Microsoft Office remains the gold standard of office applications, but a Microsoft Office license can cost a fortune. One year after its release, Microsoft Office 2021 Home & Business still retails for just under $250 for a single PC license.
If that makes your wallet weep, check out these methods to use Microsoft Office for free.
1. Use Microsoft Office Online
Microsoft itself offers a substantial collection of free Microsoft Office utilities. Office on the web (this is its official name, but many still refer to it as Office Online) is essentially a browser-based version of the latest Microsoft Office suite.
It currently includes:
There is a catch, however. The online versions of Microsoft Office apps only provide a limited Microsoft Office experience.
Word Online, for example, does not include text boxes, WordArt, equations, charts, and more. You can still write a term paper, but you won’t be able to compile a company report. Similarly, you’ll be able to open and view your Excel spreadsheet, but your custom macros won’t load.
While Office Online lacks some functionality, it is a versatile free alternative to a fully paid Microsoft Office license. The free Office versions will happily open your files, allow editing, and importantly, keep your document formatting in place at all times.
If you only need a full-fledged text editor, here’s how to get Microsoft Word for free. But don’t miss out on the other ways to get Microsoft Office for free!
2. Microsoft Office Mobile Apps
Microsoft Office is available for free on Android and iOS. The Office mobile app includes reduced but functional versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. How functional you find the Office mobile app comes down to the size of the screen you’re using.
For instance, editing a Word document on my OnePlus Nord is reasonable, but attempting to navigate an Excel spreadsheet is fiddly and frustrating. Conversely, editing a Word or Excel document on a larger, tablet-sized screen is actually quite enjoyable.
I’m still not convinced you’ll be running your company accounts from the Office mobile app, but it’ll certainly do in a pinch. Plus, it is another way you can use Microsoft Office for free. At least, a part of Microsoft Office.
Microsoft has changed its Office mobile app strategy a few times, switching between standalone and unified Office apps.
Android and iOS users can currently use a unified Office app that includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The Office app also includes Office Lens (the document scanning tool), a PDF conversion tool, instant file sharing between nearby devices, and image and data extraction from files and spreadsheets.
That said, the standalone versions of the apps are still available on Google Play and the App Store, meaning you can pick and choose the apps you want. The standalone Office apps also include OneDrive, Outlook, OneNote, and SharePoint, among others.
However, if you do want the standalone Microsoft Office apps to keep using Office for free that way, here are the links for Android devices:
Furthermore, you can find the Microsoft Corporation App Store page here, including links to the various free Microsoft Office apps for iPhone and iPad.
3. Sign Up for the Microsoft 365 Trial
Office 2019 introduced numerous changes across the suite. There was seemingly less to shout about when Microsoft Office 2021 came around. Still, if you haven’t already signed up to Office 2019 or Office 2021 elsewhere, you can give it a try before emptying your pockets. As such, you can take a free one-month Microsoft 365 trial.
The trial will grant you access to the full Microsoft Office 2021 suite. Also, you get 1TB OneDrive cloud storage and 60 minutes of Skype credits per month. Of course, there is a “catch.” You must provide a valid credit, debit, or PayPal account during the sign-up process. Microsoft will automatically charge your account once your trial expires.
Previously, there was a second free trial you could pick up for Office 365 ProPlus. However, since that service changed its name to Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise, the free trial is unfortunately no longer available.
4. Buy Hardware With Microsoft Office Bundled
Microsoft Office rarely comes bundled with a new desktop or laptop. Unless it is a specific introductory deal, you’ll be purchasing Microsoft Office as an add-on. And if you’re building your own PC, well, you’re straight out of luck.
That said, these types of deals aren’t impossible—you just have to strike while the iron is hot. Unfortunately, that means you need a circumstantial trifecta: new hardware with a bundle deal, the money to take advantage of said deal, and the need to actually upgrade your hardware.
Here are three examples of laptops that include a free Microsoft Office license:
The Acer Aspire One 14″ comes from Acer’s Cloudbook series, most of which feature a free one-year subscription to Microsoft 365. The Aspire One 14″ includes an Intel Celeron N3050 processor, 2GB RAM, and 32GB storage.
The HP Stream 14 is a smart, slimline laptop that features an Intel Celeron N4000 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, and includes a one-year Microsoft 365 subscription.
The Asus L210 is an ultra-thin 11.6″ laptop. It comes equipped with an Intel Celeron N4020 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, and a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365.
5. Ask Your Employer or School
Everything we’ve covered so far allows you to grab Microsoft Office for free but also comes with limitations: availability, functionality, and hardware. However, this penultimate option offers some of you a very good chance of acquiring a full version of Microsoft Office 2021 or Microsoft Office 365 completely free.
First, you’ll have to check in with your employer, or if you’re a student, your school. Many companies and schools can offer either a free or extremely low-cost Microsoft Office license for one reason: the people working or studying there need it. Businesses will have to pay, but bulk licenses may mean your employer can provide a free or cheap option.
Furthermore, Microsoft has long supported schools with free Office 365 Education packages. It might be that you have to ask directly.
6. Pester a Friend to Join Their Microsoft Family Account
Okay, so this option is perhaps the least feasible of all methods to grab a free Microsoft Office license. But, hear me out. Heaps of people share Netflix passwords, Amazon Prime passwords, Grammarly passwords, and so on. If your friend or family member has a free spot on their Microsoft Office Family account, maybe they’d let you slot your name in. Just make sure to ask nicely.
What About a Microsoft Office Lifetime License?
If a free Microsoft Office license doesn’t grab you, why not consider a Microsoft Office Lifetime License? Well, for one good reason: they don’t exist.
You might see websites advertising a Microsoft Office Lifetime License (you’ll even find this deal on some reputable tech sites!), but the reality is, once you click through the first page, you’ll end up on a product key site where you’ll likely purchase a Microsoft Office Volume key. Now, we haven’t gone out and done this ourselves, so cannot verify the claims, and furthermore, Office 2021 was only launched a year previous at the time of writing.
But one thing we do know is that product key sites are never clear where their miraculously cheap and incredible “Lifetime License” comes from, and we’ve seen more than a few volume keys revoked before. Buyers, be warned.
You Have Many Ways to Grab Microsoft Office for Free
Grabbing a full version of Microsoft Office for free isn’t possible for everyone. But you’ve got some excellent options, nonetheless. The free Office 365 trials grants you 30 days of Microsoft Office, and the mobile versions of Office allow you free use for as long as you want.
While the Office mobile apps are limited, they’re very functional, especially on larger screens.
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