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How to get Microsoft Office for free

Here are three ways you can access essential Microsoft Office apps for free, no credit card necessary.
Written by Christina Darby, Associate Editor

The Microsoft 365 Office Suite hosts some of the most widely-used applications for work and education, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and now, Microsoft Teams. However, ranging from $70-$100 a year, the Suite's subscriptions can cost a pretty penny. While Microsoft's release of Office Home and Student 2021 for a one-time flat rate of $150 is a nice deal, many of us still working and learning from home -- or just wanting to save money -- could really use a free option. 

Believe it or not, free options are available. Here are three methods you can use to access the Office suite at no cost.  

What's the catch?

You may be asking yourself, "If I can access all of these apps and programs for free, why should I even pay for Microsoft Office?" While these cloud-based methods on the web and mobile come at no cost, they do require you to be connected to the internet at all times, the amount of storage that Microsoft provides is capped, and there are several software tools and features from the paid versions that are unavailable.

How to get Microsoft Office for free

There are a few different methods on how you can go about this, so read on to see which method makes the most sense for you. 

Method 1. Access through Office.com

The first free option is accessing Microsoft Office via the web. All you need is a stable internet connection to do so. Similar to Google Drive, by logging into your Microsoft account in Office.com, you can use the cloud-based versions of Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and more, instead of installing them. This is the best option if you simply want access to the standard suite of Office apps, the basic editing and formatting capabilities, as well as 5GB of OneDrive cloud storage. 

1. Visit Office.com

Open Office.com on your web browser from your PC or Mac computer.

2. Select "Sign In"

Sign in using your current Microsoft account credentials.

No account? No worries. It is easy (and also free) to create one from scratch! Note that if you have a Skype or Outlook account, either one can be attributed to your Microsoft login.

Note that you will see pop-ups and messages to "Get Office" or "Upgrade your Office plan" throughout the website. Unless the paid version is what you're after, ignore them.

sign in to office.com
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

3. Select "Create"

From here, you are free to start creating with the Microsoft Office suite, including Word and Excel documents, PowerPoints, and more. Simply select the "Create" widget in the left corner (circle with a plus inside) and you'll have the option to start from scratch or access different templates that are included with Office.

 More: Get an entire career's worth of Microsoft training for only $60. 

Method 2. Download the Office app for mobile 

If you're like me and find yourself working from your phone more often than you should, then allow me to introduce you to the Microsoft Office app for mobile. Like the web version, the app allows users (iOS and Android) to dial into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other programs via the OneDrive system. 

With the latest version of the Office app, you can now transfer your phone's photos into Word and Excel documents for quick editing, and create and sign PDFs without needing to switch over to a computer.

Method 3. Microsoft 365 Education for students and teachers

If you're a student or teacher with an active school email address, you may be eligible to get complete Office suite access for free through Office 365 Education

With Office 365 Education, you have access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and even Microsoft Teams. If you're a teacher, you can even take advantage of Microsoft Teams' new classroom tools for enhanced organization and file management. 

More: What's new in Microsoft Teams: Polls updates and more 

Simply visit the Microsoft Education homepage and enter your school email address to see if you qualify. If the registration is denied, you likely need to speak with your institution's IT department to permit access.  

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