Home > Articles > Home & Office Computing > Entertainment/Gaming/Gadgets

Explore Microsoft Word for iPad: Collaborate, Share, and Sync Documents with Word for PC and Mac

  • Print
  • + Share This
In this article, Jason R. Rich takes a look at the new Microsoft Word for iPad app, compares it to Pages, and discusses how straight forward the document creation, viewing, editing, and sharing process is when using this app, which is nicely modeled after the Word software for PCs and Macs.
Like this article? We recommend

For the iPad, Apple offers its own iWork for iOS apps, which includes Pages, a popular word processor. With each new version of Pages that’s been released since its inception, it has gotten closer to providing a full featured word processing experience that’s both comparable to and compatible with Microsoft Word for PCs and Macs.

Yet, if you want to import or export Pages files using the Word format, additional steps need to be taken. In the past, many business people, writers, and others in need of powerful word processing capabilities on the iPad have been hampered by the lack of a genuine Microsoft Word app. However, in late-March 2014, Microsoft finally released its Office for iPad applications, which includes a version of Word that’s fully compatible with its PC and Mac counterpart.

The free Word app is currently available from the App Store, and within days after its release, it became one of the most popular iPad apps available. This is because the app provides a full featured word processing experience that’s convenient, intuitive, and that’s familiar to current Word for PC/Mac users.

In late April, Microsoft updated the Word app with additional features, including AirPrint capabilities which allow for the printing of documents (with out without markups) from within the iPad app. This capability was missing from the original version.

Requirements for Using Word for iPad

Before you begin using the Word for iPad app, there are a few important things to understand. First, while the app is free, unless you have a paid subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365, the app only allows you to view Microsoft Word documents - not create, edit, or work with them.

Currently, the Office for iPad suite includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and OWA (an email management app which is Outlook compatible). To unlock these iPad apps so they can be used to create, view, edit, and share documents and files, a paid Office 365 Personal subscription that costs $6.99 per month ($69.99 per year) is required. This grants access to Office on one PC/Mac and on one tablet. However, for $9.99 per month ($99.99 per year), the Office 365 Home subscription offers full and unlimited access to the PC, Mac, and iPad editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, as well as Outlook (PC/Mac), Publisher (PC/Mac), and Access (PC/Mac), on up to five computers and/or devices.

Several Office 365 for Business subscriptions are available, priced between $12.50 and $15.00 per month/per user, that include full access to even more PC, Mac, and iPad apps, including the Outlook compatible OWA app for iPad.

Second, while the app allows users to import and export Word documents via email, the easiest and most straight forward method for syncing and sharing documents with your PCs, Macs, other mobile devices, and/or other users, is via the Microsoft OneDrive online file sharing service. This service is similar to Apple’s iCloud, but is fully integrated into the Office for iPad and Office for PC/Mac applications.

A OneDrive account that includes 20GB of online storage space is included with all paid Office 365 subscriptions, or can be acquired on its own by visiting www.OneDrive.com. Without an Office 365 subscription, between 7GB and 10GB of online storage space is provided, depending on which options are selected.

OneDrive was formally called Microsoft SkyDive, and has recently been re-branded, as new features have been added to this online based service. However, existing SkyDrive accounts, as well as OneDrive for Business accounts, will work with the Office for iPad apps.

Thus, if you want to fully utilize Word for iPad, you will need both a paid Office 365 subscription and a OneDrive account, which is separate from the iCloud account you’re probably already using to sync app-specific data for the apps that come bundled with iOS 7 (along with the iWork for iOS apps), as well as to backup your iPad and share photos.

Finally, all of the Office for iPad apps, including Word, are designed exclusively for iPads running iOS 7 or later, and some of the features and functions built into the app require Internet access using a cellular or Wi-Fi Internet connection.

Get Started Using Word for iPad

After downloading and installing the Word for iPad app onto your tablet, you’ll be prompted to enter your OneDrive username and password. This only needs to be done once. Linking your OneDrive account to your iPad allows the app to sync and share documents as long as the tablet has Internet access.

Typically, when you launch the Word app, the document management screen (shown in Figure 1) is displayed. This allows you to see a directory of the documents currently stored on your tablet, as well as the documents stored online, within your OneDrive account. The easiest way to transfer documents between a PC or Mac running Word, and your tablet that’s running Word, is to sync the documents with a OneDrive account.

Figure 1 Word for iPad's document management screen

From the document management screen, it’s possible to create a document from scratch (if you have an Office 365 subscription) by tapping on the New icon. Otherwise, you can view recent documents you’ve worked with on your iPad by tapping on the Recent icon, or tap on the Open icon to access documents stored either on the iPad or within a OneDrive account.

