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How to Use iCloud with Microsoft Office Files



Microsoft recently updated their Microsoft Office apps for iOS making it possible to now use iCloud Drive to sync Office files from a Mac or PC to an iPad or iPhone. We’ll show users how to take advantage of the new feature so they can work on their Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint files on a Mac or Windows PC, and then open them on an iPad or iPhone.

This guide assumes the user owns Microsoft Office 2013 or Office 365 for Windows or Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac. It should work with older versions of Office for Windows, too. The user must use the latest versions of the iOS apps.

Get Microsoft Office for iPad or iPhone using the links below to the App Store:

We assume the user will start by creating the document on their computer. It’s possible to create a file on an iOS device and then open it on a computer, but the user will need to save it to OneDrive or Dropbox and open the file from OneDrive or Dropbox on their computer. The iOS apps don’t let users save to iCloud on their iPad or iPhone yet.

To save files in OneDrive or Dropbox, create a document, spreadsheet or presentation and then tap the back arrow on the top left of the Word, Excel or PowerPoint app. This opens the screen where users can save their files. Choose OneDrive or Dropbox to save the file. Open the file on the Mac or PC from the OneDrive or Dropbox folder.

word for iphone save screen

Install the appropriate software by downloading it from Dropbox or OneDrive.

Saving Files to iCloud on Windows

The user must first set up iCloud on their Windows machine. Use the steps Apple provides to download the Windows software that adds iCloud to Windows. Install the software and sign into an Apple iCloud account.

icloud on windows

The iCloud settings app will create a link to iCloud Drive inside the Windows User folder. It also sets up syncing of Photos, Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Tasks and Bookmarks for their default browser.

Users who think they’ll store a lot of files in iCloud Drive should consider upgrading. Click the Storage link in the dialog box shown above to upgrade. The service comes with 5GB free. Upgrade for a monthly charge.

icloud storage options

Buy 20GB for $.99/month, 200GB for $3.99/month, 500GB for $9.99/month or 1TB for 19.99/month.

Now that we’ve got iCloud set up on the Windows PC, go ahead and open one of the Microsoft Office programs and either open a file that you want to use on an iPad or iPhone or create a new document. Then save that file in the iCloud Drive folder on the PC created by the iCloud Drive installer. Find it in the Windows Users folder. For example, the installer put mine in C:\Users\Kevin\iCloudDrive.

I put a shortcut to iCloud Drive in my Quick Access section in Explorer by opening Explorer and dragging the folder to the Quick Access section on the left side of the Explorer window.

create an icloud drive shortcut in quick access

Open the C:\Users\Your User Name\ folder and drag the iCloud Drive folder to the Quick Access section on the left side of the Explorer window.

I’m doing this on Windows 10 Technical Preview, but Windows 8 and Windows 7 should look a lot like this screen shot above.

Now, from a Microsoft Office application, click on File and Save As and Browse. This opens the a dialog box used to save the file. Use the Quick Access shortcut to easily find the iCloud Drive folder or find it inside the User’s folder. Hit Save and it will save the file and then upload it to iCloud Drive.

If you want a local copy and an iCloud copy of the file, then save it in your default documents folder too.

Saving Files to iCloud on Mac

Saving files on a Mac works like Windows, except OS X Yosemite users don’t need to install any software. This doesn’t work on OS X versions older than Yosemite.

To save a file from a Microsoft app, first create the file or open one from the computer. When finished editing the file, click on the File menu and then choose Save As.

saving files to icloud drive on mac

Find iCloud Drive from the left hand column and choose Save.

These steps will save the file to the iCloud Drive and makes it available to the Microsoft Office apps on an iPad or iPhone. It will also make it available to any other computer with iCloud Drive.

To save a local copy and an iCloud copy, make sure to save it to the default documents folder as well as iCloud Drive.

Saving Files to iCloud via Web Browser

Some people may want to upload files to their iCloud Drive from a computer that doesn’t have iCloud Drive. Maybe the person is using a friend’s computer or a public computer.

Open a web browser and go to Sign in and click on iCloud Drive from the grid of icons.

icloud drive on

The screen shows the folders of all the iCloud Drive enabled apps installed on your iOS devices. Users can also create their own folders.

To upload a file to sync with other computers or an iOS device, click on the upload button at the top of the screen.

icloud drive in a web browser

The upload button looks like an arrow pointing up at a cloud. It’s just above and to the left of the word iCloud Drive in the image above at the top. Clicking the button opens a dialog box. Find the file and then click on Open and the site will upload the file. It’s now available on the iPad or iPhone apps and on any computer with iCloud Drive or via any browser.

Accessing Files on iPad or iPhone

Open a Microsoft Office app, like Word. Tap on Open (on the left in the iPad version and at the bottom in the iPhone version) and then tap on More.

microsoft word for ipad icloud drive

The Open button shows up on the left on the iPad app as seen above or on the bottom of the screen on iPhone.

Tapping on More opens the iCloud dialog box (see the iPad version below). Find the file and tap it to open it.

microsoft office for iphone icloud drive folder

After opening the file, edit it and then tap on the back arrow in Word, Excel or PowerPoint and the app will automatically update the file in iCloud. The Mac or PC will then update the copy stored on the computer from the cloud, keeping it up to date.



  1. Andrew L

    05/27/2015 at 10:47 am

    Hi. Thanks for this. I’ve tried opening Microsoft files (created on Mac and saved on iCloud Drive) on iPad but the iPad is only seeing a few folders in the iCloud Drive. Most are not visible on iCloud on the iPad.

    • Emily T

      09/29/2015 at 11:47 pm

      I’ve met the same problem. While I use iTunes or AirMore to transfer Microsoft files to my iPhone introduced in the article below, I won’t encounter this problem. I’ve no idea why.

  2. Arthur

    07/21/2015 at 7:37 pm

    I’ve done everything like you described here but I can’t access my files on the excel app on my iPhone. It just doesn’t work! I’ve tried uploading other files to see if the problem is in iCloud, but all other files get uploaded just like this one and i can access them all in the icloud website. The problem is in the Excel app for iOS. It’s not syncing correctly with the iCloud Drive service. I’m getting very really angry right here. Do you know anything that could help me out? I’m already looking for microsoft support but i cant find it either. Thanks anyway

  3. Ivo Damianov

    09/08/2015 at 5:39 am

    Same story here, I own MS Office 2013 and Ipad mini 2 Retina, when trying to open an Excel file i have stored in iClouds I can seen the file but cannot open it… ((((((

  4. Sykes Brian

    10/07/2015 at 10:34 pm

    Brilliant worked a treat – otherwise opening from iCloud drive opened in Numbers no chart

  5. Ben

    11/23/2015 at 11:10 pm

    I’m not sure this is the bet place to ask, but I have 2 excel sheets that were working perfectly on my icloud until I logged in from a different pc edited them and put them back. Now it seems they are read only on the ipad, which is frustrating as I use it when away from home. Are there any suggestions that can fix this?

  6. Robert Nejedlo

    05/09/2016 at 8:22 am

    I have a spreadsheet built on my Mac mini on excell. I saved it to my one drive account. I opened it once on my iPad, and cannot save it back thru one drive to ensure “sync”! I too am getting angry at MS lack of responses to my help inquiries!

  7. LJFavors

    05/03/2017 at 6:14 am

    Word crashes during upload. Any help?

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