How Do I Update Word?

Microsoft has become the ‘cool’ hardware company, all of a sudden, and are making huge strides with their solutions. This isn’t your daddy’s anti-competitive Goliath smugly crushing competitors by undercutting on price while making billions from Windows.

From our perspective though, confirmed after talking to many Microsoft Word users, Microsoft’s product naming conventions and update processes need some improvement.

After all, we’re used to iPhone updates that just happen. You don’t even have to do anything.

The first thing to know is that moving to the latest version of Office (Office 2021 as of the most recent update of this article) is free for educators and important because support for older versions of Office is going away.

“Office 365” refers to a subscription model for buying  Office 2021, not a product exactly. Ah, it’s very confusing. We imagine that Microsoft will drop the “2021” bit and just go with Office 365 soon, requiring an annual subscription vs. still offering a one-time purchase option.

But your computer may be owned and controlled by your school or employer. In which case upgrading or even updating Office may be outside of your control.

This creates challenges for developers like 11trees – there are many permutations of Microsoft Word.

There is only one Google Docs.

Long-winded way of saying: who knows exactly what flavor of Office you’ve got and whether you can update it.

Updating is important, though, since Microsoft releases updates to Office all the time. And many of them affect add-ins like 11trees’ Annotate PRO.

For instance, if you have a circa September 2015 version of Office 2016 you won’t see Annotate tabs inside of Word. That version of Office didn’t yet support add-ins creating tabs.

You have to go to Insert, then My Add-ins every time you want to use one of our solutions.

So how do you tell what version of Word you’ve got? And whether you can update it?

Here are the key resources for updating all versions of Office:

If you don’t seem to have the ability to update you either have a volume license install or your school/company is using Group Policy to manage your updates.

Windows users update process:

  1. Open Word and create a new document (if you aren’t looking at a document already).
  2. Go to File > Account.
  3. Under Product Information, choose Update Options > Update Now.
    NOTE: You may need to click Enable Updates first if you don’t see the Update Now option right away.
  4. Close the “You’re up to date!” window after Office is done checking for and installing updates.

macOS users update process:

  1. Go to Help > Check for Updates
    1. IMPORTANT: If you don’t see Check for Updates on the Help menu, download the latest version of the Microsoft AutoUpdate tool from Run the tool and then start over at step 1. The Check for Updates option now appears on the Help menu.
  2. Choose manual checks, automatic checks, or automatic downloads and installations – depending on your personal preference. We’d suggest “Automatically Check.”