Ask LH: Will Using Office 365 On My iPad And iPhone Use Up Two Licences?

Ask LH: Will Using Office 365 On My iPad And iPhone Use Up Two Licences?

Hey Lifehacker, Following last week’s launch, I’m interested in getting Office 365 for my iPhone and iPad. I already have a 365 Home subscription, and I’m using three of the five licences. Do I need to use the remaining two licences, one for my iPhone and one for my iPad, to get full access to the apps on both devices? Thanks, Office Overload

Dear OO,

There are two issues here. Firstly, the Office 365 subscription includes five desktop installs PLUS five mobile device installs. So your iPad install doesn’t come out of your existing five desktop installs — it’s a separate count.

Having said that: You do need to use up a licence for the iPad, but you don’t necessarily need to do so for the iPhone. Here’s why.

Anyone can download Office for iPad, if you don’t have an Office 365 licence, than the iPad version only lets you read documents, not edit them. For those features, you need a paid subscription.

The situation is slightly more variable for the iPhone. Up until last week, Office Mobile on the iPhone also only allowed you to edit documents if you had an Office 365 subscription — so that would have meant using up another existing licence. Now home users can make edits without having to use up one of their licences, but business users can’t, as Microsoft explains on the Office Mobile app page

Sign in with a free Microsoft account to create, edit and save documents for home use. A qualifying Office 365 subscription is required to create, edit and save documents for business use.

As you’re using a Home edition, you should be OK. Note that Office Mobile on the iPhone is very much a cut-down version — for full Office features, you really will want the iPad release.


Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].


  • This is actually not strictly correct. The Office 365 Home Premium subscription treats PC/Mac installs differently from tablet apps, and allows 5 instances of each. I currently have an O365 subscription installed on two Windows laptops and a Mac, and an iPad, and according to the account settings page I am using up 3 installs on PCs (2 remaining) and one on tablets.

  • A small bit off topic but since you are talking about ipads I am going to throw it in here.
    A lot of our customers want to use shared mailboxes on their iphones and ipads so here is the method to do it.

    Setup an imap account on your iphone the settings are as follows

    Server Port 993 with SSL PORT 587 with TLS

    The username is your username followed by the shared mailbox name i.e. shared mailbox is irishmail username is [email protected]
    USERNAME = [email protected]/irishmail
    Password = your regular password.

    Hope this helps someone out.

  • I don’t actually believe that you need Office365 to use the apps on iPad anymore. I don’t have an account yet I can use the apps for free. When I first got them yesterday I did need to but by the afternoon I was able to access all options.

    • ‘fraid not, needs to be Office 365. If you use most of the licenses on various PCs/tabs though it works out pretty well cost-wise, but if you’ve only got one of each it could seem a bit pricey.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!