Is There A Free Version Of Microsoft Office For Mac?

By Tim Chesonis •  Updated: 01/26/19 •  9 min read

Microsoft Office is an incredible Office Suite that dominates the business industry, the educational system, and governments world-wide.  In order to conduct business today, make it through school, or serve in the government in any capacity, one must be very familiar with Microsoft Office.  Given its popularity, is there a free version of Microsoft Office for the Mac?

Although Microsoft does not offer a free version of Microsoft Office for the Mac, they do offer a 1 month free trial of its Office productivity tools.  When the one month trial ends, you have the option to either purchase the Office Suite outright, or enter into a monthly subscription agreement with Microsoft.

Microsoft does, however, make it very easy to own Microsoft Office for the Mac (or Windows for that matter), by offering several different affordable solutions.  We are going to look at each of their current offerings so that you can determine which solution and optional services will best meet your needs.

Why Choose Microsoft Office 365?

Why would one want to adopt Microsoft Office over other office suites, such as Google’s G-suite, or even the open source software, Libre Office?  Let’s address that question.

As already mentioned, Microsoft Office Suite dominates the market by far. In fact, the Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), released their “Cloud Adoption Report”, finding that of the more than 135,000 companies they analyzed globally, Microsoft Office 365 remains king of the Office Suites.

In 2016, the largest competitor to Microsoft Office, (Google’s G-Suite), held 24.9% of the market, while Microsoft Office 365 held their ground at 34.3%. Since then, Google’s G-Suite has gained .1% market share while Microsoft Office 365 now holds 56.3% of the market. That’s an increase of 22% in only 2 years. By any measure, those results are outstanding.

The more people who adopt Microsoft Office to address their office productivity needs, the more momentum it builds. The more momentum it builds, the more accepted it becomes. It’s the snowball effect.

It was a great tactical move on Microsoft’s part to make their flagship product, “Microsoft Office 98 for Macintosh”, available for the Mac in 1998. The reason that Microsoft did this, was because they knew that Apple had infiltrated the educational system with their operating system, MacOS. To this day, the dominant operating system in school systems today, (K-12 and Universities), is the MacOS.

The Accessibility of Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office Extends to Both Windows And the Mac, and as if that were not enough, they have released Online Office, and Office for Mobile devices.

If you don’t have your computer with you, no worries! Simply find ANY device connected to the internet, (even Linux computers), and you can access your documents that are housed in the cloud.

Microsoft Office is easily accessible on any device, regardless of the computer platform. You can access the Office Suite from your cell phone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, or even the public computer at your local library. Given it’s accessibility, you don’t have to worry about the documents, spreadsheets, or presentations you create being accessible in the future. They have literally taken over the planet 🙂

Before we take a look at the different purchasing options available, I want to mention that Microsoft does offer public Preview Builds of their Office Suite for testing purposes months ahead of releasing the official product.  These Preview Builds do have an expiration date, however, and at present, (January 2019), the Preview Build of Office 2019 has come to an end.  When Preview Builds officially launch, a license in order to save or edit documents.

When will Microsoft offer their next Preview Build of Microsoft Office for the Mac?  It has been Microsoft’s practice to release a new Office candidate every three years.  Given that, we can expect the next Preview Build to be available somewhere in 2021 for a 2022 release.

Microsoft Office 365 Personal

“Microsoft Office 365 Personal” is a subscription based service that gives you access to all of the core Office applications such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and (Publisher and Microsoft Access for Windows).  As a subscriber, you will also get access to OneDrive and Skype services as well.

Microsoft also gives you 1 Terabyte of cloud storage, (that’s 1,000 gigs of storage space in the cloud), and you can use Microsoft Office on all of your devices at no extra charge. 

You can access Office on your cell phone, tablet, Laptop, Desktop and even from any browser connected to the internet!

It meets the needs of the individual who is not a student, (we’ll get to the student plan in a minute), and yet this “plan” is very affordable.  You can purchase an annual subscription for $69.99 or a monthly subscription at $6.99 per month.

