Actually, Your Chromebook Can Run Microsoft Office
Downloading and installing Microsoft Office 365 apps on a Chromebook is quick and easy with these steps.
Joshua GoldmanManaging Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
ExpertiseLaptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and dronesCredentials
More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Whether you got a new Chromebook for the holidays or you're looking to do more with the one you have in the coming new year, you should know that there are still quite a few misconceptions about what Chromebook computers can do. One of the most prevalent is that Chromebooks can't run Microsoft Office. While it's true that Windows or Mac software can't be directly installed on a Chromebook -- including the desktop versions of Microsoft Office apps -- that's not the only option when it comes to using Microsoft's suite of productivity software.
I'm not talking about the Android versions, either. Although Chromebooks can run millions of Android apps from the Google Play store, the Android versions of Microsoft Office, Outlook, OneNote and OneDrive are no longer supported on Chromebooks. However, when the Android apps stopped being supported on Chromebooks, another option (and in my opinion, a better one) took their place.
Progressive web apps are like mobile app versions of a website but with more features, such as offline use, the option to pin them to the taskbar, support for push notifications and updates and access to hardware features. You can find Microsoft Office 365 PWAs like Outlook and OneDrive, and they work great on Chromebooks. Here's where to find them and install them so you can still use Office on a Chromebook.
Open the Chrome browser and go to Office.com, which is the landing page for Microsoft Office 365 online. If you already have an Office 365 account, sign in as you normally would. If you don't have an Office account, you'll need to create one. You can use any personal email you want for the account, and setting it up is a straightforward process: put in your email, set up a password, verify your email and prove you're not a robot.
Once you're signed in to Office 365 in Chrome, an Install icon will appear at the top right of the address bar. It looks like a computer monitor with a downward pointing arrow. Click on it and it will pop open a prompt to install Office 365. Also, if you only want a single app like Word or Outlook, the same install option in the address bar will appear when you point the browser to the specific apps.
The installation happens fast. In a matter of moments, a window opens that looks exactly like the online version of Office 365. It is essentially a browser window but with the features of Microsoft Office mobile apps.
Since the PWA behaves like installed software, you can do things like pin it to the taskbar, get notifications, work offline and easily resize it. The rest of the experience is the same as using the web versions. I actually prefer the PWA versions to the full Office downloads for most things.
Now, if after using the PWAs you're missing the look, feel and tools of the desktop software, well, you still can't install them directly on the Chromebook. But, you do have other options to run Windows software on a Chromebook.