Tip: Make Office Online Work More Like Microsoft Office

You don’t have to use Google Docs to get a free, high-quality office productivity suite on the web. Microsoft makes one too, called Office Online. And since it already looks and works much like the Office desktop applications, there’s a lot less to do if you wish to use Office Online efficiently in Windows.

If you do use Google Docs with Windows, be sure to check out Tip: Make Google Docs Look and Work More Like Microsoft Office. This time, let’s look at Office Online.

As I noted previously, Office Online does provide the familiar Office look and feel, which I like. And the document templates it provides are identical to those in the desktop installable versions of Office, which I really like.

But it has some downsides. You can’t use Office Online while your PC is offline. And there’s no way to zoom the text in Word in customizable amounts—just 100 percent or 150 percent, with nothing in between—which I find painful.

It’s also a bit unclear what the best approach is for using it in Windows. You can pin the Office Online web site to the Windows taskbar using Internet Explorer, of course. (Just drag the site icon from the browser window down to the taskbar.) And the resulting app window is nice enough, with access to all of the various Office Online apps, and no opening of additional browser windows.

Tip: Make Office Online Work More Like Microsoft Office

There’s just one problem: Office Online won’t retain your sign-in. Which means you need to manually sign-in to the site each time you open the web app. You may be OK with that. But I find it unacceptable.

(Why does it do this? I believe it’s because Office Online supports both Microsoft accounts and Office 365 for business work accounts, and it needs to let users sign in to either. I have both accounts, for example.)

As an alternative, you could instead pin the OneDrive (or OneDrive for Business) site to the taskbar instead. It retains your sign-in for starters. And OneDrive also gives you a nice drop-down for starting new Office documents, and of course you have access to all of your documents right here as well. (You are of course storing documents in OneDrive, right?)


What’s interesting about this approach is that it opens tabs, and since IE supports pinned web sites with tabs, no worries there at all. (If you pin the site with Chrome, you’ll get additional browser windows with the full browser chrome.)


Looks good to me.

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