Get started with Office for the web in Microsoft 365

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If you have ever wondered what is the web version of Office 365 and whether it will work for your business, then stay around. We are about to get into the basics of one of the top online Microsoft services – Office for the web.

Keep on reading to learn how to use Microsoft office for free on the web:

First steps and prerequisites

Let’s get started with Office for the web by answering all the pressing questions about these online Microsoft services.

What is Office for the web?

Office for the web is an online functionality of Microsoft Office 365 that allows opening, editing and modifying files in a web browser. It works with Word, Excel, OneNote, PDF and PowerPoint documents, as well as Outlook Web App attachments. 

How do I access Office for the web?

To access the service, the first step is to open a browser and head over to the official MS Office website ( Then log in to your account, using your corporate Microsoft Office 365 credentials. 

Once you are in, head over to the OneDrive library or Microsoft Teams. Find the relevant Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, or PDF file. Click on the file name to open the document in Office for the web and start using the functionalities of Microsoft Office 365 online. 

How does Microsoft Office for the web work?

Office for the web operates on the OneDrive cloud. That means it allows instant access to the latest version of your Office 365 files on all your desktop and mobile devices. In a way, it makes using the Microsoft cloud easier, since it takes the whole working with documents process to one place – your web browser.

Is Office for the web free?

Office for the web is a free service by Microsoft. It is designed to make document management more accessible. So you can use Word, Excel, Powerpoint or OneNote online the same way you use it on the corresponding Office 365 applications. Without any extra charges.

Which one is better: Office for the web vs desktop Microsoft Office 365?

The first huge difference between Office online and desktop is that the online version is running on a browser. And the desktop version is an app(s), installed on your device

Desktop Office 365 apps and Office for the web look nearly identical. Functionality-wise, the online tool might be missing some advanced features. Yet, Office for the web is way better for online teams, as well as for viewing and sharing files in real-time.

Another distinctive characteristic is that Office for the web requires an internet connection. As for the Microsoft 365 apps – they are accessible, no matter if the user is online or offline. If you often lose progress on files and have to count on autosave, the online apps will suit your needs better.

There is no correct answer on which Microsoft Office 365 apps version is better. It all depends on the expectations and goals you have of using the service. In general, desktop apps are better for individual use, and Office on the web is way more flexible for enterprise use.

Basic tasks in Word for your business

Word for the web helps you create, view and modify Office 365 Word documents on your web browser and store them in OneDrive libraries.

File sharing 

Cloud storage means your Word document is online at all times, so you can easily share it within or outside your network, via email or link. 

Follow the steps: Click on a Word file > Share > Share with People > Select “Invite people” or “Get a link” > Share with a user via email or send the generated hyperlink manually via chat or other communication channels

Real-time comments & response

With Microsoft’s Word for the web, you can leave, resolve and respond to comments in the document in real-time.

Online editing on Word for the web

All basic features of Word are available in the Editing view of Word for the web. That includes text typing, formatting, page adjustments and picture attachments. For advanced editing features, switch to the Office 365 desktop app. 

All changes to your online Word documents are being automatically saved on the Microsoft cloud storage space. No more manual saves and losing files.  

Working on a Word document at the same time

In the Office for the web version of Word, you can have multiple people working on one document at the same time. The online tool will alert you when anyone else is viewing or editing the same file and you can see their actions in real-time.

Find and Replace functions

Use the Find and Replace functions to fix a word or phrase occurrence in your Word on the web document. 

Follow the steps: Click Home > Find (Ctrl+F) > Click on a search result > Click Replace (Ctrl+H).

Page numbering on Word for the web

Microsoft Word on the web allows you to number the pages of your text document and see the total number of pages in the file. 

Follow the steps: Click Insert > Page Numbers > Choose how to display numbers > Select Include Page Count.

Adding header and footer

Another helpful functionality of Office for the web is to add a header and footer to your document in Word online.

