LibreOffice – free and for those that can’t use Microsoft Office (Review)

LibreOffice is a free Office suite containing Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing).

LibreOffice is perfect for those who are not ‘power users’ and do not wish to pay for an annual Microsoft Office subscription. You know, Word has over 10,000 features, and most use less than 10!

It is compatible with Word (.doc, .docx), Excel (.xls, .xlsx), PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx), and Publisher. It also natively supports the modern and open standard, Open Document Format (ODF) and PDF.

LibreOffice works on Windows, Linux, and macOS. In most cases, there is no learning curve swapping from Microsoft as it uses a similar ribbon command bar.

Best of all it is free and perfect to put on that old PC or laptop because it uses less computing power.

LibreOffice – it is free for personal use – forever as it is

Australian Review: LibreOffice Free V 7.5

WebsiteProduct Overview
PriceFree with the option to donate if you wish
CompanyOpen-Source Software is available for everyone to use, share and modify, and is produced by a worldwide community of hundreds of developers. It is tested and used daily by a large and devoted user community.

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New to version 7.5 (you can skip this section unless you use older LibreOffice versions)


  • Major improvements to dark mode support
  • New application and MIME-type icons, more colourful and vibrant
  • The Start Centre can filter documents by type
  • An improved version of the Single Toolbar UI has been implemented
  • PDF Export improved with several fixes, and new options and features
  • Support for font embedding on macOS
  • Improvements to the Font Features dialogue with several new options
  • Addition of a zoom slider at the bottom right of the macro editor


  • Bookmarks have been significantly improved, and are also much more visible
  • Objects can be marked as decorative, for better accessibility
  • New types added to content controls, which also improve the quality of PDF forms
  • A new automatic accessibility checker option has been added to the Tools menu
  • Initial machine translation is available, based on DeepL translate APIs
  • Several spell-checking improvements


  • Data tables are now supported in charts
  • The Function Wizard now lets you search by descriptions
  • “Spell out” number formats have been added
  • Conditional formatting conditions are now case insensitive
  • Correct behaviour when entering numbers with a single prefix quote (‘)


  • New set of default table styles and creation of table styles
  • Table styles can be customised, saved as master elements and exported
  • Objects can be drag-and-dropped in the navigator
  • It is now possible to crop inserted videos in the slide and still play them
  • The presenter console can also run as a normal window instead of fullscreen

Using LibreOffice Writer

It is like taking a step or three back to the old Word. The Ribbon Bar is more crowded, but there is a comfortable similarity.

Where Word uses the Home Tab to display formatting, bullet points, indenting and more, Writer has these logically grouped under View, Insert, Format, Styles, and more. Once you determine where something is, for example, the bullet points used above are under Format, Lists, and Unordered Lists, it is easy. I later found a ribbon shortcut icon, and you can use a keyboard Shift F12 (same as Word).

When you go to save the document, it prompts you to use ODF, or you can select Office 365 .docx.

I would say that a few hours of use would be more than enough to familiarise yourself with where things are. I have not yet found any of the 50 or so Word commands I use missing from LibreOffice.

I don’t use a lot of fonts, templates and clip art per se, but Microsoft has many, and LibreOffice has a few.

Summary: Perfect for the average user to do letters, presentations, novels, documents and more.

Using LibreOffice Calc

I have a very complex spreadsheet with thousands of formulas, look-up and pivot tables and several sub-sheets. It pulled over the formatting, colours, tables and more complex stuff without issue.

What’s more, it auto-identified English Australia and highlighted all the spelling variations again – good.

Impress and Draw – not tested


Basically none. You can argue that Open-source may not be as secure or fully featured, but I think that these are non-issues for average users. In fact, it is more private.

The inbuilt spell checker is quite good, but Grammarly Users will be disappointed with no LibreOffice support. The LT Language Tool (Freemium – not tested) does support LibreOffice but is mostly a grammar and spelling checker. It does not have Grammarly AI tools.

Microsoft Office includes more programs like Outlook, One Drive, Teams etc., that users may find invaluable. It also has collaboration tools – important if you use them.

An objective comparison is here.

CyberShack’s view – LibreOffice is a good alternative to Microsoft for casual users

I prepared several articles and worked on a complex spreadsheet. I found LibreOffice did all I needed.

BUT, I have been using word processors for over 40 years and, remember older ribbon bars, keyboard shortcuts, and know what I want to do, even if LibreOffice uses different terminology.

If you can afford Microsoft 365, then go for it. If not, or if you want to get out of the Microsoft ecosystem, LibreOffice is a no-brainer.

Rating Explanation (using Microsoft 365 as a base)

  • Features: 90. In fact, I have read that LibreOffice may have more obscure features than Word.
  • Value: 100 – it is free
  • Performance: 100
  • Ease of Use: Initially 70, but as you get to know LibreOffice terminology and where to find things it climbs to 95.
  • Design: 80 – It is fairly old Word in layout and style, but there is not a lot of point in modernising the user interface much more.


  • Free
  • High level of compatibility with Microsoft 365 counterparts
  • More file compatibility
  • Formatting issues of the past between Microsoft 365 and LibreOffice are gone


  • Volunteer and community-provided online support only
  • No Grammarly support, which is s deal breaker for a journalist.

For how-to videos, go here