The 7 Best Free Microsoft Office Alternatives for Mac
Whatsapp Pinterest
Advertisement

It’s fairly easy to leave Windows behind. Just buy a Mac, take a couple of days to settle in, and never look back. But for Microsoft Office users, the need to buy Office for Mac again can be a hassle.

Unlock the "Microsoft Office for Mac Keyboard Shortcuts" cheat sheet now!

This will sign you up to our newsletter

Enter your Email

If you work in a traditional office environment that runs on Excel and Word, you might have to bite the bullet. But if you’ve outgrown that world and still need to edit and send Office documents every now and then, you have alternative options.

If you’re not ready to buy Microsoft Office, here are your best Microsoft Office alternatives for Mac that are free.

1. Google Suite

Blank page in Google Docs

If you’re going to let go of the Microsoft world, your best bet is to join the Google alliance. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are the three alternatives to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. There’s no real alternative to Outlook beyond Gmail, and you can get OneNote on Mac for free.

Google’s suite is really good and integrates well with your Google account. You’ll be able to open an Excel file you received via Gmail in Google Sheets with a quick button press.

You can easily import Microsoft Office files to work on them, then export them again in Microsoft Office formats to pass them around. And if what you’re doing is fairly basic, with standard fonts and formatting, you can get away with it. The other party will never find out that you’re not using Microsoft Office proper.

In some ways, Google Docs is more powerful than Microsoft Word. There’s an extensive add-on gallery, beautiful templates, superior research tools built-in, and Google search capabilities to boot.

Plus, there’s the advantage of Google’s cloud prowess. Collaborating with multiple users simultaneously in a document is a pure joy. It’s a little benefit, but it does wonders for productivity.

The entire suite is free and you get 15GB of storage included. The only problem is that there’s no real desktop app for any of these (though you can work offline on documents in Chrome, using the Offline mode). Accompanying apps for iPhone and iPad are great too.

Visit: Google Docs | Google Sheets | Google Slides

2. LibreOffice

libreoffice writer

LibreOffice is widely recognized as the best open source alternative to Microsoft Office suite. This means it’s completely free and available on a host of platforms. It’s the best Office alternative for Mac.

If you’re used to the Microsoft Office user interface (pre-Ribbon era), it won’t take you long to adjust to LibreOffice. Unlike Google’s apps, the LibreOffice suite comes with fully featured offline desktop apps with all the pro features you expect.

To make the deal even sweeter, LibreOffice recently added an online component. So you can sync files from Google Drive or OneDrive and edit them right in LibreOffice (there’s no collaboration feature, though).

LibreOffice also does a good job in regards to formatting when importing Microsoft Office documents. Even complex Excel spreadsheets imported into LibreOffice Calc work like they should.

LibreOffice actually grew out of OpenOffice, which used to be the de facto alternative to Microsoft Office. But OpenOffice hasn’t seen any meaningful updates recently, and its management is considering retiring the project. So we advise you to stay away from OpenOffice. Conversely, LibreOffice’s track record in the recent past has been great.

Download: LibreOffice (Free)

3. iWork Suite

Creating a brochure in iWork Suite

Included with your Mac is the iWork Suite: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. These are Apple’s own alternatives to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Pages, for instance, is the best Word alternative for Mac.

As these are Mac-centric apps, the UI is quite different. Instead of being top-heavy, the options show up in a contextual menu on the side. And you don’t have as many options as the Microsoft Office suite. Since all three apps are now matured, all the basics are covered.

Once you get used to them, they’re actually pleasant to use (something we can’t necessarily say about Microsoft Office). While customization options are limited, everything that’s available is quite polished. When you create a presentation in Keynote, chances are you’ll end up creating something beautiful. The same goes with Pages—moving text, images, and graphs around is a seamless experience that doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out.

The iWork Suite lets you import and export documents in Microsoft Office formats (it will save to the default iWork format, though). And as long as you don’t use a Mac-specific font, doing a back-and-forth with Office documents shouldn’t be a big problem.

iWork also has online collaboration options but frankly, I wouldn’t recommend using them. They’re nowhere near as reliable as Google’s offering.

