Microsoft Office once had an undisputed stranglehold in the world of productivity suites and programs. However, the subscription model and high price of Office 2019 have led to a number of options that are outside the Microsoft banner. The best alternatives to Microsoft Office give users the freedom to create and edit – many are even compatible with files created in Word, Excel, and other Microsoft programs. If you stick with Microsoft's product, you should also check out the web-based Office applications, which emulate many of Office's most important functions right in your browser for free.
Plus, there are powerful alternatives available for both Windows and macOS, whether you're looking for a quick way to check the copy on your resume or piecing together complex formulas before an important business presentation. Below are some of our favorites.
Best alternatives to Microsoft Office
Best office alternative: FreeOffice
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
The latest version of SoftMakers FreeOffice offers full compatibility for the DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, and PPTX file formats, with a lot of work being done to make them lossless. This means that when you transfer your files into Word, you won't encounter any unexpected surprises. This makes the software perfect for those who are looking for a free alternative to Word but still need to use Word software on a regular basis.
FreeOffice is also easy on the eyes and should be very familiar to Word users. The toolbars and options for creating documents are similar to those in the Office suite. The latest software updates also ensure that the program is fast and has relatively no loading times. Even PlanMaker, the suite's Excel alternative, has features like conditional formatting and pivot tables that previous Excel users can jump into without the need for a tutorial.
FreeOffice is also an excellent choice for running professional projects. Not only does it provide compatibility with password-protected files, but it can also help you create PDF or ePUB files and track document changes. More common features – like spell checking – are also waiting in the wings to make sure you don't miss out on anything Office-related.
Best web-based Microsoft Office alternative: Google's G Suite / Google Apps
Google's online suite should not be featured. The cloud-based software remains ideal when you need to work on a project with others – especially when everyone is familiar with Google Drive, where files can be stored and shared. The current iteration of Docs supports PDFs, DOC files, and even iWork files, so you don't have to worry about losing any information. It also integrates with most of Google's other services, including Gmail and Calendar. There is also the G Suite productivity solution for companies, which is a strong competitor to Microsoft's Office offerings in many companies.
The user interface is classic on Google – minimalistic and often confusing. Certain tools or skills may be hidden deep in menus or not made available for reasons unknown. This can make it difficult to learn the software without prior experience. However, if you're used to Chrome or Chrome OS, you know what to expect and shouldn't have much trouble navigating the menus.
In addition, the ability to edit documents, work on work, and discuss changes with others who are also working on the same file – all in the same window – is incredibly useful and well implemented for different file types. For some, this is a reason to prefer Google's offer over Microsoft's offer – for a fee or otherwise. This is a good choice for users with limited storage space (like Chromebook users) or for users who need to edit remotely.
Google Docs G Suite
Best Microsoft Office alternative with full functionality: LibreOffice
The developers at LibreOffice looked at Microsoft Office and said, "Let's make sure we can do everything Office can't." Meanwhile, the differences are so numerous that someone has created a useful (and tedious) diagram showing the additional compatibility LibreOffice offers when compared to the Microsoft suite. This includes support for a wide variety of document formats on MacOS and Windows. If you are using a more distinctive software and are concerned that Office cannot process your industry-specific formats, LibreOffice is happy to intervene.
The open source community behind LibreOffice remains active and continues to create extensions that allow you to add all the functionality you might need to your apps. And since both "published" (a little older, but still fairly new) and "pre-released" (the latest and with the latest features, but possibly not tested for very long) versions are currently available, you are also guaranteed regular improvements with LibreOffice to see.
If you like Office but are looking for a highly customizable alternative that extends the tools Microsoft provides while also offering solid compatibility, LibreOffice is for you. Of course, learning and integrating LibreOffice with the software you want can take a little work. So take your time to learn what is available to you.
Windows MacOS Linux
Best Microsoft Word clone: WPS Office
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
The Office alternative from WPS comes with a writer, presentation and spreadsheet that mimick all programs in the legendary Microsoft suite. Any files you create with these apps are fully compatible with their Microsoft counterparts. In case you need to export or import in a more user-friendly format, there is an additional suite of PDF conversion tools. The suite is also available for free on both Android and iOS devices.
WPS is ideal if you are used to a particular interface in Word programs and want to mimic the experience as closely as possible. No time to learn new tools? Do not worry. Even the template options are based on traditional Microsoft templates, making it easy to find your preferred way of starting and filling out a document. Plus, the UI is more similar to newer versions of Microsoft Office than many of our other picks, so jumping in right now may be even easier than expected.
However, WPS is not content with copying Microsoft in all things. The software has some useful tools on its own, including organic methods of changing paragraph layout with the mouse, advanced section navigation, and document tabs that help you manage multiple documents quickly. This makes WPS Office a great choice for laptops and / or schoolwork.
Windows Linux Android iOS
Best iMac Office alternative: iWork
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
Apple's iWork wasn't originally designed to be compatible with Office Docs, but over time, developers decided to add more features. You can import Microsoft files and edit them in Pages, Numbers, or Keynote as needed. This is a huge benefit that makes iWork the perfect office alternative for those who work on a Mac. Nowadays, even Windows PC users can use iWork if they don't mind doing it through iCloud (Apple doesn't currently offer compatible desktop versions).
Also, keep in mind that iWork works alongside iCloud. If you are currently using the cloud backup solution, it will make it much easier to share documents via the cloud and save them off-site if necessary. Having your entire team on board can be extremely useful. However, as with the Google Docs and G Suite above, everyone must be on the same page. If you're a mobile user, you'll also want to note that the iWork suite is divided into three separate apps, each of which must be downloaded individually.
Pages Numbers Keynote