Word. Excel. PowerPoint.
These familiar, powerful desktop applications have been Microsoft’s calling card since the 1980s. In 1990, the three were released together in a bundle called Microsoft Office.
Flash forward 30 years. Today, Microsoft Office 365 integrates nearly two dozen apps in a productivity suite that lets people work and communicate with each other anywhere in the world.
Over the past few years, Office 365 has surged in popularity compared to Google’s rival G Suite. That’s true in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. According to various studies, something like one billion people and more than 120 million companies worldwide now use Office 365.
Who’s in the Office?
At the core of Office 365 lie the time-tested stalwarts: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook (which joined the Office lineup in 1997).
But now they’re joined by a host of productivity apps that let team members collaborate and communicate from anywhere, on nearly any device or operating system.
You may be familiar with some of them beyond the “core four” — apps like OneNote, SharePoint, Forms, and Teams.
But you’d still just be scratching the surface of what Office 365 can do.
So with that in mind, here’s what we think are the best Office 365 productivity apps you’re probably not using yet. And some of our favorite tips for using them.
Office 365 is not just for Windows on a PC — far from it. Apps are accessible through any web browser; and most have mobile apps for both iOS and Android, plus desktop apps (which G suite doesn’t have) for both PC and Mac (macOS).
Apps for Working
For instance, you can use Flow to send yourself reminders, save Outlook attachments to OneDrive, create calendar events, or email yourself new tweets containing a certain keyword. “Flows” can run automatically, or at the push of a button you create and store in the Buttons tab.
Flow has more than 250 templates you can use or modify; or create your own from scratch. They’re designed for sales teams, marketing campaigns, productivity, social media, and non-Office apps including Dropbox, Google Calendar, Slack, and more.
OneDrive is your default cloud storage for OneNote notebooks and any document you create in Office 365. What’s nice is its easy accessibility from all the other apps.
Especially nice is OneDrive’s integration with macOS and iOS. Installing the desktop version on a Macbook Pro (for instance) doesn’t create a standalone app but adds OneDrive to the menu bar and Finder windows, where it appears like any other folder. On iOS devices, installing the mobile app makes it accessible along with other apps in the sharing bar.
Lens is a document scanner that you access separately or with a button click within the OneDrive mobile app. You can scan documents, whiteboards, or business cards right into OneDrive, where they’re saved as PDFs. The auto-straighten feature — for when you just can’t get a good angle — is especially good.
With a setting, emails you flag in Outlook automatically become To-Do tasks so you don’t have to create a task manually. If you schedule a follow-up date with the Outlook flag, it imports the date too. The To-Do item displays a snippet of the email with a link to view the full email in Outlook.
Edge is the default web browser for Windows 10, replacing Internet Explorer a few years ago. But it’s not just for Windows. There’s a mobile app for iOS and Android; and in May 2019 Microsoft is releasing a standalone macOS desktop version you launch just like Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.
Like these, Edge syncs your history, favorites, passwords, and other settings across devices when you sign in with your Microsoft account. And like Chrome, you can create additional profiles using other email addresses.
Once you add your Microsoft account in the Authenticator mobile app, you no longer need to log in to your other Office apps each time you use them. That is, you enter your username, and then Authenticator logs you in automatically.
What’s cool is you can use Authenticator for non-Office logins too. Connect to Github and Dropbox, for example, using its internal QR code reader. The iOS version even has a setting to create automatic iCloud backups.
Apps for Communicating
This chat app includes conversations, private messaging, and curated news feeds for groups, teams, and projects. So it’s great for discussions in real time and ongoing, including polls you can insert to get quick feedback. A new “compliance archiving” plugin enables automatic archiving of conversations for litigation or other purposes.
This app is a virtual whiteboard you can use for live virtual meetings, and now it’s fully integrated with Teams. In fact, you can integrate it with an actual whiteboard in a room full of people. Just take a picture of it, and Whiteboard makes it editable in the app, where everyone can see it. Another cool new feature is that Whiteboard can actually improve your handwriting!
Stream is like your office or company YouTube channel. Participants can upload, share, and subscribe to videos throughout your organization. You can also use it to host live video events to a local or global audience. Perfect for company all-hands meetings.
This interactive presentation generator is not going to replace PowerPoint; it’s more like a teenage cousin. Unlike PowerPoint, Sway is completely online, so it excels in presenting online and interactive content. Built-in sources include OneDrive, OneNote, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It’s mobile responsive and you can work and present in the mobile apps or any browser.
Translator is your virtual interpreter for traveling — or live meetings. Speak or type into the app (or web link above) and other participants get the message in their own language in real time. A phrasebook gives quick access to common phrases for travel, technology, health, food, and emergencies.
The best Office 365 productivity apps are the ones that make your company more efficient, productive, and profitable. At PC Professional, we’re experts with migrating, upgrading, and everything else related to Office 365. Contact us today to see how we can make it work (better) for you.