What account do I use with Office and why do I need one?

If you already have or you're about to install and activate a newer version of Office, you may have wondered why you need to sign in with a Microsoft account, or a work or school account, or you want to understand the difference between these two accounts and when to use one over the other. This article will help to explain that.

Tip: For help setting up accounts in Outlook, see Outlook help center.

What is a Microsoft account?

A Microsoft account is an email address and password that you use with Outlook.com, Hotmail, Office, OneDrive, Skype, Xbox, and Windows. When you create a Microsoft account, you can use any email address as the user name, including addresses from Outlook.com, Yahoo! or Gmail.

These accounts are most often associated with Office for home products.

What is a work or school account?

If your work or school uses Office 365, someone such as an Office 365 global admin likely assigned you a unique username and password. This is the account you use to access your work or school email and your organization's web resources.

Work or school accounts are usually associated with Office 365 for business products and are usually managed by the same Office 365 admin responsible for assigning user accounts and Office licenses to people in their organization.

Why do I need one of these accounts to use Office?

Unlike older versions of Office, most Office 365 subscriptions and non-subscription 2016 and 2013 versions of Office don't include an installation disc. With newer versions of Office you install and activate Office by signing in with one of the above accounts. If Office came pre-installed, you need to sign in with the appropriate account to complete the activation process.

The association between your account and your Office product is important because your account is what verifies you're the licensed owner of this copy of Office. In many cases this association happens automatically, but it also depends on how you got Office.

This is also why you need to remember what account you used during this set up. Once this association is complete, anytime Office asks you to sign in, or if you need to reinstall Office or install Office on a different device, you simply sign in with this account. Learn more about how to associate an account with Office.

Account FAQ

How do I get an account and associate it with Office?

Associating a Microsoft account, or work or school account with Office is how Microsoft verifies you have a legitimate Office license. How you associate your account and Office product depends on your Office product and how you got it. This association is only necessary for Office 365 subscriptions and non-subscription Office 2016 and Office 2013 products (see Do I need an account for Office 2010 or Office 2007?)

Select the option that best suits you how you got Office.

If you bought Office at a retail store it likely came with packaging that included a key. When you redeem this key, you'll be asked to use an existing Microsoft account or create a new account.

If you bought Office through the online Microsoft store and you signed in to make your purchase, this is the account that's associated with Office. If you can't install Office you may have missed the redemption step after your purchase. See I just bought Office. Where do I enter my product key?

If someone shared their Office subscription with you, they may have sent you an email or text message. When you're ready to install Office, you'll be asked to use an existing Microsoft account or create a new account. How do I get a Microsoft account?

If you're using Office through your work or school, you were likely assigned an account when you started. This is the account you use to sign in to Office.com.

If you bought Office, but someone else installed it for you and their account is now associated with Office instead of yours, contact support. Be sure to have your proof of purchase.

If you purchased Office through your organization's Microsoft HUP benefit for use on a PC running Windows, you don't use an account to activate Office. You should have received a product key which you need to enter when prompted to activate Office. See Install or reinstall Office through Microsoft HUP.

Where do I sign in with my account so I can install Office?

If you have an existing Office 365 subscription, or use Office 365 at work or school, sign in at Office.com with the account that's associated with your subscription. This is where you can install or reinstall Office, and depending on your Office product it's also where you manage your subscription through My Account. The association between your account and your Office license depends how you got Office.

Signing in at Office.com or signing in to the Office desktop apps also means you can easily access any files you stored in cloud services such as OneDrive. Learn more at Sign in to Office or Office 365.

If you're simply looking for the steps to install Office see:

Download and install or reinstall Office 365 or Office 2016 on a PC or Mac

Set up Office apps and email on a mobile device

Tips: 

  • Some organizations manage both Office licenses and installations for their employees or students so you may not need to install anything yourself. However, if Office isn't already installed or you don't see an install option after signing in with your work or school account at Office.com, talk to the Office 365 administrator in your organization.

