OnlyOffice: An Open Source Microsoft Office Contender Worth Your Time

Gavin Phillips 12-12-2016

Microsoft Office remains top of the office suite pile A Microsoft Office 2016 Preview: Smart & Subtle Changes Office 2016 for Mac was just released and the Windows version will follow in the fall. We show you the new look and features of the world's most popular productivity suite. Will you upgrade? Read More . It is a difficult behemoth to shift for a number of reasons. However, there are challengers to the crown. Depending on your requirements, your office alternative can be free Is OpenOffice Shutting Down? 4 Great Free Office Suite Alternatives OpenOffice is no longer a free Microsoft Office alternative you can count on. We have compiled the four best options for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Read More , open source, licensable, feature-full, or bare-bones 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 .


OnlyOffice ticks some of the aforementioned boxes. It is free, it is open source and cross-platform, and it is relatively feature-rich. Let’s take a look at OnlyOffice, and see if it suits your office suite requirements.

Let’s Talk Features

OnlyOffice is a comprehensive office suite. The suite, formerly known as TeamLab Office, offers users an integrated platform with a core of document editors. OnlyOffice features Document, Spreadsheet, and Presentation editors, styled somewhat between Google Docs and recent OpenOffice versions. In that, the OnlyOffice aesthetic is clean, clutter-free, but can feel somewhat dated when compared to Microsoft Office 2016 13+ Reasons You Should Upgrade to Microsoft Office 2016 Microsoft Office 2016 is here and it's time for you to make a decision. The productivity question is -- should you upgrade? We give you the new features and the fresher reasons to help you... Read More .

OnlyOffice expands on its core with third-party plugins, such as templates, integrated YouTube video insertion, and even a handy Chess game 10 Creative Ways to Supercharge Your Chess Training Getting better at chess is normally about deliberate practice over many disheartening games, so let's look at few of the ways you can bring fun and creativity into your chess training. Read More . You’ll find third-party plugins on the OnlyOffice Github, and there is handy video below detailing how to install them.

Microsoft Office dominates the office suite market. As such, competitors must ensure their software supports the full gamut of Microsoft Office document formats 9 Rare Office File Formats You Have to Know Have you ever come across strange file formats in your office suite? We'll give you a quick primer on rare, yet useful office file types and what you can use them for. Read More . OnlyOffice works with many of the most popular office formats, including DOC, DOCX, ODT, RTF, TXT, PDF, HTML, EPUB, XPS, DjVu, XLS, XLSX, ODS, CSV, PPT, PPTX, ODP.

OnlyOffice makes use of a tabbed document system 3 Tools to Add Tabbed Browsing to Windows Explorer Tabbed browsing is a feature that I first encountered 10 years ago in Firefox’s previous incarnation, Firebird. Since then, tabs have popped up in almost every realm related to user interfaces. They make it easy... Read More . This means you can edit multiple document types from a single window.


onlyoffice tabbed windows

While not a ground-breaking feature, it is certainly nice not having to scroll between multiple editors to find a specific document. Conversely, that scrolling also assists in keeping documents separate, so it is down to your personal preference.

What’s in the Box?

OnlyOffice is free, but what do you get? What makes it worth switching?


The OnlyOffice Document Editor is a pleasing work environment. The flat, black, white, and grey workspace offers little distraction. Adding to this, I found the toolbar extremely easy to navigate as well as featuring every tool you’d expect in a document editor.


onlyoffice document editor

The Document Editor also features a number of pre-installed themes so you can quickly style your document How to Customize Microsoft Word Layout Settings Microsoft Office comes with many useful templates, styles, and themes. We'll show you all the settings you need to create your own custom layout in Word 2013 and Word 2016. Read More , as well as document styles we have become accustomed to.


OnlyOffice Spreadsheet is up against a tough opponent. Microsoft Excel remains an excellent piece of software. That said, the Spreadsheet Editor performs well. It features a wide range of pre-programmed functions that appear readily as you type. Similarly, there are plenty of charts and chart styles to choose from How to Create Powerful Graphs & Charts in Microsoft Excel A good graph can make the difference between getting your point across or leaving everyone dozing off. We show you how to create powerful graphs in Microsoft Excel that will engage and inform your audience. Read More , along with options for pre-formatting.

onlyoffice spreadsheet editor


Excel power-users might find the lack of the now integrated Excel power tools How to Visualize Your Data Analysis with Excel's Power Tools Excel is killing it with its advanced data management features. Once you have used one of the new tools, you will want them all. Become a master of your data analysis with power tools! Read More frustrating. To that end, OnlyOffice Spreadsheet caters to a slightly more casual user-base. But it will be an excellent tool if you’re part of that demographic.


