7 Office for Mac Activation Issues and How to Quickly Fix them

Office for Mac

Activation issues with Microsoft Office on a Mac can be frustrating but they are often solvable.

You’ll discover troubleshooting procedures for typical installation or activation problems with Microsoft Office on Mac by referring to this resource. If your specific issue isn’t covered within these lists, it’s possible that you’re encountering a newly arising problem. For assistance and the latest updates on such recent matters, navigate to the Mac section within the “Fixes or Workarounds for Recent Office Installation or Activation Issues” for guidance.

Can’t sign in to activate

Installation limit reached

Office keeps asking me to sign in / “Authentication Expired” error

Can’t activate Office after installation

“You need to activate Office for Mac within X days” after activating already

Activated but was still prompted to activate

“No license found” error / Can’t activate Outlook

Fail Solution for Office Activation Issues

1. Can’t sign in to activate Microsoft Office

Is the Microsoft Account (MSA) you’re currently using the right one? If not, please log out and then log back in using the Microsoft Account associated with Office for Home and Business key. You might need to select “Sign in with another account” if necessary.

To verify the presence of a license on your Microsoft Account, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your Microsoft Account by visiting https://account.microsoft.com/services
  2. Keep in mind that all Microsoft Accounts provide free access to Office Online. However, having access to the web apps on this page doesn’t necessarily indicate an active account.
  3. Click on the “Install Office” button displayed on the page.
  4. If you possess an Office license, it will be displayed on the subsequent page. This confirms that you’re using the correct account for signing in.

Pro tip: If you still have the delivery email, you can try and redeem the product key again. Microsoft’s setup site, setup.office.com, will display the MS Account you have used to redeem the product key, seen in the image below:

Sign in with your local user account

If you’ve signed in to your Mac using a Network account such as an Open directory account, this error may occur because Office for Mac can’t write your credentials into the keychain as it is “read-only.”

  1. If you are signed in with a network account, sign out and sign back in with your local user account. Try activation again.
  2. If you don’t have a local user account, you must create one:
    • From the Apple menu, select System Preferences > Users & Groups.
    • Select Click the lock to make changes, and type your password. Select Unlock.
    • Select +, and then fill in the new account information, and then select Create User.
    • Log into your local user account and activate it again.

2. Installation limit reached

The email associated with your account, <email address>, has been utilized to activate Office on the maximum permissible number of devices. Kindly access your account page to oversee your preferences and subsequently revisit this location to make another attempt at activation.

This error occurs when you’ve reached the maximum number of activations that Microsoft Office allows. This error usually happens if you have more than one instance of Office activated using a single MS Account.

This error occurs when you’ve reached the maximum number of activations that Microsoft Office allows. This error usually happens if you have more than one instance of Office activated using a single MS Account.

To solve this type of issue, it is recommended that you check which Mac device has been activated with the MS Account.

With Office for Mac product keys, you can transfer one activation to another Mac. However, you can only redeem Office using the product key once. So you need to sign in to your Microsoft account center and to the Products you’ve purchased. Moreover, you need to use the MS Account associated with your product key.

3. The Office app keeps asking me to sign in / The “Authentication Expired” error

One-time purchase of Office Home and Business for Mac confirmed, but still can’t activate

Have you ensured that you’re using the correct Microsoft Account (MSA)? Please log out and then log in again using the MSA associated with your Microsoft Account associated with your product key. If needed, you might have to select “Sign in with another account” to proceed.

Helpful hint: You can try searching through all of your email accounts to locate a confirmation email from Microsoft. This could assist you in identifying the email address linked to your MSA. So you need to sign in to your Microsoft account center and to the Products you’ve purchased. Moreover, you need to use the MS Account associated with your product key.

4. Can’t activate Office after installation

Verify that your internet connection is operational on the Mac where you intend to perform the installation. Confirm this by launching your internet browser and navigating to Google.com or YouTube. If the website loads successfully, your internet connection is functional. Then continue by following the steps below:

To reset your credentials, follow these steps:

  1. Access Spotlight by clicking on the magnifying glass located at the upper right corner of your desktop.
  2. Search for and launch the Keychain application.
  3. Within Keychain, enter “Office” in the search bar, and subsequently remove the data license file related to it.

Lastly, proceed with these instructions:

  1. Download the ActivationTroubleShooter from GitHub
  2. Execute the downloaded script.

5. “You need to activate Office for Mac within X days” after activating already.

If you have performed the activation process for Office for Mac but continue to encounter a message stating “You need to activate Office for Mac within X days,” kindly attempt the following steps to rectify the situation:

Execute the License Removal Tool.

Utilize Spotlight Search (the magnifying glass icon) on your Mac to locate and launch Keychain Access.

Within Keychain Access, eliminate the subsequent files:

Note: To modify your Keychain Access, you will necessitate local administrative privileges.

  • Microsoft Office Identities Cache 3
  • Microsoft Office Identities Settings 3
  • Microsoft Office Ticket Cache

Subsequently, reboot your Mac system and initiate any Microsoft Office application to proceed with reactivation.

