Do you want to use Microsoft Office but don’t want to pay for it? Try the free Office for the web apps.
Formerly known as Office Online and now known simply as Office, the web-based apps reside online, accessible through your browser. Instead of installing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on your computer, you tap into cloud-based varieties of the different programs—similar to Google Docs—and all you need is a web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer, or a similar program.
Instead of storing your files and documents on your computer, you save them to Microsoft OneDrive, the company’s cloud-based storage service. The only catch is that the Office for the web apps aren’t as feature-packed as their desktop counterparts. You’ll find basic editing and formatting commands but not much more. However, if all you need are the basics, this is an option worth trying.
Office for the web offers the four core programs: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. But you can also tap into other apps, including Outlook, Calendar, People, Skype, and OneDrive. Another app called Sway allows you to create interactive reports and presentations.
Let’s go through the steps for accessing and using the Office for the web apps to create, edit, and save your documents.
First, you’ll need a Microsoft Account. If you don’t already have one, set it up at Microsoft’s Account website. A Microsoft Account comes with 5GB of free OneDrive storage; if you need more, you can snag 100GB for $1.99 a month.
Navigate to the Office website and click Use free at Office.com.
Sign in with your Microsoft Account and you will be taken to the Office website.
Up top, you’ll see apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Once you start creating and saving Office files, those will appear at the bottom of the page as recent documents so you can more easily and quickly access them.
We’ll use Word as the test subject here. Click it and a page launches where you can select a template to create your document or file. For example, Word offers templates for resumes, cover letters, flyers, and calendars. If you don’t need a special template, just click the one for New blank document.
Word opens for you to start creating your document; you’ll find all the basic editing options via the toolbar. For example, you can: set the font, point size, and other attributes of your text as well as apply certain styles; insert tables, pictures, page numbers, and headers and footers; adjust the page size, margins, and orientation; zoom in and out of your document; and run a spell check.
Your document takes on a default name of Document 1, Document 2, etc. To change the name, click in the Name file at the top of the document and type a new one. Your document automatically saves periodically, but you may want to manually save it in a specific location in OneDrive.
Click the File menu, select the Save As command, then select Save As, and choose the location to which you want the file saved. You can also download the file to your PC, either as a Word document or PDF. The File menu also gives you the opportunity to print the document, or share it with others by emailing them a link.
To open a file you already created, click the Open command and choose from recent documents.
The online versions of Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote work similarly to Word in that they offer all the basic commands and features. You can access another Office app without closing your current one.
To do this, click the “List of Microsoft Services” button in the upper-left corner (it’s the one that contains nine small squares) and then select the application you wish to open. Since the programs and your files are all online, you can access them from any connected computer or device.