Home > Mac administration, Office 2011, Packaging, Scripting > Creating an Office 2011 14.5.0 installer

Creating an Office 2011 14.5.0 installer

One of the issues I worked on this week was building a new Office 2011 installer after Microsoft released the Office 2011 14.5.0 update. I have an existing process to build a combined Office 2011 installer using Packages, which I’ve used successfully for a while.

This time though, I hit a problem. When I installed the combined Office 2011 installer with DeployStudio, then logged in, I was asked to enter a product key. Since my work has a volume license, this isn’t a screen I should ever see.

Screen Shot 2015 05 12 at 3 58 11 PM

This is a problem that I’ve seen before with previous Microsoft Office 2011 installers and usually involves the license file not being applied when it should be. This behavior is seen on Macs in the following cases:

  1. Office 2011 is installed and then updated to 14.5.0 while nobody is logged in
  2. Office 2011 is installed and then updated to 14.5.0 without any Office applications being launched between the initial installation and the update.

These two scenarios will likely apply if you’re building a new machine using an automated deployment tool, but likely will not if you’re a home user.

The easiest fix I’ve found in my testing is to get the necessary volume license file from a machine that has Office 14.4.x installed on it and put it back on an as-needed basis.

The needed file is /Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist. If you have a volume-licensed version of Office 2011 installed on your Mac, you should have this file.

Screen Shot 2015 05 12 at 4 49 54 PM


To address this issue, you can use Packages’ ability to add resources to a Packages-built package. See below the jump for an an example using an Office 2011 SP 4 installer package, the Office 2011 14.5.0 Update, and the com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist license file to build a unified Office 2011 14.5.0 installer package that does not prompt for a product key.

Update – 5-27-2015: The Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 14.5.1 Update has the same license-removing issue as 14.5.0. The solution is the same for both 14.5.0 and 14.5.1: put the volume license back on an as-needed basis.

1. Remove the Office 2011 installers’ application quit function.

2. Set up a new Packages project and select Raw Package.

Screen Shot 2015 05 12 at 4 53 51 PM


3. In this case, I’m naming the project Microsoft Office 2011 14.5.0

Screen Shot 2015 05 12 at 4 54 52 PM

4. Once the Packages project opens, click on the Project tab. You’ll want to make sure that the your information is correctly set here (if you don’t know what to put in, check the Help menu for the Packages User Guide. The information you need is in Chapter 4 – Configuring a project.)

In this example, I’m not changing any of the options from what is set by default.

Screen Shot 2015 05 12 at 4 55 00 PM


5. Next, click on the Settings tab. In the case of my project, I want to install with root privileges and not require a logout, restart or shutdown.

To accomplish this, I’m choosing the following options in the Settings section:

  • In the Post-Installation Behavior section, set On Success: to Do Nothing
  • In the Options section, check the box for Require admin password for installation

Screen Shot 2015 05 12 at 4 55 06 PM


6. Click on the Scripts tab in your Packages project.

Screen Shot 2015 05 12 at 4 55 17 PM


7. Select your installers and drag them into the Additional Resources section of your Packages project.

In the case of my example, I’m selecting the following installers:

  • Office 2011 14.4.2 with Service Pack 4 Installer.pkg
  • Office 2011 14.5.0 Update.pkg

Screen Shot 2015 05 12 at 4 56 30 PM


8. Select the com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist file and drag it into the Additional Resources section of your Packages project.

Screen Shot 2015 05 12 at 4 57 34 PM


9. The last piece is telling the installers to run and for the com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist file to be fixed as needed. For this, you’ll need a postinstall script. Here’s the one I’m using:

