You can get the Office apps Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook for free on the iPhone and iPad, but if you have an iPad Pro you miss out on the free functionality and have to subscribe to Office 365.

As we explained in this article: How to get Microsoft Office on iPad & iPhone for free, Microsoft only offers free versions of the Office apps for devices under 10.1in - and now that all iPad Pros are bigger than 10.1in that means that iPad Pro owners need an Office 365 subscription in order to do any more than read and print Office files. However, there are options that could enable you to use the Office apps on your iPad Pro for free. We’ll look at them below.

iPad Pro free Office

Why get an Office 365 subscription

If you have an iPad Pro with a 10.5 inch or 12.9 inch screen, you must have a qualifying Office 365 plan in order to edit files on your iPad Pro.

This is because Microsoft presumes that if you are using a device with a screen bigger than 10.1 inches you are using it for professional purposes. Microsoft requires that you have an Office 365 subscription if you are using the apps for work. If you use Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook for commercial purposes then you need to subscribe.

The issue isn’t necessarily the fact that people are required to pay to use the apps, but rather the fact that Microsoft moved to a subscription model a few years ago. Some people may feel uncomfortable about essentially renting the software.

There are benefits to the subscription model though. If you don’t use the software, or you find an alternative you prefer, you can end your subscription. Had you bought the software the money would already have been paid. Also, keep in mind that the Office bundles used to cost a lot more than today’s subscription price - the standard edition of Office 2008 for Mac cost £349.99 for example. When you compare that cost to the yearly subscription it might not seem as extortionate after all. Especially when you consider you could end it at any time. We’ll look at how to cancel an Office 365 subscription below.

With the Office 365 subscription you will unlock the full functionality of the iOS Office apps - which means you will get more features than those who get free access because they are using an iPhone or a smaller iPad.

With Office 365 you get premium versions of the Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook - including advanced change tracking, the removal of limits on the ways you can use paragraph styles, and advanced chart, table, and picture formatting tools. Plus you get 1TB of online storage per person with OneDrive (without a subscription to Office 365 you only get 5GB).

How to get Word, Excel and PowerPoint on iPad Pro for free

But what if you aren’t planning on using the apps for commercial purposes? Maybe you really do just want Word so you can type up letters and Excel for your household budget.

Or perhaps you are a student, or you want your kids to be able to use the Office apps for their school work. Luckily there are options so you can get a subscription for free if it’s for education. We’ll look at that option first.

If you are a student or you work in education you can get a free subscription to Office 365. All you need is a valid school email address.

To sign up for your free education version of Office enter your school email address on this web page. The free education version offers web-based versions of the Office apps. There are also paid for education versions that start at $2.50/£2.20 a month for students (more information here).

Office for iPad options

Incidentally, if you are at university you can get Office 365 University for £59.99. You will need to prove your status as a student here.

If you just want access to the iOS versions of the Office apps for home use, then there are a couple of ways you can do so.

One option is to sign up for a free trial. If you only want to gain access on a temporary basis that may well be suitable. You can sign up for the one-month free trial of Office 365 here.

If you need to use the Office apps for longer than a month then you could choose to get an Office 365 Personal subscription and cancel it when you no longer need it. That will cost £5.99/$6.99 a month, or £59.99/$69.99 a year. Sign up here.

There’s also the option of an Office 365 Home subscription for £7.99/$9.99 a month (or £79.99/$99.99 a year) which lets you share with your whole family (up to 6 people). You can sign up here.

We’ll look at how to cancel your subscription next.

How to cancel Office 365 subscription

It is possible to cancel an Office 365 subscription. Here's how:

  1. Enter your login details on this webpage.
  2. Go to Services and Subscriptions.
  3. Find your subscription details.
  4. Click on Manage.
  5. Now choose Cancel from the options.
  6. Finally, click on Confirm cancellation.

If you cancel within 30-days of your last payment you will be entitled to a refund. If you are paying monthly you can choose to continue using the apps for the rest of the month for which you have paid, or you can claim the refund and lose the apps’ editing abilities. Similarly, if you had paid for a year up front and made a claim for a refund the app would lose its full functionality.

Alternatives to the Office for iOS

You don't have to use the Office apps at all. Apple gives away it's own versions of the Office apps for free for Macs, iPads and iPhones.

Apple's office suite includes Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheets), and Keynote (presentations). You can download the latest versions here: Pages, Keynote, Numbers. You can open Word, Excel and PowerPoint files using the equivalent app on the iPad, iPhone or Mac and you can save them as their Office version if you need to send them to someone who doesn't use the Apple apps.

While you may be familiar with Office apps, Apple's versions offer very similar functionality and are compatible with Word, PowerPoint and Excel. So really, there is no real need to install Office on the iPad anyway.