The 7 Best Free Microsoft Office Alternatives

Joel Lee 20-03-2018

Microsoft Office is the undisputed king of office suites, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Indeed, we’ve covered several reasons to use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Online instead of buying Microsoft Office, with the most important reason being price.


Other office suites exist, and you’d be surprised how well they compare to Microsoft Office, not to mention that many of them are completely free for personal use.

Before we explore these alternatives, you may want to check out our post on ways to use Microsoft Office without paying for it 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 . But if it’s the software itself that you dislike, or if those free methods aren’t available to you, then read on!

The 3 Best Online Office Suites

1. Google Docs

microsoft office alternatives - Google Docs

Google Docs is easily the most popular office suite in the world after Microsoft Office. It can be slightly confusing because “Google Docs” is the name of the word processing app itself, but can also refer to the combined suite of apps: Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides.

The main reason to use Google Docs? It’s just so easy. You don’t need to install anything, you can share files without the recipient installing anything, the interface is dead simple and intuitive, it’s a well-known brand, and everything just plain works.


It’s also semi-compatible with Microsoft Office, able to import DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX files but unable to export. Not ideal, but better than nothing. It also has support for advanced speech-to-text voice typing.

The best aspects of Google Docs:

  • Up to 15GB of free storage including Docs, Sheets, and Slides files.
  • Track changes and version histories for documents.
  • Real-time online collaboration with up to 50 simultaneous users.
  • Manage permissions and limit what users can or can’t do in a document.
  • Offline editing that auto-syncs as soon as you come online.
  • Integration with other Google services, including Gmail and Calendar.
  • Use hundreds of free fonts from Google Web Fonts.

Website: Google Docs (Free)

2. iWork for iCloud

microsoft office alternatives - iWork for iCloud


Here’s something you may not know: while Apple’s iWork suite normally costs $10 per app, you can use Pages, Number, and Keynote for free on the web using iWork for iCloud, which is Apple’s answer to Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online.

iWork for iCloud resembles the desktop version for Mac, and is exactly what you’d expect from Apple: simplistic but pleasing interface, enough flexibility to create whatever kind of files you need, but not many workspace customization options.

It’s the obvious choice if you already use iWork on Mac, as it integrates well and allows you to work on your documents anywhere you go. The only downside is that it relies on iCloud for storage, which is one of the least popular cloud storage solutions.

All you need is an Apple ID to use iWork for iCloud.


The best aspects of iWork for iCloud:

  • Up to 5GB of free storage on iCloud.
  • Beautiful and simplistic interface that’s easy to navigate.
  • Integrates with iWork for Mac, making it a strong option for Mac users.
  • Cleanly imports and exports Microsoft Office files.

Website: iWork for iCloud (Free)

3. Zoho Office

microsoft office alternatives - Zoho Office

My favorite thing about Zoho Office is its interface. On the surface it’s pretty much the same as any other online office suite, but there’s a smooth professionalism to it that can’t really be captured in screenshots alone. It just feels good.


Zoho Office is best for small teams, with interesting features like real-time chatting on documents, collaborative editing, digital signatures, quick document sharing, and more.

One of the cooler niche features in Zoho Writer in particular is the ability to post documents straight to WordPress, making it an effective blog writing tool.

The best aspects of Zoho Office:

  • Up to 5GB of free storage through Zoho Docs.
  • Up to 25 file version histories for each document.
  • Cleanly imports and exports Microsoft Office files.
  • Real-time communication with collaborators.
  • Two-factor authentication for extra security.
  • Extensive customizations of documents, settings, and workspaces.

Website: Zoho Office (Free)

The 4 Best Desktop Office Suites

1. OnlyOffice

OnlyOffice (officially stylized as ONLYOFFICE) is a sleeper hit: not many people have heard of it, but it blows the competition out of the water. It really delivers on its product slogan: “Powerful like Microsoft Office, free like LibreOffice.”

What you’ll love best about OnlyOffice is that it natively uses Microsoft Office formats, which isn’t something that all desktop office suites can boast. The interface is also clean and professional, which is great if you hate the bloat of Microsoft Office, the slow performance of WPS Office, or the frank ugliness of LibreOffice.

Note that OnlyOffice comes in a cloud version—not just the option to access OnlyOffice on the web, but the ability to host OnlyOffice on your own server and provide private access to those on premises.

