Microsoft 365 by Microsoft is a suite of apps that help you work more efficiently, collaborate with different people in real-time, connect from anywhere, and simplify your day by becoming more organized. With enterprise-grade built-in security features by Microsoft, you can do all this and much more with peace of mind – knowing that your personal information, apps, data, and devices are protected.
There are different plans of Microsoft 365 for home and personal use, business – small, midsized, and large enterprises, and schools and non-profits. As per your line of business, you can select the best plan per your needs. In this article, we will be discussing some not-so-used or known features of Microsoft 365.
Benefits of Microsoft 365 for business
With 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage, backup and access your files, data across all your devices. With Personal Vault, get an additional layer of security for your most critical data.
With Word, Excel, and PowerPoint combined into a single Office mobile app for iOS and Android, create files, store them and share them with the team from any time and anywhere.
When you subscribe to Microsoft 365, you get access to a number of premium templates for PowerPoint, Word, Excel, including photos and 3D models, and support for on-screen inking. This helps you save time and be more creative.
Manage your daily activities via one secure app – Outlook that includes your mail, calendar, and file access. The smart design helps you sort your emails quickly on the go.
With a Microsoft 365 subscription, you’ll always get the latest fixes, features, and security updates with always-available tech support. You can choose to pay for your Microsoft 365 subscription on a monthly or yearly basis.
8 surprising features of Microsoft 365
As stated in the points above, there are a lot of benefits of Microsoft 365. You must have heard about these benefits at one place or another but there are certain new things in Microsoft 365 that you may not have heard probably. So, let’s discuss 8 things you didn’t know about Microsoft 365 in this section.
1. Schedule your recurring meetings dynamically in Microsoft 365
With the hybrid mode of working becoming the new normal, the average number of meetings and chats has seen a steady increase since previous years. As per the 2021 Work Trend Index study of 30,000 people in 31 countries, between February 2020 and February 2021:
- Time spent in Microsoft Teams meetings has more than doubled (2.5X) globally and, aside from a holiday dip in December, continues to climb.
- The average meeting is 10 minutes longer, increasing from 35 to 45 minutes.
The average Teams user is sending 45 percent more chats per week and 42 percent more chats per person after hours, with chats per week still on the rise.
Microsoft 365 makes it easy to manage the meetings’ volume with Scheduler and Microsoft Bookings. You can reduce the amount of time spent in back-and-forth discussions while scheduling meetings. The users can utilize a virtual assistant to set up dynamic recurring meetings. R
Recurring meetings that are managed by Scheduler behave in a different way than traditional recurring meetings in Outlook. Scheduler’s dynamic recurring meetings are planned around the user’s busy schedule and to keep your calendar open and minimize conflicts, it schedules one event at a time of the recurring meeting.
How to use Dynamic Recurring Meetings in Scheduler in Microsoft 365?
When you send an email to the meeting attendee, just copy Cortana. Ask Cortana for setting up the recurring meeting and that’s it! Cortana will process the request.
Please note that Scheduler is an add-on to Microsoft 365 license.
2. Bookings Conversion Tracking in Microsoft 365
In order to save yourselves from the hassles of scheduling and managing appointments, you leverage bookings to book appointments with employees, partners, and customers. You can share a Bookings calendar and the recipient can easily pick any available slot. When you share it with your customers as a part of your marketing campaign, it also helps to track digital campaign conversions.
How to track conversions using Bookings in Microsoft 365?
You can add an ID to the Bookings calendar link. If the user or customer clicks on the link to book a meeting, that ID will be passed and included in the available export data.
3. Accessibility Reminder app for Microsoft 365
It’s a new feature that has been made generally available for Microsoft 365 users very recently, in 2022. This feature helps everyone to collaborate equally, including people with disabilities. The Accessibility Reminder app is available in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for the web and desktop. With a simple comment, you can let your fellow collaborators know that you or someone in the group requires the doc to be accessible.
How do I enable and use the Accessibility Reminder app?
– Using it you can create custom comments to notify authors of the documents, including messages, training links, and more.
– View training content to learn more about how you and others can fix accessibility issues.
