Microsoft 365, the evolution of the old Microsoft Office suite, features a variety of apps that you may need for work, school or your personal life. But the cost of a subscription adds up over time, which could become an obstacle to using Word, Excel, PowerPoint or other programs. Fortunately, if you want Microsoft 365, there are ways to get the service for free.
Microsoft’s suite of productivity software consists of classics like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, as well as newer apps like Microsoft Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint. The Microsoft 365 collection typically costs between $70 and $100 every year for subscription access across devices and family members. Microsoft also released a new stand-alone version of Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac, called Office Home and Student 2021, for a flat $150 — no subscription required.
Get Microsoft Office 365 free if you’re a student or a teacher
If you’re a student, teacher or faculty member with an active school email address, you’re likely eligible to get access to Office 365 for free through Microsoft, with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Microsoft Teams and additional classroom tools.
All you have to do is enter your school email address on this page on Microsoft’s website: Get started with Office 365 for free. In many cases, you’ll be instantly granted access thanks to an automated verification process. If you attend an institution that needs to be verified, it might take up to a month to confirm your eligibility.
Recent graduates who want to stick with Office 365 can also get Microsoft 365 Personal for $12 for 12 months, with a valid school email address.
How to get Microsoft Office suite free if you’re anyone else
Anyone can get a one-month free trial of Microsoft 365. However, it does require you to enter a credit card number, and if you don’t cancel before the month is up, you’ll be charged $100 for a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365 Family (formerly called Office 365 Home).
The good news is if you don’t need the full suite of Microsoft 365 tools, you can access a number of its apps online for free — including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Outlook, Calendar and Skype. Here’s how to get them:
1. Go to Office.com.
2. Click Sign up for the free version of Office under the “Sign in” button.
3. Log in to your Microsoft account or create one for free. If you already have a Windows, Skype or Xbox Live login, you have an active Microsoft account.
4. Select the app you want to use, and save your work in the cloud with OneDrive.
So what’s the catch for the free version?
You may be saying, “Wait a minute, if I can get all of those apps for free, why pay for Microsoft 365 in the first place?” Well, the functionality of the free apps is limited: They only run in your web browser and you can only use them while you’re actively connected to the internet. They also have fewer features than the full Microsoft 365 versions.
There are still a number of benefits, however, including the ability to share links to your work and collaborate in real time, similar to what G Suite tools allow. If you’re looking for basic versions of each of these apps, the free version should work well for you.