6 hidden gems in Office 365

Microsoft offers several new and useful features in Office 365, including an improved calendar function and the ability to edit PDFs in Word.
Office 365

Now that Microsoft Office 365 helps users be productive whenever and wherever, it’s time to dig into some hidden gems that have recharged the once-bland Microsoft Office with an exciting array of new features.

Outlook third-party add-ins: Gmail lovers have often bragged about cool, third-party add-ins that Outlook couldn’t handle. Finally, Microsoft has closed the gap. Popular add-ins such as Boomerang, Trello, and DocuSign are now available for Outlook 365.

Focused Inbox: This not-so-hidden gem is a new feature that helps with email overload and inbox management. Focused Inbox examines whom you email the most and the email content you actually open. The emails that fit these parameters go to your Focused Inbox. The best part? It’s easy to adjust the settings manually by selecting “Move to Focused” on any message.

Bookings: Bookings, which is available as an Office 365 add-on, makes scheduling appointments a breeze. Create a scheduling webpage that syncs with your calendar availability. Add an email reminder and other relevant details on the same page. Participants select a time that works for them. This makes scheduling a piece of cake and avoids the back-and-forth email scheduling dance.

Edit PDF files in Word: Need to edit one sentence in a PDF? Don’t have a copy of Adobe Acrobat or other PDF editing software? With Office 365, all you need is Word. Open any unsecure PDF in Word (only minimal formatting changes), edit the content, and save again as a PDF. To do so, select File>Open in Word, browse to the folder where the PDF is saved, change the File Type dropdown to PDF, and select the file you wish to edit.

Office Lens: Throw out your travel scanner and the terrible pictures of whiteboard notes that you can barely read. Let me introduce you to Office Lens. Take a picture of a document or whiteboard with your phone’s camera and quickly share it with any Microsoft app or convert it into a PDF. The app is superior to any smartphone scanner app.

PowerPoint Morph feature: I just discovered this gem, and I’m excited about improving my PowerPoint presentations. Morph makes creating animations super simple. Create a slide, duplicate it, move and transform the objects, apply the morph transition, and watch the magic happen.

There are many other new features in Office 365; these are just some of my favourites. What Office 365 features can you share?

— Byron K. Patrick is the managing director at Network Alliance, a US-based consultancy specialising in information technology services for accounting firms. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Neil Amato, an FM magazine senior editor, at