6. Activated but was still prompted to activate

You’ve completed the activation process, but you’re encountering persistent prompts for activation, or you continue to receive “Activate Office to Create and Edit” messages despite already activating:

Office for Mac

To solve this issue, close the application. For instance, if you’re using Word, navigate to the top left corner of your screen, click on Word, and then choose Quit Word.

  1. Restart any Office application, and the recurring message should no longer appear.
  2. If this issue persists consistently, perform the following steps to reset your credentials:
  3. Access Spotlight by selecting the magnifying glass icon at the upper right of your desktop.
  4. Search for and launch Keychain.
  5. Enter “Office” in the search bar within Keychain and proceed to delete the data license file.

Execute the License removal tool.

Activated with the wrong license

If you own multiple licenses and have installed using the incorrect one, or you had a one-time install of Office for Mac, you might need to remove licenses attached to your Microsoft Office suite.

See Remove Office license files on a Mac for directions on how to check which license you’re using and how to reactivate.

7. “No license found” error / Can’t activate Outlook

Are you ensuring that you’re utilizing the correct Microsoft Account (MSA)? It’s recommended to log out, and then log back in using the account associated with your Microsoft Office Home and Business for Mac. You might need to select the option “Sign in with a different account” if required.

Here’s a tip: Consider searching across all your email accounts for a confirmation message sent by Microsoft. This could assist you in identifying the email address linked to your MSA.

Another reason for this issue is that if you are signing in using a different Microsoft account. Please make sure that you are sig

Fail-Safe Solution for Office Activation Issues

If the activation issue persists, uninstalling/reinstalling MS Office for Mac is the best solution.
Uninstalling and reinstalling Microsoft Office for Mac is often considered a viable solution for resolving various issues due to several reasons:

Correcting Installation Issues: Sometimes, problems can arise during the initial installation of Microsoft Office. These issues might result in corrupted or incomplete installations, leading to activation problems or application instability. Uninstalling and then reinstalling the app provides an opportunity for a clean installation, ensuring that all necessary files and settings are properly configured.

Addressing File Corruption: Over time, certain Office files or components may become corrupted, which can lead to activation failures or application crashes. Reinstalling Office replaces these damaged files with fresh copies, helping to eliminate issues caused by corruption.

Updating to the Latest Version: When you reinstall Office, you typically download and install the latest version available. Microsoft regularly releases updates, bug fixes, and security patches for Office applications. By reinstalling, you ensure that you have the most up-to-date and stable version, which may resolve known issues that have been addressed in updates.

Clearing Configuration Problems: Some activation issues can be related to configuration settings within Office applications. Uninstalling and reinstalling Office resets these settings to their default state, eliminating any problematic configurations that may have caused activation failures.

Office for Mac

Eliminating Lingering Dependencies: Office may have dependencies on other system components or libraries. When you uninstall Office, it can remove these dependencies, and reinstalling ensures that all required components are correctly installed and configured.

Streamlining Troubleshooting: Troubleshooting activation issues can sometimes be a complex process, and it may be challenging to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem. Uninstalling and reinstalling Office serves as a comprehensive troubleshooting step that can resolve a wide range of potential issues in one go, making it a convenient option.

However, it’s important to note that while reinstalling Office can be an effective solution for many problems, it should not be the first step you take. Before resorting to a full reinstallation, it’s recommended to try less intrusive troubleshooting steps, such as checking for updates, verifying your product key or subscription status, and addressing network or account-related issues. Reinstalling Office should be considered when other methods have been exhausted or when the issue is severe and affects multiple Office applications.

Additionally, before uninstalling Office, make sure to back up any important documents or settings associated with Office applications, as the uninstallation process may remove these files. After reinstalling, you can restore your files and settings to ensure a smooth transition back to your previous working environment.

Once you have finished preparing, go to this support article on How to Completely Uninstall Office for Mac. Make sure to follow the steps to ensure that all files are removed. After uninstalling, reinstall your copy of Microsoft Office for Mac by following the steps on How to install Office for Mac.

Note:  Keep in mind that you can only redeem Office with the product key once. Since you are reinstalling Office, you need to log in to your Microsoft account, using the same Microsoft Account associated with the product key. Then click the Services & Subscriptions tab, scroll down to the Product you’ve purchased section, look for the product, and click Install.

Microsoft Office

Wrapping it up

Continuing to encounter activation issues with Microsoft Office on your Mac can be a frustrating experience, but there are still avenues of support and assistance available to help resolve these problems. If you’ve diligently attempted the previously mentioned solutions to no avail, it’s highly advisable to consider seeking expert help from Microsoft Support or, in some cases, your organization’s IT department. This is especially critical if you are utilizing Microsoft Office as part of a business or educational subscription, as these scenarios often involve more intricate licensing and configuration issues.

In summary, when dealing with persistent activation problems in Microsoft Office on your Mac, don’t hesitate to seek expert assistance. Microsoft Support and your organization’s IT department are your go-to resources for comprehensive and tailored solutions. By working closely with these support channels and providing thorough information, you increase the chances of swiftly resolving the issue and getting back to productive work with Office applications.

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