Use Office Online in a Browser; It’s FreeWhether you’re using a Windows 10 PC, Mac, or Chromebook, you can use Microsoft Office for free in a web browser. The web-based versions of Office are simplified and won’t work offline, but they still offer a powerful editing experience. You can open and create Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents right in your browser.
To access these free web apps, just head to Office.com and sign in with a free Microsoft account. Click an application icon—like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint—to open the web version of that application.
You can also drag and drop a file from your computer onto the Office.com page. It will be uploaded to your Microsoft account’s free OneDrive storage, and you can open it in the associated application.
Office’s web applications have some limitations. These applications aren’t quite as full featured as the classic Office desktop applications for Windows and Mac, and you can’t access them offline. But they do offer surprisingly powerful Office applications, and they’re completely free.
Sign Up for a Free One-Month TrialIf you just need Microsoft Office for a short period of time, you can sign up for a one-month free trial. To find this offer, head to Microsoft’s Try Office for free website, and sign up for the trial.
You will have to provide a credit card to sign up for the trial, and it will automatically renew after the month. However, you can cancel your subscription at any time—even right after signing up—to ensure you won’t get billed. You can continue using Office for the rest of your free month after canceling.
After joining the trial, you can download full versions of these Microsoft Office applications for Windows PCs and Macs. You’ll also get access to the full versions of the apps on other platforms, including larger iPads.
This trial will give you full access to a Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) Home plan. You’ll get Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and 1TB of storage in OneDrive. You can share it with up to five other people. They’ll each get access to the apps via their Microsoft account, and will have their own 1TB of storage for a combined 6TB of storage.
Microsoft also offers free 30-day evaluations of Office 365 ProPlus, which is intended for businesses. You might be able to take advantage of both offers for two months of free Microsoft Office access.
Get Office Free as a Student or TeacherMany educational institutions pay for Office 365 plans, allowing students and teachers to download the software for free.
To find out if your school participates, head to the Office 365 Education website, and enter your school email address. You’ll be offered a free download if it’s available to you through your school’s plan.
Even if a university or college doesn’t participate, it may offer Microsoft Office at a reduced cost to students and teachers through its bookstore. Check with your educational institution—or at least look on its website—for more details.
Try the Mobile Apps on Phones and Small iPadsMicrosoft’s Office apps are free on smartphones, too. On an iPhone or Android phone, you can download the Office mobile apps to open, create, and edit documents for free.
On an iPad or Android tablet, these apps will only let you create and edit documents if you have a “device with a screen size smaller than 10.1 inches.” On a larger tablet, you can install these apps to view documents, but you’ll need a paid subscription to create and edit them.
In practice, this means Word, Excel, and PowerPoint offer a full experience for free on the iPad Mini and older 9.7-inch iPads. You’ll need a paid subscription to get document-editing capabilities an iPad Pro or newer 10.2-inch iPads.
Join Someone’s Microsoft 365 Home PlanMicrosoft 365 Home subscriptions are meant to be shared among multiple people. The $70 per year version offers Office for a single person, while the $100 per year subscription offers Office for up to six people. You’ll get the full experience, with Office for Windows PCs, Macs, iPads, and other devices.
Anyone who pays for Microsoft 365 Home (formerly known as Office 365 Home) can share it with up to five other Microsoft accounts. It’s very convenient: Sharing is managed through an Office “Sharing” page on Microsoft’s account website. The main owner of the account can add five other Microsoft accounts, and each of those accounts will receive an invitation link.
After joining the group, each person can sign in with their own Microsoft account to download the Office apps—just as if they were paying for their own subscriptions. Each account will have a separate 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Microsoft says the subscription is meant for sharing among your “household.” So, if you have a family member or even a roommate with this service, that person can add you to their subscription for free.
The Home plan is definitely the best deal if you’re going to pay for Microsoft Office. If you can split a $100 per year subscription among six people, that’s under $17 every year per person.
By the way, Microsoft partners with some employers to offer a discount on Office subscriptions for their employees. Check Microsoft’s Home Use Program website to see if you qualify for a discount.
Free Microsoft Office AlternativesIf you’re looking for something else, consider choosing a different office application. There are completely free office suites that sport good compatibility with Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets, and presentation files. Here are some of the best:
LibreOffice is a free and open-source office application for Windows, Mac, Linux, and other operating systems. It’s similar to the desktop versions of Microsoft Office, and it can even work with and create Office documents in common file types like DOCX documents, XLSX spreadsheets, and PPTX presentations. LibreOffice was based on OpenOffice. While OpenOffice is still around, LibreOffice has more developers and is now the more popular project.
Apple iWork is a free collection of office applications for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users. This is Apple’s competitor to Microsoft Office, and it used to be paid software before Apple made it free. Windows PC users can access a web-based version of iWork through the iCloud website, too.
Google Docs is a capable collection of web-based office software. It stores your files in Google Drive, Google’s online file storage service. Unlike Microsoft’s Office web apps, you can even access Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides offline in Google Chrome.
There are many other alternatives, but these are some of the best.
If you just don’t want to pay a monthly fee, you can still purchase a boxed copy of Microsoft Office. However, Office Home & Student 2019 costs $150, and you can only install it on one device. You won’t get a free upgrade to the next major version of Office, either. If you’re going to pay for Office, the subscription is probably the best deal—especially if you can split a paid plan with other people.