Consider OpenOffice as a free alternative to Microsoft Word, with no internet connection required

Q: I read your recent article regarding using Microsoft Word without having to pay. I am in the situation where I often do not have internet/Wi-Fi or even phone service (on a private boat). I like Microsoft Word because Wi-Fi is not needed. I keep all of my recipes on Word and access them when I am in remote areas on the boat. Is there any way around having to pay for Word?

— Janet Kvistad

A: If you want the capabilities of Word, including the ability to work without an internet connection, without having to pay for Word, I recommend you take a look at OpenOffice.

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OpenOffice is a free, open-source suite of productivity applications including a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a presentation manager and a drawing program. The word processor is similar to Microsoft Word in appearance and functionality and works with Word file formats. You can learn more and, if you choose, download OpenOffice at

Q: One of your readers recently inquired about WordPad, having been told by an installer that Word was no longer available except in a $70 yearly subscription.

Last I checked, Office 2019 Home and Student, which includes Word and is just a one-time fee, is still available, no?

Hopefully Microsoft realizes there are a great many people who need Word but don’t need all the bells and whistles of, or can’t afford, a yearly subscription service.

— Matt

A: Microsoft Word Home and Student is available on the Microsoft Store site for a one-time payment of $79.99. And you can get the full version for $139.99.

As for the bells and whistles, yes, there are some if you opt for the subscription instead of the one-time fee. For $69.99 a year, a single use gets all the Office applications and 1 terabyte of cloud storage. For $99.99 a year, the same package is delivered to up to six users.

So … it’s up to users to decide which payment plan fits their needs best.

Q: After reading your recent article in The Times, I switched to Microsoft Edge. Like it very much. I run Norton 360 for my security. My question is with Edge and Microsoft Defender, do I really need Norton?

— Ken Edmonson

A: In earlier days, when Microsoft’s anti-virus offering was not rated as highly as it is now, I did recommend using a third-party product. And, in fact, many internet service providers offered, and still offer, subscribers free downloads of anti-virus and firewall programs.

That said, Microsoft has improved its security programs to the point where I don’t use third-party programs, with a couple of exceptions. First, I recommend using a good anti-malware program. (I haven’t reviewed anti-malware programs recently so I hesitate to make a specific recommendation. But I will say that I use Malwarebytes.) Secondly, I use a virtual private network program (VPN) when I’m connecting to the internet over public Wi-Fi. VPNs encrypt transmissions to and from your computer.

Q: The emails in my Outlook inbox have disappeared. I didn’t delete them or try to move them to another folder. They just “went away.” I’ve tried many different steps to try to retrieve them and a customer service tech from Outlook had many suggestions. So far nothing has worked. I don’t have a computer. These emails were in my Outlook inbox on my Samsung Galaxy S8+ phone and I use Verizon as my carrier. What would cause this to happen and is there any chance of retrieving these emails?

— Cynthia Lundgren

A: That’s frustrating, I know.

There are actually quite a few potential causes of this. And, of course, chances of recovery depend on what caused the mail to disappear.

The most common causes of missing mail are: 1. inadvertent changes to the Outlook configuration settings for connecting to your mail server, and 2. inadvertent changes to mail filters.

If you take your phone into a Verizon store they should be able to check out both of those possibilities for you.

The other two most common causes of disappearing emails are significantly less likely. You may have accidentally deleted the emails or … your email has been hacked.

Depending on the type of email service you’re using, however, those deleted emails may still be on the server. If your connection is POP3 connection, by default when you delete emails they are retained on the server for a period of time. To see if that’s the case, click on the File menu and select Account Settings.

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