OnlyOffice Presentation offers a robust slideshow experience. Similar in scope to OnlyOffice Spreadsheet, Microsoft PowerPoint 2016 power-users 10 Tips for Making Better PowerPoint Presentations with Office 2016 Microsoft PowerPoint continues to set new standards. New features in PowerPoint 2016 manifest its top spot as the best option for smart and creative presentations. Read More will find some features lacking. However, Presentation absolutely has all the tools to make an excellent slideshow. It is a more-than-competent replacement for PowerPoint.

onlyoffice presentation editor

Presentation comes with a number of preset slideshow themes, the ability to switch between standard and widescreen slides, and all of the standard presentation tools you’d expect 10 Tips for Using PowerPoint Online You can collaborate easily in real-time with PowerPoint Online. Take your PowerPoint experience to the web browser with these tips for better presentations. Read More : timings, awkward effects, and fade-ins.


Anything Else?

Indeed there is!

OnlyOffice offer a free Community Server. This is a free open-source system you can install on your server. The OnlyOffice Community Server drastically increases the office suite’s functionality. Instead of just a Document, Spreadsheet, and Presentation editor, you’ll have access to:

  • Integrated document management through the OnlyOffice portal
  • Integration with Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, and OwnCloud
  • Easier file sharing
  • Document embedding
  • Customizable CRM
  • Web-to-lead forms
  • Invoicing system
  • Numerous project management tools, including Gantt Charts, milestones, task dependencies, and subtasks

Incredibly, that isn’t everything on offer. The OnlyOffice Community Server, Document Server, and Mail Server can be found here.

Small Things

There are a number of small things that count against OnlyOffice. For example, merging formatting during a copy and paste. It just doesn’t happen. In that sense, OnlyOffice remains rooted to its online document editor past. Another example is save times. This review was written in OnlyOffice and only comprises 1,000-or-so words, yet the time taken to save my document feels extensive. There is also a definite lack of advanced options, relating to my first issue.

Confusingly, the OnlyOffice window size cannot be reduced below 800 pixels wide. Similarly, the height can only be reduced to 600 pixels. As I work on a single 24-inch monitor, I prefer my document editor to sit in the corner, relatively small, against a much larger browser window. Style presets disappear from the window at that size, without a button to scroll the toolbar and find them. I thought I was going mad, but found the same restrictions on my laptop.

These are just tiny gripes. Perhaps I am being finicky? Nonetheless, they made an impression on me during my test run.

Aye or Nay?

OnlyOffice gets an Aye from me. Despite the small list of gripes, OnlyOffice offers a robust office suite experience, further boosted by the Community Server. The OnlyOffice desktop client is entirely free and available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

As with most of the Microsoft Office alternatives Don't Buy Office 2019! Here's Why You May Not Need It Should you buy Office 2019? We don't think so. Here's why Office 2019 isn't worth it, and what to try instead. Read More , the real answer is to simply try it out yourself. Some aspects will suit you and/or your team perfectly, while the lack of certain tools will be a game-changer for others. However, it is certainly worth a look.

What’s your office suite of choice? Do you stick with Microsoft? Or are the free alternatives now simply too good to ignore? Let us know your thoughts below!

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

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  1. Radhakrishnan
    January 9, 2017 at 12:32 am

    Can I use 'OnlyOffice dektop client ' along with Microsoft Office 2013?

    • Gavin Phillips
      January 13, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      You can use them together e.g. copy and open documents from one editor to the other. Is that what you meant?

  2. Md Abubakar
    December 18, 2016 at 4:34 am

    Good tutorial. thanks

  3. Md Abubakar
    December 18, 2016 at 4:34 am

    Good Tutorial

  4. Bart
    December 15, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    How is it compared to LibreOffice ?


    • Gavin Phillips
      January 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Honestly, pretty good. LibreOffice has come on leaps and bounds over the last two years, and OnlyOffice is at least competing with LO. In terms of overall functionality, the Community Server is what seals the deal.

  5. K. Willis
    December 14, 2016 at 3:00 am

    The free suites usually have a problem in that often you get a formatting compatability problem once you import the freebie-produced file to Word. Nothing sets the Word user off like trying to fix a formatting problem in Word. I would go back to WordPerfect in a flash if they can get the save to Word to work flawlessly. There were/are some great WP features that Word will never include.

    • Gavin Phillips
      December 14, 2016 at 9:59 am

      You're absolutely right, K. I copied a few documents back and forth. The formatting was largely well preserved, bar a few little issues. It usually depends on the intricacy of the document. My regular article documents are plain, only using heading styles and bullet-points. As such, they're easy.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!