David H. Ringstrom, CPA, heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.
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By David Ringstrom, CPA
From time to time, you may need to reinstall Microsoft Office because you purchased a new computer or you're trying to resolve a program error. Or, in Excel 2010 and later, you may need to move between the 32-bit and 64-bit versions. In this article, I'll describe how to download the installation files on demand as well as recover a lost product key for Office.
The instructions that follow are specific to Excel 2007 and later. (I was unable to determine how to download Excel 2003 and earlier from the Microsoft website.) Links are all current as of the date of this article (October 31, 2013), but they are subject to change without notice.
Office 365 Subscribers: Click the Install link on this sign-in page. Your subscription entitles you to install the Windows or Mac versions of Office on up to five computers.
Office 2013: Provide your product key when prompted on this page. Do note that product keys for earlier versions of Office will be rejected, so be sure to use the page that corresponds with your version of Office. You can also access direct download links by way of this third-party site, HeiDoc.net, which is the service provider that manages Microsoft's software download platforms.
Office 2010: Similar to Office 2013, you'll provide your product key, but on this Office 2010 page. However, if you're looking to migrate from 32-bit Office to 64-bit, use this page instead. Your product key entitles you to use either the 32-bit or 64-bit versions. However, do be aware that you can only install 64-bit Office on a computer that has a 64-bit version of Windows. Conversely, on a 64-bit computer, you can use either 32-bit or 64-bit Office. The 64-bit version provides better performance, but it can pose conflicts with third-party products as well as certain macro programming aspects within the Office suite. To determine whether you have 32-bit or 64-bit Windows installed, double-click on the System icon within the Windows Control Panel on your computer. This third-party site contains direct download links.
Office 2007: The Office 2007 page requires you to first select a version of Office (i.e., Professional, Home and Student, or Small Business) and then provide your product key. Unlike Office 2010 and later, the Office 2007 suite is only available in 32-bit form. This third-party site provides direct download links.
Office 2011 for Mac: As with the Windows versions, you'll need your 25-character product key to download a replacement copy of Office 2011 from this page.
Be careful when downloading any software from the Internet. For Microsoft Office in particular, make sure that the site you're downloading from is either owned by Microsoft Corporation or HeiDoc.net. Cast a highly questioning eye on any other sites that purport to offer Office downloads.
As you've noted above, you'll need the 25-digit product key to download an Office suite from a Microsoft website. You may be able to bypass that step by accessing a direct download from HeiDoc.net, but you still won't be able to install the actual software without a product key. Typically the product key is on the box or CD case for your Office suite. However, if you can't find it, there are a number of free programs you can use to extract the product key from a computer that already has your version of Office installed.
My personal favorite is ProduKey from Nirsoft, as no installation is required. Once you download ProduKey, you can double-click on ProduKey.exe within the .zip file that you download to instantly view product keys on your computer. Other programs include Belarc Advisor and Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder, among others. If you've lost or cannot access your product key, your only recourse is to purchase a new license to Microsoft Office. Presently, only Office 2013 is available for retail sale.
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