– Given below is a screenshot of the Accessibility Reminder comment that has been added to a document.
The below video highlights the features and use of Accessibility Reminder app.
4. Show appreciation to employees or students with Praise app
With work from home enabled in almost every organization and school, motivation and appreciation have become more important than ever! This is possible with Microsoft Teams. You have a selection of readymade praise badges to choose from to recognize the efforts of employees, your students, and frontline workers. Sending praise to your team was never so easy!
How do I use the Praise badges in Microsoft Teams?
Admins have control as to what badges you can have access to. Follow the steps below to share a praise badge. In the space where you write a new message, select Praise or Messaging extensions.
- Once you have chosen a badge, add the name of the person who you’d like to praise and then add a description (optional).
- See Preview.
- If all good, select Send.
Note: From February 2022, custom badges are no longer available, and the options have been removed from the Teams admin center. Only default badges are now available.
5. Never miss an important message with the new Desktop Message Alert
If you are waiting for a legal document from your boss or waiting for an important order from a customer but have work to do that is stopping you from remaining in your Outlook message list, don’t worry!
Outlook’s new item alerts will tell you whenever an incoming message meets your specific criteria. It will display the message over any other application on which you are working so that you will not miss your important message.
The information displayed will vary depending on the item you receive in your inbox.
Note: If you wish to read the message on Desktop Alert, keep it visible by resting the pointer over the alert before it can fade away from view.
How do I turn desktop alerts on or off?
- Select File > Options> Mail
Under Message arrival, clear if you want to turn alerts off or Display a Desktop Alert checkbox and then select OK.
6. “Proof-listen” to your writing with Read Aloud in Word for tablets
This is a highly usable feature that was previously available in Word on mobile and desktop devices and is now available in Word for iPad and Android tablets. The ‘Read Aloud’ feature takes advantage of advanced text-to-speech technology to convert text to voice enabling you to catch errors in your write-ups. This feature also helps your eyes to take a break by listening to documents created by others.
Developed with the help of Azure Cognitive Services, it provides a natural listening experience.
How do I use the Read Aloud Feature in Word or Outlook?
- Open your Word document.
- In Review tab, tap Read Aloud. The app will begin reading the text from where your cursor has been placed.
Note: With Read Aloud feature, you can change the reading speed, switch between different voices and pause and resume during the reading.
7. Enjoy an improved scrolling experience in Microsoft Excel
Scroll through your sheet smoothly when navigating large or very wide cells. To see all your data, you no more need to snap to the top-left cell in your display. Even when you stop scrolling partly through a column or a row, Excel does not advance ahead, which is highly beneficial for large cells. These improvements work with a touch screen, touchpad, mouse, mouse wheel, or scroll bar drag.
Scrolling is based upon one Excel row’s height by default. With a touchpad or precision mouse, you can scroll one pixel at a time. But if your Windows mouse option has been set to move one line of text with each click of the mouse wheel, it will supersede the behavior of Excel.
8. Create professional diagrams with Visio – now available to all Microsoft 365 Commercial Subscribers
With Visio for the web or Microsoft Teams, you can create, edit and share diagrams, anytime and with anyone. Visio helps you create basic network diagrams, flowcharts, block diagrams, Venn diagrams, and business matrices. Benefits of Vision:
- You get a familiar tool – same as other Office 365 apps. You can easily access, edit and review Visio files shared by your colleagues or find a template quickly.
- You can work on Visio along with your colleagues in real time.
- You can create new diagrams and save existing ones in Teams. You can add Visio diagram as a tab in a Teams channel or chat.
- You can export your diagrams or its parts as a PNG or JPEG file with customization options for transparency, size and resolution. Then the diagram can be added to other Office files.
With Visio, you can use the Data Visualizer add-in for automatically creating basic flowcharts, cross-functional flowcharts, and organization charts in Excel. You can also include connections, shapes, and link data from Excel tables.
Know an exciting feature that we should add to the list? Do let us know in the comments section.
Jyotsana Gupta – the content and communication head, is an engineer by education and a writer at heart. In technical writing for 8 years, she makes complex topics interesting to general audience. She loves going on long drives in her spare time.