Sideload Office Add-ins on iPad and Mac for testing

To see how your add-in will run in Office on iOS, you can sideload your add-in's manifest onto an iPad using iTunes, or sideload your add-in's manifest directly in Office on Mac. This action won't enable you to set breakpoints and debug your add-in's code while it's running, but you can see how it behaves and verify that the UI is usable and rendering appropriately.

Prerequisites for Office on iOS

  • A Windows or Mac computer with iTunes installed.

  • An iPad running iOS 8.2 or later with Excel on iPad installed, and a sync cable.

  • The manifest .xml file for the add-in you want to test.

Prerequisites for Office on Mac

  • A Mac running OS X v10.10 "Yosemite" or later with Office on Mac installed.

  • Word on Mac version 15.18 (160109).

  • Excel on Mac version 15.19 (160206).

  • PowerPoint on Mac version 15.24 (160614)

  • The manifest .xml file for the add-in you want to test.

Sideload an add-in on Excel or Word on iPad

  1. Use a sync cable to connect your iPad to your computer. If you're connecting the iPad to your computer for the first time, you'll be prompted with Trust This Computer?. Choose Trust to continue.

  2. In iTunes, choose the iPad icon below the menu bar.

  3. Under Settings on the left side of iTunes, choose Apps.

  4. On the right side of iTunes, scroll down to File Sharing, and then choose Excel or Word in the Add-ins column.

  5. At the bottom of the Excel or Word Documents column, choose Add File, and then select the manifest .xml file of the add-in you want to sideload.

  6. Open the Excel or Word app on your iPad. If the Excel or Word app is already running, choose the Home button, and then close and restart the app.

  7. Open a document.

  8. Choose Add-ins on the Insert tab. Your sideloaded add-in is available to insert under the Developer heading in the Add-ins UI.

    Insert Add-ins in the Excel app

Sideload an add-in in Office on Mac


To sideload an Outlook add-in on Mac, see Sideload Outlook add-ins for testing.

  1. Open Terminal and go to one of the following folders where you'll save your add-in's manifest file. If the wef folder doesn't exist on your computer, create it.

    • For Word: /Users/<username>/Library/Containers/
    • For Excel: /Users/<username>/Library/Containers/
    • For PowerPoint: /Users/<username>/Library/Containers/
  2. Open the folder in Finder using the command open . (including the period or dot). Copy your add-in's manifest file to this folder.

    Wef folder in Office on Mac

  3. Open Word, and then open a document. Restart Word if it's already running.

  4. In Word, choose Insert > Add-ins > My Add-ins (drop-down menu), and then choose your add-in.

    My Add-ins in Office on Mac


    Sideloaded add-ins will not show up in the My Add-ins dialog box. They are only visible within the drop-down menu (small down-arrow to the right of My Add-ins on the Insert tab). Sideloaded add-ins are listed under the Developer Add-ins heading in this menu.

  5. Verify that your add-in is displayed in Word.

    Office Add-in displayed in Office on Mac

Clearing the Office application's cache on a Mac

Add-ins are often cached in Office for Mac, for performance reasons. Normally, the cache is cleared by reloading the add-in. If more than one add-in exists in the same document, the process of automatically clearing the cache on reload might not be reliable.

You can clear the cache by using the personality menu of any task pane add-in.

  • Choose the personality menu. Then choose Clear Web Cache.


    You must run macOS version 10.13.6 or later to see the personality menu.

    Screen shot of clear web cache option on personality menu.

You can also clear the cache manually by deleting the contents of the ~/Library/Containers/com.Microsoft.OsfWebHost/Data/ folder.


If that folder doesn't exist, check for the following folders and if found, delete the contents of the folder:

  • ~/Library/Containers/{host}/Data/Library/Caches/ where {host} is the Office host (e.g., Excel)

See also