Differences between using a document in the browser and in Word

Microsoft Word Web App lets you make basic edits and formatting changes to your document in a web browser. For more advanced features, use Word Web App’s Open in Word command. When you save the document in Word, it is saved on the website where you opened it in the web app.

The document you open in Word Web App is the same as the document you open in the Word desktop app, but some features work differently in the two environments.

In this article

File formats supported in Word Web App

Features supported for viewing and printing

Features that differ between the browser and the desktop

Opening and saving

Editing and formatting

Reviewing

Objects

File formats supported in Word Web App

Word Web App opens documents in these formats:

  • Word Document (.docx)

  • Word Template (.dotx)

  • Word Macro-Enabled Document (.docm) or Word Macro-Enabled Template (.dotm)
    The document can be opened, but macros do not run.

  • Word 97-2003 Document (.doc) or Word 97-2003 Template (.dot)
    Word Web App displays documents in these formats, but to edit the document in the browser, Word Web App saves a new copy of the document in .docx or .dotx format. Word Web App can’t save documents in the .doc or .dot formats.

  • OpenDocument Text (.odt)
    This format is supported for documents stored in a SharePoint library.

Word Web App can’t open documents in other file formats. For example, these formats are not supported: Open Document Format (ODF), Rich Text Format (RTF), Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions HTML (MHTML), and Portable Document Format (PDF).

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Features supported for viewing and printing

When you view or print a document in Word Web App, the document looks the same as it does in Print Layout view in the Word desktop app. Word Web App uses a PDF reader to print documents (see the list of supported PDF readers). If you want Word features for printing (such as adjusting page margins), click Open in Word, and print in the Word desktop app.

When you are viewing a document, some features work differently in the browser than they do in the Word desktop app. To use features that are not available in Word Web App, click Open in Word.

This Feature

Works like this in Word Web App

Print Layout view

In Reading view, Word Web App displays a document as it looks in Print Layout view. Other views available in the Word desktop app (Outline, Draft, Web Layout, and Full Screen Reading) are not available in Word Web App. Likewise, the Navigation pane, side-by-side viewing, and split windows are not available in Word Web App.

Rulers and gridlines

Word Web App does not display rulers and gridlines.

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Features that differ between the browser and the desktop

When you edit a document in Word Web App, the document is presented in Editing view so that you can edit and format text. Editing view doesn’t show page formatting, such as margins or page breaks, cover pages, or headers and footers. Additionally, many kinds of objects are displayed as placeholders.

The following tables describe how Word Web App supports features that might apply to your documents. To use features beyond what’s available in Word Web App, click Open in Word.

Opening and saving

This Feature

Works like this in Word Web App

File protection: IRM or password

Word Web App can’t open documents that are encrypted with a password or protected with Information Rights Management. Open these documents in the Word desktop app.

Permission to modify

A document that requires a password to modify it opens in Word Web App in Reading view, but the document cannot be edited in the browser. Click Open in Word to remove editing restrictions.

Save

You save a document manually in Word Web App; there is no auto-save feature.

Manage Versions

Versions are managed on the server rather than in Word Web App. In a SharePoint library, see if the Version History feature has been configured for the library.

Editing and formatting

This feature

Works like this in Word Web App

Copy and Paste

Copy and paste text. Text is formatted to match the text surrounding where it is pasted in Word Web App.

Font formatting

Apply bold, italics, underline, strikethrough, subscript, superscript, font, size, color, and highlighting. You can also clear font formatting.

Paragraph formatting

Align paragraphs left, right, or centered; run text right-to-left or left-to-right; increase or decrease indentation; format paragraphs as a bulleted or numbered list. You can also clear formatting. You cannot adjust line spacing in Word Web App.

Numbering and bullets

Apply one of several built-in numbering or bullet styles.

Styles

Apply one of a gallery of built-in styles. You can also clear formatting. You cannot create new styles or modify styles in Word Web App.

Find

Find is available only in Reading view. Find and Replace is not available in Word Web App.

Zoom

Zoom is available only in Reading view. Use your browser’s view settings to zoom in or out in Editing view.

Page margins and orientation

Page layout is preserved but can’t be edited in Word Web App.

Line breaks and page breaks

Breaks between lines and pages are displayed in Reading view. In Editing view, line breaks are represented as placeholders, and page breaks are not indicated.

Columns

Page layout is preserved but can’t be edited in Word Web App.

Theme, page color, watermarks

Theme and page background are preserved in the document but can’t be edited in Word Web App.

Co-authoring

For documents stored in a SharePoint library co-authors can use Word 2010 and/or Word for Mac 2011 but not Word Web App.

Reviewing

This Feature

Works like this in Word Web App

Proofing tools

Check spelling and set the proofing language, using the built-in dictionary. Word Web App does not use a custom dictionary and does not include grammar checking, translation, or a thesaurus.

Comments

Comments appear in Reading view. To add comments or to edit a document with comments in it, click Open in Word.

Tracked changes

Tracked changes appear in Reading view. To track your changes or to edit a document with tracked changes in it, click Open in Word. This also applies if the Track Changes feature was turned on when the document was last saved in Word. The feature for comparing versions is not available in Word Web App.

Objects

This Feature

Works like this in Word Web App

Hyperlinks

Insert, edit, and follow hyperlinks. Bookmark and cross-reference links work, and you can edit their display text, but not their destination, in Word Web App.

Tables

Insert tables. Select by table, column, row or cell; delete by table, column, or row; Insert rows and columns; align cell text left, right, or centered. More sophisticated table features--such as table styles, cell size, text direction, and sort order--are preserved in the document, but cannot be configured in Word Web App.

Pictures and clip art

Insert pictures stored on your computer, or insert clip art available on Office.com. You can resize pictures and clip art, and you can add alt-text to them. To move a picture or clip art image, cut and paste it. More sophisticated features for working with pictures, such as applying effects and cropping, are not available in Word Web App. You can’t create screenshots directly in Word Web App, but screenshots in a document display as pictures in Word Web App.

Shapes, charts, text boxes, SmartArt, WordArt

These display in the document as expected in Reading view. In Editing view they appear as placeholders that you can delete but not edit. They cannot be moved or resized in Word Web App.

Equations, symbols, ink

These display in the document as expected in Reading view. In Editing view they appear as placeholders that you can delete but not edit. They cannot be moved or resized in Word Web App.

Fields, content controls, cover page

These display in the document as expected in Reading view. In Editing view they appear as placeholders that you can delete but not edit or update. A cover page appears as a placeholder for a content control.

Headers and footers

These display in the document as expected in Reading view. Headers and footers, including page numbers, are hidden in Editing view.

Footnotes, endnotes, bibliography, table of contents, index

These display in the document as expected in Reading view. In Editing view they appear as placeholders that you can delete but not edit or update.

Macros

You can view, edit, print, and share documents that contain macros, but to run the macros click Open in Word.

ActiveX controls, embedded OLE objects, signature line

These display in the document as expected in Reading view. In Editing view they appear as placeholders that you can delete but not edit. They cannot be moved or resized in Word Web App.

Linked pictures, embedded files

These are preserved in the document but are displayed as placeholders in Word Web App.

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