Chromebooks are affordable, fast, and simple, but they lack some desktop-level software many of you need. Office users can do just about everything through Google Drive. As great as that is, most of us are used to Microsoft Office apps like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Luckily, it’s still possible to use Microsoft Office on Chromebook devices.
You can’t install desktop versions of Office on a Chromebook, but you still have options. Depending on what software you run on your Chromebook, you’ll be able to use Office in a somewhat limited capacity. Let us tell you how it’s done.
How to run Microsoft Office on Chromebook
Editor’s note: All instructions in this tutorial were put together using a Lenovo Chromebook Duet running ChromeOS version 93.0.4577.85 and an Asus ZenBook Pro Duo running Windows 10 Pro. Keep in mind steps may differ if you’re using different devices or software versions.
Microsoft Office mobile apps on Chromebook
The easiest way to get Microsoft Office on Chromebook computers is to download the Office apps available for Android. Some older Chromebooks still don’t have access to the Google Play Store, but most do. Check out our list of compatible Chromebooks to see if yours has access to the Google Play Store.
Follow these simple steps:
- Open the Google Play Store.
- Search for the Office program you want to download and select it.
- Click Install.
- Once the app is done downloading, open the Chrome launcher to open the app.
- Sign in to your Microsoft Account or Office 365 subscription account.
Click on the links below to download specific apps:
Microsoft Office Online
Unfortunately, if your Chromebook only has access to the Chrome Web Store, you can’t download these Android Office apps. You’re not out of luck, though. It’s possible to use Office Online, using the browser.
With the online version, you’ll be able to work on, edit, and share Office files directly in your browser. You need to be connected to the internet to use Microsoft Office on Chromebook, which may not be ideal, but it means you have an alternative to Google Drive.
The best part is that you can access OneDrive and Microsoft Office web apps with a free account. You get more benefits and extra services if you pay for an Office 365 account, but it’s unnecessary to use Microsoft Office apps online. And the good news is that these web apps are really close to their full desktop counterparts.
Stream from your PC
Another option is to run Microsoft Office on a PC and stream it to your Chromebook. This might be beneficial because you get the chance to run the full desktop version made for PC. It will have all features and no compromises. The main downside is that you need another computer, in which case you might as well use the device with a full desktop OS. However, it’s an excellent way to use Microsoft Office on Chromebook computers when on the go.
Before you start, make sure you have Microsoft Office and Google Chrome installed on your PC. Also, make sure you have a stable internet connection on both your PC and Chromebook.
How to stream PC on Chromebook:
- Open the Chrome browser on your PC and visit the Chrome Remote Desktop website.
- Click the Set up remote access option.
- Install the Chrome Remote Desktop extension on your PC.
- Return to the original tab on your PC and name your computer.
- Click Next and create a PIN with at least six digits.
- If prompted, enter the PIN you created on your PC.
- Now you can use your PC remotely, using your Chromebook.
You could also use a PC cloud service like Shadow. This company offers Windows machines that can be accessed remotely through any compatible device. Supported operating systems include Windows, macOS, Ubuntu, Android, and iOS. You don’t see Chrome OS on the list, but remember, Chromebooks can run Android apps! Once set up, you could install Photoshop on your remote Windows machine and stream it. Just keep in mind Shadow isn’t exactly cheap!
Related: The 15 best Chromebook games
Crossover runs Windows apps
Did you know it’s actually possible to run full Windows apps on a Chromebook? Code Weavers makes a service called CrossOver, which allows you to run Windows programs on macOS, Linux, and ChromeOS machines.
The software costs a good penny, but it can run many Windows apps on your Chromebook computer, including Microsoft Office ones. The purchase also includes support, which could be great if you need any help setting things up.