How to Set Up Microsoft Office for iPad

Access the MS Office suite on your Apple tablet

The combination Microsoft Office app that links Word, Excel, and PowerPoint together is a game-changer for some Office users. There's just one problem: There is no Microsoft Office for iPad. It's really Microsoft Office for iOS.

That means the apps are iPhone-screen sized, not iPad-screen sized. Currently, the ideal way to use these applications on the iPad is through individual app downloads. Keep reading to learn more.

How to Install Microsoft Office for iPad

Microsoft Office for iOS has a couple of different options. You can download Microsoft Office as a single entity, which is covered here. But you also have the option to download individual applications—Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and others—as separate programs. Here's how to install the Office all-in-one application on iPad.

  1. In the App Store search for Microsoft Office and find it in the search results. Tap Get to download and install the app.

    The Microsoft Office app in the App Store.
  2. Once it's finished downloading and installing, tap Open.

    An installed app in the App store.
  3. You'll be prompted to log into your Microsoft account (if you don't have one, you can create one) and you may have to grant some permissions to the Office app. Be sure to read those so you know what you're granting.

  4. During the installation process, you will likely receive a notification that the app is optimized for iPhone and the option to Get Apps for iPad. Click that option if you want to download full-sized iPad versions of the apps.

    The option to get Microsoft apps optimized for the iPad.

    Microsoft Office all-in-one app is optimized for iPhone as of this writing. However, it will still work on iPad, but not as a full-screen option.

    You can also choose to Skip this option and complete the installation if you prefer not to download the full-sized applications.

  5. If you do click away to get full-sized versions of the programs, a list appears. For the apps that you want to install, tap Get and you'll be taken to the App Store to download the iPad optimized version. You'll have to repeat these steps for all the individual apps you want to install.

    The option to Get iPad optimized individual Microsoft Office programs.

How to Use Microsoft Office for iPad

Despite not being optimized for iPad, the Microsoft Office app does offer a few benefits to iPad users.

  • It takes up less space than the three stand-alone apps that are covered in the Office app.
  • There are a few additional features you probably won't find in the stand-alone apps.
  • Diction straight to Microsoft Office from the iPad Voice Recorder is possible.

Assuming you intend to use the all-in-one Microsoft Office app on your iPad (rather than the individual programs), there are a few things you need to know to use them.

The Microsoft Office Home Screen

When you first start using the Office app on the iPad, you may get frustrated because it's a small rectangle in the middle of an otherwise blank screen. You can change that. Just tap the Expand icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.

The Expand icon on Microsoft Office for iOS.

This will expand the screen so that it mostly takes up all the real estate on the iPad, leaving only a small portion at the top and bottom of the screen unused. The expanded version will stay that way until you tap again to reduce the size of the app, even if you close Office and open it again.

Microsoft Office for iOS expanded on the iPad.

From the Home screen, you have the option to choose Recommended files, which are files you have opened recently, or you can tap the New button in the lower center of the screen to open a menu that allows you to choose the type of new document you would like to create.

The New option in Microsoft Office for iOS

The options are:

  • Notes: Let's you type a new note (Sticky Note), which you can then save or share with others.
  • Lens: Opens the camera so you can scan (or take a picture) of a document, photo, or whiteboard which you can then save as a Word document, PDF file, or image and share it with others.
  • Documents: Opens a screen that allows you to choose from Scan text, Blank document, or Create from template for Word, Excel, or Powerpoint.
The options in Microsoft Office for iOS.

There is also an Actions icon on the Home screen. This is where you'll find options such as Transfer Files, Image To Text, and Image To Table. The latter two options allow you to scan an image or document and convert any text in that scan to electronic text.

The Actions menu in Microsoft Office for iOS.

Another very useful feature of the Office app is the ability to work with PDF files. You can sign PDFs or scan, and convert documents to PDF using the Actions menu.

The PDF options in Microsoft Office on the iPad.

Working With Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations

Once you choose to open or create a new document, spreadsheet, or presentation, you'll find that you have many of the same options you would have if you were using the stand-alone versions of these apps.


When working with documents you'll find your formatting menus as you would expect. And the menu slides to the right or left to reveal additional options. There is also a large microphone icon that floats on the right side of the document. If you tap this icon, you can dictate what you want to write rather than trying to type using the onscreen keyboard.

The Apple keyboard and mouse will work with all these apps if you have them available to you. If not, you can accomplish anything you want to do using finger gestures and the onscreen keyboard.

Document formatting controls in Office for iOS.


In spreadsheets, you can move around a workbook or sheet as you would using Microsoft Excel. Type your data using the onscreen or wireless keyboard. And you'll find context menus when you select a column or row.

Context menu in Spreadsheets on Microsoft Office for iPad.

You also have access to shorting, formatting, and formula tools, just as you would in the individual Microsoft Excel app.

Some of the Excel tools in the spreadsheets portion of the Microsoft Office app for iOS.


Working with Presentation in the Office app for iOS is very similar to working with PowerPoint. You can choose to work from scratch or create a presentation from a template. And you have access to the same formatting tools that are available in the stand-alone PowerPoint app. You can add Notes and Comments, and even automate your presentation.

Some of the formatting tools in Presentations on the Microsoft Office app for iPad.

The Top Menu in Microsoft Office on the iPad

There's one last menu you should become familiar with. It's the menu that appears at the top of each of the apps—Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentation. This menu is mostly standard across all three apps. You'll find options there for:

  • Undo: Let's you undo the actions you've taken on the document.
  • Text formatting: Opens a broad range of text formatting options including fonts, size, formats, spacing, and alignment.
  • Search: Performs a Search or Search and Replace function.
  • Share: Allows you to invite others to collaborate on the document using a link sent through email or messaging.
  • More: This menu contains options for saving, printing, exporting, and history.

On a document, you'll also find that you have a Mobile View option. This lets you see how your document will appear on a mobile device. And on a presentation, you'll find a pen icon which you can touch to activate Ink annotations.

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