If you use Windows 11 or Windows 10, it's impossible not to have come across the free Office app. While it started as nothing more than an app designed to get you to try and buy Microsoft's productivity apps, over the years, things have changed to such an extent that the Office app is now something people are starting to call an Office hub. It evolved into a central point where you can download desktop Office apps, access your Office files, and even edit them online. Here's what the Office app is all about:
NOTE: This article is about the free Office app found by default in Windows 11 and Windows 10. If you came here looking for answers on how to download the Office apps (the full desktop versions), check this guide instead: How to download Microsoft Office on a Windows PC (3 ways).
The Office app comes pre-installed in all Windows 11 and Windows 10 versions and editions. However, if you don't have it, know that you can always download and install it from its Microsoft Store page: Office. On your Windows 11 computer or device, you'll find the shortcut to the Office app displayed in the Pinned section from the Start Menu.
If you’re using Windows 10, it should be shown as a tile on the Start Menu, similar to the screenshot below.
If it’s installed on your PC, you will always find it in the All apps list from the Start Menu, no matter if you’re using Windows 11 or Windows 10.
Of course, just like almost everything else in Windows, you can also search for the Office app.
When you open it for the first time, this is what the Office app looks like:
If you’re using a Microsoft account on your Windows PC, the app automatically signs you in. Otherwise, you’ll have to manually log in to get access to your files and be able to use the Office app.
The Office app is free, and it’s designed to be a sort of hub for your Microsoft 365 apps and services, giving you quick access to your documents and other files, as well as to a series of services included in your subscription. At the same time, it also lets non-subscribers, aka free users, access free resources and the web versions of the Office apps, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
The Office app is split into a few major sections starting with a dashboard and continuing with all the apps available to you. As the available options depend on whether you’re a free user or a subscriber to a Microsoft 365 plan, here’s what you get in both situations:
Home is a central dashboard where you can see a series of recommendations from Microsoft, like the documents you’ve recently worked on, the ones you’ve pinned, and the ones shared with you by others. You can also upload or create a new Office document using the buttons bearing the same names, or you can select the Office app you’d like to use from the left sidebar to filter the options available. At the top-right corner of the Home dashboard, the Office app also gives you quick links to Install Office or Buy Microsoft 365 if you don’t have a subscription already. Both will take you to the Microsoft 365 webpage, where you can buy a plan.
If you do have a Microsoft 365 Family or Personal subscription, you only get the Install Office button.
The Apps list on the left sidebar lets you choose the Office app you want to use, and, by default, it includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, OneNote, To-Do, Family Safety, and Skype. Each app section allows you to create new files, blank or starting from a template, and then shows a list of your Recent, Pinned, and Shared with me documents. The documents are listed with their title, location, and the last time you edited them. Unfortunately, we've found that this list also includes files you've already deleted or moved from their original location. When we tried opening such documents, we ended up with a “not found” error.
Under the list of apps in the sidebar, there’s a button that gives you access to “All [the] apps” available in the Office app. In addition to all the previously mentioned apps, the list includes others, such as Forms, Power Automate, or Sway.
The apps available change depending on whether you have a Microsoft 365 subscription or not. For example, my Microsoft 365 Family subscription allows me to use Access and Publisher, too, while a free user (non-subscriber) doesn’t have access to these apps.
Each of the apps shown here comes with a short description of what it does. And you also get a couple of links to Microsoft resources like the Bing search engine, MSN, Rewards, and Tips and Tricks on how to use Office apps.
Last but not least, the Office app in Windows 11 and Windows 10 has a few additional buttons for you, available in the top toolbar, next to your Microsoft account icon:
- Help - offers you a few links that will take you online and give you access to help and training. You can learn more about Office apps by going through Microsoft's guides or you can search for help.
- Settings - only tells you the version of the Office app you’re using and gives you a link to a third-party notice.
- Meet now - instantly creates a virtual online meeting on Skype. TIP: Here’s how to make audio and video group Skype calls.
We don’t know why Microsoft chose to display these buttons only for subscribed users, as they’re not what we’d call premium…
If you don't like what the Office app offers, you may want to remove it from your Windows 11 or Windows 10 PC. A quick way to do that is to right-click or long tap the Office shortcut or tile from the Start Menu, then click or tap Uninstall.
Windows will ask you if you're sure that you want to uninstall the app and all its related information. Click or tap Uninstall.
In a second, the Office app will be removed from your PC without any other further confirmations requested on your part.
TIP: Here are all the ways to remove desktop programs and Microsoft Store apps in Windows.
The Office app may not seem like it's doing much, but we must say that it does a lot more than it used to when it was first launched. For some, the links and quick access to files and Office apps might actually be useful. However, for others, this app might seem redundant. What do you think: do you like the Office app? Do you need the Office app, or did you just decide you don’t, and now you’re uninstalling it? Let us know your opinion in the comments section.