LibreOffice Review

Will this free Microsoft Office alternative meet your needs?

Picture of the LibreOffice logo

LibreOffice is a free Microsoft Office alternative, complete with spreadsheet, database, presentation, and word processor applications. With support for the major file types used by corresponding Microsoft Office programs Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Word, this free office suite should fulfill the needs of most users.

LibreOffice has specific system requirements for Windows, Mac, Linux, and other operating systems. Familiarize yourself with hardware and software prerequisites before installation.

LibreOffice Programs

LibreOffice includes the following applications in its suite: Base (Access), Calc (Excel), Impress (PowerPoint), and Writer (Word). LibreOffice also installs graphics and diagram tool Draw and formula editor Math.

The Pros

  • Works with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems
  • Automatic spell-check in all parts of the suite
  • Writer can open all the same file types as Microsoft Word
  • Calc and Impress support many of the same file formats as Excel and PowerPoint
  • Supports templates and extensions to add more features
  • portable version is available

The Cons

  • Database files such as ACCDB and MDB can't be used with LibreOffice
  • Unable to save files as PowerPoint/Excel/Word macro-enabled files
  • LibreOffice can't save files as MS Office template files
  • Must install the whole suite at once (can't install just Writer, etc.)

LibreOffice File Formats

LibreOffice fully supports the following file types (files can be opened and saved back to these formats):

CSV, DBF, DIF, DOC, DOCX, DOT, FODS, FODT, HTML, ODG, ODP, ODS, ODT, OTP, OTS, OTT, POT, POTM, PPSX, PPT, PPTX, RTF, SLK, STC, STW, SXC, SXI, SXW, TXT, UOP, UOS, XLS, XLSX, XLT, XML

Note that popular formats found in Microsoft Office programs, such as DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX, are fully supported in LibreOffice.

The file formats below can be opened with one of LibreOffice's programs but can't be saved back to the same format. Choose one of the fully supported formats listed above when saving one of these files:

123, 602, ABW, BMP, CFR, CGM, CMX, CWK, DOCM, DOTM, DOTX, DUMMY, DXF, EMF, EPS, FB2, GIF, HQX, HWP, JPEG, JPG, KEY, LRF, LWP, MCW, MET, MW, MWD, NX^D, ODM, OTH, PBM, PCD, PCT, PCX, PDB, PDF, PGM, PICT, POTX, PPM, PPTM, PSD, PUB, RAS, SGF, SGV, SVM, SYLK, TGA, UOF, VDX, VSD, VSDM, VSDX, WB2, WK1, WKS, WMF, WN, WPD, WPG, WPS, XLC, XLK, XLM, XLSB, XLSM, XLTM, XLTX, XLW, ZABW, ZIP

LibreOffice vs. Microsoft Office

Both office suites offer a sound spreadsheet, word processor, database, and presentation program, but each has some unique features.

LibreOffice can edit math functions and equations such as fractions and exponents. It also includes software for building photo albums, flowcharts, and other graphical documents. Microsoft Office boasts an email client, communications platform, and note-taking software.

Both Microsoft Office and LibreOffice offer solid office applications and work with some of the same file formats, but they are very different products. Take a look at the individual features of each suite before deciding what's right for your needs.

More Pluses

LibreOffice has a program launcher that opens at startup so users can easily select an application to open. This screen also has a list of recently saved files; open any of the supported file formats without having to first open a specific office product, which is a nice timesaver.

The portable version of LibreOffice is handy for working while on the go. It's uncommon to find such a large program available in portable form, so this is a nice perk. The extracted files require around 300 MB of space.

The Bottom Line

LibreOffice offers an impressive array of office products at absolutely no cost. Each portion of this suite is responsive and easy to use. Explore the features LibreOffice offers and give it a try if it's right for your needs.