Excel on the Mac

Hi there,

Does anyone have a good resource for expert Excel skills and keyboard shortcuts while using a Mac?

I’m an accountant with my day job and use Excel extensively on Windows. I’m a fairly advanced user using quite a bit of keyboard shortcuts to navigate, enter formulas, etc.

My “free agent” job is accounting for other businesses and doing taxes. I attempted Numbers for 6 months but my brain is too wired for Excel in Windows for that to be a good solution. I thought switching to Excel on the Mac would solve everything but it’s been over a year now and I’m still no where close to what I can do on a Windows machine. I love my Mac and other Apple hardware so much but am really struggling with becoming super efficient with Excel on it due to keyboard differences and different shortcuts.

If anyone else has struggled with this or has a good resource I’d love to know.


  • Nathan

This might seem like blasphemy but you can run Excel 2016 for Windows directly on your Mac with Crossover Office. No overhead of a virtual machine to slow it down. Just a thought.


@Nathan this may not be an ideal solution, but you can create your own keyboard shortcuts on the Mac. Assuming there is menu option parity between Mac and Windows, assigning the same shortcut may be a step in the right direction to help ease your transition. I hope this helps some – jay

In Excel 2016 for Mac, Microsoft made a real effort to make all the keyboard shortcuts from Excel for Windows work the same way on the Mac. Bonus: the traditional Mac shortcuts still work too! I use both versions and think that the Windows version is better, but I just can’t bring myself to use Windows when my Mac is available.


I have to use Excel a lot at work too but I’m also forced to move between Win10 and macOS constantly. The differences totally made the macOS version unusable at first. Then I installed BetterTouchTool, which lets you make your own app-specific keyboard shortcuts, so I just recreated all the ones I wanted. And BetterTouchTool just runs in the background so I never even notice it.

Made excel work 100x easier and more consistent for me. Good luck!

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It is a real frustration, I teach Excel seminars at university and my slides have to have separate shortcuts for Windows and Mac. There are also a lot of features that are Windows-only like slicers (not in pivot tables), PowerPivot, pivot charts and database connections. This means the students with Windows laptops become very popular at the end of the course when we cover some more advanced topics that cannot be done on the Mac version, or they have to use Citrix desktop which cannot handle the number of Mac users in a class.


I agree that for what ever reason Microsoft did not build excel to work equally on the Mac. I just use excel by way of office 365 on my iMac. There you will get the full power of excel as you do on windows.

Ive never heard of Crossover Office. Do you have a resource where I can learn more about that? As I wrote that I realized that is a google question. Lol! :slight_smile: thank you!

I agree with you that Excel on Windows is better. And it’s at a point for me where I’m considering buying a laptop just to have a true windows experience for my Excel work. I keep everything in Dropbox so it’s not an issue of where files are stored. I can boot it up, do what I want in Excel, then get back to my Mac as soon as possible. Hahaha. Thanks for your help!!

I have heard of BetterTouchTool thanks to MPU but have never tried it. When I get time I think I’ll download it and give that a go. It’s good to hear it worked for you. Thanks!

Thank you Rob! I definitely use those features for my day job which again cements my belief i need to be in Windows in order to be truly effective in Excel. I don’t use those features as much for my side hustle so it’s not a deal breaker but it is still frustrating. I’ve done a lot with Power Query in Excel and slicing and dicing data with pivot tables. When I open those files on my Mac there are always issues with things either not working or not displaying properly.

I’m getting by OK right now by doing basic things in Excel on Mac but just feel like I have one hand tied behind my back.

I appreciate your insight!

Are you referring to accessing your files via a web browser and doing Excel online with your 365 subscription, or merely subscribing to office365 so you always have the latest and greatest version of Excel on your Mac?

It’s wild that Microsoft has developed Office to run really well on iPads (compared to other office suites) but Office on Mac is so frustrating compared to Office on Windows.

In case it helps, it is Crossover not Crossover Office.

Thank you for the extra info!!

Instead of a Win laptop would you consider running Parallels or Fusion (both about ~$80 USD) on your mac to run Excel for Win? If you’re subscribed to certain editions of Office 365 you get 2+ installs of Office apps so you can run both the mac and the win versions.

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Don’t forget the cost of the Windows licensing as well if you are virtualising or even running in Boot Camp.

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That’s a good point @khit that is something I’ve considered. Unfortunately part of my issue is the muscle memory of the Mac keyboard layout vs the windows layout. I use control and Alt all the time in Excel on Windows. But it’s certainly something I need to trial and see if it would work better for me.


I use Parallels (for a different reason) and can report you have fairly complete control over key mappings so you can set up ctrl, alt, opt, etc. however works best for you. See the user guide for the details. Currently *Keyboard Shortcuts" starts on page 67 but if you don’t see it, check the TOC or search. Let me know if you have any specific questions!

If that doesn’t get you there, you could look at Karabiner Elements (open source) to remap your keys for Win sessions.

I use Crossover to run Excel 2007 and it works great, gives you a Windows style window and the Windows Excel shortcuts.