Working Mac: Inside the Office 2004 Service Pack

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Just after our December 2004 issue went to press, Microsoft released a service pack for Office 2004 which addresses a number of security- and bug-related issues in Office 2004, including a couple covered in “14 Office Problems Solved” ( Working Mac, December 2004 ) Get a full list of the fixes here. The feedback from most Office users has been positive, with the update addressing a number of glitches. Unfortunately, it also seems to have introduced a few problems of its own, and doesn’t address PowerPoint’s largest one.

Some PowerPoint Problems Persist

This update specifically targeted two of the problems we solved in Working Mac : PowerPoint’s problem with dragging objects on a slide when you’ve enabled rulers and PowerPoint’s performance when playing embedded QuickTime movies. The first issue is fixed. Unfortunately, based on public comments posted since the update was released, movie playback is better, but is still unacceptably poor, leading many to consider using PowerPoint X or jumping to Apple’s Keynote.

New Acrobat Problem Appears

The update also seems to have caused at least two new problems with Office. The first only affects users with Adobe Acrobat Professional. When they quit an office application, they see the message “Compile error in hidden module: AutoExec.” This problem is caused by Adobe’s PDFMaker.xla file, which lets you create PDFs from within Office.

The error isn’t fatal, but if the message bothers you, you’ll have to give up PDFMaker. Quit Office, press Command-F in the Finder and type

in the search field. You should find three files—one each for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Create three new folders, and give each the same name as the items you found. Using the Search Results box, go to each folder containing a found file, and move the file to the trash. Place the folder with the matching name into this folder in its place. Repeat for the other two files, and then empty the trash. On your next launch of Office, the problem should be gone. The reason for all this trickery is that Adobe’s PDFMaker is a self-healing application—if you simply delete the files, Adobe will recreate them on the next launch. But OS X can’t replace a folder with a file, so this trick keeps them from being reinstalled.

A Comment Conundrum

The second glitch that has cropped up seems to occur in Word’s Page View when adding comments to a document with a wide right-hand margin. If you’re viewing the Comments in “balloon mode,” they may appear far, far, far to the right of the text area. There’s no known workaround for this one yet, other than to revert to a pre-service pack release.

Get More Help

For more help, go to Macworld’s Office/Business Software Forum or check out the Microsoft News Server. In Entourage, go to Window: Mail and click on Microsoft News Server in the Folders panel. Here you can subscribe to, or to a more specific list, such as,,, or

For ongoing help with your Office problems, check out Microsoft’s news servers.
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