Chromebooks are inexpensive, fast, and easy to use, yet they lack some desktop-level applications many of you require.
Google Drive allows Office users to do almost everything. As wonderful as that is, most of us are accustomed to Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Fortunately, it is still possible to install and run Chromebook Microsoft Office.
Although you cannot install desktop versions of Microsoft Office on a Chromebook, you have other options. You may be able to use Office in a limited capacity depending on the software you run on your Chromebook. Here’s how to do it.
How to get Microsoft 365 Apps on a Chromebook
Follow these easy steps:
- Open the Google Play Store.
- Search for and select the Office program you want to download.
- Click the Install button.
- When the app has finished installing, open it using the Chrome launcher.
- Sign in to your Microsoft Account or Microsoft 365 subscription account.
Note: Not every Microsoft Office app is available in a browser.
How to Access Office Apps Online
Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) subscribers can access Microsoft Office apps on a Chromebook, even though the hardware on those computers is typically insufficient to run the programs independently.
The workaround involves using Office Online apps in the ChromeOS browser to create and edit Office files.
First, go to the Chrome Web Store and install Office Online. This extension allows you to open existing Office files stored locally or on OneDrive. It also allows you to create new Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents directly from the Chrome browser.
Alternatively, go to www.office.com and sign in using your Microsoft 365 account credentials. You can access Office Online apps from the browser. Except for Microsoft Sway, Microsoft also has these apps available in the Chrome Web Store:
- On a Chromebook, you cannot install the Windows or Mac desktop versions of Microsoft 365, Office 2019, or Office 2021.
- Office, Outlook, OneNote, and OneDrive for Android are not currently supported on a Chromebook.
Caution: App/Browser Only
Not every app is available in the Office Online app list. Skype, for example, requires a full install and does not work in the Chromebook browser. On the other hand, Sway is only an Office Online app in the Chromebook browser.
Furthermore, not every Office app is available online. Microsoft Access, a database system, and Microsoft Publisher, a desktop publishing app, are available with a Microsoft 365 subscription, but you can only install them on Windows computers. Microsoft Project, a team project management tool, and Visio, a diagramming app, have online and installable versions. Each of these apps necessitates a separate subscription.
Edit Office Files in Google Docs
Even if you do not have a Microsoft 365 account, you may still be able to open and edit Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations on a Chromebook using the Google editing apps, Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
A Word file can be opened and converted into a Google Doc, an Excel file into a Google Sheet, and a PowerPoint presentation into a Google Slides presentation. Once converted, you can edit and collaborate on Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides with others. When you’ve finished working on a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide, go to File > Download to save it as a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file.
You can also use the Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides Chrome extension and make basic edits to Office files while keeping the file format. A .doc or .docx file remains in its original format while being edited rather than converted to a Google Doc. The same holds for Excel (.xls and .xlsx) and PowerPoint (.ppt and .pptx) files. The extension should be installed by default on your Chromebook, so you shouldn’t need to install it.
Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides now support opening, editing, commenting on, and collaborating on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, as of May 2019. You may need to uninstall the Office compatibility app in Chrome for this to work. To remove this extension,
Click Chrome’s vertical three-dot menu, and select More Tools > Extensions.
Search and locate the Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides.
Many people may find that opening and editing an Office file on a Chromebook using one of the core Google apps is the simplest way to work with it.
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The Microsoft Office 365 web app suite is the better option for running Microsoft Office on a Chromebook. You can use Office for the Web in your browser on your Chromebook to create, edit, and collaborate on files.
To gain access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and OneDrive, perform the following steps:
1. Open any browser on your Chromebook and visit www.office.com.
2. Make a shortcut or bookmark the URL in your browser for easy access.
3. Sign in using your personal Microsoft Account or any other account linked to your Microsoft 365 subscription. For more information on signing in and using the Office web apps, go to the Office Online page and click “Get started.”