Just like Word for PC/Mac, upon tapping the New icon, a selection of 15 document templates is displayed (shown in Figure 2). Select either the New Blank Document template to begin word processing on a blank page, or select one of the pre-formatted templates that will save you time when creating a specially formatted document, such as a brochure, business letter, invoice, resume, or proposal, for example.

Figure 2 Choose a template in order to save time formatting a document when using Word on the iPad

Once you tap on a document template (or the New Blank Document) option, the main word processing screen (shown in Figure 3) is displayed. If you’re already familiar with Word for PC/Mac, the features and options offered from the main Word for iPad screen will be familiar and intuitive.

Figure 3 The main word processing screen of the Word for iPad app

Displayed along the very top of the screen are a series of command icons and menu options. Tap on the circular, left-pointing arrow icon to save or discard the document you’re currently working on and return to Word’s document management screen. Tap on the File icon (to the immediate right) to turn on/off the AutoSave option, name the document, print a document (using an AirPrint-compatible printer that’s within wireless range), duplicate the document, restore the document, or adjust the document’s properties.

To the right of the File icon are the Undo and Redo command icons. Displayed in the top-right corner of the screen, is the Search icon (which looks like a magnifying glass) and the Share icon. Tap the Share icon to email the document you’re currently working on to one or more people from within the Word app, and/or to copy the link to the document that’s stored on within a OneDrive account.

Displayed in the top-center of the screen are five menu options, labeled Home, Insert, Layout, Review, and View. Based on which menu option is selected (by tapping on it), a different selection of options/features will be displayed between the menu icons and the Formatting Ruler.

For example, when the Home option is selected, the options displayed are used for formatting the text as you’re typing. From here, it’s possible to select a font, font color, font size, and typestyle, plus choose from a variety of formatting, line spacing, and indent options, as well as create numbered or bulleted lists. When applicable, upon tapping on one of these submenu options, additional menu options (typically displayed as icons) will be displayed.

Tapping on the Insert menu option allows you to add a page break, picture (shown in Figure 4), shape, text box, hyperlink or footnote into the document, for example, while tapping on Layout offers a handful of options that allow you to customize the formatting of the page you’re working with. From here, you can change the page size, margins, create multiple columns, incorporate headers and footers, or include page numbers within the document.

Figure 4 Shown here, the Pictures option has been selected. It allows for an image that's stored within the iPad to be imported into a Word document

By tapping on the Review option, you’re provided with the familiar Word tools for collaborating with others and reviewing/editing documents. When you tap on the View option, you can decide whether or not the auto-spellcheck that’s built into the app will display misspelled words, turn on/off the displayed formatting ruler, or display the document’s word count.

When turned on, the formatting ruler works just as it does when using Word on a PC/Mac. Using your finger, you can easily adjust a document’s left and right margin, for example.

As you’d expect, the main area of the Word for iPad screen is used to display a document as you’re typing. The iPad’s virtual keyboard is displayed in the bottom section of the screen. This applies when holding the tablet in either landscape or portrait mode. However, if you’re using the iPad with an external keyboard, or want to use more on-screen real estate to view you’re document as you’re reading it, simply tap on the Hide Keyboard button (displayed in the bottom-right corner of the keyboard) to make the virtual keyboard disappear.

It’s also possible to press and hold down the Hide Keyboard key to then split the keyboard or undock it so it can be moved up or down on the screen. Microsoft has done an excellent job improving the response time of the virtual keyboard, making it easy to touch-type quickly and accurately.

What’s Missing from Word for iPad

One feature that’s missing from the Word for iPad app is the grammar checker that works on a PC or Mac in conjunction with the auto spell checker. There’s also no option using the current edition of Word for iPad to export a document using the PDF or TXT file formats, although using iOS 7’s select, copy, and paste commands, text can be created using Word and manually copied into another app.

Final Thoughts

Anyone who wants or needs to do word processing on their tablet will enjoy the full featured word processing capabilities of Word and appreciate the fact that documents created are automatically stored and shared in the Word file format. Those who use Word on their PC or Mac will find the document syncing and sharing process to be hassle-free and streamlined, in much the same way syncing or sharing Pages documents with Pages running on an iPad and/or Mac works.

If all you need is a full featured word processor, and don’t really care about your documents being compatible with Office for a PC or Mac, using either Word, Pages (shown in Figure 5), or another third-party word processing app will work for you. However, if Microsoft Office file compatibility is important, the Microsoft Word app offers the best solution, even though a paid Office 365 subscription is required to utilize it.

Figure 5 Apple's Pages word processing app offers an alternative to Word. Documents created or edited using Pages can be exported in Word format

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020