Office web apps are a great way to access Microsoft 365 apps for free, like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Use the free Office app on your PC, it’s quick and easy to find and open documents.
Some people need Microsoft Office software running on their computer and that is fine if you need advanced features and all the extras that a subscription provides, like the 1 TB of online storage and extra apps.
If you have only an occasional need for the core Office apps, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and so on, and you don’t need power features, the web apps are a sort of ‘Lite’ version of Office that are good enough for many common tasks. The apps run in a web browser at office.com and onedrive.com and they can be accessed on any computer, PC, Mac or Linux, that has an internet connection.
Install the Office app
There is no software to install to access Office web apps because they are browser-based, but one app you might want to consider putting on your Windows PC is the Office app itself. In fact, you may already have it.
Look on the Start menu and see if you have an Office icon. If you don’t have Office, open the Store app and search for it. Be careful because there are many apps with Office in the name, so don’t be confused by them. The Office you want is the official Microsoft app, which is free.
If you already have the Office app on your computer, run the Store app and check for updates (click the updates icon in the sidebar), because you need the latest version installed.
Faster, easier Office documents
Run the Office app and then right click the icon the in the taskbar and pin it. This makes it easier to find and also adds some useful features. For example, left click the taskbar icon to open the app or right click it for a quick-access menu.
You can create new Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations with one click on this taskbar menu. It is a fast way to get to the Office web apps. There is also a Recent files section at the top and this makes it easy to continue working on a document you previously created or edited
Where are new documents created? On OneDrive of course. Files are created online in OneDrive, but they are automatically synced with the OneDrive folder on the PC’s disk, so you will see them there too. Create a document or open an existing document and a new web browser window opens with the Word, Excel or PowerPoint web app.
Your work is continuously saved, so edit your document and just quit the browser when you have finished. The file is both online and on your PC in the OneDrive folder.
Mouse over a document in the Office app and three dots appear at the right. Click them to open a menu. Open in Browser opens the document for editing in a web browser and this is the free Word, Excel or PowerPoint app. Open in Desktop App will open the document in Office 365 installed on the computer.
Use Office templates
Click an Office app, like Word, Excel or PowerPoint and templates are displayed across the top. The first one is a blank document, then there is a Welcome to… and Premium Templates. To see more free templates, click the More templates link on the right.
There are some useful ones to get you started if you are new to Office apps. Scroll through them and click one to open it in the free Office web app in a browser.
They obviously need editing, but you can overwrite the text and placeholders with your own text and images.
Click the plus button at the top of the sidebar in the Office app and there are more templates to get you started.
Click the More button to see calendars, surveys, flyers, budgets, education and business templates. All of them open in the appropriate Office web apps – Word, Excel or PowerPoint – in a browser when clicked.
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The Office app on the PC is really just a mirror of the office.com website, but it is quick and convenient to access when you put the icon in the taskbar. You don’t need to open a web browser and enter a URL, just one or two clicks takes you to a new or existing document.