If you own a Chromebook and want to use productivity tools such as a word processor or spreadsheet. Then you’ll be happy to know you have plenty of options when using ChromeOS. Firstly, you can use Google Docs, which is free and works well on a Chromebook. I’ve been using Google Sheets and Google Slides for many years, and have been happy with the results.
Secondly, you have the option to use Microsoft Office. A few years ago using MS Office on a Chromebook was not a great experience. This was mainly because you had to rely on an Android app version, which has limitations when it comes to productivity software.
The good news is thanks to Microsoft finally accepting cloud computing is the way forward. They have spent the last few years making their Office Suite work online. I tried this out about a year ago and I was not too impressed with the experience. However, Microsoft 365 now works well on ChromeOS, and I can only assume it will continue to improve over time.
Microsoft 365 on ChromeOS
If you have not yet used Microsoft 365 on your Chromebook and you’re interested to see how it works. You can register for an account at office.com. The good news is you can use Microsoft 365 without spending any money. The free account will let you use apps such as Word and Excel and also gives you free OneDrive cloud storage.
If you think you’d like to use MS Office regularly on your Chromebook you may want to check out the paid plans. These offer more functionality and you get additional cloud storage space. The paid version also gives you access to extra software such as ClipChamp. Plans are available where you pay monthly or you can pay for a yearly plan, which works out cheaper over a twelve-month period.
You may also want to consider the family plan, which offers a great deal if more than one user in your household would like to use Microsoft 365. This is a much cheaper option than everyone in your home paying for separate plans.
Using the apps directly from the browser
When you visit office.com and sign up for Microsoft 365 you will be able to use apps such as Excel or even Outlook directly from your Chrome browser. This works absolutely fine, and you can easily get on with your work by doing this.
If you’re after a more stable experience it’s a good idea to install the apps you use most as Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). These apps still run inside the Chrome browser and apart from the added benefit of a more stable experience with extra functionality. When you install a PWA on your Chromebook these PWA apps can be found at a later date from your ChromeOS App launcher (start menu). Find out more about installing PWAs on your Chromebook.
Get access to the full programs offered by MS Office
Microsoft 365 apps work great but if you need the functionality offered by the full MS Office programs. You will want to consider paying for a subscription. When you sign up for the paid version you also have the option of downloading the full version of all the MS Office programs. This includes Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Outlook and even the amazing Microsoft Access.
To use the full MS Office programs you will need access to Microsoft Windows or another operating system where these programs are compatible. If you own a Windows computer a paid subscription will allow you to use the full version of these programs and continue to use the PWA apps on your Chromebook. Because you have access to OneDrive, you can easily save your files in the cloud making them easily accessible no matter what computer you’re using at the time.
If you have a relatively powerful Chromebook. You could even consider installing Microsoft Windows 10 on your Chromebook. By doing this you’ll have access to both ChromeOS and Windows directly from your Chromebook. It will also mean you can download the full versions of the MS Office programs to use on your Windows 10 install directly from your Chromebook.
The days of being limited when using MS Office on a Chromebook are over. This is great news for anyone who wants the speed, security and easy-to-use experience that a Chromebook offers, but also wants to use Microsoft Office.
It’s great news for everyone, and this will only continue to improve over time. In fact, Google and Microsoft have confirmed they are working together to make Microsoft 365 work even better on Chromebooks in the future. This is mainly to do with being able to get direct access to OneDrive directly from your ChromeOS File Manager.