The best aspects of OnlyOffice:

  • Open source and completely free for personal use.
  • Simple and professional interface with no distracting elements.
  • Cleanly imports and exports Microsoft Office files.
  • Ability to self-host for private enterprise internal web access.
  • Real-time collaborative editing and sharing of files.

Download: OnlyOffice Desktop (Free)
Download: OnlyOffice Cloud ($120/year)
Download: OnlyOffice Enterprise ($900/server)

For more on the offerings from OnlyOffice 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 , check out our look at their collaboration and cloud storage options.

2. SoftMaker Office

microsoft office alternatives - SoftMaker Office

SoftMaker Office is a commercial office suite that also comes in a free version called SoftMaker FreeOffice. FreeOffice is lightweight but complete, with all the essential features you’d need and expect from a modern office suite.

SoftMaker Office earned its reputation for Microsoft Office compatibility, being the first alternative office suite that could losslessly read and write Microsoft Office formats. For you, this means you can directly open and edit Microsoft Office files without worry.

The interface is nice too. SoftMaker respects user choice, allowing you to pick between a classic look (with toolbars and menus) or a modern look (with a Microsoft-like ribbon). And either way, SoftMaker Office is a joy to use: fast, responsive, and effective.

The best aspects of SoftMaker Office:

  • Tabbed interface for editing multiple documents.
  • Version history for office files, plus ability to revert to earlier versions.
  • Export as EPUB to easily turn documents into ebooks.
  • Choose between classic or modern interfaces.
  • Portable installation to USB drives so you can use it anywhere.

Download: SoftMaker FreeOffice (Free)
Download: SoftMaker Office Standard ($70)
Download: SoftMaker Office Professional ($100)

If you want to learn more, see our overview of SoftMaker FreeOffice Need a Microsoft Word & Office Alternative? Try FreeOffice 2016 Microsoft Office is the most advanced office suite on the planet. But why fork over cash when you can use a free alternative that still offers all you need? FreeOffice 2016 could be right for... Read More .

3. LibreOffice

Ask five people for a free desktop alternative to Microsoft Office and I’d be willing to bet that all of them say LibreOffice. Not only is it free and open source, but it’s been around for years and works well on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

In January 2018, LibreOffice launched the much-awaited version 6.0, which introduced lots of new features, bug fixes, performance improvements, a new help system that’s easier to navigate, and more.

While LibreOffice technically supports Microsoft Office files, it isn’t perfect yet and you will find that some document aspects break when you save in one app and open in its respective counterpart app. And while LibreOffice Calc is nice, it simply doesn’t live up to the power, flexibility, or speed of Microsoft Excel.

The best aspects of LibreOffice:

  • Completely free, open source, and cross-platform.
  • Built-in tools for creating complex documents, books, and webpages.
  • Download hundreds of publicly available LibreOffice templates.
  • Expand functionality with hundreds of LibreOffice extensions.
  • On top of Writer, Calc, and Impress, LibreOffice includes other office apps like Draw (diagrams), Base (databases), and Math (advanced formulas).

Download: LibreOffice (Free)

If you decide to use LibreOffice and want to get the most out of it, I highly recommend checking out our article on essential LibreOffice productivity tips 9 Effective LibreOffice Writer Tips to Boost Your Productivity The one free Microsoft Office alternative that shines above the rest is LibreOffice. We'll help you get (more) familiar and productive with this versatile office suite. Read More .

4. WPS Office

Formerly known as Kingsoft Office, WPS Office is a powerhouse. It comes with everything you need in an office suite, plus some unique features like PDF conversion, PDF merging and splitting, document signatures, document encryption, hundreds of fonts and templates, tabbed document editing, and so much more.

The one huge downside to WPS Office is that the free version is ad-supported: a handful of useful features are gated behind sponsored ads, and you can unlock them for 30 minutes by watching a quick ad. In my experience, this actually feels much better than having banner ads, especially because no features are completely unavailable.

The other big downside is that WPS Office runs a bit laggy on weaker hardware, which is a shame when you’re traveling with an older laptop and the application hangs or just isn’t as smooth as you’d want it to be.

