Volume License Serializer for Office 2016 for Mac

With the release of Office 2016 for Mac update 15.17, a new tool was made available to Volume License customers that allows for greater flexibility when Office 2016 for Mac is deployed. The tool is commonly known as the VL Serializer, and it comes in the form of a supplemental .pkg file that's included in the ISO download of the Office 2016 for Mac Standard package in the Volume License Service Center (VLSC). The VL Serializer is a small command-line tool that activates the currently installed version of Office 2016 for Mac on the local computer.


Customers who download the latest suite installation of the Volume License edition of Office 2016 for Mac from the VLSC will notice that there are two packages included with the ISO image:
  • Microsoft_Office_2016_Volume_Installer.pkg
  • Microsoft_Office_2016_VL_Serializer_2.0.pkg

The first package, which is approximately 1.5 GB, is a full suite installation of the Volume License edition of the software. By installing this single package, you deploy Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote on a computer and activate the Volume License.

The second package, which is approximately 5 MB, is designed to run on a computer that alreadyhas Office 2016 for Mac deployed. Even if the current version that's deployed is unlicensed, not activated, or designed for Office 365, the VL Serializer will forcibly activate a Volume License.

More Information

The Volume License edition of Office 2016 for Mac allows eligible customers to deploy pre-activated copies of Office applications on a particular user's computer. Before update 15.17, the only supportable method of deploying a Volume License was to run the full application installer from the VLSC. 
Because of this behavior, IT departments resorted to unsupported workarounds, such as copying the licensing plist between computers.

Q & A

  1. Q: Can the VL Serializer be run against a computer that does not have Office 2016 deployed?

    A: Yes. As the initial release of the VL Serializer did not support this configuration, version 2.0 of the tool allows the license to be created before Office 2016 is installed.
  2. Q: What does the VL Serializer package actually contain?

    A: A binary executable that's named "Microsoft Office Setup Assistant." It's this executable that actually activates the Volume License.
  3. Q: Is the VL Serializer package compatible only with update 15.17?

    A: No. Although the VL Serializer is included in the 15.17 package, it can be used to activate past, present, and future builds of Office 2016 for Mac.
  4. Q: Does each customer or organization need their own copy of the VL Serializer?

    A: No. There's a single VL Serializer package that contains a single key that's shared between all VL customer installations.
  5. Q: Where does the Volume License actually reside on disk after activation?

    A: In the /Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.office.licensingV2.plist directory.
  6. Q: Why isn’t it supported to copy the licensing plist between computers?

    A: The licensing plist generated by the VL Serializer contains data that's encrypted by using the serial number of the boot drive on the computer where it was generated. Upon each Office application launch, the plist is decrypted by using the current boot drive serial number as the decryption key. If the data cannot be decrypted (for example, boot drive serial number is different), Office will go into an unlicensed state without warning.
  7. Q: Does the VL Serializer work for Office 2011 for Mac?

    A: No, the VL Serializer is specific to Office 2016 for Mac.
  8. Q: If I install the Volume License edition of Office 2016 for Mac from the ISO that was downloaded from the VLSC, do I still need to run the VL Serializer?

    A: No. The Volume License installer already has the VL Serializer functionality built-in.

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