How to activate Microsoft Office 2011 for the Mac

Activating Microsoft Office 2011 for the Mac using the built-in online activation wizard seems to be broken. 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.

There was an error

So you try the “Activate by Phone” option. Activating by phone sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. If it doesn’t work for you, 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 when you clickgive 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.
Office 2011 for Mac, Activated

Here’s the number that’s worked for me.

Microsoft Office Sales & Support phone number

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. 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.

Three tips for Messages on the Mac

The Messages app on the Mac is awesome. Use these tips and make it even better.

Tip #1: on your Mac, double-click a conversation in Messages’ left-hand pane. That opens the conversation in its own window. That way, you can keep key conversations in view.

Tip #2: on your Mac, try dragging a picture from one conversation into another. Just click and hold on the picture, then drag onto the other conversation.

Tip #3: on your Mac, try dragging a picture (or other document) from your desktop right into the area where you’d ordinarily be typing a message. Or just drag it onto the conversation– anywhere on it! So easy.

(Not getting your text messages on your Mac? Set that up with my complete how-to article.)

iCal (Calendar) World Cup 2018 knockout stage schedule

Add the knock-out stage FIFA World Cup 2018 schedule to your Mac’s Calendar by visiting this link. Choose the “Subscribe” option and the calendar will update as the tournament progresses, and add the calendar to “Location: iCloud” (rather than “Location: On My Mac”) if you want the calendar to also show up on your iPhone and iPad. Of course you can simply add the calendar to your iPhone or iPad directly, using the link. Note: I made this calendar myself and will update it as soon as I get the results of the matches.

World Cup Knockout Round calendar recommended settings
World Cup Knockout Round calendar recommended settings

How to check your MacBook’s, MacBook Pro’s or MacBook Air’s battery condition

Normally, when you click on the battery menu you get basic information about your laptop’s battery, like this:

Apple laptop battery menu
Apple laptop battery menu

Turns out you can get more information. Press and hold the Option key, then go to the battery menu again. You get this:

Apple laptop battery menu, Option key held down
Apple laptop battery menu, Option key held down

If the condition says “Replace soon” it’s probably time for a visit to the Apple Store. You can get a battery from Amazon and do it yourself, for certain models– otherwise, go to Apple. Figure about $129 for a battery at Apple, installed. Batteries do eventually wear out so if yours says something other than “Condition: Normal” that’s just the way it goes.

Better way to resize windows

You know about holding the Option key down when you click on the green “zoom” button in a window’s title bar. There’s something better than that. It’s “Moom.”

When you hover over the green zoom button with Moom installed you see this:


With Moom, when you want to make a window full-screen (ANY window— Safari, Mail, Word, Pages, whatever), you hover over the green button, let Moom’s menu slide down, and then click on the first button. If you want a window to take exactly the left half of the screen, you click the second button. Right half: third button. Top half: fourth button. Bottom half: fifth button. Plenty of options and keyboard shortcuts for those who want them.

Moom makes resizing and relocating windows a one-click move (or a keyboard shortcut– I make a window full-screen with Control-Option-F). Can’t get faster than that.

Get it at the App Store.
Get Moom at the App Store

Is iCloud up, or not?

Apple has a web page showing the status of iCloud services such as iCloud Backups, iCloud Contacts synching, iCloud Calendar synching, and so on. If something “cloudy” isn’t working for you, maybe it’s not you! Maybe iCloud is down. See the current iCloud services status by clicking here.

Bonus: you’ll see a lot more than iCloud status on that page.

Apple Services Status Page
Apple Services Status Page

You’ll also see the status of various iTunes services (iTunes Match, the iTunes Store, iTunes in the Cloud, Apple Music), and the status of the Mac App Store, and the status of FaceTime, Find My Friends, and many, many more. Apple historically has a great track record of keeping their services running, but every so often something goes down. If you’re having problems with something that needs to tap into one of Apple’s services, click the link to see the Apple Services Status page. You won’t know until you click.

How to use the Mac’s Calculator from the Keyboard

It’s MUCH faster to operate the calculator from the keyboard than by clicking on it with the mouse. If you have a keyboard with a numeric keypad it’s super-quick to enter numbers, but you can use the number keys in the top row of your keyboard too.

Plus and Minus are easy to find on the keyboard, but Multiply and Divide are a little harder. Programmer-types will know that the asterisk (*) is used to multiply, and the slash (/) is used to divide. Now you know too.

Find the Calculator in the Applications folder, or use the Launch Pad. Click for more information on the Calculator.

How to copy an image from a web page

Ever go to a web page (try this one) and wish you could copy one of the pictures, and send it to someone by email or text? It’s easy as pie.

  1. Hold the Control key down
  2. Click on the picture you want
  3. Choose “Copy Image” from the menu.
  4. Let go of the Control key and go to your email program and paste the image you copied.

Happy 4th of July, by the way.

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