Microsoft Excel is the most used spreadsheet software. It is mostly used by individuals for personal work, businesses, and institutions. Over the years, it has become a powerhouse of the most advanced features.
The problem is that not many people know how to get Excel for free. This is partly because Excel, like most Microsoft Software, comes at a price. Luckily there are several legit ways you can get the latest Excel version for free.
1. Use Excel Online
Excel online is already free of charge. If you have an account on office.com, then you probably have access to Microsoft Excel online, and you didn’t realize it. Besides, you also have access to other software such as Word, Outlook, Publisher, and PowerPoint online. Follow these steps to Use Excel online for free.
1. Create an account by signing up on Office.com. If you already have one, just log in
2. Once you log in, you will see some apps on the left side panel
3. Click on the Excel Icon to open the online version
4. You can now click on New Blank Workbook to start using this online software
Viola, that’s how to get Microsoft Excel for free, regardless of your operating system. Although most of the features available offline can be found in the online version, there are a few differences.
Offline Excel Vs. Free Online Excel Version
Excel Offline Version
Excel Free Online Version
Installed on a local computer
Accessible via a web browser
Saves files locally
Saves files to OneDrive or SharePoint
Limited collaboration options
Real-time collaboration with multiple users
Add-ins and Macros
Supports all Excel add-ins and macros
Supports a range of add-ins; some advanced add-ins may not be available
Full range of data analysis tools
Limited data analysis capabilities (e.g., PivotTables, Data Analysis ToolPak)
File Size Limit
Depends on the computer’s storage capacity
Limited by online storage (typically up to 5 GB for free Microsoft accounts)
Extensive customization options
Limited customization features (e.g., limited themes, templates)
Accessible without an internet connection
Requires an internet connection for full functionality
It may require manual updates for compatibility
Automatically updated to the latest version
Typically requires a paid license
Free to use with a Microsoft account
How to use the classic ribbon on Excel Online
The online Excel comes with a new Ribbon on top of the existing ribbon. The classic ribbon is wide and contains features in similar locations to the Offline Excel. This means that it will be easier to navigate if you are used to the offline Excel version. This top ribbon contains a search bar that allows you to easily search for features or data on the spreadsheet. It also has the location where your file is saved. Lastly, it provides easy access to your profile and preferences settings.
The top ribbon also contains a big section displaying “Buy Microsoft 365”. You can change back to the classic ribbon by following these steps.
1. Click on a drop-down menu located in the far right corner of the toolbar.
2. Excel will automatically revert to the old ribbon
Similar Read: 7 tips to make Excel less laggy
2. Use the free App
Microsoft Excel App on the Playstore and Appstore is free of charge. It’s the best version to use on the go. If you are always on the road and need to fill in some data fast, this is the easiest way. You just have to open your phone, tablet, or IPad, and you get access to Excel features. This is how to get Excel for free on your phone, tablet, or iPad.
1. Open the Playstore or Appstore
2. Search for Microsoft Excel
3. Locate Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets and install them on your device
The best thing about using the Excel app is that it syncs your documents to OneDrive. Therefore you can easily switch devices and continue working. Furthermore, it has all the latest functions released by Excel.
3. Get Microsoft 365 for free.
Microsoft 365 is the latest office suite containing all the office software you need. It comes with 1TB of cloud storage per user. The good news is that you can try this version for 30 days free of charge. Therefore if you are looking to use the desktop version for a few days, then this might be the best route to take.
1. Visit Microsoft 365 Website
2. Click on Try 1 month free
3. Add a Payment Method and follow the prompts. Once done, you can download and install it on your device. You will not be charged until your free trial ends.
4. Get Excel for Free Using School Email Address
If you are an educator or school student with a valid school email address, you can get Office 365 Education for free. This version includes Excel, PowerPoint, Word, OneNote, Microsoft Teams, and other classroom tools.
1. Visit the Office 365 Education page
2. Type in your school Email address (Your school email address)
3. Click on Get Started.
If your school offers a lifetime domain, then you might still have access to these tools even after you complete your studies.
If your email doesn’t work, then it means your school or institution is not registered, not Microsoft. If you have a school and wish students to access these tools for free, then you can sign up. Your students will get the software for free.
5. Join the developer’s program
Under the Microsoft Developers program, you get access to all the office tools plus sample data free of charge.
1. Open the Microsoft Developer portal
2. Click on Join Now
Sign in with your Microsoft account and follow the prompts.
6. Use Google Sheets as an alternative
Google sheet is a free spreadsheet software that works only online. It offers similar functionalities to Excel. You can achieve almost everything you want using Google Sheets as you would have done with Excel.
1. Open Google Sheets
2. Click on the plus Icon to create a blank spreadsheet and start editing
3. If you have an existing spreadsheet or Excel file, you can upload it by clicking on the file icon and then the upload tab. Finally, click the browse button and select your Excel file.
You can also drag and drop the file to upload automatically.
Excel is the best spreadsheet platform, but it comes at a price. Luckily there are various legit ways to get Microsoft Excel for free. Try any of the above six methods depending on what you want to do. Let us know in the comments if you encounter any problems.