View, Create, and Edit Documents in Microsoft Word for Free

Take advantage of Microsoft Word Online, Office 365, and the Word app

Woman using Word Online on a laptop

Neustockimages / iStock


Available as part of the Microsoft Office suite or as a standalone application, Microsoft Word typically isn't free. However, there are a few ways to use Word for free if you need to edit or view a file with a DOC or DOCX extension.

Microsoft Word Online

What We Like

  • Available for any operating system.

  • Sharing and collaboration features similar to Google Docs.

What We Don't Like

  • Lacks some features of the desktop version.

  • Images must be uploaded to your OneDrive before you can use them in documents.

Word Online offers what is almost a full-fledged version of the popular word processor right within your browser window. As part of Office Online, it provides all of the viewing and editing features you need for creating and editing new or existing documents. While not all features found in the desktop version are in this browser-based app, it allows you to store edited files in your cloud-based OneDrive repository as well as on your local disk in DOCX, PDF, or ODT formats.

Word Online also lets you invite other users to view or even collaborate on any of your active documents. In addition, the app includes a feature that embeds documents directly into a blog post or onto your personal website. Part of the Office Online suite, Word Online runs in the latest versions of most well-known browsers on Linux, Mac, and Windows operating systems.

A DOCX file open online with Microsoft Word Online.

The Microsoft Word Mobile App

What We Like

  • Intuitive touch screen interface.

  • Dictate text with the iPhone's voice-to-text feature.

What We Don't Like

  • Not available for free on all tablets.

  • Typing on a tiny screen can be tedious.

The Microsoft Word mobile app is available as a free download for Android and iOS devices through Google Play or Apple's App Store. The app requires an Office 365 subscription if you want to create or edit documents on an iPad Pro. However, the core functionality is accessible for free on iPhone, iPod touch, iPad Air, and iPad mini devices and includes the ability to create, edit, and view Word documents. There are some advanced features that can only be activated with a subscription, but for the most part, what you probably need is available in the free edition.

Similar limitations are found on the Android version of the app, where authenticating with a free Microsoft account will unlock the ability to create and edit Word docs on devices with screens 10.1 inches or smaller. What this means is Android smartphone users are in luck, while those running on tablets will need a subscription if they want to do anything other than view a document.

Word for iOS

Office 365 Home Trial

What We Like

  • Store documents online for easy syncing and sharing between devices.

  • Unrestricted access to the entire MS Office suite.

What We Don't Like

  • Card card required.

  • Automatically renews at the annual rate if you forget to cancel.

If you're looking for some of Word's advanced features not available in the aforementioned options, Microsoft offers a free trial of Office 365 Home, which lets you install the complete version of its word processor along with the rest of the Office suite on up to five PCs or Macs as well as the full version of its app on five tablets and phones. This free trial requires you to provide a valid credit card number and lasts for a full month, at which point you will be charged a yearly fee if you have not canceled the subscription. You can register for this trial subscription on Microsoft's Office Products portal.

Graduation Announcement Template or Printable for Microsoft Word


What We Like

  • The interface looks like the classic version of Word that some users prefer.

  • Microsoft (nor anyone else) can collect data from you.

What We Don't Like

  • Online collaboration requires advanced set up.

  • Some of the prompt and dialog menu text is too tiny.

While not actually a Microsoft product, the LibreOffice suite offers a free alternative that also supports Word document formats. Writer, part of the open-source package available for Linux, Mac and Windows users, provides an easy-to-use word processor interface that allows you to view, edit, or create new files from over a dozen formats including DOC, DOCX, and ODT.

LibreOffice Writer

Kingsoft Office

What We Like

  • Large selection of downloadable templates.

  • Multilingual support.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited options for collaboration.

  • Some features (like PDF conversion) require you to watch ads.

Yet another multi-platform word processor, Kingsoft's WPS Writer supports documents in Word formats and also provides some unique features including an integrated PDF converter. Downloadable for free as part of the WPS Office Software package, WPS Writer can be installed on Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, and Windows devices. A business version of the product is also available for a fee.

Start Page for Kingsoft Office

Google Docs

What We Like

  • Save all of your documents to the cloud for easy access from all devices.

  • Real-time collaboration with detailed tracking of changes.

What We Don't Like

  • Offline editing requires an additional browser extension.

  • Fewer features than MS Word and similar desktop programs.

Google Docs is a full-featured word processor that is compatible with Microsoft Word file formats and can be used free of charge with a Google account. Docs is completely browser-based on desktop platforms and accessible through native apps on Android and iOS devices. Integrated with Google Drive, Docs allows for seamless document collaboration with several users.

Page Numbering in Online Google Docs

Word Viewer

What We Like

  • Compatible with older computers.

  • Supports DOC, RFT, TXT, HTML, XML, WPD and WPS files.

What We Don't Like

  • No editing capabilities.

  • Outdated interface.

Microsoft Word Viewer is a free application that runs only on older versions of the Windows operating system (Windows 7 and below). It helps people to view, copy, or print documents saved in one of the multiple Word formats (DOC, DOCX, DOT, DOTX, DOCM, DOTM). If you are running an old operating system and cannot locate Word Viewer on your PC, it can be obtained from Microsoft's Download Center.