Home > Office 2016, Packaging, Scripting > Creating an Office 2016 15.18.0 installer

Creating an Office 2016 15.18.0 installer

Microsoft recently released a new software installer to help make the task of deploying updated copies of Office 2016 for Mac admins a lot easier. This new installer is available along with the latest Office 2016 volume license installer and is named Microsoft_Office_2016_VL_Serializer.pkg.

Screen Shot 2016 01 14 at 9 44 13 AM

This installer is designed to do the following:

  • Activate an unlicensed version of Office 2016 and set it to use the volume license.
  • Convert an existing/activated version of Office 2016 for Mac to use the volume license.
  • Fix the volume license on a machine where the volume license isn’t being recognized.

The installer package (which must be downloaded from Microsoft’s volume license site) makes it possible to install an unlicensed copy of the Microsoft Office 2016 full installer and then set up that copy of Office 2016 to use your shop’s volume license for Office 2016. This is advantageous for the following reasons:

  1. Microsoft usually releases unlicensed Office 2016 full installers much sooner than they release the volume licensed Office 2016 full installer via Microsoft’s volume license site.
  2. Unlicensed Office 2016 full installers can be downloaded from the internet without requiring access to Microsoft’s volume licensing site.

For example, as of January 14, 2016, the latest version of Office 2016 is Office 2016 15.18.0. Microsoft has released an unlicensed Office 2016 15.18.0 full installer for use with Office 365. Meanwhile, the Microsoft volume license site site has Office 2016 15.17.0 available for download.

Downloading an unlicensed Office 2016 full installer

  1. Go to http://macadmins.software (this site is run by Microsoft and is safe to download from.)
  2. Locate the O365/Retail download link (highlighted in bright green in the image below.)
  3. Download an unlicensed Office 2016 full installer which is up-to-date with the latest Office 2016 software

 Screen Shot 2016 01 14 at 9 49 42 AM

I have an existing process which can be used to build a combined Office 2016 installer using Packages, so I decided to apply the same process to building an Office 2016 15.8.0 installer. See below the jump for an example of using Packages to build a combined Office 2016 installer which includes both an unlicensed Office 2016 15.18.0 full installer and the Microsoft_Office_2016_VL_Serializer installer package.


  • Packages
  • Microsoft_Office_2016_VL_Serializer installer package
  • Unlicensed Office 2016 full installer package

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

Screen Shot 2016 01 14 at 9 44 39 AM

2. In this case, I’m naming the project Microsoft Office 2016 15.18.0

Screen Shot 2016 01 14 at 9 44 49 AM

3. 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 2016 01 14 at 9 45 03 AM

4. 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 2016 01 14 at 9 45 26 AM

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

Screen Shot 2016 01 14 at 9 45 35 AM

6. 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:

  • Microsoft_Office_2016_Installer.pkg (this is the unlicensed Office 2016 15.18.0 full installer)
  • Microsoft_Office_2016_VL_Serializer.pkg

Screen Shot 2016 01 14 at 9 53 37 AM

Screen Shot 2016 01 14 at 9 54 39 AM

7. The last piece is telling the installers to run. For this, you’ll need a postinstall script. Here’s the one I’m using:

# Determine working directory
install_dir=`dirname $0`
# Install unlicensed Office 2016
/usr/sbin/installer -dumplog -verbose -pkg $install_dir/"Microsoft_Office_2016_Installer.pkg" -target "$3"
# Install Office 2016 Volume License Serializer
/usr/sbin/installer -dumplog -verbose -pkg $install_dir/"Microsoft_Office_2016_VL_Serializer.pkg" -target "$3"
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, 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 2016 packages onto the desired drive.

The script also governs what order the installers run in, so the unlicensed Office 2016 installer runs first and the volume license serializer 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.

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

sudo chmod a+x /path/to/postinstall

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

Screen Shot 2016 01 14 at 9 55 47 AM

11. 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 3Creating a raw package project and Chapter 10Building 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 2016 15.8.0 should be properly licensed and not prompt you for a product key.

