Although I rely heavily on Google Docs, it’s not the only office suite I use. There are many times throughout the day when I have to depend on a locally installed office suite to do specific things. One such instance is when I am collaborating with editors who are using MS Office, and the document cannot be trusted to go through the Google Drive reformatting from .docx to the Google format and back again. In those situations, I depend on an open-source, free office suite, named LibreOffice.

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I’ve been using LibreOffice for a long time and have found it to be as solid a tool as any on the market. Even better, it plays verywell with MS Office, so you can collaborate all you want and no one will know the difference. 

LibreOffice includes:

  • Writer – for documents
  • Calc – for spreadsheets
  • Impress – for presentations
  • Draw – for drawings
  • Formula – for creating formulas
  • Base – for databases

LibreOffice includes a user-configurable interface, so you can configure it as a modern ribbon-like UI or a traditional menu-based UI (or some variation between the two). This office suite is free to use and install on as many computers as you need. There are versions for Linux, macOS, and Windows — and it’s simple to install…which is exactly what we’re going to do.

The only thing you’ll need is a macOS device (MacBook or iMac). With that in hand, let’s get to the installation.

Installing LibreOffice

1. Download the installer

You cannot install LibreOffice from the macOS App Store. Instead, open your default web browser and point it to Click Download Now. This will take you to the download page.

Although your browser should detect this, you must download the file for the architecture powering your hardware (Figure 1). If it’s an older device, you’ll want to select macOS (Intel). If it’s a newer device, you’ll want to select macOS (Apple Silicon). Once you’ve made your selection, click Download, and the file will save to your local drive. You will be prompted to allow the download. When that happens, click Allow.

The LibreOffice download page.

Downloading LibreOffice from the official site.

Image: Jack Wallen

2. Install LibreOffice

Depending on the speed of your network connection, the download will take anywhere from 2-10 minutes. Once it finishes, expand Downloads in your dock and click the LibreOffice entry (Figure 2).

LibreOffice listed in the Download stack on macOS.

LibreOffice has been downloaded and is ready to install.

Image: Jack Wallen

In the resulting window (Figure 3), drag the LibreOffice icon to the Applications folder icon.

The LibreOffice macOS installer.

Installing LibreOffice to macOS.

Image: Jack Wallen

3. Delete the installer file

When the installation completes (it’ll take a minute or so), close out the installer, right-click the mounted LibreOffice drive, and select Eject (Figure 4).

The right-click context menu in macOS.

Ejecting the mounted installer after the fact.

Image: Jack Wallen

How to open LibreOffice

1. Open Launchpad

Unlike when installing LibreOffice in Linux (where you can open Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Formula, and Base separately), you must open the LibreOffice main app. To do so, click Launchpad and type LibreOffice, where you’ll see the icon for the tool. Click LibreOffice to open the office suite.

You will be prompted to allow the running of the an unknown app (Figure 5).

A macOS warning for running an unknown app.

It’s okay to run this app.

Image: Jack Wallen

Click Open and LibreOffice will finally open.

2. Create a new file

With LibreOffice open, select the type of file you want to create (from the left navigation — Figure 6) or click Open File to open a document you’ve already saved to your drive.

LibreOffice running on macOS.

The LibreOffice main window.

Image: Jack Wallen

And that, my friends, is how you install and get started with LibreOffice on macOS. I’ll be covering more of this powerful office suite very soon, so make sure you have it ready to go for future tutorials.

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