How to create, edit and view Microsoft Excel documents for free

Microsoft Excel is the application that most people think of when it comes to creating, viewing, or editing spreadsheets. But with the addition of macro support and other advanced features, Excel now offers much more than just spreadsheet tools.

Although the full version of Excel costs money, there are ways to open, edit, and create Excel spreadsheets from scratch without digging into your wallet. These free methods are detailed below, most of them support files with XLS or XLSX extensions, among others.

excel online

Microsoft offers a web version of the Office suite that includes Excel. Accessible through most browsers, Excel Online allows you to edit existing XLS and XLSX files for free and create new workbooks from scratch.

Office Online’s integration with Microsoft OneDrive lets you store your files in the cloud. It even allows you to collaborate with other people on the same spreadsheet in real time. Although Excel Online doesn’t include many of the advanced features of the paid app, such as B. Macro support, users looking for basic functions will be pleasantly surprised.

Microsoft Excel application

The functionality of the Excel app, available for Android and iOS, varies by device. Android users with a screen size of 10.1 inches or less can create and edit spreadsheets for free. Those using the app on larger phones and tablets will need to subscribe to Microsoft 365 if they want to do anything other than view an Excel file.

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iPad Pro users with a 10.1-inch screen or larger have the same limitations. Any other iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch user can create, edit, and view Excel documents for free. It should be noted that some advanced features are only accessible by subscription, regardless of the device used.

Microsoft 365 Home Trial

As mentioned above, Microsoft’s free offerings, such as the browser-based Office suite and Excel application, limit the features available to you. If you’re in a situation where you need access to some of Excel’s advanced features but don’t want your wallet to suffer, the Microsoft 365 trial might be a perfect short-term solution. .

Once activated, you can run the full version of Microsoft Office Home Edition (including Excel) on a combination of five PCs and Macs and the full Excel application on up to five Android or iOS phones and tablets. You must enter a valid credit card number to start the 30-day trial, and you will be charged $99.99 for a 12-month subscription unless you manually cancel before the expiration date.

Extension of Office Online Chrome

As an add-on to Google Chrome, this handy little tool opens a fairly powerful version of Excel in the main browser interface on all major desktop operating systems.

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The Office Online extension doesn’t work without an active Microsoft 365 subscription, but is included in this article because it works as intended during the Microsoft 365 free trial period.


An open-source software suite that’s free to download, LibreOffice offers an Excel alternative called Calc that supports XLS and XLSX files, as well as the OpenDocument format. While not a genuine Microsoft product, Calc offers many of the same features and spreadsheet templates most commonly used in Excel, all at a price of $0. It also includes multi-user features that enable seamless collaboration, as well as several advanced user components including DataPivot and a benchmarking scenario manager.

Desktop WPS from Kingsoft

The personal and free version of Kingsoft’s WPS Office suite includes an application called Spreadsheets. Compatible with XLS and XLSX files, Spreadsheets offers data analysis and charting tools, as well as basic spreadsheet functions. Spreadsheets can also be installed as a standalone application on Android, iOS and Windows operating systems.

A Pro version is available for a fee, which offers advanced features, cloud storage, and support for multiple devices.

Apache Open Office

One of the first free alternatives to Microsoft Office, Apache’s OpenOffice has had hundreds of millions of downloads since its initial release. OpenOffice is available in over three dozen languages ​​and includes its own spreadsheet application called Calc. It supports basic and advanced features, including extension and macro support, as well as Excel file formats.

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Unfortunately, due to an inactive developer community, Calc may soon be shut down along with the rest of OpenOffice. In this case, important updates, including fixes for security vulnerabilities, will no longer be available. We therefore recommend that you stop using this software.


Gnumeric is one of the few true standalone options on this list. It’s a powerful spreadsheet that’s also available for free. This often-updated, open-source program supports all Excel file formats, which wasn’t always the case, and is scalable to work with the largest spreadsheets.

Google Spreadsheets

Google’s answer to Excel Online, Sheets, is as comprehensive as a browser-based spreadsheet. This easy-to-use app integrates with your Google account, and therefore your server-based Google Drive, and offers premium features, a decent selection of templates, the ability to install add-ons, and on-the-fly collaboration. Sheets is fully compatible with Excel file formats and best of all, it’s completely free to use. In addition to the web version for desktops and laptops, there are also Sheets apps for Android and iOS devices.