Move Microsoft Office 2011 to macOS High Sierra

The latest version of Mac OS is called macOS High Sierra. There are some nice changes in the new OS. Instead of using HFS+ file system, a new file system, Apple File System (APFS), was introduced. Important enhancements in the APFS include faster speed in file copy, built-in encryption, crash-safe protections. Safari in this version not only becomes much faster (Apple claims it is the fastest desktop browser, I am not sure about this), but also has a feature to stop the most annoying feature on the web: autoplay videos. The new Safari also has a feature to allow you to view sites in Reader mode. Interesting, I didn’t know I can view site in writer mode before! There are also some improvements in video and icloud experience, which I don’t really care.

There was an important note about Office 2011 caught my attention. Microsoft announced that the company is no longer to support Office 2011 on macOS High Sierra and users should switch to Office 2016. I understand the company may want to get more revenue from selling Office 2016 to existing customers. While many other programs are still supported and running on macOS High Sierra, it looks bad if Office 2011 is not working in High Sierra, especially Word and Excel are some of the most popular applications people used daily. If this is the case, It would hesitate to upgrade my Macs to the new version: High Sierra.

I have been there before. I used to have Parallel software for my VMs on Mac many years ago and it worked great. Forgot from which version of new Mac OS release, Parallel announced the old version Parallel software would not work on the new MacOS and existing customers must pay extra fee to upgrade to new version if want to continue to use Parallel on the new Mac OS. If I remember correctly, Parallel has done the same trick almost every time a new Mac OS is released since then. Luckily, I switched to VirtualBox when Parallel did the first announcement and completely get rid of Parallel since then. Although I missed some nice features from Parallel, VirtualBox meets all of my requirements for my VM and it is free.

Similarly, if Microsoft Office 2011 is not working at all on macOS High Sierra, I will switch to Apple’s Pages and Numbers, or Google Docs. Anyway, my use of Word and Excel at home is very basic, just some simple Word and Excel documents. I don’t see paying annual subscription to new Office 2016 makes sense to me. Anyway my company laptop will have Office 2016 subscription. But if I can keep using my paid Office 2011 on my home Mac, it would be perfect.

I checked out Microsoft Office Support page, it has the following statement:

Office for Mac 2011

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Lync have not been tested on macOS 10.13 High Sierra, and no formal support for this configuration will be provided.

All applications in the Office for Mac 2011 suite* are reaching end of support on October 10th, 2017. As a reminder, after that date there will be no new security updates, non-security updates, free or paid assisted support options or technical content updates. Refer to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle for more information.

Interestingly, it sounds like that users of Office 2011 will be on their own if they continue to use Office 2011 on High Sierra. But the wording does not say the Office 2011 is not going to run on High Sierra. So if running into issue in Word and Excel, don’t call Microsoft support. This is understandable. Anyway, all applications in the Office for Mac 2011 suite are reached the end of support on Oct. 10th, 2017.

Ok, this is better. I will see whether Microsoft Office 2011 works or not in the new macOs High Sierra. I happen to have a Mac at home that indeed needs a complete refresh. After many years running and installation, many software were installed on the computer and the Mac was terribly slow. I want to do a complete new fresh installation long time ago. One of major concerns I had in the past is that I would still bring a lot of garbage back if I do a time-machine restore during the OS upgrade. But if I do a complete wipe out, I have to reinstall Office 2011 and I could not find my license key anymore. Although there are some articles about moving Office 2011 license files for application migration to new Mac, I was always skeptical and worried what happened if it didn’t work. I was stuck in this situation for several years. This time, I have to a good opportunity to do it. I must wipe out my Mac for a fresh installation and have to test the steps to move Office license files. If it fails, I will not use Office on this Mac.

After reading some articles about moving Office 2011 to a new Mac and did some preparation work, I finally made it successfully. Actually, I tested two scenarios by accident. When I did the upgrade, I didn’t wipe out my hard drive on my Mac because I was worried the OS Installation would not complete if I wiped out the hard drive. Actually I was wrong. There was another small partition containing OS boot and installer. Without wiping out my default hard drive, after installation, I found out I just did an upgrade to macOS High Sierra and all of my garbage stuff were still there. No wonder it was so slow during the installation. But at least I verified Microsoft Office 2011 was still working under scenario of upgrading to High Sierra. Then I tried the correct scenario, wiping out my default hard disk first, then do the OS installation. It was much faster and successful. On top of that, I did the office 2011 migration successfully. The followings are the steps:

Step 1. Backup Office 2011
Of course, I need to do a full time-machine backup before doing anything else. In addition to the backup, I also copied the followings to an external drive.

The following directories are mainly for backup purpose, not really used during the migration step. It’s good to backup these Office 2011 directories.

/Library/Application\ Support/Microsoft/
/Applications/Microsoft\ Office\ 2011/

Then backup the following three license related files.

/Library/PrivilegedHelperTools/com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper
/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper.plist
/Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist

Step 2. Wipe out Default Hard Drive
If you just do the High Sierra upgrade, do not do this step. This step is going to wipe out everything on the default partition.
After reboot, immediately press Option + Command + R keys at the same time. When OSX Utilities screen shows up, uses Disk Utility to wipe out the default partition first.

Step 3. Install macOS High Sierra
Then click Reinstall OS X. Go through the regular mac OS installation screens to complete the High Sierra installation.

Step 4. Migrate Office 2011
Install Office 2011 software and it will show the screen to license information at the end.

Unfortunately, Quit in Office 2011 was not working and I had to do the force kill from Activity Monitor.

Copy the three backed up file from external drive to the same path on the new system.

/Library/PrivilegedHelperTools/com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper
/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.microsoft.office.licensing.helper.plist
/Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist

Start Word or Excel. The Office 2011 works on macOS High Sierra. I am sure there are certain features might not fully functional on the new OS. But basic functionality seems working and that’s enough for my usage.

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