  1. pghbsa
    January 15, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Does this have to be ran during post installation? After imaging using casper? By checking the box install on boot drive after imaging? It cannot be installed during the main imaging process?

    • January 17, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      The short answer is yes.

      The unlicensed Office 2016 15.18.0 full installer does not need to be a post-install action, but Microsoft_Office_2016_VL_Serializer.pkg does. Since you are combining the packages together, the serializer package requires that it be done post installation.

  2. Travis
    January 19, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Does this post-install script need to be modified in anyway?

  3. Travis
    January 19, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Does this post-install script need to modified?


  4. bofh
    January 25, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Where did you get the “Microsoft_Office_2016_VL_Serializer.pkg”? I searched in our EDU VL-Portal and didnt find it.

    • Danny Vargas
      January 27, 2016 at 5:00 am

      its included with 15.17 iso

      • bofh
        February 3, 2016 at 12:07 pm

        Thanks 🙂

  5. January 27, 2016 at 2:00 am

    @bofh it is in the VL installer DMG.

  6. blackwire
    January 30, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    trouble building „Office 2016 15.18.0“ installer

    i build the package exactly as written above (the same goes to the postinstall script), the build process runs without any errors.

    the installation runs as expected, but there’s no Office 2016 in my applications folder.

  7. blackwire
    February 4, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    ah, shame on me… there was a space in the name of the Microsoft_Office_2016_Installer file, no it works like a charm. many thanks Rich !!

  8. Q
    February 10, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Installing ‘Microsoft_Office_2016_VL_Serializer.pkg’ does not work in unattended mode. The ‘Microsoft Office Setup Assistant’ involved is an app with a GUI. /Library/Preferences/com.office.microsoft.office.licensingv2.plist doesn’t get generated.
    So what’s the solution?

    • April 20, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      @Q. I’m seeing the same problem as you. The Microsoft_Office_2016_VL_Serializer.pkg only works unattended via Apple Remote Desktop if the user previously had Microsoft Office 2011 or 2016 installed manually. On a completely fresh install with ARD the /Library/Preferences/com.office.microsoft.office.licensingv2.plist file does not get created. Have you discovered any solutions since you posted in Feb?

  9. February 19, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Is the macadmins.software site still available? I’ve been trying to access it for a couple of days but no luck.

  10. Cyrano5
    April 13, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    I apologize if it is in the post, but can someone link the post install script? In Step 7 it says “Here’s the on I’m using” but I am unable to see the script if there is one. Thank you for any assistance.

  11. lsmith
    April 14, 2016 at 2:04 am

    @rtrouton thank you for the article. Great job!

    I am experiencing a similar issue @blackwire is having. I created the package step-by-step, deployed the package and nothing installs.

    What am I missing?

  12. lsmith
    April 14, 2016 at 2:09 am

    Thank you @rtrouton! Great job on the article!

    I am experiencing the same issue @blackwire . I created the package step-by-step as the article described, copied the script and built the package. The package is deployed, installed with no errors but the applications are not installed.

    Something I am missing?

    • October 1, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      Hi there, had the same issue… turns out copy/paste is the mistake… the package names are not the same on my local drive as the ones in the sample script, you have to match the exact name of the install .pkg and serializer .pkg to the ones in your additional resources.

      the /var/log/install.log would point you in the right direction too.

      Hope this helps someone in the future!

  13. Cyrano5
    April 14, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    I was able to get the script, for some reason it is not showing in Safari and Chrome on my iMac, but I was able to see it on Safari on iOS.

    That being said, I followed the steps in this article, but I am running into the same issue where it does not appear to be installing Office. There is nothing in my Applications folder.

  14. dsmccrac
    November 30, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Thank you Derflounder for your always useful posts. Out of curiosity, when you created this in Packages, is there any reason why you did not use the “Distribution” option versus “Raw Package”? I used to think of the distribution option as suited for multipackage installs, but I see that your use of the Raw Package option does seem to make things cleaner and more streamlined (eg only one postinstall script). Is there any other reasons for the Raw Package route? Thanks again.

  15. hanif rifa'i
    August 12, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    Work with latest Office 15.36.0 [170702]

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