Possible to open docx files in Word Online when double-clicking them in a synced desktop library?

Regular Contributor

My client is having difficulties adjusting to Office Online. We sync his SharePoint Online library using OneDrive for Business, so he has it easier to upload files they create outside of Office 365. However, they complain that it's too complicated to open any Office files (Word Online, Excel Online, etc.) and I agree.


Is it possible to set his computer up so that double-clicking on xlsx files in his OneDrive folder just opens the file in Word and Excel Online?

10 Replies
Not possible as far as I know. You could instruct your user to right click on a file and choose "View Online" to open directly from desktop / file explorer.

Why is it so hard to open office files, do they no have a subscription with local office installation?

@Daniel Niccoli 


I believe my situation is similar.


Our company has transitioned from desktop applications to Office 365 (including Excel online).  My coworker is struggling to open .xlsx files from her desktop.  She knows how to upload and convert them, but I'd like to give her a "connection" or something that will enable her to simply double-click the "files" on her desktop and have them open in Excel Online (or Word Online).  I expect the solution will be an extension or add-in or something for Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome, and then the file type can be "associated" with the browser, which would pass it to the extension or add-in.


Yes, the files are in OneDrive, because the Desktop folder is in OneDrive.


Another thought is to simply do it in a batch:  upload and convert all the files.  Then the question becomes how to get links to all the converted online documents on the desktop (my coworker wants the files "on the desktop").


Any thoughts?

I'm surprised that there isn't many replies to this post, as many businesses are moving to O365 and looking to save costs by only applying E1 or F1 licenses. We have a workforce of differing skillsets and they just want to be able to open a document in a simple manner at the end of the day.

Shouldn't be hard to create an app to update shell integration and update default app behavior for office docs when office isn't installed etc. that could accomplish this. Good Idea probably for a dev to make some money on.
I wish I could do this too. While Google Docs doesn’t do it either, I expect more from MS.

As a user, when I don’t have a office subscription, and someone sends me a word docx, I want windows to open it in a browser for me.
Hi all,
we support 260 stores cross Canada . we are moving to office 365 with thin clients. no desktop office version installed. our store associates would like to have the ability to open office files with double click . is there a way how ?
Is there any update on how to do this? I have the exact same issue. We have a mix of users with either 365 Basic and 365 Standard licenses. I'm happy for the 365 Standard users to only use Office on the Web instead of the desktop apps but it's very confusing for some of these users, particularly those who are not that tech-savvy who are used to double clicking on files in their Documents folder or from the Desktop. It's even more complicated when we have 365 Standard and Basic users sharing the same workstation so the Office Desktop Apps are installed on the PC for the Standard user but if the Basic user is logged in and tries to open a Word file by double clicking on it, it opens in Word Desktop but says it can't be edited as the user doesn't have a valid license.

If I double click on a Google Docs file from my local Google Drive folder (such as a .gsheet file) it automatically opens in a tab on my default browser. If Google Drive can do it, why can Microsoft??
Just adding my request for this functionality. We've got users on Citrix that don't need full M365 licenses to view Office documents. They have Office Online and we want them to be able to open files directly in Office Online.
Please add this functionality. We have just committed to Microsoft 365 and have 125 Frontline licenses (F3). These users do not have access to installed Office apps, but have long been used to double-clicking a file to open it.

.docx files - opens in Wordpad!
.xlsx files - prompt to find an app in the app store.

Trying to teach 125 people to right-click and click "View Online" every time is going to be support nightmare!

It would seem with the introduction of Frontline license, Microsoft would have thought of a way to include this functionality.

The only alternative would seem to be to try to hide Windows Explorer