How to Run Microsoft Office on a Chromebook

How to get Office 365 on a Chromebook

Microsoft Word Android app running on a Chromebook, with Word, Excel, PowerPoint icons pinned to the shelf (at bottom of screen)

There are two ways for Office 365 subscribers to access Microsoft Office apps on a Chromebook. First, subscribers may use Office Online apps to create and edit Office files in the Chrome OS browser. Second, subscribers may be able to install and use Microsoft’s Office apps for Android on a Chromebook. However, not every Microsoft Office app works in a browser, and not every Chromebook and Google account allows you to install Android apps.

Google also gives people who use a Chromebook the ability to open, edit, and save files in Microsoft Office formats. In April 2019, the company announced the capability to work with Office files natively in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides — without converting the source Microsoft Office files to Google formats.

Sign in with an Office 365 subscription

Use an active Office 365 subscription to sign in to your account for full access to available features in Office Android apps as well as Office Online. You may purchase an Office 365 subscription for your own use at Microsoft’s Office 365 site. Students and businesses can explore links to purchase Office 365 editions on that site, as well.

Install Microsoft Office Android Apps

Most newer Chromebooks allow you to install and run Android apps, thanks to access to the Google Play Store. You may look for your Chromebook make and model on the Chrome OS Systems Supporting Android Apps page. Devices listed as supporting the “Stable Channel” are capable of running Android apps. 

Use a work or school Chromebook?

If you use a Chromebook provided by your school or work, an administrator might control access to the Google Play Store. Check with your organization’s tech support team if you have questions.

If you have access to the Google Play Store on your Chromebook, here’s how to install Microsoft Office Android apps.

  1. Access the Launcher (typically, in the lower left corner).

    Screenshot of Chrome launcher.
    Select the Chrome launcher (the circle in the lower left).
  2. Select the Play Store.

    Screenshot of Chrome launcher, with available apps, including Play Store, shown.
    Select the Play Store to access Android apps.
  3. Search for the name of a Microsoft Office app (e.g., Microsoft Word).

    Screenshot of Microsoft Word app, with Install option available.
  4. On the app page, select Install.

As of May 2019, the following are some of the Microsoft Office Android apps you can install on Chrome OS:

To run an installed Android app, select the launcher (the circle typically in the lower left corner on a Chromebook screen), locate the app, then click (or, if you have a touchscreen, tap) on the app to run it. If prompted, sign in to the app with your personal Microsoft Office account or your Office 365 account.

Access Office Apps Online

You also may work with Office 365 apps on the web from a Chromebook. On your Chromebook, follow the link to install Office Online from the Chrome Web Store. This extension gives you fast access to open existing Office files stored locally or on OneDrive. It also lets you create new Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, respectively, from the Chrome browser.

Chrome Web Store shown, with Office Online app and

Or, go to https://office.com and sign in with your Office 365 account. From the browser, you can access Office Online apps. Microsoft also offers all of these apps, except Microsoft Sway, in the Chrome Web Store:

Office.com sign in screenshot, taken on a Chromebook

Caution: App/Browser Only

Look over the application lists above and you might notice that not every app appears on both the Android app list and the Office Online app list. Skype, for example, will run only as an Android app on a Chromebook; It won’t work within the Chromebook browser. Conversely, Sway will work only as an Office Online app in the Chromebook browser. There’s no Sway Android app available.

Additionally, not every Office app can be accessed online or on a Chromebook. Microsoft Access, a database system, and Microsoft Publisher, a desktop publishing app, are available with an Office 365 subscription, but only to install on Windows systems. And Visio, a diagramming app, and Microsoft Project, a team project management tool, offer online and installable versions, but each of these apps requires an additional subscription.

Edit Office Files in Google Docs

Even if you don’t have an Office 365 account, you may still be able to open and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on a Chromebook using Google’s editing apps, Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

For years, you’ve been able to open and convert a Word file into a Google Doc, an Excel file into a Google Sheet, and a PowerPoint file into a Google Slides presentation. Once converted, you can edit and collaborate with people within Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. When your work is complete on a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide, you can use the File > Download as… option to save your work as a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file, respectively.

Alternatively, you’ve also been able to use Google’s Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides Chrome extension to open and make basic edits to Office files, while also preserving the file format. That means a .doc or .docx file remains in that format, without a conversion to a Google Doc, while you edit. The same is true for Excel (.xls and .xlsx) and PowerPoint (.ppt and .pptx) formats. You should not need to install the extension on your Chromebook, since it should be installed by default.

Screenshot of Google support page

Starting in May 2019, Google added the native ability in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides to open, edit, comment, and collaborate on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, respectively. For this to work, you may need to uninstall the Office compatibility app in Chrome. (To uninstall this extension, go to the vertical three-dot menu in Chrome > More Tools > Extensions > then locate the Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides extension, then select Remove.) For many people, the simplest way to work with an Office file on a Chromebook may be to just open it and edit it using one of the core Google apps.