Microsoft Releases First Office 2016 64 Bit Update for Mac

Last year, Microsoft launched Office 2016 for Mac. A year later, Office for Mac finally sees the release of the first 64-bit version available now.

Windows users have been able to run 64 bit releases Office since 2010. While the Mac has fully transitioned to 64-bit computing since the launch of 2009’s Snow Leopard; many apps remain limited to the 32-bit memory address space. Last year, Microsoft launched Office 2016 for Mac; introducing greater feature parity with the Office 2016 release for Windows. A year later, Office for Mac finally sees the release of the first 64-bit revision.

The update provides increased benefits such as the ability to work on larger data sets in Excel 2016 and complex documents in Microsoft Word. For now, the 64-bit release is limited to user’s who are part of the Office Insider Program, launched in November of 2015. The Office Insider Program is similar to the Windows Insider Program and provides early access to new features and functionality before they are generally available.

Office 2016 for Mac 64 Bit Now Available

Before users take the plunge and install the 64-bit update, please be aware of the lack of compatibility with third party add-ons. Add-ons themselves are a new feature addition to Office for the Mac. If you depend on a third-party add-on, you should avoid the upgrade for now.

What does this change mean for me?

  • If you use Office 2016 for Mac but don’t use any add-ins, you should be unaffected by this change.
  • If you use or develop add-ins in Office 2016 for Mac, you may need to update those add-ins to 64-bit.
  • Please note: If you use the Thomson Reuters EndNote Cite While You Write (CWYW) add-in for Word 2016 for Mac, and you need a 64-bit version of the add-in, consider joining the EndNote beta testing program. Once you sign up, you’ll receive a beta version of the 64-bit CWYW add-in. Any feedback you provide will help ensure that the add-in for EndNote is fully compatible with the 64-bit version of Word 2016 for Mac. 

I develop add-ins or write VBA for Office 2016 for Mac. What do I need to know?

  • The primary impact of this change is to compiled add-ins. Office add-ins (add-ins using the JavaScript-based APIs) are not impacted by this change.

  • The work required to update your add-ins for 64-bit will vary based on the code.

  • For example, any use of VBA’s DECLARE statement to load external functions in compiled dynamic libraries will require that those libraries support 64-bit. The VBA code itself will continue to work as VBA is transitioned to 64-bit, but you’ll need to update the external libraries. Source

How to install Office 2016 for Mac 64 bit

Launch any Office 2016 for Mac application such as Word or Excel, click Help > Check for Updates. If there are any available updates for the Microsoft Auto Update app, install them first.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 12.33.02 PM

Launch Check for Updates again then check the box to Join the Insider program. Click in the list box, change the setting to Fast, then click Check for Updates. Proceed to download and install the available updates.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 12.32.38 PM

That’s pretty much it. To confirm you are running a 64-bit version of Word or Excel, launch Activity Monitor, right-click in the tabs at the top of the CPU view, then enable the kind field. The app will now show you which processes are 32-bit or 64-bit.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 9.06.28 AM

On a side note, Microsoft released a 15.24 update for Office Insiders on the slow ring. The update adds a lot of user facing functionality such as easier ways to share files, manipulate objects, improved drawing tools and tablet support. If you experience problems installing Office updates for Mac, be sure to check out our previous article with instructions how to fix it. To get up to speed with some of the new features, take a look at our other Office guides, such as the new Full-Screen View in Outlook 2016 and keyboard Shortcuts.



  1. Phillip Jones

    July 18, 2016 at 9:30 am

    I have the Mac version of Office 2016 15.24 installed, But I have a Minor issue with Word does not affect Excel or PowerPoint.
    When I open Word, I receive a window with an error.

    “Compile Error in Hidden Module Link”

    I can dismiss it and go on about my business. But when I shut down Word, it shows up again. And click Okay dismisses the Error and Word will quit normally.

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