Open365: The Best Open-Source Alternative to Office365

Open 365
Open 365.

You may be familiar with LibreOffice (very similar to Apache Open Office suite) and its programs, but what about Open365, an open source substitute for Office365? Open365 is cloud-based, just like Microsoft’s Office365, making it a perfectly suitable alternative.

Right now Open365 is in beta, but it does just what Office365 does: helps you edit various types of documents (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx) as well as upload media files.

If you attempt to download a file that is incompatible with Open365, the program will ask you to download the file type in order to open it. Besides working with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Open365 is also compatible with LibreOffice, Impress, Calc, and Writer. You can open and edit these documents online, download them to your cloud storage, and you even get 20GB of storage space when you sign up for Open365. Note: this offer may only be available during Open365’s beta stage.

Currently, the only new files that can be created with Open365 are Markdown files. If you want to create a new file with LibreOffice, Calc, Impress, or Writer, you first need to use the desktop app for these programs and create a file on your local hard drive. Then you can upload the file to your Open365 library and edit it from there. This tutorial includes instructions on how to upload files from Microsoft Office or LibreOffice to your Open365 account.

Signing Up for Open365

Simply go to the Open365 website and put in your email address. From there, you will put in your username, which will appear as your Open365 email address (username@open365.io.) You need this email address to sign into Open365, so don’t forget it. Type in your password in both the “Password” and “Repeat Password” edit boxes.

Your email address automatically goes into the “Email” edit box, and you will be required to manually fill in the rest of the information. At the bottom, click the checkbox marked “I understand and accept the Open365 privacy policy” and hit “Register.”

The Save As dialogue box automatically appears so that you can download the Open365 client. Downloading the client isn’t essential, but it makes syncing documents between your PC and your Open365 account much simpler. Just click on “Save” in the Save As dialogue box. If you want, you can download the client file later from your Open365 account.

Another Open365 box will appear; just hit “I’m Ready” to get continue! Put in your Open365 email address and password and hit “Log In.” A pop-up will ask you if you want to allow Open365 to show notifications about completing uploads and downloads. Choose “Allow” or “Block,” depending on your preferences.

Opening Files and Libraries

Upon signing it, you will see the “Hub,” and in the Hub you will “My Library,” which contains sample files for you to look at. To better organize your files, you can create more than one library, such as one for personal files and another for business files.

Click on “My Library” to see the sample files and then click on one of the files to open it.

If the file’s format is compatible with Open365, it will open; if not, you will be asked to download the file. Note: The file may take a bit to download, so if you see a blank page, be patient.

The online editor allows you to edit the document as you wish. To save it, simply go to “File” in the upper left-hand corner and drop-down to “Save.” Note: Saving a file may also take a bit.

When saving a document from Microsoft Office, a warning box will appear that says “This document contains formatting or content that cannot be saved in the currently selected file format ‘Microsoft Word 2007-2013 XML.’” Since the file you’re trying to save was in LibreOffice, if you save it in Microsoft Office format, some of the features exclusive to LibreOffice will not be saved. If you want to continue, hit “Use Microsoft Word 2007-2013 XML.” Note: You can also use Open365 with Microsoft 2016 files.

You can close the document by closing the tab and confirming the navigation by clicking “Leave This Page.” Just make sure you saved first!

Creating a New Library

Once you are in the Hub, click on “Libraries,” located in the upper portion of the page. On the right-hand side, you will see “New Library;” click it. A dialogue box will appear, prompting you to name your library. In Open365’s beta, you cannot encrypt the library name, so don’t tick the “Encrypt” checkbox. Just hit “Submit” and the new library will show up in your “Libraries” list.

Uploading a Document

When you upload a document to Open365, you can view and edit it as long as you are connected to the Internet. You can upload a document by first launching Windows Explorer (or File Explorer,) locating the desired document, and dragging it to the library in your Open365 browser window. Another way to do this is by clicking “Upload” on the Libraries toolbar and choosing the document from the Open dialogue box.

A File Upload pop-up, located at the bottom of the browser screen, will tell you when the upload is complete. The uploaded file will now be available in the Library, where you can view and edit it.

Downloading a Document

Let’s say that you’ve been working on a specific file from different locations, but now you want to have it on your personal laptop so that you can edit it even when you’re not online. You’ll have to download it by going to the Library that contains the file and hovering your cursor over it until a group of icons appears.

Click the “Download” icon (located on the left) and the Save As dialogue box will appear. Choose where you want to save the downloaded document and change the File Name or leave it as it is. Then hit “Save.”

Opening the Open365 Client

With the Open365 client, you can create a library from a folder on your hard drive and upload and download documents with ease. You can also sync that folder with Open365, just like how you can with Google Drive and Dropbox.

To download the Open365 client, go to the login screen and sign in. Then go to the bottom of the screen and hit “Download client.” Follow the installation instructions that follow to complete the process. After the client is installed, run it from the Start menu (Windows 7 and 10) or by searching for it in the Start menu (Windows 8/8.1.)

You can choose which of your PC’s folders and which Open365 libraries can be downloaded by default via the “Choose Seafile Folder” dialogue box. Automatically, the dialogue box chooses the folder marked C:\Users, and a subfolder will be created. You can change that folder by clicking “Choose” and selecting a different one.

A “Please choose directory” dialogue box will appear, in which you can choose the desired folder. Click it and hit “Select Folder,” and you will see the folder’s path in the edit box. Hit “Next” and you’ll see a new box for Adding an account. The default Open365 server will automatically be listed in the edit box. You can host your own server, but in our tutorial, we’ll keep the default server.

Fill in the edit boxes for “Email” and “Password” (your computer name is automatically entered,) and then hit “Login.” The client will open and you’ll see your Libraries, Private Shares, and Synced Libraries. You can map one of your local hard drive’s folders to a library so that you can easily add files to that folder (upload) or delete files from that folder (remove them from your Open365 account.) All the files in that folder can be opened, edited, and re-uploaded to your account on Open365.

You can even sync the folder to a library by opening Windows Explorer (File Explorer,) choosing the folder you want to sync, and dragging it to client window where it says “Select or Drop Folder to Sync.”

The Create a library dialogue box shows you the selected folder’s path, but you can click “Choose” to change it. The name of the folder also appears, which you may change. Encryption doesn’t work in Open365’s client, so don’t tick the checkbox marked “Encrypted;” just hit “OK.” Now any documents that were in that folder will be uploaded to the library.

Sharing a Document or Library

To share a document or library, hover your cursor over the desired item and click the “Share” icon.The Share dialogue box will appear and offer you several ways to share. If you click “Download Link,” you can create a link that other users can click and use to download the document or library. The “Upload Link” button does the same thing for uploading. You can click “Share to user” or “Share to group,” depending on who you’re sharing with. Note: If you want to share a document, you can only use the “Download Link” option.

We’ll show you how to do that. Click on “Download Link” and tick the checkbox marked “Add password protection” if you want the document to be accessible only via password. You will be prompted to enter the password two times before continuing.

When sharing a document, you can create a direct download link, which means that other users can access the document without entering a password, even if you created one for it.

Wrapping Up

Remember that Open365 has apps for Android and iOS, but on iOS you need to use other word processors to open documents, plus you can’t create new files properly. Android users can access LibreOffice Viewer Beta for Android, a developing editor mode that is still being perfected. Use at your own risk!

In summary, Open365 is great when you want to create, open, and edit LibreOffice documents from a Mac, Linux, or Windows computer. It also allows you to access your Open365 documents from any device without having to transfer them via “sneaker net.” Even though Open365 is in beta, it looks like it has potential to be a wonderful alternative to Office365.