Word for Mac Content Control Add-in

After 15 years, I got tired of waiting for Microsoft to provide Content Controls in Word for Mac. So I wrote a VBA add-in to do it. The Word for Mac Content Control Add-in is free if you subscribe to this blog. There’s no installer (Apple’s sandbox requirements for automatic installation are onerous.), but I provide installation instructions.

Content Controls are a superior way of creating forms, easier to create and use then the Legacy Form Fields that are built into Word for Mac. In a previous post, I’ve written about how you can insert content controls using VBA: Content Controls for macOS – Cool Code. But using VBA requires more technical ability than the average Word user has. So writing an add-in makes these controls available to a much wider group of users.

The new content controls appear on Word’s Developer tab:

Developer tab showing Content Controls

The Properties button opens a dialog that allows you to set the items relevant to that type of control:

The Properties dialog


Current issues with this Content Control add-in:

  • In Word for Windows, you can set a separate character style for the control. The VBA commands for sorting styles don’t do the same thing as the Word interface, so I haven’t been able to make this work the same as in Windows. Using my Content Control add-in, the content controls currently take on the style of the paragraph in which they are inserted, except for the Date Picker which displays Times New Roman (?!) when a date is selected.
  • The color for a control can be set to the same colors as in Windows, but there isn’t a custom color input yet.
  • If and when Microsoft gets around to adding content controls, the checkbox will probably select checked and unchecked characters from the macOS Emoji & Symbols dialog. Unfortunately, that dialog includes many system fonts that can’t be embedded in a file (this is a big problem with choosing bullets in PowerPoint, but that’s material for a different article). So I’ve created a subset of checked and unchecked symbols that can be used in checkboxes. These characters will work as expected and can be embedded in a template or document.
  • The properties dialog in the Content Control add-in can’t preview the checkbox characters, because there is no way for VBA to retrieve the symbols currently used by a checkbox.
  • The date picker should be able to use a world-wide variety of locales and calendar types. I haven’t been able to program the system calls to macOS to get this information yet. The date picker currently uses U.S. defaults for date formatting. Using Microsoft date formatting codes (dd-mm-yyyy, etc.), you should be able to set up dates for other languages based on a Latin (Western) script. This is one of the items that needs testing in other languages.
  • A few users get error messages when trying to modify existing content controls. To date, we have not been able to reproduce, and thus solve, this bug. If you get an error, please post a comment including your processor info (Intel or Apple chip), macOS version and Office edition.

You can get a free copy of the add-in by subscribing to this blog. If you’re already a subscriber, please write to me at the email in the right-hand column, and I’ll send it to you. Please note, we do not send to disposable email addresses.

7:57 pm

7 thoughts on “Word for Mac Content Control Add-in

  1. Hello Mr. Korchok,

    I would like to change content control in a document which created from word templates, unfortunately word for Mac OS has no “design mode” button in the developer tab. Do you have any solution for that too?

    Thank you in advance,

    Sincerely.

  2. Am I correct in understanding that this doesn’t fix the “Quick Parts” content control? (e.g.: it doesn’t work with Sharepoint metadata)

    • I imagine you’re referring to the Building Block Gallery Content Control. That control can be inserted in a template or document using this add-in, but the control will only work in Word for Windows. Microsoft has not yet implemented this control in Word for Mac or any other version of Word.

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