Word Online is a browser-based version of Microsoft Word, the ubiquitous word processing app you've likely been using for years. Word Online is a "lite" version of the full-fledged desktop app and provides fast opening times for reading and editing .docx and .doc files. Depending on your browser settings, PDF files may also open in Word Online. Word Online is great for reading Word files and making simple edits from basically any browser on almost any device.
Most Word files will open directly in Word Online when using SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, MS Teams, Yammer, and some other Office 365 apps. Files open in reading mode. To edit the files, simply click the "Edit Document" button and choose to edit the file in Word Online (directly in the browser) or Word (the desktop app).
Functionality in Word Online is generally limited to day-to-day editing, text formatting, page layout changes, hyperlinks, and comments, though it provides excellent support for co-authoring (simultaneous editing by multiple users). You'll want to avoid more complex tasks like image manipulation, indexes, footnotes, tables, and, notably, and track changes (among others) in Word Online. Macros will not run in Word Online.
If Word Online doesn't provide the features you need to do the job, simply click the "Edit in Word" button in the menu bar to access the desktop version of the app and its more complex features. Some versions of the desktop app save updates automatically, but some do not. Be aware of how this feature works on your version.
- Google Docs
- Apple Pages
- Other various apps
- Matt Wade, Office Services MVP