An interesting screenshot: uninstalling MS Office apps

A little story: I had a licensing issue (Word stopped recognizing my university login), so I had to uninstall and reinstall Microsoft Office. The basic version of that didn’t work: it seemed that my credentials got cached away somehow, so I needed to completely uninstall Office.

I basically gave my Mac an enema to get rid of all the Office cruft. 10+ reboots and many “Empty trash” actions later, I reinstalled Office, logged in with my university address, and voila. Easy!

In addition to uninstalling the apps (which I did via CleanMyMac), I also had to follow the official steps here and the unofficial steps here, which involved looking through the hidden directories of macOS to delete 25 or so application support/preferences/metadata folders across both my macOS user library and the system library.

CleanShot 2022-08-16 at 15.59.36
CleanShot 2022-08-16 at 16.01.00

See above for some entertaining screenshots. Note that I uninstalled Word yesterday and had cleared the trash and rebooted many times since. How there could still be 30k+ files “inside” an uninstalled app is anyone’s guess!

At least, in the end, my login started working again.

(And before anyone says “don’t use Word,” I need it to survive in academia. Not to worry, I spend as little time in it as possible.)


I use Word on a daily basis and it’s a fantastic word processor. People just don’t know how to use it.


To each his or her own!

I used to use Word for hours a day, every working day. I haven’t used it in years since switching to plain text and markdown ca. 2010 (and now Google apps where work requires it), and I don’t miss Word a bit.


Are you implying that @ryanjamurphy doesn’t know how to use it? Not following your point.

Fantastic or not, all of the tracking that Microsoft tries to do is unnecessary. Shouldn’t be so difficult to uninstall.

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Usage or not aside: MS Word is the de-facto standard for word processing nowadays.

Some time ago I switched to OnlyOffice, single package, no tracking and very good MS Word compatibility (as good or better as any alternatives I’ve seen). It’s open source, and it’s free (though I have chosen to contribute).

As much as I like pages (and the rest of the “iWork” suite) it’s nowhere near as useful when you need to exchange documents with non Apple users.

I’d say the bigger issue is people don’t know when to use it. It is, as you say, a word processor. A little piece of me dies every time someone sends me screenshots pasted into a Word doc to illustrate a problem.


And you’ll note that I didn’t comment on that. And @ryanjamurphy is excellently technically adept, not that I implied he wasn’t anyway.

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I used to love Word in its pre-2010 incarnations: I wrote VB macros, used automated fields and generally knew my way round it well enough.

I stopped using it regularly when I retired, but I’ve kept an Office 365 (in its various names) subscription going, because my wife used it for various things.

Whenever I’ve used it (a few times a year) I found the Mac Word version perfectly usable still, though obviously it’s lacking some of the advanced features of the Windows version, which is fine by me.

For the last couple of days though, I’ve been using the Windows version, and was taken aback by what a mess they’ve made of the design. It’s not only ugly in its own right (a white options box with light grey borders on a white background?), it’s very difficult to find the (reasonably basic) features I was after: e.g. I had to google to find out that the ability to attach a template to a document is hidden on the Developer Tab, which isn’t enabled by default…

The Styles infrastructure, which used to be fairly simple (here’s the style dialogue where you can modify them as much as you like), there’s a hodgepodge of various Panes, Panels and Popups, and some features (e.g. Manage Styles) only appear accessible after you’ve done a lot of clicking…

I’m sure that buried underneath all this flummery it’s still a very powerful word processor, and that once you’re used to it, it would become less frustrating, but I can’t say I can see much reason to give it any more time. I think I’ll stick with the Mac version, which at least has proper menus and some discoverability. And do you know how many steps you have to go through to make a template created on the Mac appear on Windows, even though the Mac version is inside the program’s own shared settings folder

(And, I am being too harsh and hyperbolic, but it was a frustrating morning trying to work out how to do basic tasks on a word processor I’ve used for over 25 years…)


Since it had been 10 years since it let me down the last time, I gave it a shot last year. Word lost about 4 pages out of my 20 page document. They were just gone - empty space where they had been. Closed Word, reopened, the pages were gone - replaced by empty space.
The previous time I attempted a large-ish document, Word changed the font and weight for figure captions when I printed the document. Corrected them, print, changed. Repeatable.

So I guess I’m one of the people that don’t know how to use it, which is why I only use it under duress.


@ryanjamurphy - I’m sorry you had to go through this ordeal.

@brookter - I agree with your critique.

@geoffaire - I have mixed feelings about Word. I, too, use it every day. In law, there is no escaping Word’s orbit. I know how to use it exceptionally well. I’ve basically lived in Word since about 1992, after migrating away from WordPerfect. (I went back to WP in law school, but the windows versions could never really challenge Word.) I have grown to dislike Word, though, particularly these things:

  • how fiddly it is;
  • the ribbon was a disaster of a design decision in terms of work efficiency;
  • styles and automatic numbering are not even close to intuitive, which means working in a collaborative environment is tough when your collaborators don’t have a degree in styles and numbering;
  • I get strange formatting errors - like a table row that will span a whole page no matter what settings you change – in documents that I have to nuke, pave, and start over;
  • it’s not reliably safe–as skilled as I am with Word, I, like @JohnAtl, still lose work from time-to-time and I even have a symlink to the folder where the autosave documents are located. (It’s rare but it’s horrible when it happens.)

