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How to Use Microsoft’s Free Office Online Software

Do you want to use Microsoft Office without paying for it? Try the free Office Online edition.

As the name indicates, Office Online is an online version of Microsoft's popular software suite. Instead of installing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on your computer, you tap into cloud-based varieties of the different programs; all you need is a web browser.

Instead of residing on your computer, files are saved to Microsoft OneDrive, the company's cloud-based storage service. The only catch is that Office Online isn't as feature-packed as the desktop edition. You'll find all the basic editing commands but not much more. If that satisfies your needs, however, it's an option worth trying.

Office Online includes four core programs – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. You can also tap into other apps, including Mail, People, and Calendar. Another application called Sway allows you to create interactive reports and presentations. Let's go through the steps for accessing and using Office Online to create, edit, and share your documents.

First, you'll need a Microsoft account. If you don't already have one, set it up at Microsoft's Account website. Then navigate to the Office Online website. Click on the icon for the application you wish to use, such as Word or Excel.

How to Use Microsoft's Free Office Online Software

The page asks if you want to log in with a Microsoft, work, or school account. Assuming you don't have a work or school account, choose the option to sign in with a Microsoft account and enter your account username and password.

You're then taken to a page where you can select a template to create your document or file. For example, Microsoft Word offers templates for resumes, cover letters, flyers, and calendars. If you don't need a special template, just click on the one for New blank document.

How to Use Microsoft's Free Office Online Software

Word Online opens for you to start creating your document. In Word, you'll find all the basic editing options via the toolbar. For example, you can set the font, point size, and other attributes of your text as well as apply certain styles. You can insert tables, pictures, page numbers, and headers and footers. You can adjust the page size, margins, and orientation. You can zoom in and out of your document. And you can run a spell check.

How to Use Microsoft's Free Office Online Software

Your document automatically saves as you work, so there's no need to manually save it. Click on the File menu, and you can also save it with a different filename and download the file to your PC, either as a Word document or a PDF. From the File menu, you can also print your document and share it with other people by emailing them a link to it.

How to Use Microsoft's Free Office Online Software

To open a file you're already created, click on the Open command and choose from recent documents, or click on the link to "More on OneDrive" to access all your online files.

How to Use Microsoft's Free Office Online Software

The online versions of Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote work similarly to Word in that they offer all the basic commands and features. To access another program in the online suite, click on the "List of Microsoft Services" button in the upper-left corner (it's the one that contains nine small squares) and then select the application you wish to open. Since the programs and your files are all online, you can access them from any Windows computer.

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