It’s easy to use MS Office 365 without thinking about it or delving too deep into what it can do, but it’s even easier to learn a few quick tricks that will save you heaps of time, writes PAT PILCHER.
Installing Office used to mean juggling 45 floppy diskettes! Nowadays, life is a lot easier thanks to Office 365, which is an online purchase and a download from products.office.com/Microsoft/Office. Here’s a bunch of Office hacks I use regularly to make my life just that little bit easier
1) Focused Inbox
If you like to keep your email inbox free of digital detritus, you’ll probably be a fan of Outlook’s Focused Inbox feature, which intelligently filters low-priority conversations, spam, and unwanted messages, freeing up your inbox for emails that actually matter. Those less urgent emails get automatically filtered into the Other category, which you can read later without them being a productivity distraction. The Focused Outlook inbox learns from how you deal with emails and works out which emails you usually ignore. Over time, the other inbox gets smarter to become uncannily accurate.
2) Reply-all conversations pfft!
Reply-all conversations are the bane of my existence. I’ve usually weighed in with a comment to a group email only to find the email becomes the gift that keeps giving for the rest of the week. They’re at best a distraction and more usually an annoyance. With Ignore, messages you choose to opt out of the inbox are moved into the trash. If you change your mind, you can select “stop ignoring”.
One Note is probably one of the most useful Office 365 apps you’ve never heard of. Essentially One Note is the digital note taker that you can access on phones, tablets and PCs, and is an excellent platform for audio recording interviews and taking notes. On supported devices, handwritten notes can be converted into text for easy editing too.
4) Give large email attachments the heave-ho
Email attachments are a blessing and a curse. They may be a great way to share documents and other information, but large attachments can be rejected by mail servers, causing mayhem when deadlines are tight. If you want to share a large document and don’t want to risk the attachment causing your email to bounce, save your file to OneDrive and send the email with a link to the One Drive file. Outlook will automatically grant permission to the recipients of the email so they can download the file (permissions can also be edited for viewing or editing).
Giving a presentation might be a stressful exercise, but creating persuasive PowerPoint slides need not be a chore thanks to PowerPoint Designer, a wizard that guides you through presentation creation by giving you designer-like options to easily create polished looking presentations with minimal fuss.
6) Get the help you need in Office 365 – Tell Me
Tell Me quickly became an indispensable part of my daily office 365 hustle. It’s located smack bang in the middle of the ribbon and is an intelligent search feature in Office 365 versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Asking plain English queries and clickable search results showing how and where to find things in Office 365 saves a tonne of time.
There’s nothing worse than editing a document and wanting to change a word but not being able to think of the right word alternative. If you need to research a word or phrase, don’t launch your browser, select the text and right-click, choosing Smart Lookup. A vertical search bar will open inside the Word document that’ll tell you all you need to know and then some.
8) Turn Whiteboard meeting notes into useful documents
Office Lens is a free Office 365 app for android and iOS that transforms smartphone camera snaps of text such as what you’d find on a whiteboard into editable documents. It can take a snapshot and automatically put it into Microsoft OneNote for easy reading and editing.
Learning the many keyboard shortcuts available in Office 365 can be the difference between a slog and knocking documents out of the ball-park. My favourites include Ctrl-arrow key left or right to skip whole words in Word, and Ctrl-up or down arrow, which allows the cursor to jump past whole paragraphs.
10) The best hack of all
Perhaps the best Office 365 hack/shortcut of all is one you don’t have to learn or enable as it is working constantly. Office 365 stays up to date automatically. As long as you’re online, you’ll get all the latest updates and features automatically.