the answers to your question appear in real time. This one tool makes a huge difference when it comes to figuring out how to get tasks done.

Get around a document fast

The Navigation Pane helps you navigate lengthy or complex documents, but many users aren’t aware it exists.

To find it:

  • Choose View>Sidebar in the application menu and check the Navigation Pane item in the third set of items.
  • You can also tap View in the document menu and select Navigation Pane in the third from left grouping of options.

A document browser appears to the left that offers thumbnails of all your document pages, including the page you’re currently on. Just tap a page to go directly to it.


I use Shift-F5 a lot. It takes me directly to my most recently edited word in a document, or the section I was working on when I last saved a document once I’ve opened it again.

Write where you like

Want to pop something into your document that’s aligned differently than the rest of it? Perhaps you’re writing a letter and want to center a line of text in an otherwise left aligned document? This tip lets you place the text in your chosen alignment immediately, so you don’t need to select it and assign alignment subsequent to writing. This is how it works:

  • Double-click the blank area in your document in which you want your text to go – left, right or center of the page.
  • The cursor magically appears where you need it to be and you can begin writing in that alignment (left, right, center).

It's so much faster than writing your words and then amending their placement.

Learn to count clicks

I suspect more people don’t know about or use this than those who do; when selecting text:

  • Click once to enter the cursor in a section of text
  • Click twice to select the entire word you just clicked
  • Or click thrice to select the text in an entire paragraph.

Kill that formatting

We all do this. You take text from another document or website and find that you’ve imported formatting you just don’t need. To get rid of that formatting and return to nice crisp text, just select the copy and either:

  1. Tap the handy but eternally forgotten Remove Formatting tool – look for the letter A with a tiny pink eraser icon masking the right-hand foot of the A.
  2. With the text selected, open Edit>Clear>Clear Formatting

Scan your data with an iPhone

Own an iPhone, but working on a Mac and you need to input data provided on a printed sheet? You don’t need to conduct this task manually anymore — just use the Data from Picture tool to photograph the data using your iPhone, use OCR to convert it and automatically place it in the relevant part of your Excel spreadsheet.

Power tips for Find and Replace

I’m certain most readers know they can use Find and Replace to apply edits in a document, such as replacing a consistently misspelled word. I’m less convinced Microsoft Office for Mac users have come across these three Find-and-Replace tips:

  • If you use too many extra line spaces type ^p^p in the Find field and ^p in the Replace field to find and edit the errors.
  • You know you’ve entered a digit wrong, but you’re wrangling a huge document? Type ^? to scroll quickly through every number you’ve entered in your document.
  • Collaborating on a document or report? Learn to use ^a to navigate through any comments entered into it.

Got more Office for Mac tips you think might be helpful to other knowledge workers? Please share them with me using one of the social media links below.

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Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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