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These are the Modern O365 Features You Probably Aren't Using (Yet)

April 19th, 2018

Microsoft’s cloud-based O365 has a ton of modern productivity tools…tools that those who have been comfortably using MS Office for many years are more likely not to know about.  If you’re still using this upgraded suite of tools in that old familiar way, here is a run-down of some modern O365 features you’re going to want to check out.

Host Meetings in Skype

Skype for BusinessThe enhanced Skype for Business (formerly Lync) experience lets you live stream a meeting to a large audience, dial into a conference call using your phone, or host a collaborative team session with screen sharing options for everyone and audio capabilities.

You can also record a Skype for Business session in order to review or share later on.  This feature allows the organizers and presenters to capture who entered the meeting, the audio and video and along with the content of all IM conversations, handouts, whiteboards, etc.

Alternatively, you can use Skype on a more impromptu basis directly from your other Office programs, if you need to have a quick chat with someone while you’re working. 

Even for the baseline utilization of quickly messaging a co-worker, the modern Skype for Business application offers much more robust communication experience than just the chat feature that it’s most well-known for.  You can still use IM or you can share your screen, or initiate a call or video chat.

Use your phone as a pocket scanner that saves to OneNote

Office Lens LogoOffice Lens is like having a scanner in your pocket.

Office Lens is a handy capture app that turns your smartphone into a pocket scanner, and it works with OneNote so you’ll never lose a thing. Use it to take pictures of receipts, business cards, menus, whiteboards or sticky notes—then let Office Lens crop, enhance and save to OneNote.    

Just like that—all the scanned images you capture from Office Lens are accessible on all your devices.

You can use Office Lens to convert images to PDF, Word and PowerPoint files, and even save images to OneNote or OneDrive.  It's a great way to capture notes and info from whiteboards, menus, signs, or anything with a lot of text. 

You can download Office Lens for free for iPhone and Android devices. 

Resume Reading Word Documents…even on different devices

With the Resume Reading feature in Word, you can pick up where you left off…even if you started reading the document on your desktop and want to pick it up again on your tablet. 

Word automatically bookmarks the last page you were reading, and since the apps extend across multiple devices, you have a seamless experience.

stay alert for business email compromise scamsIt’s also worth noting here the Navigation Pane, which helps you to easily locate specific content – such as a photo, a caption or a particular instance of content - in a large document.  (For more details on the Navigation Pane/Sidebar and more advanced options, type “navigation pane” in the Tell Me box, choose “Get Help on navigation pane”, then choose “Find and replace text and other data in a Word document” from the list in Help.)

Work offline and upload changes later

No Wi-Fi?  No problem!

With documents stored in OneDrive, you are able to make edits in any of your apps even when you’re offline, and they automatically upload as soon as you reconnect.  So those changes you made while you were traveling and in Airplane Mode will be published online as soon as you’re back in business.

O365 Project Management Tool – Planner

O365 PlannerOne of O365’s newer features, Planner is a project management tool that will help you and your team to plan workflows and get organized on a project. 

You can create plans, organize and assign tasks, share files, set deadlines and get status updates.  Planner has a visual dashboard and can be managed via email notifications.

This is a great example of something we recommended in a post earlier this year, which is to use what you have. If you're an O365 subscriber in need of a project management tool for your team, check out Planner first before you invest in a separate, pricier tool.

Let PowerPoint design your presentation for you

Select one image for your slide, and PowerPoint Designer will analyze it and present you with a few choices for the best way to format it.  This intelligent feature takes the hard work out of designing presentations, letting you focus on the content instead.

You can also use the Slide Master settings to set your Default Font for every slide in your presentation, in lieu of changing each one individually.

Get quick help with the “tell me” box

Tell me what you want me to doO365 has a handy “Tell Me” search box within each application. 

It’s basically like asking Google for help, only directly related to a question you have about the app you’re working it. 

For example, if you’re in Word and want to know how to change it to landscape, simply type that phrase into the Tell Me box in your regular language, and quickly get the answer you’re looking for.

Search on Bing from inside your document

Smart lookupYou can stop wasting time switching between your document and your browser.  Instead, when you need more information on something, just right-click on the word or phrase and choose “Smart Lookup”. A Bing search will pop up in a window inside your document.

Find important emails inside the Focused Inbox

Outlook’s answer to Gmail’s Priority inbox is the Focused inbox.  It will analyze how you organize your emails and then move the messages it thinks are important into a Focused folder. 

Everything else goes into an “Other” section.  The more you use it, the better it gets as understanding what’s most important to you.

This feature is a replacement for Clutter.


Explore Outlook add-ins

PayPal for OutlookOutlook add-ins are integrations built by third parties into Outlook using the new web technologies- based platform.  They are available through the Office store (some free, some are paid) and offer a range of functionalities, from boosting productivity to security.

For example, if you want to access your PayPal account so you can send money through your email, send a Starbucks gift card or schedule a meeting at a Starbucks location, or order an Uber in association with an event on your calendar, there are add-ins you can try.  Here is a list of other add-ins to check out.

Real-time co-authoring of documents

O365 Real Time CoauthoringGone are the days of having to exchange documents over email, tracking changes along the way. Or of getting locked out of a document because someone else is currently editing it.

With O365, you can collaborate online and see everyone’s changes as they happen, thanks to the real-time coauthoring feature in Word and PowerPoint.  Just save the file to OneDrive or SharePoint so others can work on it with you.  Use the integrated sidebar to share it directly from the application.

This also takes care of the old problems of version control. Files stored in OneDrive or SharePoint mean that everyone has access to the most recent version.

Use Your Keyboard Shortcuts to Access Ribbon Commands

KeyTipsDo more with just your keyboard. Access Keys let you use the tools in the ribbon without touching your mouse.  No matter where you are in an Office program, you can get to every command on the ribbon by using an access key.

You don’t even have to memorize them!  Just press the ALT key and you’ll see the little box pop up over each command that is in your current ribbon view (these boxes are called KeyTips). To select the one you want, just press the letter that is displayed.  Depending on your selection, you may get additional KeyTips.

To undo this, just push the ALT button again and the KeyTips will disappear.

Easily Turn Notes into Tasks

ONeNote TasksAs you take notes and list action items in OneNote, you can use the Outlook Tasks tool from the home tab on the ribbon to turn them into actual to-do list items.  Then you can view and track those items in Outlook, and even get reminders.

This list is far from exhaustive, so take some time to explore the features on your own, or navigate through the Quick Start Guides and tours Microsoft offers.

One of the many benefits of O365 is that you always get the latest updates pushed automatically, so as Microsoft continues to roll out new and better functionalities, you'll get those too.

Get Help With Your Resume

Resume Assistant is also now available to O365 subscribers on Windows.

This join Microsoft and LinkedIn (which was bought by Microsoft in 2016) tool helps you to optimize your resume for specific jobs.  Resume Assistant will pop up in the sidebar and helps by offering examples of work experience descriptions that you can build from.  Or you can look through specific skills that prospective employers are looking for.

Want to Learn More?  Corsica Tech is a Microsoft Partner and we both use and support O365.

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