How to make Office Online apps feel more like full desktop apps

This simple trick will help you use Microsoft Office Online apps as if their were full desktop applications.

Office Online (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) links to create new documents

Office Online is the free cloud-based version of Microsoft Office that let you access to the most common apps including: Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, OneNote Online, Outlook, Calendar, People, and OneDrive, and for the everyday-user the features and tools offered by this product are more than enough. But it’s still a web-based, an experience that many people feel isn’t the same as using the full-blown application.

Luckily, if you’re using Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, we can easily disguise Office Online apps (Word Online, Excel Online, and PowerPoint Online) and make them feel more like if we’re using the full desktop apps without having to install anything — just do the following:

How to use Office Online as full desktop apps

Basically the only thing you have to do is to link to the right page to create a new document in Word Online, Excel Online, and PowerPoint Online; links that you will open with the Metro-style version of Internet Explorer 11, just because the modern version of IE offers a chromeless full-screen experience and it will feel like you’re using the desktop version of the apps.

  1. Open the modern version of IE11 and go to the following URL:

    https://office.live.com/start/word.aspx
  2. Click or tap the star icon to bookmark the page, follow by the Pin to Start button in the top-right corner of the address bar options.

    Pin Office Online apps to the Start screen in Windows 8.1

  3. Now simply type a friendly name for the bookmark, such as “Word Online” and click or tap Pin to Start.

  4. The new bookmark will then appear on the Start screen, even with the blue color, characteristic of Word.

    Repeat the same steps for the remaining Office Online apps, but for Excel use the following URL:

    https://office.live.com/excel.aspx

    And for PowerPoint use this URL:

    https://office.live.com/powerpoint.aspx

The best part is that not only you’ll get a full screen experience using Office Online, but the links to start a new document will also give you the choice of how you want to create the new document. You can choose to create a new blank document, choose from free templates, and you can even get the link to open a recent document you’ve been working on.

New Blank Document link for Word Online

These shortcuts blend extremely well in the Start screen and they’ll give a faster access to your favorite Office apps. You can do this in your desktop computer, but this is also a great tip for those users with tablets that run the full version of Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 and it didn’t come with Office 2013 pre-installed.

Lastly, if you’re not using Windows 8 yet, you can use this guide as a reference to create shortcuts that you can bookmark in your web browser on Windows 7 or Windows Vista as Microsoft is also ending the support of Office 2003 on April 8th, 2014, altogether with Windows XP and it’s time to move on.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me.