How to Use Microsoft Word for Free

Do you want to use Microsoft Word but don’t want to pay for a Microsoft 365 subscription? Here’s how you can use Microsoft Word for free on your web browser.

Tip: are you instead looking to use Microsoft Office for free? Learn of six ways to do it.

How to Use Microsoft Word’s Web Version

You can use Microsoft Word on your web browser without installing Microsoft Office on your computer or paying for a Microsoft 365 subscription. Follow these steps to start working on a document via the Web:

  1. Visit Microsoft Office.
  2. Sign up or sign in with an existing account.
  3. After signing in, you’ll be redirected to Microsoft Office Home.
  1. You’ll see the Microsoft Office apps that you can use for free in the menu on the left. Click on the Microsoft Word icon.
Microsoft Office Home
  1. On the next screen, click on “New blank document.”
Microsoft Word
  1. A tab for a blank Microsoft Word document will open. You can start working on this page.

Note: all progress you make in your document will be saved in real time while your computer is connected to the Internet.

  1. You can save your new document online or download a copy to your desktop. Start by clicking on the “File” tab.
Microsoft Word Web File
  1. Click on “Save as" in the menu on the left. You can save your Word document online or download an offline copy in .docx, .pdf, or .odt.
Microsoft Word Save As

Good to know: If you'd rather work with PDFs, find out how to export a Microsoft Word document to PDF.

Even if you can do basic tasks in the free version of Microsoft Word, you won’t be able to enjoy all features offered by Microsoft Word. The following is a list of important features that function differently in the paid and free versions of Microsoft Word:

Supported File Types

The free version of Microsoft Word can’t open file types such as Rich Text Format (RTF), Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Portable Document Format (PDF), or Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions HTML (MHTML).

You can only open Word Document (.docx), Word Template (.dotx), Word Macro-Enabled Document (.docm) or Word Macro-Enabled Template (.dotm), Word 97-2003 Document (.doc) or Word 97-2003 Template (.dot), and OpenDocument Text (.odt) documents using the Web version of Microsoft Word.

The paid, desktop version of Microsoft Word supports up to 18 file types.

Rulers and Gridlines

Microsoft Word’s free Web version doesn’t display rulers and gridlines, but they’re readily available in the desktop version of Microsoft Word.

Microsoft Word View

Document Views

In the free Web version of Microsoft Word, you can’t view your document in outline, draft, web layout, or full screen reading views. Side-by-side viewing and split windows are also not available.

Formatting Styles

You can apply and clear formatting styles in the Web version of Microsoft Word. However, you can’t create or modify existing styles.

Microsoft Word Styles Pane

Password Protection

Password-protected documents can’t be opened in Microsoft Word for Web.

Read on to learn how to remove a password from a PDF in Windows

Table of Contents

You can’t insert or delete tables of contents in the free version of Microsoft Word, but you can edit existing ones.


In the free version of Microsoft Word, you can check spelling and grammar, translate the document, and set the proofing language. However, there’s no custom dictionary or thesaurus.

Shapes, Charts, Text Boxes, SmartArt, and WordArt

Even though you can see shapes, charts, text boxes, SmartArt, and WordArt when you open a document in the Web version of Microsoft Word, you can’t move or resize them.


In the free version of Microsoft Word, you can insert tables; delete by table, column, or row; insert rows and columns; align cell text; merge and split cells; and format the borders; backgrounds, and table styles. However, you can't change the cell size and sort order.

Signature Line

You can view signature lines in the free version of Microsoft Word but can’t move or resize them within the document.

Theme, Page Color, and Watermarks

You can view the theme, page color, and watermarks of documents in the free Web version of Microsoft Word but can't edit them.

Microsoft Word Insert Watermark

Tip: Are you seeing objects in your photos that you don't want to? Learn how to remove unwanted objects from photos.


In the free Web version of Microsoft Word, you can view screenshots in documents but can't create them. However, you can create screenshots externally, then upload and insert them into documents.

If you want to view more of the differences between the paid, desktop version of Microsoft Word and the free Web version, visit Microsoft’s dedicated support page.

How Does Collaboration Work in the Free Version of Microsoft Word?

When you use Microsoft Word for free, you can still freely collaborate and share your documents with other people. Follow the steps listed below:

  1. Open a document that you want to share.
  2. Click on the “File” tab.
Microsoft Word Web File
  1. Go to “Share” and click on “Share with People.”
Microsoft Word Web Share
  1. Set the viewing or editing restrictions and add the details of the people you would like to collaborate with. You can also copy the link to your document.
Microsoft Word Web Share Link

Tip: check out these whiteboard apps that allow you to easily collaborate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to create another account to use the free version if I purchased the paid version of Microsoft Word?

You can use a paid Microsoft account to use the free Web version.

How much is the paid version of Microsoft Word?

The paid version of Microsoft Word comes bundled with a Microsoft 365 subscription. Personal plans start at $6.99/monthly for one user and business plans start at $6/monthly per user.

Can I use my Gmail account when signing up to use Microsoft Word for free?

You can use any email address, including Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo. Are you locked out of your Google account. We can help you out!

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Natalie dela Vega

Natalie dela Vega
Natalie dela Vega - Staff Writer

Natalie is a writer specializing in tech how-tos and gaming. When she's not writing, she plays PC games and travels. Here at MakeTechEasier, you will see her write about guides, tips, and solutions for Windows and iOS.

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