# Determine working directory
install_dir=`dirname $0`
# Location of Microsoft Office Volume License file
# Backup location for Microsoft Office 2011 Volume License file
/usr/sbin/installer -dumplog -verbose -pkg "$install_dir/Office 2011 14.4.2 with Service Pack 4 Installer.pkg" -target "$3"
# Copy a backup of the Microsoft Office 2011 Volume License file to /tmp. If the license file is
# not available as /Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist, restore from the
# backup license file included with this installer.
if [[ -f "$office_license" ]]; then
cp "$office_license" "$license_backup"
if [[ ! -f "$office_license" ]]; then
cp "$install_dir/com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist" "$license_backup"
/usr/sbin/installer -dumplog -verbose -pkg "$install_dir/Office 2011 14.5.0 Update.pkg" -target "$3"
# If the Microsoft Office 2011 Volume License file has been removed from its proper
# location, restore it using the backup file stored in /tmp and then set the correct
# permissions on the file. If it is not available in /tmp, restore from the backup included
# with this installer.
if [[ ! -f "$office_license" ]] && [[ -f "$license_backup" ]]; then
cp "$license_backup" "$office_license"
chown root:wheel "$office_license"
# Remove the backup file from /tmp
if [[ -f "$license_backup" ]]; then
rm "$license_backup"
exit 0

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Notice that $install_dir in the postinstall script refers to the path to the package’s working directory. That’s where Packages will be storing the installers along with the com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist file, inside the Package-built installer’s embedded directory where it stores the items defined in the Additional Resources section.

The -target value is defined as “$3″ because some information is passed along by the Packages-built installer to its included scripts when those scripts are run by the installation process. (For more information, see the PackageMaker How-To available here and search on the page for $3)

In this case, -target being defined as “$3″ means that the postinstall script will install the two Office 2011 packages onto the desired drive. The $3 variable will also allow the installer to correctly determine if the com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist license file is in the right place on the target drive and take appropriate action if it isn’t.

The script also governs what order the installers run in, so the main Office 2011 installer runs first and the update runs next after the first job finishes. The -dumplog and -verbose flags are to help you track the progress of installation if you’re looking at the installer log.

10. Once you’ve got the postinstall script built, run the following command to make the script executable:

sudo chmod a+x /path/to/postinstall

11. Once completed, add the postinstall script to your Packages project.

Screen Shot 2015 05 12 at 4 58 15 PM


12. Last step, go ahead and build the package. (If you don’t know to build, check the Help menu for the Packages User Guide. The information you need is in Chapter 3 – Creating a raw package project and Chapter 10 – Building a project.)



Once you have the package built, you should be able to test it by installing it on a machine while the machine is logged out. Once installed, Office 2011 14.5.0 should be properly licensed and not prompt you for a product key.

  1. kiwisteve
    May 13, 2015 at 7:30 am

    Thanks for this. The guide was very easy to follow, and my install package works very well in testing so far. I am, however, having issues when I try to include it in a compiled image made with AutoDMG or Casper Admin. The installer component works OK, but it does not update to 14.5.0.

  2. Jacob Rickards
    May 13, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Have you had any issues with Outlook since upgrading to 14.5.0?
    We have dozens of users with the main window not displaying and are currently trying to manually roll them back (Full re-installs, yay)

    • May 13, 2015 at 2:52 pm


      I had that same issue on my laptop running 10.10.3, and was able to narrow it down to an issue within my account’s home folder. Creating a new Main Identity fixed the issue.

  3. martinsun
    May 13, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Did the 14.5.0 update introduce some error checking? Even after the now classic “no kill” preinstall edit (which I’ve done tens of times now), the standalone update refused to install from Casper with:

    Executing Policy UPDATE Office 2011 [SV]…
    Mounting afp://myserver.se/CasperShare to /Volumes/CasperShare…
    Caching package…
    Installing Office 2011 14.5.0 Update.pkg…
    Installation failed. The installer reported: installer: Package name is Office 2011 14.5.0 Update
    installer: Installing at base path /
    installer: The install failed

  4. kiwisteve
    May 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

    OK so now it looks like the update is fatally flawed. We are seeing the same issues as you, Jacob. The flaw has been admitted by Microsoft. There’s a discussion and suggested fix (which only works temporarily) here: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7040301

  5. May 20, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Hi Rich: Microsoft have released Office2011-14.5.1Update that seems to fix the problem :

  6. Tony
    June 16, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    I tried to expand the office installer .mpkg and it gave me an error “could not open package for expansion” any ideas?

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