Use Microsoft Office in Linux

Calculator, pen and paper clips

Calculator, pen and paper clips

Microsoft Office is the standard when it comes to word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. It is used in millions of offices around the world and the file format has become a standard way to exchange documents. It runs on Windows and Apple Mac OS X, but sadly not Linux. However, there is a way to use it on Linux and this does not involve Wine or anything like that.

Office cannot be installed on Linux of course, because it is a Windows program and Mac app, but you can run all the web-based versions of all the Office apps on a Linux PC and they are surprisingly good.

You do need to have a Microsoft account, but this is free and who doesn't have one anyway? Maybe if you are a pure Linux geek that never uses anything else you have never signed up, but most people already have a Microsoft ID.

I am using the Chrome web browser running on Linux Mint for these screen shots, but you could use a different browser, such as Firefox, or a different Linux, like Ubuntu. Click the screen shots for larger versions. Go to and click the Office Online link in the menu bar at the top. You'll be taken to this screen:

Use Microsoft Office web apps on Linux

You'll need to sign in/sign up using the link in the top right corner. If you simply click an app you'll be prompted to sign in too. You won't get very far until you've signed in. Let's start the Word app.

Getting started with the Word web app

Office web apps load and save files to OneDrive, which is free online storage with a Microsoft account and there is an option to browse OneDrive and open a file. You can also create a new blank document or browse the templates. Let's use that last option. Click it and a collection of Word templates is displayed.

Select a template for Microsoft Word

Select a template category in the column on the left to see thumbnail images of templates and click a template to view a larger version. When you find a template you like, just click the button to open it.

Open an Office template

The Word web app does not have all the features of the desktop software running on Windows and it would be easy to produce a long list of features that it doesn't support. Yes, there are limitations, but it is actually good enough for creating letters, memos, flyers, and other documents.

There is the usual ribbon bar at the top and there are tabs for Home, Insert, page Layout, Review and View. Styles are easily applied to text, and it handles embedded images. The right click menu offers similar features to the desktop version with cut, copy and paste, and a mini formatting toolbar.

Word Web app

The other Office web apps are pretty good too and here is Excel (notice that I have two spreadsheets on two tabs and that Word document above on a third tab).

Create spreadsheets with the Excel web app

As with Word, there are lots of templates online to get you started quickly with Excel spreadsheets. The range of features is not as full as the desktop version, but is still pretty good.

Remember that all these Office applications are running in a browser in Linux. Try them, you might be surprised by how good they are. Of course, they cannot do everything and on occasions you might want to use LibreOffice on your Linux PC. LibreOffice is an excellent app, but it's not Office is it?

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Intro photo: Public domain from

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