Follow the steps: Click Insert > Header & Footer > Click Options > Select how you want the header and footer to look.

Supported file formats in Word online

These are the supported file formats for Word for the web:

  • .docx
  • .dotx
  • .doc
  • .dot
  • .docm
  • .dotm
  • .odt

Other file formats and documents encrypted with a password are not supported for opening on the Office for the web Word app. 

Please note that macros do not run in the browser version of Microsoft Word. Also, you can view Word 97-2003 documents and templates (.doc & .dot) online, but upon edit, the files are auto-saved as a new copy (in a .docx or .dotx format). 

Basic tasks in Excel for your business

Creating a spreadsheet on Excel online

To use Excel on the web to create a worksheet, go to the OneDrive menu, select +New and choose “Excel workbook”.

Sharing Excel workbooks online

Once created, your Excel sheets are available for sharing both within and outside of your company.  

Follow the steps: Click on an Excel worksheet > Share > Share with People > Select “Invite people” or “Get a link” > Share with a user via email or send the generated hyperlink manually via chat or other communication channels 

Worksheet editing in Excel for the web

Data entry, formulas, charts, formatting for texts, cells and values… These are all Excel features, available both in the desktop Office 365 applications and the Office for the web version. 

Online browser file editing is very similar to working with the Excel offline app, so it is not hard to get used to it. However, Excel for the web does not support advanced editing options.

All sheet edits and modifications made on a browser Excel are auto-saved and updated on the OneDrive cloud.

Working on one Excel worksheet at the same time

Whenever you need to share an Excel file with another Microsoft 365 user, using Excel for the web is the ultimate solution. 

By taking your worksheets online, multiple users can update the same document at the same time. The system indicates and displays who is collaborating on a spreadsheet, and users can see each other’s updates as they happen. 

Printing in Excel online

Just like in the desktop Excel app, you can print selected charts and cells on Office for the web. Go to File, click on Print and wait for the dialogue box on your browser to show. 

Make the proper settings and preview the sheets before printing. If you are happy with the previewed version, click on Print.

Basic tasks in PowerPoint for your business

Choosing a presentation theme

PowerPoint themes make your slides look consistent and professional. They unify colours, fonts and layouts. And they are available in the browser version! 

Follow these steps: Go to the Design tab > Select a theme > Pick a colour scheme in the Variants group > Pick layout

Picking a layout for the slides

PowerPoint for the web allows you to select predefined layouts, consisting of text, pictures, shapes and charts. You can choose a different layout for each slide of the presentation. 

Follow these steps: Select a slide > Go to the Home tab > Click Layout > Choose a layout template > Change layout

All layouts are manually customizable as well.

Adding text or picture 

Adding text and pictures to your PowerPoint on the web layout is easy. 

  • Text: To add text simply click inside a text placeholder and type. On the Home tab, you will find additional text formatting options such as size, font and text bullets.
  • Picture: To add a picture go to the Insert tab, click Picture, click the Choose File to Upload button, browse your galleries, pick a picture, and click Open.

Adding slide transitions in browser PowerPoint 

The Microsoft Office 365 feature to make smooth transitions between presentation slides is available in PowerPoint for the web.

Follow these steps: Go to the Transitions tab > Choose a transition > Apply

If you want to add the transition to every slide of your online PowerPoint presentation, select the option “Apply To All”.

Sharing a presentation online

With PowerPoint on the web, your presentation files are stored on the OneDrive cloud. That makes the documents easily shareable with your team.

Follow the steps: Click on Presentation > Share > Share with People > Select “Invite people” or “Get a link” > Share with a user via email or send the generated hyperlink manually via chat or other communication channels

Under “Choose an option”, select “View Only” if you want to provide only viewing permissions to link recipients. In case you want to give editing permissions, select the “Edit” option. It will allow users to make changes to your Office 365 PowerPoint presentation online.