Still, to be very honest, Microsoft Word for Windows 2.0 was responsible for me falling in love with writing. I liked the program so much, I just wanted to use it. That meant I had to write words, lots of words. I turned into a grammar nerd because of that grammar checker. The equation editor made me look really good in college physics, and I believe it was responsible for a few of my grades getting bumped up into the + category. Funny thing is, the financially strapped college student that I was bounced the 2-hundred-some-odd-dollar check I wrote to buy it. (I ultimately made good on it!)

Somewhere along the lines, MS Word became less enjoyable to work in. It’s not the shiny object syndrome; I like to find a tool I really like and stick with it. But as I’ve used other writing software, I’ve found MS Word lacking. Not for want of features. It’s bloated with those. I can’t quite put my finger on the issue. [I think, maybe, I used to use Word for (quite literally) everything that did not go in a spreadsheet: writing; outlining; note-taking; task management; list management; goals; recipe collections, rudimentary databases; screenshots (as @zkarj pointed out), etc. Now, there are dedicated tools that I use for some of those functions, which has limited my word processing needs to, well, just word processing.]

My biggest bone of contention right now is Word on the iPad. I really wish Microsoft would do a better job of improving the iPad version. With the powerful chips inside iPads now, I don’t see why we can’t have compare documents. I use that feature daily. When iPadOS began to allow multiple instances of apps to exist, along with Split View, I thought the biggest hindrance to my replacing my laptop altogether with my iPad had been resolved. I don’t think any time in the last twenty years I’ve ever used MS Word with just one document open. This was going to be great. Unfortunately, while Word supports multiple instances and Split View, it does not do it very well. If you have two windows open and start typing, it’s a total crapshoot which window the text ends up in. I’ve reported the issue to MS repeatedly, but they don’t seem interested in fixing it. It’s these little headaches, and the big one like @ryanjamurphy just went through, that making using Word such a turn off.

On the other hand, there are some iPad features of Word that are outstanding for usability. Mobile View, for example, the feature that shows more of the text and less of the other stuff. The view that allows you to see all your headings in the left panel, is also great. It makes navigating long documents in Word a real breeze. I still like the binder in Scrivener on iPad better, but this is a great feature for Word. I have also been able to use cross-examination outlines in a Slide Over window in Word on iPad during trials and depositions very effectively.

@geoffaire is right that Word is a very capable tool. I’m not sure based on the above I’d call it fantastic. But maybe that is even a fair statement. Word has been the reigning king of word processors for a long time and that is not solely a function of aggressive tactics by Microsoft. You can’t get to that position without sufficient user buy-in. As Microsoft people used to say “People hate Windows, but they love office.”


I suppose the big caveat I have is that I use it daily on Windows. I can’t remember the last time I lost any work

Maybe the Mac version is less stable.


To be clear, I mostly made fun of Word because I wanted to fit in with the cool kids.

It’s bloated and sometimes buggy, but it hits a sweet spot between InDesign and Pages for… well, as @zkarj put it, processing words. It’s not great for writing, it’s okay for editing, but it is the king of “put this table here, and make the section of the document landscape so that people can actually read it” for a reason.

All that’s beside the point: the real enemy here is Microsoft Autoupdater!

Believe it or not, despite the gauntlet I’ve suffered, the MS Office Installer still thinks Autoupdater (and OneDrive and Teams) are installed on my Mac. At least, that’s the impression I get from the “Action” column here:

In other words, somehow, somewhere, there’s still some bits left. Sigh.


It is fashionable to be a Word hater, isn’t? I took the bait and piled on. :man_shrugging:t2:


Stick with the App store version and you don’t have to deal with the auto-updating mess.

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I don’t recall seeing anyone at my company use Word in the 18 years I worked there, although I’m sure someone must have typed a letter from time to time. A handful used Excel (the rest used OpenOffice) but most used email to communicate with vendors and customers.

Seems like formal letters started disappearing about the time IBM representatives stopped wearing ties.

Oh, I still write a lot outside email. Some jobs require reports, articles, blog posts, analyses, summaries, white papers… the list is endless. I just don’t use a word processor anymore.


You can use LuLu or LittleSnitch to block app network calls from apps. This has also had a positive impact on my Intel MBP’s battery in addition to me having peace of mind about privacy/tracking. I use LittleSnitch, although it’s paid (one time), but it’s excellent and allows you to monitor all network calls. It also shows you the map of where these server are located where the requests are going, which is kinda cool and useful if I want to block network calls to server in a specific country.

I think part of the problem is that features have built up over the years, and users all have features they consider obviously essential to the app, so Microsoft can’t remove them. This leads to bloat, complexity, and an unpleasant UI. I’m guilty of assuming my favorite features are essential, and just reading this thread I’ve seen a couple posts where people have mentioned Feature A or Feature B as something that obviously shouldn’t be buried in a menu, when I never use that feature. And they probably never use my favorite features. So Microsoft has quite the juggling act on that front.


I used LittleSnitch for a time but I seemed to spend as much time tracking down processes on my Mac as I did using the computer. I finally got tired of playing whack a mole and deleted it.

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You don’t need to do that. The only time you’d have to encounter LS is when you open an app for the first time after installing LS.

You can create 2 filters. “Deny All Connections” and “Allow abc domain”. That’s is. Now all connections will be denied automatically except is is abc domain. It’s like a NOT operator in programming.

It took me like a few days of spending 1-2 mins each day doing this and never touched it ever. I only see prompts when I install a new app.