Excel user considering switching to a Mac

Discussion in 'Windows Guest OS Discussion' started by GlenSydney, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. GlenSydney

    GlenSydney Bit Poster


    I'm new here. I hope I have posted this in the right place.

    My 2006 Dell has almost had it so it’s time for a new Desktop.

    After 20 years I am considering switching from Windows to an iMac for two reasons, (1) everyone tells me Mac's are great and (2) I’ve got Windows 8 on my new Notebook and I hate it.

    My concerns are that my main usage of the computer (for work) are Excel and Outlook.

    On Excel I make extensive use of keyboard shortcuts, such as F2 (edit a formula) and F4 (the repeat key).

    I also use the ALT key a lot to get to the access keys needed to drive the ribbon with a keyboard only (i.e. the letter in the menu item that used to get underlined in older versions of Excel) and frequently use old remembered ALT combinations (such as ALT, E, S, V gives you Paste Special).

    These shortcuts, ingrained in my brain over 20 years are considerably faster than mouse equivalents, so I worry about losing those.

    I understand that on a Mac there is no equivalent keyboard access to the Ribbon because there is no ALT key on the Mac keyboard …… even if running Excel for Windows in Parallels?

    What happens if I was to plug a Windows keyboard into the iMac, would the ALT key work then in Parallels?

    I have a cool Logitech illuminated keyboard that I'd like to take with me to the iMac and use in Parallels. Would all of the Windows keys (CTRL, ALT etc) then work as they do in Windows when connected to the iMac running Parallels?

    Thank you for your help.

    I need some convincing before I leap into the Mac world. :)
  2. robbierob

    robbierob Bit Poster

    I can't answer about using mac version of excel as have never used it, but presuming you are asking about running windows/excel in parallels, then….

    my macbook air has an alt key (it's an alt/option key) and I use excel extensively under win 8.1 virtual machine and the keyboard shortcuts generally seem to work. There may be some keyboard behaviour that you would need to tailor in parallels but on the whole you would find the work environment similar to working in windows standalone.

    I too don't like Windows 8, a profoundly strange move by MS designers in my view, trying to get all us loyal users to learn a whole new way of working, but kill the naff metro interface as much as possible and beneath it lies probably a better version of windows 7 (which I like(d) a lot).

    All that said, mac os is great, and being able to use win vm in parallels is also great, best of all worlds, but be on notice, parallels can introduce some buggy and quirky behaviour in your VM and the software within that, including excel. Not a deal breaker but frustrating, weird, sensitive and inexplicable at times. And from what I cal tell, the type and degree of these quirks can be different from one user to the other.

    By the way, I'm a long time windows user who switched to mac in 2008, albeit still using windows within mac at times, and the transition was smooth. The OS is great, and its the integration and design of the hardware and software that makes it a standout piece of technology. Windows 8, underneath the bonnet, is also a good OS, its just that the metro interface is a design FAIL on a laptop of desktop, in my opinion of course, total disintegration of hardware and software.
  3. Specimen

    Specimen Product Expert

    Mac keyboards have ALT and CTRL keys.
  4. GlenSydney

    GlenSydney Bit Poster

    Thank you both for your feedback.

    Ideally what I'd like to be sure of before I make the purchase is that, in Excel in Parallels for example, I could get the ALT key to activate the ribbon using a single keystroke (and no mouse) like it does in a normal Windows PC.

    I've tried the ALT key in the Excel Mac version and it seems to have no purpose but I've never seen a system with Parallels.

    What would be even better would be if I could bring my Windows keyboard with me to Excel in Parallels and have CTRL, ALT etc function just as they do in Windows.

    The keyboard is particularly important as it is a Logitech illuminated model which helps me see in low light.

  5. Specimen

    Specimen Product Expert

    You can connect practically any USB or Bluetooth keyboard to a Mac.

    ALT and CTRL keys in Mac keyboards or keyboards connected to the the Mac work as ALT and CTRL keys in Windows running under Parallels.

    Under Office for Mac (Excel specifcally), ALT key is probably replaced by the Command/Apple key which is just beside it, this would conform more tightly with general Mac shortcuts, for instance, Paste on the Mac is Command+V. But I suggest you google for: Excel for Mac shortcuts.

    Here's one link: http://office.microsoft.com/en-001/mac-excel-help/excel-keyboard-shortcuts-HA102927337.aspx
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
  6. GlenSydney

    GlenSydney Bit Poster

    Thankyou all for your advice. With much trepidation I switched to an iMac, installed Parallels, Windows 8.1 and my trusty Office 2010.

    The first week has been like trying to learn an entire new language whilst working full time at the same time.

    Slowly I'm settling into it after much googling of "How do I now do this .....?"

    An app called KeyRemap4MacBook saved my sanity by putting my CTRL, ALT and WIN keys back where they should be in Mac OS X, and by making the arrow keys, HOME and END keys do what they are supposed to do (speaking as a 20 years Windows user of course). :)

    XTRAFINDER restores some Windows Explorer functionality (and common sense) into Mac's Finder (yes, pressing ENTER really can open a file!).

    There's a few quirks that I need to try to sort out, but for the most part the really important thing (to me) is that when I'm in Excel with Parallels it is as if I am working on a Windows PC, ...... all my favourite shortcuts..... they are all there!

    Now I just hope it works out in the long run.
  7. Printfun

    Printfun Bit Poster


    As a followup to this thread, I just wanted to add that if you go into the Preferences menu in Parallels, there is a "Shortcuts" selection you can make.
    This will let let you define shortcuts and functions for any key. If you want to change the function of a key, just double-click on it in the menu and you can redefine it.

    Welcome to the Mac World!
  8. mavidal

    mavidal Product Expert

    Differences in outlook for Mac and Windows here: http://blogs.parallels.com/consumer...tween-outlook-for-mac-and-outlook-for-windows

    Differences in Excel for Mac and Windows here: http://blogs.parallels.com/consumer...es-between-excel-for-mac-and-excel-for-window

    Personally I use both, Excel for mac is a tad bit different, but I have been able to use ctrl-c/v and command-c/v for both copy and pasted in excel for mac.

    As for a Mac, you are going to love it, it just works so much more smoothly than windows and consistent.
  9. Walter2

    Walter2 Bit Poster

    You are USELESS! Did you actually read what the individual is trying to do ? @GlennSydney, Thank you soooooooo much! I have spent months and months trying to figure out how to incorporate a windows keyboard to a macbook pro. People don't understand how hard it is to all of the sudden learn new keystrokes when you have been using Window products for work. Thanks again!
  10. Specimen

    Specimen Product Expert

    No it's not hard, I move back and forth between the two operating systems, if you can't adapt, guess who will be useless. ;)
  11. Walter2

    Walter2 Bit Poster

    Once again you are not understanding the main point. I'm sure many users can go back and forth between the systems which I do ALL the time. But if someone is using a windows keyboard as myself and running excel, they should be able to use the "hot keys" that are used in that program.
    I understand that you can learn the new mac key -strokes but that's not what is being asked. If you don't have a real solution then don't respond!
  12. Specimen

    Specimen Product Expert

    I really don't need to follow advice from a disgruntled, 5 post user, have some humbleness, I've been here for years helping people, you are really in no position much less if you start uselessly insulting. Have a nice day.

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