Presenting a slideshow on a browser

Microsoft PowerPoint for the web has a functionality that allows you to make a presentation on a web browser. All you need is an internet connection and access to your OneDrive cloud documents.

Follow the steps: Go to the Slide Show tab > Click “Play from Beginning” or “Play from Current Slide” 

Find the navigation buttons at the bottom left corner of the screen. While presenting, click on the arrows (“Previous” and “Next”) to go through the PowerPoint slides in the correct sequence. 

Printing the slides

With PowerPoint for the web, you can print out your online presentation slides

Follow the steps: Select File > Print > Print

The Microsoft Office for the web system will auto-create a printable PDF file. Then it will open the relevant browser Print dialogue box where you can adjust settings. Upon preview, you can print your PowerPoint file in seconds.

Basic tasks in OneNote for your business

Creating a new notebook

OneNote for the web is optimized for users to be able to create a new notebook from any page in the online tool. 

Follow the steps: Open OneNote for the web > Click the Notebook List button > Select +Notebook > Name the new notebook > Create Notebook

Once it is created, the browser version of Microsoft OneNote will switch to the new notebook, where you can add sections and pages to take notes.

Writing and editing notes in OneNote for the web

With one tap on any of the pages, you can write and edit your notes directly on your browser. Every change in the online Office 365 notes is auto-saved. 

The main editing features and functionalities of OneNote for the web include:

  • Text typing
  • Text formatting
  • Inserting tables, links and images

Adding media and links to notes online

If you want to add pictures, tables and hyperlinks in OneNote online, find below what you need to do.

Follow the steps: Put the cursor where you want to insert an object > Click Insert > Choose the type of media or object to insert > Follow the instructions

It is possible to insert visuals from your computer directory or add pictures and clip art from Bing Images. Tables and grids are customizable upon creation, and later you can modify parts of a table or rearrange its cells.

Creating a new page in OneNote Online

There is no limit to how many pages you can have in OneNote for the web. So you can create additional pages in any notebook section by going to the bottom of the page list and clicking on “+Page”. Enter a title and press Enter to save. 

Click and drag any OneNote page from the list and move it around to change the page order. 

Creating a new section in OneNote for the web

Another way to structure your OneNote notebook in a browser is to add more sections. Do that by going to the bottom of the section list and clicking on “+Section”. Enter a title and description, and press Enter to save. 

Click and drag the section name to rearrange the order of sections.

Sharing notebooks on browser

Show your OneNote notes to your team on any desktop or mobile device! Or add people from or outside of your organization to modify them.

Follow the steps: Select a notebook > Share > Share with People > Select “Invite people” or “Get a link” > Share with a user via email or send the generated hyperlink manually via chat or other communication channels

Be aware that single notes and pages of an Office 365 notebook cannot be shared individually. Online sharing is always for the entire OneNote for the web notebook.

Basic tasks in OneDrive for your business

Office for the web is an online solution to access, share and modify Microsoft 365 documents on the OneDrive cloud. 

Users can launch it on all desktop and mobile device browsers with internet access and perform basic tasks on OneDrive, such as:

  • Upload existing Office 365 documents and other files to the Microsoft cloud
  • Save documents to OneDrive directly from the Office 365 apps
  • Create Word, Excel, OneNote or Powerpoint documents in OneDrive on your browser (Click New > Select type of online document to create)
  • Edit files on the OneDrive cloud by clicking on the document (files automatically open in “Edit mode”)
  • Work with Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Excel worksheets and OneNote notebooks online
  • Make content adjustments on the go (anywhere and anytime you have internet)
  • Make last-minute changes to content with instant auto-updates for all users with file access across OneDrive (on all corporate devices and platforms)
  • Print Microsoft 365 documents from your browser
  • Make business decisions, based on real-time data and information
  • Present a slideshow on PowerPoint for the web 
  • Leave notes for your team and colleagues
  • Allow remote brainstorming sessions with Office for the web 
  • Many people can work on a single Office for the web file at the same time.