Five hidden Office tricks for getting more done

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Five hidden Office tricks for getting more done

Do you use Office 365? Here are some lesser-known tools and features that can help you and your business become more productive.

Microsoft Office has become a business staple, mostly due to the popularity of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But behind those key applications is a range of tools and features that can give you and your business a serious productivity boost, particularly if you’re using latest versions in Office 365.

Here are five lesser-known tricks for getting more out of Microsoft Office 365:

1. Create a presentation that’s optimised for on-screen viewing

So you’re creating a business report or presentation for someone who almost certainly will view it on a PC, smartphone or tablet screen –  what application do you use to create it?

You could use  Word, which is optimised for laying out printed documents. Or perhaps you could treat it like a slideshow and send them a PowerPoint presentation.

Well, there is another option for presentations that are designed to be viewed on screen, and it’s called Sway.

Sway allows you to drag and drop a range of content – including text to photos, tweets, audio clips and YouTube clips – to form a presentation.

The content is automatically formatted, and is optimised for the device it’s being viewed on.

Sway app is a free app for Windows 10, the web and iPhones and iPads (though you'll need a Microsoft account). When you've finished your presentation, it can be viewed by anyone you share it with by opening a URL in their web browser.

2. Sharing and collaborating on a presentation

Having started a new presentation in Sway, there’s a number of tools along the top-right hand of your screen next to the play button that are useful if you want to either collaborate with someone on creating a presentation, or share it with others.

Click Authors and you’ll see a URL you can send to anyone you want to help you create your presentation.

When someone enters the link into their browser, after logging in to Office 365, they will be able to start editing your document straight away.

Next to the Authors button there’s a share button that gives you a number of options for allowing others to view your presentation.

Click on it and you will see a range of options for sharing your document, including through Docs.com, Twitter or Facebook, along with the URL for viewing the publication and an embed code.

3. Manage your notes

OneNote is a handy tool for a variety of different tasks, from jotting down your thoughts on the go to brainstorming, creating lists or quickly getting down the key points of a meeting.

The problem is that if you take a lot of notes, finding that important address afterwards can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Thankfully, there is a feature that can help.            

As you take down a note, click or tap the home tab and look for the tags groups. There's a range of tags already there, including for contact details, addresses, questions, ideas, passwords, books to see, movies to watch, important details and client requests.

You can also create your own by clicking the down arrow and selecting ‘customize tags’. For example, you might want a tag for when you mention a particular employee, client or project.

If you tag your notes, finding that crucial detail afterwards is easy. Just click or tap the home tab and, in the tag group, select ‘find tags’.

A pane will pop out from the right hand of the screen. There, you will find a pull-down menu allowing you to view your tags grouped by tag name, section, title, date or note text.

4. Share your screen in Skype for Business

From making cheap international calls to overseas suppliers to sharing files and video conferencing, Skype for Business is a major part of how businesses communicate.

But you probably didn’t know that you can also use it to stream what’s happening on your computer screen with someone else on the other end of the call.

This can be invaluable for a range of reasons. For example, you might want to show a new employee how to use a particular program, step a client through a website or provide tech support to a customer.

You might also want to see the graphics your designer is working on, or get an update on the code your app developer is working on. Perhaps you want to talk through a Sway or PowerPoint presentation with a client, or just share the website you’re looking at.

The good news is it’s easy to do. Just set up a video call with the person you want to share your screen with. When they answer, right-click and then choose ‘share your screen’.

If you have more than one monitor hooked up to your PC, a window should pop up allowing you to choose which one you want to present. Once you’ve made your selection, click the present button to begin sharing.

Skype for Business is available for subscribers of Office 365 Business Essentials or Business Premium.

5. Make your PowerPoint sides look decent

OK, this tip is for one of the major Office applications – PowerPoint – but it involves a new feature that you may not have heard of.

As anyone who has ever attended a sales meeting, seminar or conference will tell you, some PowerPoint users make some design choices that could politely be described as ‘unconventional’.

Thankfully, Microsoft’s PowerPoint 2016 has a feature that can lend a helping hand.

Just click or tap across to the Insert tab at the top, and choose the ‘picture’ icon. If this is the first time you’ve done it, you’ll see a dialog box asking for your permission to get design ideas for you. When you see it, tap the Let’s Go button.

Then choose a photo you want to insert into your slide show.

At this point, PowerPoint will start up PowerPoint Designer, a feature that will automatically suggest a number of different pre-designed slide layouts for you.

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