A couple weeks ago we reviewed about a dozen Office 365 apps — beyond the usual Word, Excel, etc. — that can greatly increase the productivity of your team or organization.
You probably didn’t know about most of them. Hopefully you do now.
This week we’re looking at some very cool new features inside the apps. Features you may not know about either.
What’s New in the Office?
Over the years, the core Microsoft Office apps — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook — have evolved into massively feature-rich programs. You can write, figure, present, and email pretty much anything you’d ever want to communicate.
So many features, in fact, that the average user can hardly use them all, maybe not even most of them. And new features and integrations keep rolling out all the time.
That’s one of the benefits of the subscription-based Office 365. The single-purchase Office 2019 doesn’t come with updates.
But the release of Office 2019 last autumn included a bevy of cool new features that became available in Office 365 at the same time. The core apps get much of the attention, but later additions like OneNote and Sharepoint learn some new tricks as well.
(A quick disclaimer: Not all features are available on both Mac and Windows, and they get rolled out at different times as well. So what you read below may or may not be available on your particular device.)
Anyway. Old or new, Mac or Windows, let’s look at some of the coolest, newest features you’ll find in Microsoft Office 365.
An Office for the 21st Century
A few features cross boundaries. That is they’re common to more than one app.
For example, you can now insert scalable vector graphics as well as 3D animated graphics into Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. No more inert reports and slideshows to bore your audience. Now your documents can come alive with images that move across the page or screen before their very eyes.
Speaking in Tongues
Also, Microsoft Translator is now built into those apps, as well as into OneNote.
Translator is a live-translation program designed for the virtual, global, multicultural nature of modern business. It was already a standalone app available in mobile and web versions. Now it’s integrated too.
With Translator you can speak or write in a dozen major languages, including Russian, Chinese, and Arabic, and write in 52 more. Those 52 add familiar and oft-used languages like Czech, Hebrew, Japanese, and Filipino, as well as uncommon ones like Thai and Yucatec Maya. (Even Klingon for your intergalactic communications.)
Not Spilling a Lot of Ink
Lastly, “Inking” functionality has been improved in all Office 365/2019 apps that use it. Inking lets you use your stylus, digital pen, or finger to write or draw on a tablet or trackpad and see your handwritten notes or sketches digitized on the spot.
You can edit sketches, turn handwritten equations into typeset versions, and even replay your sketching actions so you can follow or present the development of an idea.
Is Your Head in the Clouds?
SharePoint has been around for awhile, but along with OneDrive cloud storage it’s been greatly enhanced. Both are now well integrated with the rest of the Office suite. You can open files from or save them to either one directly from most apps, so you and your team can easily access common files.
Improved syncing in both makes it possible to work offline. SharePoint has an improved home screen, as well as more reliable, user-friendly tools for individuals to create pages and other content. In short, SharePoint better integrates with your Office 365 shared content and Microsoft Teams.
Just Say the Word
No writing app will make you a better writer — only practice does that — but Word’s new AI functionality goes a long way.
“You can think of this as a grammar checker on steroids, as it goes beyond fixing obvious mistakes and focuses on making your writing better. It uses machine learning, for example, to suggest a rewrite when you mangled a complex phrase,” writes TechCrunch.
This feature was announced in May 2019 and hadn’t been released at this writing, so stay tuned.
Other neat tricks are already in place. For example, you can now use @Mentions in comments to alert collaborators or team members when you need them to chime in with their thoughts.
For writing, you can view pages side by side, or switch to a focused writing mode that hides all toolbars and other distractions so you have a blank screen to write on. Type in a string of numbers and operators, and Word now automatically converts it to a visually, mathematically correct fraction or equation. (OneNote does this too.)
To resume working on a document where you left off (say, the next day), you could type something like “LEFT OFF HERE” — or better, simply use the Bookmarks command to insert a marker and then hop right to it. (Bookmarks is under Links in the ribbon.)
Adopt a Positive Outlook
Overflowing inboxes are a huge and increasing problem for most people these days. Outlook now has features to help you organize your email more effectively.
For example, you can save attachments directly to OneDrive, so that you no longer need to search through your email to find the one you’re looking for. Files can then be emailed as cloud attachments. Collaboration becomes easier because you don’t need to keep track of multiple versions.
Outlook also gives you greater control over folders. For instance, you can select which folder Outlook displays upon launch. It doesn’t have to be the inbox; or you can select which inbox if you use Outlook for multiple accounts
You can create search folders aggregating emails that meet certain criteria, such as those sent from a certain person or group. The Clean Up Folder command removes redundant messages — all those that keep getting quoted and requoted in replies and threads. That way you don’t have to keep hunting through them to find the replies themselves.
Be a Teams Player
Teams isn’t merely a chat app. It’s designed for true interactive and real-time collaboration.
You can feed streams from Trello and other third-party workflow apps into Teams so everyone can access them directly. Integration with SharePoint enables you to connect team sites, pages, news, and document libraries. Emails from Outlook can be forwarded to a Teams channel.
Or use the mobile Teams app for quick messaging when you’re on the road. It’s available for Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile.
Just the Beginning
This post highlights some of the most useful new Office 365 tips, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. The links throughout this post cover these and many, many more.
Microsoft Office has evolved from a small number of separate apps for individual use into a large array of integrated programs uniting teams of people on common projects.
That makes Office 365 useful, but also a lot to learn and implement. As a certified Microsoft partner, PC Professional has years of experience installing, upgrading, and configuring Office 365 — one of the many managed IT services we offer.
Contact us today to learn how we can put the immense power of Office 365 to work for your organization too.