Office Mobile: Get it for free.

In yesterday’s blog post, Office 365 Home: The best bang for your buck, I talked about getting Office Mobile with an Office 365 subscription. Today’s blog post covers how to get it, even if you don’t have an Office 365 subscription, and the essentials on how to use it.

Office MobileGetting Office Mobile

The Office apps are available from the Google Play Store, Apple Store, and they come preinstalled on a Windows phone. In order to install the Office apps on a tablet or smartphone, you need a compatible device. At the time of this writing, here’s what you need.

  • Windows tablet: Office 2016 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. Windows 8 or later required. Office Mobile applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote) require Windows 10.
  • Windows phone: Office Mobile applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook Mail, and Outlook Calendar) require Windows 10.
  • iOS: Office for iPad® and iPhone® requires iOS 10.0 or later. Office for iPad Pro™ requires iOS 10.0 or later.
  • Android: Office for Android™ can be installed on tablets and phones that meet the following criteria: running Android KitKat 4.4 or later version and have an ARM-based or Intel x86 processor.

For a full list of requirements, see : https://products.office.com/en-us/mobile/office

The Office Mobile download is free and you don’t need to buy anything to use the Office apps. However, the free unlocked version has limited features. The available core editing tools you get for free include functionality such as copy/paste, font formatting, bullets, numbering, Excel formulas, PowerPoint transitions, etc. If you have an Office 365 subscription, you’ll also get features such as inserting pictures, SmartArt, tables, etc. In order to use the fully functional versions, all you need to do is sign into Office Mobile using an account with an Office 365 subscription. In other words, if you don’t sign in with an Office 365 account, you’ll get limited functionality. If you do sign in using an Office 365 account, you’ll get full functionality.

NoteCore editing is free on devices with screen sizes of 10.1 inches or less. If the screen size is larger, you’ll need an Office 365 subscription. If Office Mobile isn’t preinstalled on your Windows phone, it can be downloaded from the Windows Store.

Using Office Mobile

You should be prompted to log into Office Mobile the first time you start an Office app. If you didn’t sign in the first time with a Microsoft Account that has an Office 365 subscription, here’s what you need to do.

  1. In the Office app, such as Word, tap the menu in the upper left corner.
  2. Tap Settings, and then tap Accounts.
  3. Select or add your Office 365 account.

Note that you may need to sign in with your Office 365 account in all of the Office Mobile apps before you get full functionality. I needed to sign in and sign out more than once in all of the Office apps before it started working for me. I believe it was due to not using my Office 365 account the first time I logged in to each app.

Here’s a summary of primary tools when using the full featured version. Note that the list below is in addition to the free core editing tools I previously listed.

 Word Word: Online templates, inking, voice-to-text, apply styles, support for content controls, find/replace, footnotes/endnotes, headers/footers, insert pictures from phone or camera, picture formatting, table formatting, page margins, orientation, paper size, comments, word count, and co-authoring, save to DropBox, print to PDF or Wi-Fi, printer.
 Excel Excel: Online templates, inking, voice-to-text, sort and filter, tables, AutoSum, approx. 400 available functions, insert charts, insert/delete rows and columns, rename and add sheets, comments, and co-authoring, save to DropBox, and print to PDF or Wi-Fi, printer.
 OneNote OneNote: Inking, voice-to-text, create and manage sections and pages, insert pictures from phone or camera, check boxes, insert audio recordings, co-authoring, search, page versions, and print to PDF or Wi-Fi, printer.
 PowerPoint PowerPoint: Online templates, inking, voice-to-text, basic transitions and animations, presentation themes, create and rearrange slides, insert pictures from phone or camera, picture formatting, insert shapes and SmartArt, slide show, co-authoring, save to DropBox, and Print to PDF or Wi-Fi, printer.

Accessing the tools is similar to the desktop versions. Depending on the size of your display, the ribbon may appear at the top of the screen with the Home, Insert, Draw, and other tabs, similar to the desktop application. On smaller devices, there is a toolbar at the bottom. The buttons on the toolbar are contextual tools, which means they change depending on what you have selected. If, for example, you have a picture selected, the buttons will change to the set of picture formatting tools, such as picture styles, alignment, etc. To access the ribbon tabs, tap the More (…) button in the bottom right corner. For example, to access the Insert tab, tap the More button, tap Home on the left edge of the screen, and then tap Insert.

If you’re unable to find what you’re looking for, one of my favorite tools is the Tell me what you want to do button. This tool enables you to search all of the available commands for quick use. To access it, tap More, and then tap the Light bulb next to the Undo and Redo buttons. You can search by typing or use voice by tapping the microphone. For example, in Word you can tap the microphone and say, “header and footer” and tools for adding and removing headers and footers will display. Tap an available tool to use it.

The Office Mobile apps have come a long way since they were rebuilt for Windows phone. Initially, they were limited to basic editing and formatting tools. These days, they aren’t the full versions, but they do give me the ability to work while I’m on the go. In fact, I’m at my local coffee shop while reviewing a draft of this post in Word Mobile. And since I’m still drinking my coffee, I used voice-to-speech to dictate this last paragraph.

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