Microsoft Word remains the standard way to create and share text documents, whether you’re in a business or an educational organization. Over the past few years, Google Docs has definitely loosened its iron grip, but in many cases Word is the preferred or expected piece of software to use. There’s only one problem with that: it’s not free. So if you don’t want to add another monthly bill to your account, how can you continue to use the software without paying? Here’s how to get Microsoft Word on your Mac for free, along with the different paid versions and some useful alternatives.
How to Use Microsoft Word for Free on the Web
Microsoft offers completely free versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, which you access online at its Microsoft 365 hub. You’ll need a Microsoft account, but these are free and you may find you already have one. Hotmail or Outlook account that you created some time ago. If you don’t, creating them only takes a few minutes.
Once done, you are free to access the different applications and use them in your browser. It used to be called Office.com, but Microsoft is now moving it to Microsoft 365 to keep it in line with its other productivity software.
Granted, you don’t have the full suite of tools that the paid versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint have, and you need to save documents to OneDrive, but if you just need a capable word processor to accurately create and manage .docx file types, this is a convenient way to get it for free.
How to Get the Paid Version of Microsoft Word
If you need the full suite of tools Word has to offer, not to mention the ability to work offline and save files to other folders or online storage services, you’ll have to pay. Two ways are available to you: single payment or subscription.
We already pay for a lot of things each month, so the idea of adding another bill to the list might not sit well. Luckily, you don’t have to, because Microsoft always offers a one-size-fits-all approach to buying Word. It’s not cheap, though, as buying the app will set you back $159.99 / £149.99, although there are no more payments after that.
The best option in our opinion, as long as you don’t mind signing up for another service, is the Microsoft 365 subscription. With this you not only get Word, but also Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook and 1TB OneDrive storage. Microsoft keeps you on the latest version of apps at all times, so you never have to deal with outdated software or miss new features.
For a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365 Personal, you can either pay upfront, priced at $69.99/£59.99, or $6.99/£5.99 per month, which allows one account to use Office apps on up to five devices, including an iPad.
If you want more accounts, there’s the Microsoft 365 Family tier which lets 2-6 people use the service and boosts storage up to 6TB. It costs $99.99/£79.99 per year or £7.99 per month.
If you want to test out Office apps before signing up for a subscription, there’s also a 30-day free trial.
To see how the subscription version compares to the purchased one, check out our Microsoft 365 vs Office 2021 buying guide.
Beware of scams and hacks
It takes about 30 seconds to find videos on YouTube that will show you how to download, install, and get Word (and all other MS Office software) working on your Mac for nothing. If the instructions are similar to those in this article, you should be fine, but many of the ones we’ve seen require you to purchase and download some sort of serial code cracking program to your machine. Although this may seem like a victimless crime to some – Microsoft is a multi-billion dollar company while the user is just one person with no money – the real victim is most likely you.
It’s true that some hackers are benevolent, only wanting to release the information for anyone to use, but sadly, others are certainly not. Downloading and installing things like this on your Mac is one of the easiest ways to contract malware or spyware that can wreak havoc with your data. That aside from the fact that you’re infringing copyright, which is pretty nasty.
Our advice would be to stay away from these “free” routes to Word.
Free alternatives to Microsoft Word
Unless you specifically need Microsoft Word, you’ll find that there are plenty of great word processors out there that won’t cost you a dime. Any new Mac will come with a free copy of Apple’s Pages software, which is an extremely powerful tool for creating and editing documents, and also works well with its iOS/iPadOS counterpart app.
Google Docs is a perennial favorite because the web-based software is free and easy to use. You won’t find incredibly advanced features like those in full-fledged Microsoft Word, but for most people that’s all they’ll need.
LibreOffice Writer is another one that is always worth checking out. The open source software is completely free and yet offers a complete solution for those who wish to benefit from the features of MS Word. Yes, it’s not quite the smooth and aesthetically pleasing experience it inspired, but there’s so much you can do on Writer that you won’t care.
For a roundup of the other options, check out our roundup of the best Mac word processor.