Deploy and publish your Office Add-in

You can use one of several methods to deploy your Office Add-in for testing or distribution to users.

Method Use...
Sideloading As part of your development process, to test your add-in running on Windows, Office Online, iPad, or Mac.
Office 365 admin center (preview) in a cloud or hybrid deployment, to distribute your add-in to users in your organization.
Office Store To distribute your add-in publicly to users.
SharePoint catalog In an on-premises environment, to distribute your add-in to users in your organization.
Exchange server In an on-premises or online environment, to distribute Outlook add-ins to users.

The options that are available depend on the Office host that you're targeting and the type of add-in you create.

Note: If you plan to your add-in to the Office Store, make sure that you conform to the Office Store validation policies. For example, to pass validation, your add-in must work across all platforms that support the methods that you define (for more information, see section 4.12 and the Office Add-in host and availability page).

Deployment options for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint add-ins

Extension point Sideloading Office 365 admin center (preview) Office Store SharePoint catalog*
Content X X X X
Task pane X X X X
Command X X X

* SharePoint catalogs do not support Office 2016 for Mac.

Deployment options for Outlook add-ins

Extension point Sideloading Exchange server Office Store
Mail app X X X
Command X X X

For information about how end users acquire, insert, and run add-ins, see Start using your Office Add-in.

Office 365 admin center (preview) deployment

The Office 365 admin center makes it easy for an admin to deploy Word, Excel, and PowerPoint add-ins to users or groups within their organization. Add-ins deployed via the admin center are available to users in their Office applications right away, with no client configuration required. You can deploy internal add-ins as well as add-ins provided by ISVs via the admin center.

The admin center currently supports the following scenarios:

  • Centralized deployment of new and updated add-ins to individuals, groups, or an organization.
  • Support for multiple platforms, including Windows and Office Online, with Mac coming soon.
  • Deployment to English language and worldwide tenants.
  • Cloud-hosted add-in deployment.
  • Automatic installation on launch of the Office application.
  • Add-in URLs hosted within a firewall.
  • Deployment of Office Store add-ins (coming soon).

Future investments in add-in deployment scenarios will focus on the Office 365 admin center. We recommend that you use the admin center to deploy add-ins to your organization, if your organization meets the prerequisites.

Prerequisites for admin center deployment

You can deploy add-ins via the admin center if your organization meets the following criteria:

  • Users are running Office 2016 build 7070 or later.
  • Users sign in to Office 2016 with their work or school account.
  • Your organization uses the Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) identity service.

The admin center does not support the followng:

  • Add-ins that target Word, Excel, or PowerPoint in Office 2013.
  • An on-premises directory service.
  • SharePoint Add-in deployment.
  • Add-in deployment to Office Online Server.
  • Deployment of COM/VSTO add-ins.

To deploy SharePoint Add-ins or add-ins that target Office 2013, use a SharePoint add-in catalog.

Important! SharePoint add-in catalogs do not support add-in features that are implemented in the VersionOverrides node of the add-in manifest, such as add-in commands.

To deploy COM/VSTO add-ins, use ClickOnce or Windows Installer. For details, see Deploying an Office solution.

SharePoint catalog deployment

A SharePoint add-in catalog is a special site collection that you can create to host Word, Excel, and PowerPoint add-ins. Because SharePoint catalogs don't support new add-in features implemented in the VersionOverrides node of the manifest, including add-in commands, we recommend that you use centralized deployment via the admin center (preview) if possible. Add-in commands deployed via a SharePoint catalog open in a task pane by default.

If you are deploying add-ins in an on-premises environment, use a SharePoint catalog. For details, see Publish task pane and content add-ins to a SharePoint catalog.

Note: SharePoint catalogs do not support Office 2016 for Mac. To deploy Office Add-ins to Mac clients, you must submit them to the Office Store.

Outlook add-in deployment

For on-premises and online environments that do not use the Azure AD identity service, you can deploy Outlook add-ins via the Exchange server.

Outlook add-in deployment requires:

  • Office 365, Exchange Online, or Exchange Server 2013 or later
  • Outlook 2013 or later

To assign add-ins to tenants, you use the Exchange admin center to upload a manifest directly, either from a file or a URL, or add an add-in from the Office Store. To assign add-ins to individual users, you must use Exchange PowerShell. For details, see Install or remove Outlook add-ins for your organization on TechNet.

Additional resources