Deploy Office for Mac 2011 preferences

Office for Mac 2011 will reach end of support on October 10, 2017. To stay supported, you will need to upgrade. For more information, see these resources.


Applies to: Office for Mac 2011

Topic Last Modified: 2016-12-16

If you customize Office for Mac 2011 preferences, you can choose one of the methods described below to deploy the preferences to users on the network. Before you deploy the preferences, users must quit all Office applications. The preference setting changes are applied when users restart their computers.

Deploying preferences by using Workgroup Manager

You can use Workgroup Manager to deploy preferences and define privileges by user, by group, or by computer and to perform a broad range of other workgroup management functions. Workgroup Manager is well suited for deploying preferences either before or after users begin to work with Office for Mac 2011 because you can manage individual preferences in a .plist file without disrupting other settings in the same file. Workgroup Manager does not deploy entire .plist files; instead, it updates .plist files on users' computers by writing an individual key/value pair.

When you customize preferences, the customized .plist files are stored in the home folder of the administrator account that you used to log in for that session. When you are ready to deploy these customized preferences, you must log in with that same administrator account because Workgroup Manager deploys the preference settings of the administrator who is currently logged in.

There are some limitations in the way that Office for Mac 2011 works with Workgroup Manager:

  • Office for Mac 2011 preferences and settings that are not stored in .plist files cannot be managed by using Workgroup Manager. In particular, Workgroup Manager cannot deploy many of the Outlook preferences because most of them are stored in the Outlook database for each identity instead of in .plist files.

  • Office for Mac 2011 does not provide preference manifest (.manifest) files; therefore, it cannot use Workgroup Manager functionality that requires this type of file.

For information about Workgroup Manager, see Client Management in the Mac OS X Server area of the Apple Web site ( For detailed information about managing preferences with Workgroup Manager, see the Mac OS X Server User Management documentation available for download on the Apple Web site (

Deploying preferences using Apple Remote Desktop

You can create a special .pkg file specifically for deploying preferences. You deploy this .pkg file to the home folders on users' computers by using Apple Remote Desktop or by making the file available for users to copy from a file server.

For information about Apple Remote Desktop, see Apple Remote Desktop Administrator's Guide on the Apple Web site at


When you deploy a preference file to a user's computer, the file overwrites all older files in the target location, including all preference settings in those files. This could change user preferences that you did not intend to standardize, and it could be disruptive to a user's work. Therefore, we recommend that you deploy customized preference files before users begin to work with Office for Mac 2011, or you should deploy only those .plist files that govern settings for which you want to retain control (for example, the preference files for CEIP, MERP, or AutoUpdate). On computers with multiple user accounts, you must deploy preferences to the home folder of each user who has a separate Mac OS X login account.

Some settings, such as the mail server name, are stored in the Outlook database. You can make changes to many of the Outlook database settings by using AppleScript and then deploying the script to users. You deploy the script by using Apple Remote Desktop. To see the specific Outlook settings that can be modified by using AppleScript, in the Finder, drop the Outlook application icon that is located in the Office for Mac 2011 folder onto the Script Editor icon that is located in the /Applications/AppleScript folder.


Some Outlook preferences cannot be changed by using a script. You also cannot change preference settings by deploying the database with new settings to an existing Outlook user identity because the new database will override the existing local data for that user.