In this modern era of always being online and needing access to all your documents on any device, across any platform, the free version of Microsoft Office ticks all of the boxes, and this is how to get it.
Browse to Office.com and sign in with a free Microsoft account. You will then have access to all the Microsoft applications and you can save your documents to OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage.
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There are, however, a few limitations to be aware of. The free version of office is only available online, and not installed on your computer. If you prefer having the actual application installed, rather than working through a browser, you’ll need to pay the annual subscription fee for Microsoft 365. Also, if you use Macros or other powerful features built into Office, again you’ll need more than just the free, slimmed-down online version of Office. However, for the rest of us who only use Word to type letters and Excel to create basic tables, the free version is excellent and you get to access your documents across Mac, Windows, and IOS.
In this article, I’ll demonstrate how to create a Word document on my Mac, then edit the same document on my iPad, before completing the trifecta by doing the same on Windows. In the process, I hopefully prove just how versatile and useful the free version of Office is.
To begin, open up your browser and navigate to office.com.
You’ll need a Microsoft account. If you’ve ever had a Hotmail, Live, or Outlook account any of these should still work. If not, click on Create account.
Once logged in skip the prompt to go premium, and you’ll land on your office online home page. On the left of the screen are links to all the common office applications with and in the center is displayed any recent documents you’ve been working on. Ignore the options to Install office and buy office as these both refer to the paid subscription
I’ll create a document by clicking on the Word icon and selecting New Document, which will launch the application. If you’re familiar with using Word you’ll be familiar with this browser interface.
To give your document a filename, simply click, ‘Saved to OneDrive’.
Documents are automatically saved to One Drive, Microsoft’s cloud storage solution, similar to Google’s Drive and Apple’s iCloud. Microsoft provides 5GBs of personal storage space with a free account, which is absolutely ample for storing your document, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations. You can view your OneDrive account by clicking on the Application icon in the top left corner.
Under My Files are all the documents you have created.
To access your documents on an iPhone or iPad, open up the app store and install Microsoft office which is free for iOS. Sign in with your Microsoft account, allow notifications if you wish, and skip the prompt to subscribe.
Once logged in, in the center of the screen are your recent documents. If you wanted to create a new document you would click on the plus icon in the bottom right corner, or you can open an existing document by simply selecting it.
To access the free version of Office on Windows PC is a similar process.
Like iOS, Windows has a dedicated app for all the online Office applications. In the search box type Office and open the application. Again you’ll need to sign in or create an account. Once signed in you’ll see the interface is almost identical to what we’ve seen before.
Once signed in you’ll see the interface is almost identical to what we’ve seen before.
Clicking on the document will open it in my default browser.
As OneDrive comes preinstalled in Windows, we can also access the document through Windows Explorer. Go to your One Drive folder and right-click on the document to view it online. As before, this will launch the document in a browser window.
So there we have it, proof you can use Microsoft Office across all your devices for completely free.
To secure your Microsoft Account I recommend using Microsoft’s two-factor authentication app called Microsoft Authenticator.