Download: Pages | Numbers | Keynote (Free)

4. Office Online

When nothing else will do, just open Office.com. It essentially gives you access to free Office for Mac. Office Online is Microsoft’s free and basic Microsoft Office service that works in any browser.

While the feature set is limited, the basics of document editing, spreadsheet formulas, and presentation options are all covered. You’ll get access to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Visit: Office Online

5. Edit Office Documents in Dropbox

Editing a document in Dropbox

Dropbox’s partnership with Microsoft means you can open a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document shared with you on Dropbox. You don’t need an Office 365 license, but you’ll require a free Microsoft account. Using this option opens your document in Office Online.

6. Ditch PowerPoint for Better Online Tools

PowerPoint is powerful, but it’s also pretty old-school. If you want to stand out with your presentations, try some more modern online presentation tools:

  • Slides: This is my personal favorite for creating beautiful presentations easily. The free account lets you create and present documents online. To export, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account.
  • Prezi: While this service is geared more towards startups, the visual tools offered by Prezi are beyond anything you can get with PowerPoint.
  • Canva: Canva is an online image editor, but it has an extensive library of presentation templates. Plus, Canva gives you all the important tools for creating a customized presentation.

7. Embrace Markdown

Ulysses markdown

Here’s an idea purely out of left field. If you given up Windows and embraced the Mac platform, you must have started appreciating macOS’s simplicity by now. If you want more of that for creating and editing plain text documents, you should try using Markdown.

Markdown is a syntax What Is Markdown? 4 Reasons Why You Should Learn It Now What Is Markdown? 4 Reasons Why You Should Learn It Now Tired of HTML and WYSIWYG editors? Then Markdown is the answer for you no matter who you are. Read More like HTML, but it’s much simpler. When you use a Markdown app to write, you don’t get lost in dozens of menu options. All the formatting happens using shortcodes.

So for example, to make a word italic, you wrap it with asterisks. You can create a complex formatted document without ever lifting your fingers from the keyboard. Plus, Markdown exports as clean HTML and you can generate beautiful PDFs using apps like Ulysses.

If Needed, Use Microsoft Office Without Paying for It

Buying the latest version of Microsoft Office will cost you a few hundred dollars (or a subscription for Office 365). Most of the time, the options listed above will suffice for you. Google Docs works as a great alternative to Word, and the same goes for Sheets and Excel. If you’re looking for offline alternatives, LibreOffice should be more than enough.

But there might be times where you have to use Office for a particular task or for a limited period of time. There are a couple of ways to do this without paying, including using Office Online or one of the mobile apps. We’ve outlined all your options in our guide to using Microsoft Office without paying for it 6 Ways You Can Get a Microsoft Office License for Free 6 Ways You Can Get a Microsoft Office License for Free Free Microsoft Office licenses are hard to get, but they do exist. This article covers six ways to get Word and Excel for free. Read More .

And for one more option, take a look at what OnlyOffice has to offer The ONLYOFFICE Suite Offers Collaboration, Cloud Storage, and Choice The ONLYOFFICE Suite Offers Collaboration, Cloud Storage, and Choice ONLYOFFICE offers an exciting alternative to Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365. Here's why it's worth a look. Read More .

Explore more about: Google Docs, Google Sheets, iWork, LibreOffice, Microsoft Office Alternative, Microsoft Office Online, Office Suites.

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Celia
    October 6, 2018 at 4:04 am

    Try WPS Office: http://www.wps.cn/product/wpsmac/. The Mac version is available on April 8th, 2018. Really good alternatives for Microsoft office with all the features. The only bad thing is that you need to sign in with a wechat account.

  2. lex
    September 21, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Google docs is a total epic fail when it comes to exporting a PDF. It does a completely garbage job of exporting the images and Google is 100% not addressing the problem.

  3. David Jones
    August 25, 2018 at 3:20 am

    Don’t believe the marketing and PR hype about Office 2016 for Mac being feature and function comparable with the Windows version. It’s like saying a Lexus and a Kia are both comparable cars. I’ll l ave it to you to work out which one is the Kia!

