Does Microsoft Office work on a Chromebook?
Microsoft Office is the most popular productivity suite in the world. If you use one of the best Chromebooks as your daily driver for work or school, you probably want to run at least one Microsoft app. From word processing to computational tasks with Excel, Office has everything you need to get the job done. While Microsoft does not offer a native Chrome OS app, there are several viable options to run Office apps on a Chromebook.
Run Microsoft Office 365 web apps
The best option for running Microsoft Office on a Chromebook is via the Microsoft Office 365 web app suite. You can use Office for the web in your browser to create, edit and collaborate on files from your Chromebook. This approach also feels very natural since your Chromebook was built for cloud computing. One key advantage of web apps is that you don’t need to install anything, saving storage space on your device.
Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote are all present as web apps, as is Outlook, OneDrive, Skype, People, Calendar, Sway and Forms. All of these web apps have limited free functionality, but to get the full feature set you’ll need to pay for a Microsoft Office 365 subscription. If you’re a student or teacher, you can likely get Office 365 for free through your school or university. Anyone can also get a free one month trial of Office 365.
Those planning to use the web app approach to Office should consider adding shortcuts for the web apps to your app drawer. You can also pin them to your shelf if you want Office always a click away. There’s also a nifty Chrome extension for Microsoft Office, allowing even easier access right inside your browser.
Run Microsoft Office via Android apps
If you prefer running Office apps locally on your Chromebook, Microsoft also offers Android apps for Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and so on. Overall, the Android version of each Office app runs quite well on Chrome OS. Basic editing features are free in all of the apps, but on devices over 10-inches in size — which accounts for most Chromebooks — you’ll need a Microsoft 365 subscription to enable all features. Unfortunately, the Android version of OneDrive doesn’t work properly on Chromebooks.
The overall integration with Chromebook hardware is very well optimized for all of the Office Android apps. You can still use the touch interface offered by most Chromebooks. These apps also run nicely on Chrome OS powered tablets. If you’re interested in downloading the core Office Android apps for Chome OS, click the links below.
Run Microsoft Office via Parallels
Perhaps you want to run the full Windows version of Microsoft Office? This is also possible using Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS. It is important to realize that currently Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS is only available to enterprise customers. For business users, this is certainly a useful option to consider. The Parallels software runs a full versions of Windows 10 inside a container on your Chromebook.
With a full version of Windows installed on your Chrome OS device, you can easily download and run the full desktop version of every Office app. There are some key advantages of this method. Most importantly, you retain all of the power of the Microsoft apps. Some of the pro features, such as the Data Analysis ToolPak in Excel, are missing from the web app and Android app. Running Parallels on your Chromebook allows access to all of the functionality only found in the desktop apps.
There are several great options for running Microsoft Office apps on your Chromebook. If you’re an individual user, the web app or Android app approach is probably best. Business users may want to explore the option of using Parallels Desktop to run Windows 10 on Chrome OS. Either way, if you work with spreadsheets and documents all day, consider a nice docking station to simplify your workflow. Let us know in the comments how you access Microsoft Office on your Chrome OS device.