How to Create, Edit, and View Microsoft Excel Documents for Free

Try any of these spreadsheeting alternatives for free

Microsoft Excel is used by many people to open and edit Excel files. However, the full version of Excel costs money. If you want a free alternative, these free apps can open, modify, and create Excel spreadsheets.

The majority of these apps support files with the XLS or XLSX extension, among others.

Excel Online

Microsoft offers a web-based version of the Office suite, which includes Excel. Excel Online has Excel's basic functionality but doesn't include the advanced features of the paid version, such as macro support.

Excel Online is accessible in most browsers. You can use it to edit existing XLS and XLSX files and create new workbooks.

Excel Online

Office Online's integration with Microsoft OneDrive means you can store your spreadsheets in the cloud and collaborate with others in real-time.

Microsoft Excel App and 365 App

The standalone Excel app is available for Android and iOS, and the features vary depending on the device. There's also a unified Microsoft 365 iOS app that includes Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.

You can create and edit spreadsheets on an Android device with a 10.1 inch or smaller screen at no charge. If you use the app on a larger phone or tablet, you'll need a subscription to Microsoft 365 to do more than view an Excel file.

With the Excel standalone iOS app or as part of the Microsoft 365 iOS app, you can create, edit, save, and view Excel documents for free on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Advanced features, however, will require a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Some advanced features are only accessible with a subscription, no matter which device you have.

Microsoft 365 Home Trial

Microsoft's free offerings, such as the browser-based Office suite and the Excel app, limit the available features. If you require access to Excel's advanced functionality but don't want to pay for Excel, the trial version of Microsoft 365 may be a short-term solution.

Once activated, you can run the complete version of Microsoft Office Home Edition (including Excel) on a combination of five PCs and Macs. The Excel app can be installed on up to five Android or iOS phones and tablets.

You must have a valid credit card number to start the 30-day trial. After the trial, you're charged for a 12-month subscription if you don't manually cancel the subscription before the expiration date.

Office Online Chrome Extension

The add-on for Google Chrome opens a powerful version of Excel in a browser window. It works on all major desktop operating systems.

The Office Online extension only works with an active Microsoft 365 subscription. It functions as expected during the Microsoft 365 free trial period.


LibreOffice is an open-source software suite that you can download for free. It features Calc, an Excel alternative that supports XLS and XLSX files, and the OpenDocument format.

Calc offers many of the spreadsheet features and templates that are commonly used in Excel. It contains multi-user functionality that allows for seamless collaboration. It also includes several power-user components, including DataPivot and a comparative Scenario Manager.

Kingsoft WPS Office

The personal, free-to-download version of the Kingsoft WPS Office suite contains Spreadsheets, which is compatible with XLS and XLSX files. Spreadsheets features data analysis and graphing tools along with basic spreadsheet functionality.

Spreadsheets can be installed as a standalone app on Android, iOS, and Windows operating systems.

A business version is available for a fee. It offers advanced features, cloud storage, and multi-device support.

Apache OpenOffice

Apache OpenOffice has amassed hundreds of millions of downloads since its initial release. It's available in over three dozen languages. OpenOffice includes a spreadsheet application that's also named Calc. It supports basic and advanced features, including extensions, macros, and Excel file formats.

Calc and the rest of OpenOffice may be shutting down due to an inactive developer community. If this happens, essential updates, including patches for security vulnerabilities, won't be made available. At that point, we recommend that you quit using this software.


Gnumeric is a standalone spreadsheet application that is also available for free. This open-source program is frequently updated. It supports all Excel file formats and is scalable to work with large spreadsheets.

Google Sheets

Google's answer to Excel Online is Sheets. Sheets is a full-featured browser-based spreadsheet. It integrates with your Google account and your server-based Google Drive. This easy-to-use application offers high-end functionality, templates, add-ons, and real-time collaboration.

Sheets is fully compatible with Excel file formats and is entirely free to use. In addition to the web-based version for desktops and laptops, Sheets apps are available for Android and iOS devices.

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