10 Tips, Tricks, Apps, and Add-Ins to Supercharge Microsoft Word

In the word processing world, Microsoft Word is the platinum standard. As recently as April 2013, analyst and consulting firm Gartner estimated that Microsoft Office, the software suite in which Word comes packaged, still claims 80 to 96% of worldwide user share. And in a review of Word 2013, PCMag.com wrote, “After web browsers, Word is the most-used app on the planet…It’s one of the few apps that deserves to be called a work of genius.”

But did you know that there are countless ways to supercharge your Microsoft Word experience—some built directly into Word’s interface, and some available as free external plug-ins? Below you’ll find the top 10 tips, tricks, apps, and add-ins to get even more out of Microsoft Word:

1) Edit and save PDFs in Microsoft Word. Sick of copying text from a PDF and pasting it into a document, only to find a pesky line break after every single word? Open a PDF in Word 2013, click Enable Editing, and go to town. Once you’re done, click Save As, select PDF, and all your cross-formatting problems will be solved. (Note: Only works in Microsoft Word 2013).

2) Easily jump between multiple Word documents with Office Tabs. All good Internet browsers are built around tabbed viewing. Office Tabs—available free for Office 2010 and earlier and for $25 after a 30-day free trial for Office 2013—allows you to organize and easily toggle between multiple open Word files in one window.

3) Embed videos directly into a document. This capability just might make Word 2013 totally worth it. Click Insert, then Online Video, then paste an embed code or search via video provider. Then, voila—multimedia junkies can rejoice. 

4) Use Search Commands for intuitive internal search. Mac users consider the baked-in magnifying glass search pane a basic necessity. Now Microsoft users can take advantage of the free Search Commands download from Office Labs, which also offers a Search the Web bar powered by Google (not Bing) for Office 2013.

5) Select blocks of text quickly using keyboard shortcuts. Do a lot of editing? These tricks will save time and effort. Triple-clicking anywhere within a paragraph selects the entire paragraph; pressing the CTRL key and clicking anywhere within a sentence selects the whole sentence; and holding down the ALT key and then dragging your mouse over any rectangular area allows formatting to be applied across that entire selection.

6) Add cloud-based photos to a document. Need to embed an image not saved on your computer? Microsoft SkyDrive, the company’s cloud-based storage tool, is here to save the day. Word 2013 now allows users to pull their own photos from the cloud for use in a document. Simply click Insert, Online Pictures, and then browse away.

7) Generate placeholder text. Need to estimate how much text will be necessary to fill a proscribed space? Type =rand(p,l) and press Enter to insert “p” number of paragraphs containing “l” number of lines. If you want the standard Lorem Ipsum quasi-Latin placeholder text, type =lorem(p,l) and press Enter.

8) Beef up Word’s built-in dictionary by downloading Bing Dictionary for Office 2013. Hate how Word’s internal dictionary never recognizes newly coined terms—especially those derived from Internet jargon? Microsoft describes its living, breathing, web-powered Bing Dictionary thusly: “By continuously discovering and distilling high-quality language knowledge on the Internet, Bing Dictionary can present a continuous English lexicon.”

9) Quickly toggle between text cases. Rather than digging through multiple toolbar menus to change the text from UPPERCASE to lowercase to Camel Case (Where The First Letter Of Every Word Is Capitalized), simply highlight a block of text and press Shift+F3 to choose between those three options.

10) Recover unsaved documents. Gasping in horror after Word closes unexpectedly, wiping out your unsaved content? In Word 2013, click File, then Info, then Manage Version, then select Recover Unsaved Documents. Then click Save As immediately!

Whether you’re a seasoned Microsoft Word veteran scanning the horizon for a fresh usability trick, or a new user scrambling to make sense of it all, hopefully, these tips help. Considering an upgrade to Office 2013? Looking for other ways to make your technological life more productive and efficient? Call or email CMIT Solutions today—we’re here to make technology work for your business, not against it.

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