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Free Microsoft Office? Get Word, Excel and PowerPoint for $0 with these tips

Yes, you can use every tool in Microsoft 365 without spending a cent. Just note there are some caveats.

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You can use Microsoft Office apps for free. 

Josh Miller/CNET

It's likely you've needed access to a Microsoft Word document, a PowerPoint presentation or other basic tools from Microsoft 365 at least once -- for either work, school or personal use. Although the software may seem like a necessity, its high price tag makes some people run the other way. If you don't want to spend your money on Microsoft 365, don't stress. There are a few ways to get the service for free.  

Microsoft's suite of productivity software contains Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Microsoft Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint. The collection typically costs between $70 and $100 every year for subscription access across devices and family members (as Microsoft 365). Microsoft also released a new stand-alone version of Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac, called Office Home and Student 2021 -- for a flat price, no subscription required -- on Oct. 5, the same day Windows 11 began its rollout. 

Read moreHow to download Windows 11 for free 

Here are the versions of Office 365, Microsoft 365 and their apps that you can find online for free right now. 

How to 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 are 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 to try it out. However, it does require you to enter a credit card, 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:

  • Go to Office.com.
  • 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.
  • Select the app you want to use, and save your work in the cloud with OneDrive.
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Use the browser-based version of the Microsoft Word app for free.

Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

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? The reason is that the functionality of these apps is limited: They only run in your web browser, and you can only use them when you're online. 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. 

For more, check out all of the best new features in Windows 11 and what you need to know about upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11.

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