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Microsoft Word explained in 5 minutes


Microsoft Word is the essential word processor, available everywhere from Windows PCs and Macs to Android and iOS phones and tablets. The sturdy productivity app comes with a broad collection of templates, handy design and formatting tools, and useful collaboration capabilities. For Windows and Mac, you can get Word as part of an Office 365 subscription, a one-time purchase, or free:

Microsoft Word

  • • Get Microsoft Word as a free download that you can try for 30 days
  • • Use Microsoft Word Online for free via your browser
  • • Subscribe to Office 365, starting at $6.99 per month
  • • Buy Microsoft Word 2016 as a standalone app

Microsoft Word is a free download for Android or iOS, but you can only view documents. To create or edit docs, you'll have to pay for Office 365.

Microsoft Word FAQs

  • What does Microsoft Word do?
    Word offers more than two dozen templates and themes for building compelling-looking documents, easy-to-use formatting and design tools that help you add a professional look to your work, and powerful collaboration tools for working in real time with others. Microsoft's OneDrive cloud service lets you view, edit, and store your Word documents online from any Mac, PC, or mobile device. See all that Microsoft Word for Windows or Mac can do.
  • Can you get a free download of Microsoft Word?

    You can download a free one-month copy of Word as part of an Office 365 trial. The trial version gives you full access to all the Office 365 apps and features.

    You can also use the free Word Online, which is available through your Web browser and is similar to Google Docs. Word Online provides many of same capabilities as the desktop version of Microsoft Word. Use it to edit, share, and store your documents in the cloud.

  • Other ways to get Microsoft Word
    If you don't want the time limit of the Office 365 trial or the feature limitations of Word Online, you'll have to pay. The best option is an Office 365 subscription, which also gives you access to Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and other apps, plus the Web version and 1TB of online storage. Office 365 starts at $6.99 per month.

    If you don't want to subscribe, you can buy Word 2016 as a one-time purchase for $98.99. But check out the cons of buying vs. subscribing.

Free Microsoft Word alternatives

Google Docs


Part of the Google Drive suite of tools, Google Docs lets you write, edit, and collaborate in the cloud for free.


The popular and free LibreOffice productivity suite offers features similar to Microsoft's Office tools.


The OpenOffice collection of apps does a good job of matching up with Microsoft's Office productivity software.

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Clifford Colby follows the Mac and Android markets for He's been an editor at Peachpit Press and a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWeek, MacUser, and Corporate Computing.