Updated August 30th, 2019.
Activating Microsoft Office 2011 for the Mac using the built-in online activation wizard seems to be broken. Maybe it’s because Microsoft “end of lifed” Office 2011 in September 2017 (read Microsoft’s announcement about it here). You enter your Product Key, you click the “Activate” button… and you get a message about the activation server being unavailable and a recommendation to try again later. You try again later and it still doesn’t work.
So you try the “Activate by Phone” option. Activating by phone sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. (Update: it worked for me 8-5-2019 on Microsoft Office 2011 Business.) It’s a totally automatic system– read off a bunch of numbers on your screen (you can speak them, so you don’t have to type them into your phone), then type the numbers that the recording gives you, and then click “Activate.” If it works, it’s magic.
If it doesn’t work, try calling Microsoft Sales & Support and telling them you’re trying to activate Office 2011 for the Mac. The Microsoft Sales & Support person will ask you to read off the Activation Code that you see on your screen, then give you a very, very long number, which you can type into the boxes in the Microsoft Office 2011 for the Mac activation wizard, and that should take care of it.
Here’s the phone number that’s worked for me.
Another option: call Microsoft’s general support number (1-800-936-5700) and say “Office for Mac Activation Department” to the robot that answers. That will get you started down the right path.
There’s a chance that things still won’t work. The reason for this could be that you’ve moved Office 2011 for the Mac to a new machine, or to a new hard drive, by cloning the drive. For example, if you decide to replace your hard drive with something better– I like the Solid State Drives (SSDs) from Crucial-– you’ll be asked to activate Office 2011, and in that case, you’ll never be able to… because each installation of Office is “keyed” to the hardware it’s originally installed on, and that includes the hard drive, and the Activation ID and Confirmation ID will only work on that particular configuration. In that case, you have to get rid of the Office registration files that remember what the original hardware was, and then reinstall, and then enter your Product Key, and then– finally!– do the “Activate by Phone” method.
This link from Microsoft tells you how to clear out those older registration files.
Did this article help you?Maybe you'd like to contribute to the
Christian Boyce coffee fund.
Want some some quick iPhone how-tos?
Visit me at iPhoneinaminute.com.
Looking for in-depth tutorials?
See my christianboyce.com website!
Activation by phone no longer works. The IVR pretends not to recognise some of the digit sequences despite treble checking and trying multiple times. I tried via live chat and they said they were not able to activate this product ID as it was discontinued.
That’s such a drag. Give it another try. I know I’ve made it work recently.
Thanks for this advice, I just re-activated Office 2011 for mac by phone today – 26th March 2020. I had wiped my macbook and reinstalled office but the online registration would not work (couldn’t connect to server etc.)
Fantastic. Great news.
Friday April 3rd I have just wiped and upgraded to Mojave (want to keep 32 bit onions open) and had to go through telephone process in the uk to activate. Activation Successful .
Double awesome! It seems Microsoft has resurrected the “activate by phone” option. No longer a dead end. Great news.
Ha! It worked (“Activate By Phone”, that is)! And to think I was soooooo close to upgrading to Office Home and Business 2019 for Mac for the cost of $250!
The experience takes several minutes and is a slight pain in the butt, but I’m glad I didn’t have to spend the money.
Thank You, Christian!
Fantastic. Very cool.
Activate by phone worked perfectly. Thank you!!!!
Sounds like “Activate by Phone” is working for a lot of people now. Great news. There was a long stretch when it didn’t work but now things look good.
The activation wizard wouldn’t accept my product ID. So, I called the MS Support line ‘activation by phone’. Tired, but polite chap, said I had exhausted my allocations. I informed only became a problem since I swapped out my HDD to SDD (true), he then said no problems & that he would extend my licence number (2 licences). Firstly he checked my email address to match up with my MS Account email, then he emailed 4 digit verification number, then he gave me that very long number, pressed activate & it worked …yeah!!
Fantastic. Glad they have someone answering the phone who can take care o such things.
I used Live Chat on Microsoft’s website and the guy was able to help me reactivate Office 2011 on my MacBook Pro. I gave the guy the Installation ID that was generated when I tried to activate by phone and he replied with a Confirmation ID that worked when I keyed it in.
That’s great. Nice to know that the chat method worked!