    Almost three years in on the Mac version and it is still full of embarrassing bugs and functionality gaping holes.

  4. Alfred J. Lemire
    November 21, 2017 at 7:23 am

    I wish Microsoft well, I really do, but its upgrade to Word 2016 for the Mac increases the steps I need to take for common operations. When 2008 came out with .docx, I discovered that single-spaced lines I typed—the only spacing used since I got Word, perhaps in 1991—appeared as double-spaced. Single-spaced files copied from .doc files came out double-spaced, as did files copied from files on the Internet. So also Word 2011 and Word 2016. However, in several tests with 2016—original typed work, files copied from other Word files, and files copied rom the Internet, I once got two typed lines single-spaced. That did not recur.

    In 2008, I found a way to continue creating .doc files. However, 2016 requires that I convert from .doc to .docx to insert files, graphs, and charts. A workaround: Copy a picture, graph, or chart from a dummy .docx document and copy it into a .doc file. Unfortunately, the same conversion is needed when one adds a page to a document. Perhaps I could work around that as well, but I stopped trying, discouraged with Word 2016.

    I deleted 2016 from my computer, fearing a malign influence, even if caged in Trash. So I have to trust my memory that I could no longer swipe across Insert to Page Break, on the top line, which includes Word, File, Edit, etc. In 2016, as I did in 2011. With 2016, I had to go halfway down Insert to get to the Page Break choice. I use Page Break sometimes more than 10 times a day, as I import files from the Internet and add them to existing files. I have well more than 50 files from some writers and even seven by the UK’s Melanie Phillips. Microsoft staff, introducing Word 2016, wrote that one go to a Paragraph menu in the ribbon to add a Page Break,, the most inefficient way to do that. (One can also use Pages, to the left of Paragraph, and choose Page Break there.) One suspects that logical engineers redid Word to suit a certain orderliness, with little regard to what actions users most commonly use.

    That new files in Word 2016 opened 5 ½ inches deep on my 27-inch (about 13 vertical inches) computer, with an inch or so of gray or grey space aside the file, seemed merely annoying and stupid. Perhaps that was to conform to smartphone use.) Why can’t a user determine what the standard file length of new files should be, in any version of Word? (I prefer a page plus three lines of another page.)

    Worst, perhaps, the 2016 version of Word does not automatically reopen files that open when one quits Word, voluntarily or forcibly. That could present a major problem if changes to an open file had not been saved before a Quit. Word 2011 does automatically reopen files. One suspects that Microsoft people did not let Apple provide that automatic reopening feature..

    I have read that Windows apps do not provide automatic reopening. Impossible to believe!

    I had also read that one needs Word 2016 in High Sierra, which prompted my upgrade. I have since been advised that Microsoft will not support 2011 in High Sierra. I do not know what that implies for Word 2011 if I upgraded to High Sierra. with Word 2011.. would do to Word 2011 if I upgraded to High Sierra. Would I lose automatic reopening of files in Word? So I have to stick with Sierra.

    I have nearly 30,000 Word files since 1991 or so, which take up nearly 9 gigabytes on my computer. I spent four intense days trying to make Word 2016 work, with the continuing nastiness of forced format conversions. The leaders at Microsoft and the leaders of ISIS think alike on forcing conversions..

    Now, I must change much, fixing on a major project that has consumed years, try to find some way to insulate my Word files from malicious people, and hope that intelligent, humane people interested in serving individual computer users will soon lead Microsoft and Apple.

  5. Limayam
    July 25, 2017 at 1:58 am

    My friends recommend me to google "aakeys" to get a genuine key. I got one, works so well, and will get another one very soon.

  6. Dieter
    March 14, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    My issue is that I am living in a world where MS-Office is standard. And I have noticed that you loose a lot of formatting and functionality (sequence fields...) when converting from MS to Mac and back. I would have liked that issue to be addressed more directly.

  7. jon
    January 31, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    If you're a Mac user, you should look at Nisus Writer Pro or Lite first of all, even before Pages. Pages is nice, but too "lite."

    Nisus has the mostest wonderfulest interface, and I dearly miss it, having moved on to Windows. It really deserves its own post, to be honest.