How to get Microsoft Excel for Free

Microsoft’s Excel has established itself as the leading spreadsheet software, and there’s no sign that’s going to change. As a core part of the hugely successful Microsoft Office productivity suite, it offers a powerful feature set unmatched elsewhere.

However, for the full Excel experience, you’ll have to pay a Microsoft 365 subscription. This combines it with Word, PowerPoint, and several other Office apps, plus cloud storage and regular updates. often.

But paying monthly when you only use one app doesn’t make much sense. It is difficult to justify the latest standalone version of Microsoft Office.

Fortunately, paying full price is not your only option when using Excel. In fact, there are several methods that allow you to access it completely for free.

Option 1 – Web version

Use Microsoft Excel and other core Office programs for free over the web, and all you need is a Microsoft account.

Go to and click ‘Sign In’ to enter your details. If you don’t have an account, select ‘Sign up for a free version of Office’ and follow the instructions.

Web Microsoft Excel

Once done, you will be taken to your main office homepage. From the left pane, select ‘Create’ and then select ‘Workbook’ to open a new workbook.

Free Microsoft Excel

As you can see, there’s also the option to create documents in Word and PowerPoint here, along with Outlook and the free version of Microsoft Teams. These are all ‘Web Apps’, meaning you can only use them through your browser, not the desktop app. When you work on a file here, it’s saved to OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service.

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In fact, you can probably thank Google that the software is available as a web app, as the free Docs and Sheets software and their integration with Google Drive have made it difficult for Microsoft to continue asking users to use payment.

Check out our guide to
best cloud storage services to see how both of these compare to the rest of the competition.

The web version of Excel is a more stripped-down version of the software, so a comparison with Google Sheets makes more sense than the full desktop program. However, both services will provide everything the average user is looking for.

Option 2 – Use on mobile devices

Perhaps again in response to Google, Microsoft’s Office mobile apps are completely free and available on most modern smartphones, tablets, and homes.

You can download the Microsoft Excel app for Android and iOS. While Microsoft can conceivably reserve some premium features for its Microsoft 365 subscription, the mobile apps are still very capable and offer integration with OneDrive.

Option 3 – Check if your school or workplace is free

Many employers offer free Microsoft 365 apps to their employees. Even if your work email address ends with your company name, it can still be used to sign in to a Microsoft account. Of course, you might be working in an office job where Excel and the like are already the default.

If your school has a subscription to Microsoft 365 Education, all staff and students will be able to access the Office apps for free. To test, enter your education email address on the Microsoft website.

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But if your school hasn’t signed up yet and you can change that, compare plans and start the application process here.

Option 4 – Pay full price

However, these free options are not suitable for everyone. If you need more than basic Excel functions and the app isn’t available to you at school or work, the only alternative is to pay full price.

At the time of writing, the cheapest Microsoft 365 subscription is Personal, which is £5.99 / US$6.99 per month or £59.99 / US$69.99 per year. Upgrading to the Family plan will get access from 2-6 people for US$7.99 / US$9.99 per month or US$79.99 / US$99.99 per year. Both offer a one-month free trial.

Your other option is to pay for Office 2021, the latest standalone release. This is a one-time payment of £119.99 in the UK or $149.99 in the US. Unfortunately, there is no way to pay for Excel yourself.

Learn more in our complete Microsoft 365 buying guide.

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