Whether you've been using Microsoft Word every day for years or only occasionally, I can promise you that you haven't seen all that Word can do. Microsoft gives users a variety of choices in how to experience Microsoft Word from a variety of devices and operating systems. Often, with Word, your experience with the app will change based on which version you are using, the operating system, and the device. This chapter is meant to clarify the differences between the many possible options.
This chapter will cover the following main topics:
- How to check your version
- The different versions of Word
- Word for different devices
- Word on different operating systems
- About this book
Before we start learning how to become more proficient in Microsoft Word, we need to figure out which version of Word we are using. There are several options available, and they are all slightly different from each other.
How to check your version
On a PC
- From the Word Home screen, click Account in the bottom-left corner of the window.
- Under the Product Information area, in the About Word section, you'll find the version and build number.
On a Mac
- From the Word Home screen, open the Word menu.
- Click on About Microsoft Word.
There, you will find the version number and other license information.
Why is this useful? You might be looking for a specific feature or tool that you have heard about from a friend or colleague and discover it doesn't seem to be part of your version of Word. Different versions of Word may have different features. It is important to understand that the subscription and online versions of Word receive product updates sooner than the Classic Word 2019 version. If you are missing something, you might need to update your version, or it simply may not have the latest updates available yet. The following screenshot is an example of the Product Information area within Microsoft 365 Word:
- Update history (by date):
- Office for Mac:
On these Microsoft web pages, you will find the most up-to-date information for changes and releases as they are rolled out. But to help you understand what is on these pages, you need to know a little about the various versions of Word out there.
The different versions of Word
Microsoft 365 Word
Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based service that includes the Microsoft Office suite of apps, which Word is a part of. There are several different subscription packages available, but all of them include some version of Word. There are subscription packages that are geared toward business, education, and home users.
The Click-to-Run version of Office installs Word locally on your computer. This allows you to use Word at any time, regardless of whether you are on the internet. The Click-to-Run version is available with all Microsoft 365 subscription packages, except for the Microsoft 365 Business Basic package. The Microsoft 365 Business Basic package only comes with the web and mobile versions of the Office apps.
If paying monthly or annually for a software package that continually updates is not something you want or need, you might want to consider the latest perpetual version of Word.
Word 2019 is the latest classic or perpetual version of the Word app. For those of you who have been using Microsoft Word for many years, this will be the purchase option you are most familiar with. You buy the software once, license it for a computer or device, and then can keep using it so long as that software is supported – in other words, perpetually. You don't need to purchase both a Microsoft 365 subscription for Office apps and the perpetual Office apps; you just need one version to use Office.
Do keep in mind, however, that the perpetual apps do not come with the same features or perks that the Microsoft subscription apps get. For example, the Word 2019 perpetual version will occasionally get security updates, but not get any new feature updates. Those on a Microsoft 365 subscription will get new features as they are released. Also, Word 2019 perpetual users do not have access to features that require Microsoft artificial intelligence (AI), such as the LinkedIn Resume Assistant and the new Editor in Word. Those advanced features are only available with a subscription since they require access to Microsoft AI services and ongoing updates. For many users, however, the Word 2019 perpetual version is more than enough. It is familiar and offers all the word processing power they require.
There are many prior versions of Word that are still popular and in use; however, not all of them may be supported. Microsoft ended support for Office 2010 on October 12, 2020. These applications will still work, but they no longer receive any security updates. So, if users continue to use these outdated applications, they potentially expose themselves to security vulnerabilities. Using these outdated applications is incredibly risky, and we advise you to update to a supported version immediately.
Word for different devices
Word for the Web and mobile
All Microsoft 365 subscription packages come with the web and mobile versions of the Office suite, which includes Microsoft Word. Word for the Web is an online-only version of Word that is not as full-featured as the Click-to-Run version, while the Word mobile app can be installed on Android and iOS mobile devices.
Word for the Web
Word for the Web is a free, browser-based version of the app, and you must have a working internet connection to use it. You do not need a Microsoft 365 subscription to access Word for the Web, but you do need a free Microsoft account to log in. Word for the Web receives the latest product updates automatically, so you can be assured that you will be using the latest version. This is different from Word 2019, which receives updates much less frequently.
Microsoft Word is currently available for download through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, as well as several Android stores. Even though the app is free to use, signing in with a Microsoft account or a subscription account will allow you to store files in the cloud and access files on your desktop. With a Microsoft 365 subscription, the mobile app will have more features available, such as Track Changes, as well as the ability to add and edit chart elements, edit headers and footers, insert section and page breaks, and more. So, if you plan on editing documents from your mobile device or tablet, having a Microsoft 365 subscription is an advantage. The following screenshot shows what Microsoft Word looks like on an iOS device:
Word Mobile is not limited to phones. You can also run Word Mobile on tablet devices. The following screenshot shows Word Mobile on an Android tablet:
Upon comparing these Android devices, even though both are running on the same operating system, we can see that the device sizes determine the look and layout of the interface. On a phone, all the buttons and commands appear at the bottom of the screen, making it easier to tap commands with your thumbs, while on a tablet, all the commands and buttons appear at the top of the screen, making it easier to tap with your index finger.
