How to Open a Word Document on Android
Microsoft Office is nearly ubiquitous in the world of business and education alike. While similar apps like Google Docs and Apple Pages have given Microsoft a run for their money, it’s safe to say that Word continues to lead the pack in features and usability alike.
The downside of this, of course, is that some Word documents are difficult to access depending on your OS. If you’re trying to open a ‘.doc’ file on your Android device, you may have issues running it right out of the box. Don’t worry, opening doc files is a reasonably straightforward process. Here’s how to do it.
How to Open a Word.doc File on Android
The Google Play Store is one of the most diverse app stores available to tech users today. This means that there is no lack of applications designed to help you open Word documents on your Android device.
Most of these apps are free, some are pre-installed, and all of the ones on our list have been tested for use in December of 2020, so you know it’s a good app.
Use Google Docs
Google added native support for both ‘.doc’ and ‘.docx’ files in Android, so opening a new file shouldn’t be too much work. Here’s how to do it.
- Use Google Drive, your email, or another service to find the Word document.
- Tap the file you located in step 1 above to open it. If prompted, open the file in ‘Docs’ (Google Docs) or a different doc/docx file viewer/editor if you have it. You may need to install one of them if nothing comes up to select or reset the default app launcher if you don’t get any options like the image below.
The document should open in whichever app you choose. If you’re simply trying to review the content, opening it in Docs is fine. If you’d like to make edits, you should open it in a different app, such as Docs To Go.
Using Microsoft Word for Android
Google Docs can take care of opening and displaying your files on Android, but if you’d prefer to edit them natively, you can use Microsoft Word for Android.
- Grab the Microsoft Word app on the Play Store.
- Once the app finishes the installation process, tap the ‘.doc’ or ‘.docx’ file on your phone, then select “Word” from the list of apps available.
Word makes it easy to save and edit documents on Android, so edit your docs to your heart’s content. However, it is certainly better to use the PC or Mac Word program whenever possible.
You can also use the entire Microsoft Office Suite on your Android device, as long as you have the applications installed. Although it isn’t easy to edit files, especially an Excel document, Android and Microsoft seem to work well together.
Word for Android is a free application with no advertisements and you don’t need an account to get to work. Unfortunately, if you don’t have an account you can’t open anything from the cloud so it is best to sign in if you need to access files from your PC on your phone.
Polaris Office for Android
Polaris Office comes pre-installed on various Android devices, but if it isn’t there already, simply download it from the Google Play Store. Developed by Infraware Inc., Polaris is a free application and you can bypass the option to create an account if you’d like.
Upon opening the app, you’ll need to click on the three horizontal lines in the upper left-hand corner and tap on ‘Device Storage’ to access files on your Android phone or tablet. If nothing appears, head over to your device Settings and toggle the permissions on under the ‘Apps’ tab.
Now, you can edit and download the file directly to your device and send it where it needs to go.
Note: You may notice that this app does have ads which can get in the way of your document. Especially the banner at the top as shown in our screenshot above. There are a few ways to workaround these ads.
The app offers videos that you can watch to do away with ads so you don’t have to pay for a premium service. A 60 second video will remove the advertisements.
You can also tap on the ‘Edit’ icon which removes the banner ad at the top. Or, you can turn on Airplane mode, then open your document. If you’re already looking at the document, go back, then turn Airplane mode on. When you open the document, the ads will go away.
Another free application you can easily download from the Google Play Store, WPS Office offers everything from file conversion to reviewing Microsoft Office documents. Similar to Polaris Office, you don’t have to create an account to use its features.
This app does offer a premium paid service that removes ads and gives you even more functionality. At the time of writing, the service is 40% off at $19.99 per year and $29.99 each year after that.
All you need to do to get started is tap on ‘Open’ at the top of the app. From here you can tap on any number of file categories (we’ll tap on Doc for the purposes of this article) and choose the file from your device’s storage.
Once open, click the ‘Tools’ option at the bottom to make edits. WPS Office offers its own cloud service if you’d like to store your work within the app. Of course, you can also share the document with others or even directly to a computer (but you will need an account for that last bit).
Can’t Open a Word Document
If you’re having difficulty opening a Word.doc file the first thing you’ll want to do is try another app. If it’s a pressing matter, Google Docs or Word Doc may not cooperate at first.
Using another application should correct the issue as long as the file that you’re trying to open isn’t corrupted. If you’ve tried using another application the file is likely faulty so try getting another version of it.
If you absolutely need to access a file from the Word app, you may have a compatibility issue. Either your phone’s software is out of date, or your app is out of date. Check the Google Play Store for updates first. If an update is available, go ahead and click on the option to do so. Once done, try opening your file again.
Assuming you’re running the latest version of Word, try updating your phone by going to the Settings and tapping on ‘Updates.’
If all of your software is up to date, you can try clearing the cache (Settings>Apps>Word>Clear Cache), or uninstalling then reinstalling the app. Some users have reported there’s only the option to uninstall Word from the Settings on their device. If this is what you’re seeing, go to the Play Store and see if the option to Uninstall is there. When the option doesn’t appear to uninstall the app, you can only disable then re-enable it.
Lastly, try signing into the Word app with your Microsoft account if you aren’t already logged in. This may correct your problem (especially if you’re uploading a document from the cloud).
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I edit a Word doc on my phone?
Yes. Google Docs and the third-party applications we’ve mentioned above should let you edit your document with no problems. If it’s a read-only file, you’ll need to click on ‘Attributes’ and uncheck the ‘Read-Only’ box.
From here you can make changes, make notes, and perform various other tasks. Once edited, feel free to share the file, save it to your cloud, or send it to another person.
Which is the best third-party app to use with Word docs?
The answer to this question largely depends on what you’re trying to do with the document. Word is more compatible because it is Microsoft’s software. Google Docs gives you a lot of freedom and it’s much easier to share your document with others. The other third-party apps listed offer some key features too.