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Can You Run Office 2013 or 2016 Without Internet Access?

2 minute read

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Many Office 365 plans contain Office 2013/2016 applications that users can install on their own computers or devices, but there’s some confusion over the use of Office 2013/2016 without an internet connection.

Using Office Online (Web Apps), IT monitoring and maintenance activities, and so on–those tasks clearly require internet access. But what about simply creating a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet? Can you fire up your application and work, with or without being online, like you could in prior versions of Office?

Office 2013/2016 Actions that Require Online Access

The answer is deceptively simple. You do need internet access to install, activate, and manage your Office 2013 programs that are part of an Office 365 plan.

Installation and Activation

Once you have an Office 365 plan that includes Office 2013/2016 applications, you’ll need to internet access to install those Office 2013/2016 applications. This is because installing Office 2013/2016 as a part of Office 365 uses click-to-run technology, which you can learn more about here on TechNet.

When Office 2013/2016 is installed, you will be able to use the applications on a day-to-day basis without an internet connection–the “old fashioned way.” Periodically, you will need to connect to the internet to validate your Office 365 subscription.


Office 365 is a subscription-based service. So if your Office 2013/2016 applications are part of your Office 365 plan, Microsoft simply needs to verify that you have an active subscription, on a monthly basis. This verification requires an internet connection but no action from you, since it is automatic.

Also, if you are storing files on OneDrive and not syncing those OneDrive files locally, you’ll need to be connected to the internet to open your files. Syncing files to OneDrive requires internet access, as well.

Clip art and some templates are not installed locally, like they used to be.

Office 2013/2016 Actions that Do Not Require Online Access

You should be able to regularly open and use Office 2013/2016 applications like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel without internet connection. However, when you save, you will only be given the option to save locally. Bear that in mind especially if you have OneDrive or other internet locations as your default save location or your auto-recover location.

As long as you’re online once a month to verify your subscription, as described above, you shouldn’t run into any problems with Office 2013/2016 applications. If your programs aren’t opening, try our troubleshooting tips.

If you bought Office 2013/2016 “from a box,” i.e. a version with no monthly fee that does not connect to Office 365, then the above restrictions don’t apply.

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