If you need to do anything with a computer involving word processing, spreadsheets, or presentations, the longtime default software package was Microsoft Office. While many businesses and schools still rely heavily on Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and other Microsoft Office programs, many have moved on to free options, both cloud- and desktop-based.
With a Microsoft account, you can use free versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the web. But those are not the full applications you get with a paid purchase or subscription. Keep reading to learn more about the best free alternatives to Microsoft Office software.
Google Workspace is a free office suite from Google. Personal users can use Google Workspace as part of their Google account. Workspace includes Gmail and Google Drive, among other products. If you already use Gmail or an Android phone, you have access to Google Workspace already!
The main apps in Google Workspace are Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Outlook is replaced with a combination of Gmail and Google Calendar. You can store up to 15GB of files in your Google account for free, or pay for more space. Business users pay a monthly fee, starting at $6 per user per month, for Google Workspace. But individuals like you can use it free of charge.
iWork is the productivity office suite from Apple. It’s included free if you buy an Apple computer, such as a Mac desktop or Macbook laptop. iWork includes the apps Pages, Numbers, and Keynote to handle your writing, spreadsheet, and presentation needs, respectively.
If you tend to work solo and heavily rely on Apple, iWork could be a good option. After all, you’ve already paid for it when you bought your device. That makes it at least worth giving a try.
However, those who work collaboratively or spend their entire day in office software may find iWork isn’t quite as good a tool as Microsoft Office or Google Workspace. While you’re not going to find the easy cross-compatibility with Windows, iWork is a solid choice for Mac users.
OpenOffice is a completely free, open-source office productivity suite. Open-source means it is community developed and supported. OpenOffice is a good choice for Linux users and works well for Windows and Mac as well. If you don’t love the features out of the box, you can download and install extensions that add more features and templates.
The Apache OpenOffice suite includes the apps Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, and Math. Notable are Base, a database program similar to Microsoft Access, and Draw, similar to Microsoft Publisher. Unfortunately, you won’t find free alternatives to those needs from Google or Apple.
Because it’s free and supported by volunteer developers, you may find the experience isn’t quite as polished and clean as you get with a software suite from a software giant like Microsoft, Apple, or Google. But it does work just fine. It’s perfect for occasional document editing and spreadsheet use. But, again, heavy users may want to upgrade to a more powerful and better-supported option.
LibreOffice is another open-source option. It’s based on OpenOffice and split off into its own free product in 2010. LibreOffice has many of the same pros and cons as other open-source software, including Apache OpenOffice. You’ll find a similar overall experience with a unique LibreOffice twist.
The programs included in LibreOffice are Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, and Math. Sound familiar? Each app is expandable with its own list of plugins and extensions too.
LibreOffice is actively supported and an ideal choice for Linux users. It’s also well-supported for Windows and Mac. So whatever computer you use, you’re covered by LibreOffice. And it’s completely free.
Free Office 365 for students and teachers
Before we say goodbye, you students and teachers should note an option to get Microsoft Office 365 without paying full price — or anything at all. Students and educators with a verifiable .edu email address can get Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Microsoft Teams for free.
Check out if you qualify at Office 365 Education.
You don’t have to pay for office software
Office used to cost hundreds of dollars, but now you can edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations or other files without paying a cent. With any of these free Microsoft Office alternatives, you’re free to go forth, create and edit without breaking the bank.
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