Office For Mac

Solver for Excel for Mac 2011: Free download gives you what-if analysis “on steroids”

Today, for all you managers and other high achievers who want to use Excel to out-smart the competition, we’re talking about the new Solver for Excel for Mac 2011. For those who aren’t familiar, Solver is a what-if analysis tool “on steroids” that you can use to find profit-maximizing or risk-minimizing solutions, by automatically adjusting multiple input cells.  You won’t find Solver in the box with Excel 2011, but you will find it at as a free download.

Solver has been a unique and powerful add-in for Excel in Office for Mac and Windows since 1990 – but it briefly disappeared from Excel 2008 for Mac, due to the absence of VBA.  Popular demand from Solver-less Mac users motivated a cooperative effort between MacBU and Solver developers Frontline Systems to bring it back, using AppleScript and XCode in lieu of VBA.

The new Solver, like Excel for Mac 2011, is greatly enhanced over its predecessor, and it offers functional parity – and full compatibility – with Solver for Excel 2010, which was also significantly enhanced over earlier Solver versions for Windows.  It has essentially all the features of Premium Solver for Education, a Frontline Systems product that has been bundled with more than 35 textbooks and widely used in MBA education.

Here’s a look at the new Solver for Mac layout:

For the mathematically inclined, Solver now includes both faster linear programming, mixed-integer programming, and nonlinear optimization solving methods, and also an Evolutionary solving method, based on genetic algorithms.  It also features multistart methods for global optimization and a new “all different” constraint that can be used, for example, to model the classic Traveling Salesman Problem.

But for the not-so-mathematically inclined, what is Solver good for?  Here’s the key idea:  You can use Solver to allocate scarce resources optimally.  The resources may be raw materials, machine time or people time, money, or anything else in limited supply. The “best” or optimal solution may mean maximizing profits, minimizing costs, or achieving the best possible quality.  You have to build an Excel model that correctly describes the problem, but then Solver does its magic automatically.

The methods behind Solver are also used every day across major industries, including commercial airlines, shipping, agriculture, financial services and more. With payoffs this big, it’s no wonder Mac users have been asking for even more powerful Solver versions that can handle bigger problems – with tens or hundreds of thousands, or even millions of individual resource allocation decisions in a single model. 

Those users will be happy to know that for the first time ever, Frontline’s Premium Solver Platform, the best-selling (but not free) Solver product for Excel for Windows, is available for Excel 2011 for Mac. You can find out more about it at

So, Solver might be for you, even if you’re not a math geek – as long as you’re willing to put some work into a good Excel model.  Getting Solver, though, isn’t hard at all – once you’ve got your very own Office for Mac 2011, just click on over to, download and install it in under a minute, and try it out.  The standard Solver is free, and a number of people have built Solver models that actually saved their companies millions of dollars – that sounds like a pretty good return on investment.

As always, please share your experiences and questions here!

November 30th, 2010
Bookmark and Share
— @
  1. Dominik says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you :)

  2. Rippedoff says:

    Good for those 2 people who actually need this, what is with Sync-Service (iCal) for the 100’000 people who ask for it since months? Fix what we really need first…thanks…

  3. Jean desir says:

    i would like to download microsoft office on my mac for my homework and for curiosity.

  4. Jack Moss says:

    MBU ur kidding right? Wheres the sync fix?

  5. Office for Mac Team says:

    @Dominik You’re welcome X3!

  6. Office for Mac Team says:

    @Ripped We know that syncing with iCal is very important and will therefore include it in Outlook for Mac in the first service pack, currently scheduled for early in 2011. Thanks for your patience and we’ll definitely let you know more when we have more information.

  7. Office for Mac Team says:

    @Jean desir Great to hear! It’s available here: Since you’re a student, we recommend the Home & Student or Academic version. Let us know if you have any questions.

  8. Office for Mac Team says:

    @Jack Moss A Service Pack update is on it’s way, so hang tight. It’s expected to arrive in the first half of next year and will address sync services with calendars adding the functionality to sync Outlook with your calendars including iCal and MobileMe.

  9. Jay says:

    Solver is semi-useful, but seriously!? You’re wasting time not getting the calendar sync done. You really have to wait until you get a full service pack ready to release a fix? Incredible!

  10. Daniel Fylstra says:

    @Ripped, @Jay — Solver was developed by Frontline Systems (my company) and at present, it’s a free download from us. It’s been “in the box” with Excel for Mac before, and it may well be again in the future. But regardless of how it’s delivered, there is basically no tradeoff at all, in terms of timing or availability, between Solver and Sync-Service (iCal), or any other Excel feature. These things have completely separate engineering and support resources. Solver for Excel 2011 became available a short time ago, and the Mac Office Team just wanted to let you know.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Apparently people commenting can’t read. Solver is written by a third party, NOT Microsoft!

    So don’t go complaining about “implementing Solver taking time away from iCal sync,” because it didn’t.

    I would also guess that Solver not being there was FAR MORE important to those who use it than the iCal sync issue.

  12. sachin agarwal says:


    • Theipadcafe says:

      Improved PivotTables:PivotTables are now easier to use! Key intorvememps include:1. Performance Enhancements. In Excel 2010, multi-threading helps speed up data retrieval, sorting, and filtering in PivotTables.2. PivotTable Labels. It is now possible to fill down labels in a PivotTable.3. You can also repeat labels in PivotTables to display item captions of nested fields in all rows and columns.

  13. MIKED says:


  14. Kelper says:

    So … December 2 at 3.25 you say synch will be in early 2011
    but … December 2 at 3.27 you say in first half of year.
    In the space of two minutes the time went up about 300%!!!
    That must be a record, even for Microsoft.
    Not being able to synch is driving me back to PC’s
    Come on!!!!

  15. resource says:


  16. Ruben Vilar says:

    Thank u for your help !!!

  17. Bill says:

    Solver randomly showed up on my Mac computer after installing MS Office 2011. Is it included now?

    Also, it crashes on launch. Won’t ever run. I have a brand new clean install of OS X Lion and MS Office 2011. What’s the deal? Why include crash add-ons?

  18. Deivy says:

    Solver has been crashing on launch in Lion!
    Has anyone else been ablw to run it in Lion?

  19. Yvonne says:

    Yeah, I’m with you guys. I’ve been trying to launch the Solver today to no avail. I got really excited too. I tutor many MBA students, most of which use parallels. My plan was to get them to purchase the 2011 Office for Mac so that they don’t have to use Parallels but since Solver is not working, then that plan is out the window.

  20. Bonnie says:

    The Solver for Mac doen’t work well as the Solver for Windows do. The whole calculation process isn’t smooth, which means every time I do the solve, the spreadsheet always blink one or two times. It took 3-5 seconds to get the result. Very frustrating, because I often worried about my file would unexpectedly close during the Solver working.