I’ve had this come up multiple times lately, and I thought I’d put up a post to help get the information all in one place.  Now that we’re moving away from SharePoint 2010 and dealing with SharePoint 2013/2016/Online more often, folks still want SharePoint Designer but are confused which version they need.  You want to be sure to get the latest and most patched version, which requires more than one download.

What is SharePoint Designer / Why Do I Need It?

SharePoint Designer is a standalone local application that is downloaded free from Microsoft that runs on your local PC.  It is used typically site owners / power users to do more advanced or bulk site operations, as a powerful HTML/CSS editor for advanced web design, and is the ONLY tool you can use to create and edit SharePoint workflows. 

When you want to write a workflow or need to create say 50 columns in a list in bulk quickly, you can turn to SharePoint Designer.

What Version of SharePoint Designer Do I Need?

You use different versions of SharePoint Designer depending on the platform version of SharePoint you are using.  Here’s a quick chart to help you decide:

SharePoint Designer matrix

The other thing you need to determine is what architecture version of SharePoint Designer do you need – 32bit (x86) or 64bit (x64).  SharePoint Designer shares some files of Microsoft Office and therefore needs to match the version of Office you have.  If you have Office 32bit, you will install SharePoint Designer 32bit, 64bit Office needs Designer 64bit. In any Office application, open File tab and go to the About (newer versions of Office will be under Office Account):

Office 32bit or 64bit

As you can see, each SharePoint version matches the version of SharePoint Designer through 2013.  That is when they stopped updating SharePoint Designer, and the same Designer 2013 is used to edit SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online. 

Give Me the Downloads!

Here are links to all the bits you will need to get the latest SharePoint Designer 2013.  They should be installed in the order listed, and reboot when prompted.

  1. SharePoint Designer 2013
  2. SharePoint Designer 2013 SP1
  3. SharePoint Designer 2013 August 2016 patch