If you don’t require the full power of the desktop version of Microsoft Office, try the free Office online version instead. Here’s how to access and use Office on the web.
If you don’t want to pay for Microsoft Office but still want to use it, why not try the free Office for the web? Formerly known as Office Online and now simply as Office, the web-based apps are hosted online and can be accessed via your browser.
Instead of installing Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on your computer, you use free cloud-based versions of these apps, similar to Google Docs. You also save your files and documents to Microsoft OneDrive, the company’s cloud-based storage service, rather than your computer.
The web apps for Office aren’t as feature-rich as their desktop counterparts. You’ll find all the standard editing and formatting commands and a few extra features, but not much else. But, if you only need the basic functionality, Office for the web is a great option.
Office for the web free offers Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, OneDrive, Skype, Calendar, and People. You can also work with more specialized applications. Microsoft Sway is an app that allows you to create interactive reports and presentations. And Microsoft Forms is an app that enables you to create online surveys and quizzes.
Here’s how to access and use free Office web apps to create, edit, and save your documents.
RELATED: Get Microsoft Office with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Free
Get Started with Office Online
To begin, you must have a Microsoft Account. If you don’t already have an account, set one up on the Microsoft Account website. A Microsoft Account includes 5GB of free OneDrive storage; if you want to add more, you can upgrade to 100GB for $1.99 per month.
Go to the Office Online website and click the red Sign-in button. Sign in with your Microsoft Account to access and use Office on the web.
You can find icons for apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook on the left. When you begin creating and saving Office files, they will appear at the bottom of the page as recent documents, making them easier to access.
Create New Files and Documents
You have several options for creating a new file or document from this point. On the left, click the Create button, and in the middle, click the blue New button. Then, from the pop-up window, choose the icon for the type of File you want to create: document (Word), spreadsheet (Excel), presentation (PowerPoint), survey (Forms), quiz (Forms), or page (Sway).
To see more apps, click the All Apps icon. Alternatively, select the app you want to use by clicking its icon. We’ll use Word as an example, but you can use any Office app. The online versions of Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote function similarly. They also offer all the basic commands and features.
Click the Word icon to open the new document page, where you can choose a template or start from scratch. Templates for resumes, cover letters, flyers, and calendars are available in Word online. If you don’t need a template, click New blank document to open a blank Word document.
The Word toolbar contains all of the basic editing options. Set the font, text size, and other styles, insert tables and pictures and add page numbers, page breaks, headers, and footers. Change the page size, add spacing before and after, margins, and orientation, and run a spell-check.
Tip: Word online for the web also allows you to check the number of Words and get a character count of your document by clicking the Review tab and selecting the Word Count option.
Save and Download Documents
Your document gets a default name, such as Document 1, Document 2, etc. At the top of the document screen, click the File Name field, and type a new one to change the name.
Your document is saved in the root location of your OneDrive storage space by default. If you intend to work with various Word documents, you may want to create separate folders in OneDrive to store these files. If you’re going to save a copy of your document in a specific folder, click File > Save As > to save a copy in OneDrive.
Navigate to your OneDrive account, choose the folder where you want to save your document, then click Save. Following that, your Word document will save automatically regularly, eliminating the need to manually keep saving it as you would with the desktop version of Word.
From the Save As menu in Office online, you can download or save the file to your computer as a PDF or a Word document.
Other actions from the File menu include printing your document, converting it to a web page, and sharing it with others. You can find a previous version of the Word document, create a new document, and open an existing document from the same menu.
To switch from one Office app to another, click the square App launcher button at the top-left corner. If the app you want to use isn’t listed, click the All Apps option. You can then choose your preferred application.
Launch an Existing File
Instead of creating a new document, you can open an existing one in various ways. If you’ve already opened the app for that file, click the File tab and select Open from the left pane menu to see a list of recent documents. Then choose the one you want to open by clicking on it.
Recent documents appear under the “Recent” tab at the bottom of the screen if you are on the Office web home page. Click on the one you want to open. You can even pin a document to make it easier to find. You can then access that file from the “Pinned” tab.
If you don’t see the document you’re looking for as a recent file, you’ll have to go into OneDrive to find it. Click the OneDrive icon from the bottom right and select the folder where you’ve stored the file.
To find the file easier, go to the Sort menu and select Modified and Descending. You can also use the Search tool at the top to look for a file by name.
Yes, Office online on the web is free, can be accessed from any device, and is more suitable for real-time collaboration.
The quickest and most convenient way to use Microsoft Word for free is directly from your computer browser. You may access a free version of Microsoft Word, whether you’re running Windows 10/11, macOS, ChromeOS, or Linux and using any secure browser.