  • If you signed in with a Microsoft account and don't see an option to install Office, see the section below "Office isn't associated with this account".

Do I need an account for Office 2010 or Office 2007?

Accounts aren't required for older versions of Office such as Office 2010 or Office 2007. To install or reinstall Office use the disc and product key that came with your purchase. See Install Office 2010 and Install Office 2007 for more information about installing those versions.

How do I get a Microsoft account, or work or school account?

Microsoft accounts

A Microsoft account is a free account you use to access many Microsoft devices and services, such as the web-based email service Outlook.com (also known as hotmail.com, msn.com, live.com), Office Online apps, Skype, OneDrive, Xbox Live, Bing, Windows, or the Microsoft Store. If you already use any of these services chances are you already have a Microsoft account. Microsoft account used to be called "Windows Live ID".

If you already use an email address and password to sign in to Microsoft devices and services like the ones mentioned above, then you already have a Microsoft account. One of the benefits of having a Microsoft account is having a single password to sign into all your Microsoft services.

For more information about Microsoft accounts and how to manage them.

See Microsoft account help.

Work or school accounts

If your work or school uses Office 365 in your organization, an administrator will provide you with a work or school account. This is likely the account you already use for email and when signing in to access your organization's web resources.

Office 365 admins manage email user accounts for people in their organization from by signing in to the Office 365 Admin Center with their Office 365 admin username and password.

Users and passwords in Office 365 for business – Admin Help.

Can I change the name on my account?

Microsoft accounts

For information about how to change the name on your account, see Change the name on your Microsoft account.

To manage other aspects of your Microsoft account sign in at account.microsoft.com or see Microsoft account help.

Work or school accounts

For work or school accounts, contact your admin.

If you're the Office 365 admin who manages email user accounts for people in your organization, see Users and passwords in Office 365 for business – Admin Help.

I can't remember my username

For help with your username, see I forgot the username or password for the account I use with Office.

How do I reset my password?

Microsoft accounts

If you forgot the password for the Microsoft account that you associated with Office, see I forgot the username or password for the account I use with Office.

Work or school accounts

If your admin has given you permission to reset your password go to, Password reset. Contact your admin if you don't have permission to change your password.

If you're the Office 365 admin who manages email user accounts for people in your organization, see Users and passwords in Office 365 for business – Admin Help.

My password is correct, but it isn't working

There are few things you can check if your password doesn't seem to be working:

  • Check the spelling of your email name and password.

  • Make sure you don't have all caps turned on since your password is case sensitive.

If it's still not working, do the following depending on your account.

Microsoft accounts

For Microsoft accounts, find more help at Microsoft account help.

Work or school accounts

For work or school accounts, go to your admin.

If you're the Office 365 admin who manages email user accounts for people in your organization, see Users and passwords in Office 365 for business – Admin Help.

I used an existing account such as my Gmail Yahoo! account when I created my Microsoft account, but the password isn't working

There are benefits to making your regular email account such as a Gmail or Yahoo! account a Microsoft account as well. It can be one less account to remember, or maybe you just prefer to use certain accounts for certain activities.

Outlook.com, hotmail.com, live.com, or msn.com accounts are managed my Microsoft and are automatically considered Microsoft accounts. This means if you have one of these, any changes you make to that account will be carried through all Microsoft services where you use this account. However, if you created a Microsoft account using an existing email account managed by a different email provider, any changes you make through that provider won't be carried over to Microsoft.

For example, you used an existing Gmail, Yahoo!, or another type of account to create a Microsoft account, but at a later date you make changes to your account such as update your password or other personal information through the settings from your email provider. Your email change doesn't automatically extend to your Microsoft account so your Microsoft account password remains what it was you first created it. To make any changes to this account, you need to do it through your Microsoft account settings.

To reset your Microsoft account password, see I forgot the username or password for the account I use with Office. To manage other aspects of your Microsoft account such as name changes or security settings, sign in at account.microsoft.com.

A message says Office isn't associated with this account

For help with this message, see "This is the right place to install and reinstall Office" error message.

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