You may have heard about the Office Insider program or read about new Microsoft Office application features available only to Office Insiders. If you’re curious and possibly interested in becoming an Insider, here’s everything you need to know.
Update: Microsoft now calls this the Microsoft 365 Insider Program.
What is the Office Insider Program?
The Office Insider program is a service that provides early access to new features for Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. To join the program, you’ll need a subscription version of Office.
When you’re an Insider, instead of using the current public versions of the applications, you install builds that contain the new features. This gives you the opportunity to try out those new features and then provide feedback to Microsoft. These new features can have bugs, and if you decide you don’t want to participate anymore, you can always opt-out of the program again.
You’ll need a Microsoft 365 Personal or Family subscription to install the builds. If you have a subscription through your work or school, you’ll need your Microsoft 365 administrator to assist you with receiving the builds.
Which Systems and Apps Are Supported?
You can join the program using a Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS Office supported device. Review the system requirements for Microsoft 365 and those for specifically for Office Mobile apps.
The supported applications for the Office Insider program depend on your platform. The applications can include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Project, and Visio.
- Windows includes all applications.
- Mac includes all applications except for Access, Project, and Visio.
- Android and iOS include all applications except for Outlook, Access, Project, and Visio.
What Are the Different Channels?
There are two channels, or levels, for the Office Insider program.
This channel provides you with the latest builds which are released frequently. It’s intended for those who want to help identify problems and offer feedback. The features are still in development and the builds are unsupported.
Current Channel (Preview)
This channel is for those who want early access to features but with less frequent updates and more stable builds. The builds are released once or twice per month and are supported. The Current Channel (Preview) is not available on iPhone.
How Do You Join the Office Insider Program?
You can join the Office Insider program on Windows or Mac directly from one of the included applications. For Android or iPhone, you’ll follow a different process which you’ll find below.
Join on Windows
Open an Office application and select File > Account. Confirm that Microsoft 365 displays beneath Subscription Product on the right.
Select the Office Insider drop-down box and pick “Join Office Insider.” Check the box at the top for Sign Me Up For Early Access to New Releases of Office and then choose a channel.
Check the box acknowledging you agree to the terms and conditions and click “OK.”
If prompted to allow the application to make changes to your device, click “Yes.”
Join on Mac
Open an Office application and select Help > Check for Updates from the menu bar and click “Advanced.”
Choose a channel in the Update Channel drop-down box. Optionally check the box to receive Automatic Updates.
Review the terms and conditions and click “Accept.” You can then use Check for Updates to immediately update your applications.
Join on a Mobile Device
On Android, you’ll need to visit the Office Insider program page for Android and install the builds per each application link in the list. Then, follow the prompts for each.
On iPhone, you’ll need to use TestFlight which you can install like any other app on the App Store. Then, visit the Office Insider program page for iOS and install the builds per each application link in the list. Then, follow the prompts for each.
How Do You Provide Feedback?
As an Office Insider, Microsoft hopes to receive feedback from you on the new features you see and try. If you’d like to offer your feedback, you can do so from one of the applications or via the Feedback Portal.
On Windows, select the feedback icon on the top right of the ribbon or go to Help > Feedback.
On Mac, select the feedback icon on the top right of the ribbon or go to Help > Feedback in the menu bar.
On Android, select your username on the top right and pick “Settings.” Move down to and select “Send Feedback.”
On iPhone, select the three dots or your profile icon at the top and pick “Help & Feedback.”
How Do You Receive New Builds?
You can update your Office applications manually or automatically. The process depends on your device.
Go to File > Account and select the Update Options drop-down menu. Choose “Update Now” to manually update or “Enable Updates” to use the automatic update feature.
Go to Help > Check for Updates in the menu bar. If updates are available, choose “Update” or “Update All.” Check the box at the bottom if you want to receive automatic updates.
Open the Google Play Store app and pick “My Apps & Games” in the menu. Choose “Update” next to the app in the Updates Pending list. To enable automatic updates, choose Settings > Auto-Update Apps in the menu and pick an option.
Open the TestFlight app and choose “Update” next to an app in the list. To enable automatic updates, turn on the toggle for Automatic Updates below App Information.
Are There Other Office Insider Program Features?
Along with early access to new features in the Office applications, you can check out the Insider Blog for news and sign up for the newsletter to receive updates on new features via email.
You can also join the Forum to participate in the community, follow Office Insider on Twitter, review the Handbook for questions, and see the release notes for each build on all channels and platforms.
How Do You Opt Out After You Join?
If you decide that the Office Insider program isn’t for you, you can opt out and return to the most current public versions of your Office applications.
Go to File > Account and select the Office Insider drop-down menu. Choose “Change Level” and uncheck the box at the top for Sign Me Up For Early Access to New Releases of Office. Select “OK” and confirm if prompted.
Open an Office application and select Help > Check for Updates from the menu bar. Uncheck the box for joining the Office Insider program.
Note: As of this writing in July 2022, we are unable to find the check box for this option as Microsoft describes, neither in the main window or Advanced options. You can, however, switch channels to “Current Channel” in the Advanced options, and that may revert your installation to the traditional experience.
Visit the app testing program page for each of the applications and pick “Leave the Program.” Then uninstall the Office Insider versions of the apps and install the public versions from Google Play.
Follow the Opt Out From Testing section of the TestFlight app documentation. Basically, select the app in TestFlight, choose “Stop Testing,” and confirm.
The Office Insider program is a great way to get a peek at new features on the way to public users. Just keep in mind that the application versions you’ll be using aren’t final releases.
If you’re a Windows user interested in trying the latest desktop features, learn about the Windows Insider program too!
RELATED: Windows Insider Program: Everything You Need to Know
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