When most people think of making digital presentations on a computer, they instantly think of PowerPoint. Microsoft’s software has stood the test of time, and remains the go-to for many people more than 30 years after it was first introduced.
PowerPoint has undergone plenty of changes in that time, but its main purpose remains the same – to help people make great slideshow presentations.
For many years, paying for Office outright was the only way to access Excel. However, that all changed with the release of Office 365 (now Microsoft 365), which offered access to all the apps and regular updates in exchange for a monthly fee.
But Microsoft continues to release new standalone versions of Office apps every few years. The latest of these is Office 2021, although this will soon also come under the ‘Microsoft 365’ umbrella. The core functionality of these doesn’t change, though. The three free methods explained in this article are almost certain to stay.
Option 1 – Web version
Accessing Microsoft PowerPoint and other core Office programs is free via the web, and all you’ll need is a Microsoft account.
Head over to Office.com and click ‘Sign in’ to enter your details. If you don’t yet have an account, choose ‘Sign up for the free version of Office’ and follow the instructions.
Once that’s complete, you’ll be taken to your main office homepage. From the left pane, choose ‘Create’ then ‘Presentation’ to open a new PowerPoint document.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
As you can see, there’s also the option to create documents in Word and PowerPoint here, alongside Outlook and a free version of Microsoft Teams. These are all ‘Web Apps’, meaning you can only use them via your browser and not a desktop app. When you work on a file here, it will be saved to OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service.
In fact, you probably have Google to thank for this software being available in web app form, as its free Docs, Sheets and Slides software and their integration with Google Drive made it difficult for Microsoft to keep asking users to pay.
The web version of PowerPoint is a more stripped-back version of the software, so the comparison to Google Slides is more reasonable than the full desktop program. Nonetheless, both services should provide everything a casual user is looking for.
Option 2 – Use on mobile
Perhaps again in response to Google, Microsoft’s Office mobile applications are completely free and available across modern mobile devices.
You can download the Microsoft PowerPoint app forAndroidandiOS. While Microsoft understandably reserves some premium features for its Office 365 subscription, the mobile apps are still very capable and offer integration with OneDrive.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
Option 3 – Check if your school or workplace gets it free
Many employers offer Microsoft 365 apps to their employees free of charge. Even if your work email address ends with the name of the company, it may still be used to sign into a Microsoft account. Of course, you may be working in an office job where Excel and the like are already the defaults.
If your school has signed up to Microsoft 365 Education, all staff and students should be able access Office apps for free. To check, enter your education email address on the
However, these free options aren’t suitable for everyone. If you need more than just basic PowerPoint functions and the app isn’t available to you via school or work, the only alternative is to pay full price.
At the time of writing, the cheapest Microsoft 365 subscription is Personal, which $6.99/£5.99 per month or $69.99/£59.99 per year. Stepping up to the Family plan gets 2-6 people access for $9.99/£7.99 per month or $99.99/£79.99 per year. Both offer a one-month free trial.
Your other option is to pay for Office 2021, the latest standalone release. This is a one-off payment of $149.99 in the US or £119.99 in the UK. Unfortunately, there’s no way to pay for PowerPoint on its own.
As the resident expert on Windows, Senior Staff Writer Anyron’s main focus is PCs and laptops. Much of the rest of his time is split between smartphones, tablets and audio, with a particular focus on Android devices.