How to download Microsoft Office for the Apple Mac for free

Step by step guide to building an app that runs Microsoft Office web apps in a window on the desktop, just like real apps.

Microsoft Office has some excellent applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and several more. But why pay for them when you can get them for free? Here’s what you need to do.

The most common applications used in businesses are the Microsoft Office apps and they have become a standard. You can use other applications instead of Office, but you will probably find that you then need to export files in Office format to give them to other people or import Office format files that people send you.

Importing and exporting Word, Excel and PowerPoint files is rarely perfect and it only works for the simplest of documents. It is easier and simpler to work in Office when everyone else is working in Office.

Microsoft Office might seem quite cheap when you look at the monthly subscription. However, multiply that by 60 to see how much it will cost you over the next five years. It will be hundreds of dollars (pounds or whatever is your currency).

You can get the Office apps for free and here’s how!

Microsoft Word web app running in a window on the Apple Mac desktop

Requirements for Free Microsoft Office

You need a free Microsoft account.

If you do not have a Microsoft ID, go to the website, sign up and sign in. You get several gigabytes of free online storage in which to save Office files, photos and music. Most importantly, you get free access to Microsoft Office web apps.

These are versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive and other applications that run in a web browser. Do not dismiss them, they are actually quite good.

They provide most of the features most people need. Of course, some people need advanced features that are only in the desktop applications, but the web apps are pretty good and if you have not seen them recently, you should check them out.

To access the web apps, click the icon in the top left corner of the web page, then click the tile of the application you want, such as Word.

The one other requirement is that you have Google Chrome installed on your Mac.

Strip the clutter from Chrome

I am going to use a trick I have used before in Create a Google Play Music desktop app and How to run Google Keep in a window on the desktop like an app .

Chrome can run without a title bar, address box, menus and buttons. It becomes a frame in which a website can be displayed.

If you have Chrome installed on your Mac and you have a Microsoft account, Open Terminal in the Utilities folder and copy this command and paste it in (all one line!):

"/applications/Google Chrome" --app=

That is all one line and the quotes are needed. Just copy it like it is, switch to Terminal, paste is and hit Enter. Microsoft Word opens in a window on the desktop.

Microsoft Word web app running in a window on the Apple Mac desktop


Although it is Word web app, look how clean it is compared to running in a browser. It looks like a desktop app.

Create apps for Microsoft Office

To cut a long story short (read that Google Play Music article):

  1. Start Automator
  2. Create a new app
  3. Drag Run Shell Script to the right hand side
  4. Copy and paste that code above
  5. Save the app as

Automator on the Apple Mac running a shell script

Add an icon

All applications saved from Automator have the robot icon. However, it can be replaced (read that Google Play Music article):

  1. Search for ‘free icons’ on the web and find a suitable image
  2. Download it and save it
  3. Double click it to open it in Preview
  4. Select it and copy it to the clipboard
  5. Select the Automator app with the robot icon
  6. Press Command+I to open the file info panel
  7. Click the icon at the top and press Command+V

Office app icons

Create the other Office apps

You now have an app to run Microsoft Word. Repeat the procedure for all the other Office apps.

Microsoft Excel web app running in a window on the desktop on the Apple Mac

We saw that the command to run Word is:

"/applications/Google Chrome" --app=

Create new Automator apps and replace Word.aspx at the end with:

  • Excel.aspx
  • PowerPoint.aspx

Microsoft PowerPoint web app running in a window on the desktop on the Apple Mac

OneNote has its own URL, so you have to change the whole URL in the command like this:

"/applications/Google Chrome" --app=

Download Microsoft Office apps

It takes only a few minutes to create Office apps using Automator, but if you are struggling to follow the instructions above, or want to save time, download my apps. They should work fine.

Double click the apps to run them. Remember that they are Automator apps, so you can load them into Automator and see how they work.




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