When you think of just what you are getting, and that everything is saved to the cloud, (including pictures and video that you take from your cell phone), this is almost a no-brainer.  Plus, you automatically get any updates that are made to any of the Office products during your subscription.

If you subscribe to their services, you can cancel your monthly subscription at any time.  If you do cancel your subscription, or if it expires, will have access to the documents that you have already created, but you will not be able to create new documents, edit existing documents.  In effect, Office becomes a “viewer” of documents.  You can easily update your billing information and subscribe again if you wish to create, edit or save documents at that point.

Microsoft Office 365 Home

Think of this package as being a “Family Plan” (Office 365 Home), as it will grant up to 6 people in your household their very own unique Microsoft account.  Additionally, each user within the “Family Plan” take advantage of 1 Terabyte of cloud storage.  That means that all documents, files and images are unique to each family member.

Also, each person in the “Family Plan” can use the Office suite across multiple devices, like your iPhone, iPad and Mac, and even the Windows PC at work.  Now, your kids can save all their school-work to the cloud.  There really is no way for them to lose” your homework.  When at school, they can save their work to the cloud.  When they come home, they can access those same files on the home computer . . . or from their iPad.

Microsoft does not care how many devices you run Office on.

With Microsoft Office 365 Home, Mac users get Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, OneDrive and Skype.  If you have a Windows PC, you also get Microsoft Access and Microsoft Publisher.

One quick thing to mention here: Microsoft does not care how many devices you run Office on.  They also don’t care if you run some applications on the Mac and some on Windows.

The cost?  With Microsoft Office 365 Home, you have the option to purchase an annual subscription for $99.99, or a monthly subscription for $9.99.  It’s worth mentioning that if you choose the monthly subscription, you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Microsoft Office Home & Student 2019

Microsoft offers one more way to get the “classic” Office applications, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, for one low price of $149.99.  This package is called “Office Home & Student”.

Who this for? Actually, I think this particular plan is the least attractive of all the plans they make available.  It “might” work for a stay-at-home Mom might write letters, and create a budget using Excel, but I’m finding it hard to think of who else would benefit from this offering.

College Students don’t have a lot of money to play with, so I would think that the “Office 365 Personal” option would suit students better, given that it’s a lot easier to afford $6.99 per month than it is to fork out $149.99.

Also, notice what is missing from this offering.

That said, for those who are really concerned about privacy, this might be a great option for you, though its offerings are somewhat limited.

Upgrade Pricing

There are those who have a Mac (or a PC), and want to upgrade from an older version of Microsoft Office.  Like me, you may have forked over $500 for an Microsoft Office license in 2000, and would like to know if there is a path for you to upgrade.  Unfortunately there isn’t.  Even if you purchased a full version of Microsoft Office 2013, the license is not upgradeable.

The only options available to obtain a Microsoft Office license for a Mac are listed above in this article.  Unfortunately, Microsoft does not allow for an upgrade solution anymore, but the subscription services that they do offer are pretty fair and I would highly recommend becoming a member.

Is There A Free Version Of Microsoft Office For Windows?
Like the Mac, the you can sign up for a 30 day free trial of Microsoft Office and take it for a spin.  At the end of your trial, you will have to become a paying subscriber in order to create or edit any documents.

Can I Upgrade From An Old Version Of Microsoft Office?
Microsoft only offers three ways to obtain a license for Microsoft Office.  They are Office 365 Personal, Office 365 Home, and Office Home & Student 2019 respectively.  There are no other means of upgrading your version of Microsoft Office, other than by purchasing a subscription.

Which Office 365 Package Should I Choose If I Am Very Concerned About Privacy?
Without a doubt, if privacy is your chief concern, you should purchase the “Office Home & Student 2019” edition.  You will not get Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft OneDrive or Skype, but you will get Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Tim Chesonis

Tim has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Tim, click here.