Word on different operating systems
In addition to Word changing its appearance with new updates and features being added every year, Word will also look different depending on what operating system you are using. Working on a Windows device or a Mac will have a subtle impact on how Word looks and behaves.
Word on a Mac
In addition to the different purchasing options for Office, you can also download either a Windows-based version of Office or Office for Mac. If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, you get access to both Mac and PC versions of Office. Word, for either PC or Mac, is essentially the same, though it will look and act slightly differently, depending on its host operating system. If you buy a perpetual version of Word, you can choose whether to buy a PC version or a Mac version, so be careful which version you choose.
Differences in user interfaces
Take a look at the following screenshots of Microsoft Word. They are using the same subscription but on different operating systems – one has been taken of Word for Mac, while another has been taken of Word on a Windows PC. The first screenshot shown is of the Mac version of Word:
On the PC version of Word, you will not have any of those menus at the top. Instead, you will find a File menu in the top left-hand corner of the screen that will open a kind of backstage view. In this view, you will find options and controls for both your document and your copy of Word:
On the Account tab, you'll find all your account information. On the Options tab, you can open a window and find more advanced Word options. From here, you can even send feedback to Microsoft about things you like or dislike about the application. All these options look quite different on the Mac version.
Differences in features
On occasion, you may notice features available on the PC version of Word that are not available on every Mac version. A prime example of this is embedding fonts in documents, which has been available for many past versions of Word on PC but has only become recently available on Word for Mac for the Office 2019 and Microsoft 365 versions. So, if you are using an older version of Office, that particular feature may not be available.
On Word for Mac 2016 (version 16.16.27), inside the Save Options window (Word menu > Preferences > Save), you will see that there isn't an option to embed fonts anywhere in this window. If you are a Visual Basic developer, there are also differences in the object model between Mac and Windows versions of Office, so some macros may need to be rewritten or may not run at all on Mac:
Now, compare this to the Microsoft 365 Word for Mac version:
So, the version of Word will determine what features you have and when you will receive updates. The operating system will determine where features are located, how those features look, and, to a lesser extent, how those features behave.
So, as you can see, the differences within operating systems may be based on the version rather than the operating system. As such, you need to know what version of Word you and others (as well as books and help articles) are using. In the next section, we will explain a bit more about the version we will be using throughout this book.
Differences in Appearance
To make matters slightly more confusing, you may notice that your copy of Microsoft 365 Word on Windows 10 may look different from your friend's or coworker's copy of Microsoft 365 Word on Windows 10.
Have a look at the following screenshot:
Notice the buttons and appearance of the Ribbon. Also, notice the Quick Access Toolbar in the upper left-hand corner. Now, compare the preceding image to the following image:
These differences are due to an update announced for select Windows 10 and Windows 11 Office apps (which includes Microsoft Word) referred to as Visual Refresh. Although things may look different, most of the functionality has remained the same with subtle differences here and there. With this refresh, Microsoft is trying to keep visual continuity and a consistent user interface between Word no matter which version you have.
The most striking difference you will encounter is that the color of the top bar of Word has changed from its traditional blue, to white, and the Quick Access Toolbar is hidden by default. If you use another theme, such as Dark Grey, then that theme will be consistent across all main Office apps and Windows.
Also, the Undo and Redo buttons have now moved to the Home tab, just before the Clipboard (cut and paste) commands:
If you would like to add commands or show the Quick Access Toolbar once again, there is now a menu underneath the Ribbon where you can do just that:
Just click the Ribbon Display Options drop arrow to the bottom right corner of the Ribbon to open a small menu. Towards the very bottom of the menu, you will see an option labeled Show Quick Access Toolbar. Select that option and your Quick Access Toolbar will appear as a small arrow either above or below your Ribbon. There, you can click and add commands just like you used to.
Now that we've learned a bit about what version we are using and how different versions of Word may look and act, let's learn how to use this book a bit more.
About this book
In this book, we will be using Microsoft 365 Word on PC for all the screenshots and demonstrations. The advice, tips, and tricks in this book are designed to be helpful regardless of the version of Word you are using. If, however, a piece of advice or a set of instructions do become version-specific, we will offer a version note and any suggestions, like this:
Note – Mac Users
If you are using Word for Mac, this feature is not available yet. If you want this feature, tell Microsoft by either sending a frown or by visiting http://word.uservoice.com.
Microsoft Word has been around since 1983 and has been growing, changing, and adapting ever since. Word is now available on multiple platforms and devices, allowing you to access your documents on the go from any device, regardless of connectivity.
If you are a Microsoft 365 subscriber, you can be assured that you will be one of the first to get the latest updates and features that Word has to offer. If this is not important to you, or your Word usage is minimal, perhaps the perpetual, classic, non-subscription-based option is better for you. Whichever version you choose and use, you will find that Microsoft Word will be a useful tool to learn and have.
In this chapter, we have given you a look at the many versions of Word to help you understand how the version you have will work for you. In future chapters, we will explore how to make the newest features of Word help solve some common everyday productivity problems.