The best aspects of WPS Office:

  • Up to 1GB of free storage using WPS Office Cloud.
  • Easy sharing of files with others through WPS Office Cloud.
  • Document tabs for effortless organization while editing.
  • Hundreds of fonts and templates for beautifying your documents.
  • Built-in PDF tools, including the ability to save directly as PDF.
  • Cleanly imports and exports Microsoft Office files (Professional only).

Download: WPS Office (Free)
Download: WPS Office Premium ($30/year)
Download: WPS Office Professional ($45/year or $80 one-time)

Which Office Suite Is Right for You?

At the end of the day, all of these office suites exist for a reason: different people like different things, and what works well for me may not work well for you.

I use Google Docs because it’s simple, fast, and accessible from anywhere regardless of which device or operating system I’m on. Mac users who need an online suite will love iWork for iCloud, whereas anyone who needs a desktop suite will likely do best with OnlyOffice or SoftMaker Office.

If you end up going with a desktop suite, you’ll probably want to integrate it with some kind of cloud storage service. I personally use Google Drive, but other options exist. Get started with our comparison of the best cloud storage services.

If you want to use Access, check out these free Microsoft Access alternatives The 5 Best Free Microsoft Access Alternatives for Databases Free database software isn't all bad. This article covers five of the best free and easy to use alternatives to Microsoft Access. Read More . Mac users, you can try these top Microsoft Office alternatives for macOS. And if you’re a Linux user who prefers to use Office after trying other options, here’s a guide to installing and using Microsoft Office on Linux How to Install Microsoft Office on Linux Microsoft Office on Linux is possible. We cover three methods for getting Office working inside of a Linux environment. Read More .

Related topics: Google Docs, iWork, LibreOffice, Microsoft Office Alternative, Office Suites.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

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

  1. dragonmouth
    January 24, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    "the frank ugliness of LibreOffice"
    Ugliness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I prefer functionality to glitz and eye candy. Having Draw, Base and Math has its advantages.

  2. SEDGE
    January 2, 2020 at 6:18 am

    Do any of these alternatives offer mail merge?

  3. George E Schwarz
    April 6, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Years of using MS Office means accumulating a large number of macros that significantly help workflow. Until the free alternatives can smoothly and properly convert and make macros useful, I feel stuck with MS. I hate MS, but being held hostage is unavoidable for now.

  4. Katie D
    December 26, 2018 at 2:45 am

    I noticed you didn't mention Apache Open Office. It s the best office suite for free.

    • nono
      February 3, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      Libre Office is the continuation of Open Office, after Open Office was given to Apache Foundation. LO is developed by the same people who developed OO for years, The Document Foundation.
      It's a simply mistake for OO to exist, since LO has faster development

  5. Celso R
    September 10, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    "able to import DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX files but unable to export"

    Yes, you can export a G Suite / Google Docs file as MS Office file.

    Justo go to File -> Download as --> Microsoft Word / Excel / PowerPoint ... (whichever might be the corresponding case).

  6. Henk Roos
    May 31, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Hi, I think you should evaluate the software a bit more critical, especially the ones you put on top of the list. In the category "4 Best Desktop Office Suites" you've ranked OnlyOffice as number one, so I downloaded it to give it a try, finding out that it was completely unuseable. It does not offer HiDPI scaling, so on modern laptops with hires screens (the native resolution of my laptop is 1920*1080, with scaling settings 150%, very common these days) the toolbars are so tiny that they are completely unreadable, while they offer nothing to adjust it. Result: after spending an hour on google and forums it was certain that they do not offer a solution for this, so there it went, uninstalling it unused...

  7. GeorgeP
    March 26, 2018 at 9:40 am

    I found another great free online suite called SSuite Online Office. What I like about them is that there are no login or account registration necessary. It is completely open and is free for use. Very nice wep apps included in this online office suite. It even has an online photo editor, custom search engine, and even some templates to get you started. Have a look, you will certainly be impressed I'm sure. :)

  8. Deave
    March 21, 2018 at 6:19 am

    I think what a lot of alternatives get wrong, and what quite a few get right, is this minimalist simplification of the UI to make it look "cleaner" and less "cluttered." This has been a trend, including on other Microsoft interfaces and even the MUO interface, since the advent of mobile applications. However, even Microsoft recognized with Microsoft Office that although they could make the design cleaner and more modern, they did not try to make it look "simple" - real productivity software calls for a more functional design strategy, something that these "mobile first" oriented designs have never been able to get right.