How do you get Microsoft Office for free?
By Jim Gordon
Co-author of Office 2011 for Mac All-in-One For Dummies

Strategy #1: Use the free, on-line version of Microsoft Office.
The basic Microsoft Office suite is now completely free. This includes light versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

The free on-line version works right in your web browser. You can make new files, do light editing of existing files, store, share and collaborate on line. Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox are supported so you can use Mac, PC and LINUX computers. There's nothing to download or install. There are places to use the free version: (Use Windows Live, Hotmail or Outlook authentication) (Use your Facebook account to log in)

Strategy #2: Get a free trial of Office 365.

The free trial of Office 365 lets you use the same web applications as the free version discussed in Strategy #1. The free trial of Office 365 comes with a free trial of SharePoint and Outlook features not included with the free version of Microsoft Office. Office 365 works on Mac and PC.

Office 365 free trial

Strategy #3:
Get Microsoft Office from your employer, school, college, or university

Many organizations expect their members to be able to collaborate and work in a smooth, compatible environment with Microsoft Office. To accomplish this, many organizations provide Microsoft Office to employees or students for free or a nominal fee to cover distribution costs. Be sure to check with your IT department or school to find out whether your organization offers this program.

Strategy #4:
Use free office software from competing companies

Be realistic. These are free alternatives to Microsoft Office. None of them have the complete feature set of Microsoft Office. All of them have compatibility problems with Microsoft products to varying degrees. If the ability to share files with users of Microsoft Office is of any importance to you, then you should be aware of these file and feature compatibility issues:

None of the free alternatives are "just as good" if that means having every feature of Microsoft Office. Free software doesn't have all of the major features of Microsoft Office. If it did, people and organizations wouldn't shell out money to Microsoft to get these features. Are any of the free alternatives bad? No. But none of these alternative products is identical to Microsoft Office. Here are some popular alternatives to Microsoft Office:

Google Drive
One of several on-line web browser based Office alternatives is Google Drive, which replaced Google Docs. It's Google's direct competitor to Microsoft SkyDrive.

Another Microsoft Office alternative is ThinkFree.

Yet another Microsoft Office alternative is ZoHo.

Bean is a free, light-weight word processor for Mac OS X.

....Available in many "forks" including:

    Lotus Symphony
    Lotus Symphony version 3.4 and later is an Apache "fork" of OpenOffice supported by IBM. Symphony is available for Mac OSX and Windows.

    Supported by the original OpenOffice team from the now defunct Sun Microsystems, and abandoned by Oracle Corporation.
    LibreOffice can be made to save files in the open standard (OOXML) file format instead of the old open ODT format.

    NeoOffice is an "aquified" fork of OpenOffice that makes OpenOffice, which is made for Windows, look more Mac-like for Mac users.
    Requires Java, which is a potential vector for malware on your Mac.

Strategy #5
Ask for Microsoft Office for your birthday or a holiday, such as Christmas.

Don't be bashful!


Jim Gordon
February 24, 2013

This page is now available in Serbo-Croatian language (translated by Jovana Milutinovich) here: