10 Ways to Make Office 2019 Easier to Use

By Wallace Wang

If you haven’t noticed by now, plenty of features are buried in Office 2019 that you probably don’t need most of the time. However, if you’re a die-hard Office 2019 power user, you may want to peek at some of the more advanced features available to make your life easier.

Although these advanced features may take time to learn and master, you may find the effort worth it to make Office 2019 behave exactly the way you want it to. Best of all, you can learn these new features by playing with them at work — so that way, you can learn something new and get paid for doing it at the same time.

Build (and use) your own Office add-ins

If you’re like most people, you probably just want to use a program, make it do what you need it to do, and then go home. However, if you find yourself wishing Office 2019 could do something more, you may want to take some time to develop your own apps for Office 2019.

To create apps for Office 2019, you need to use industry-standard programming languages such as HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets), and XML. By creating your own Office 2019 apps, you can extend Office 2019’s capabilities. If you create a particularly useful app, you can even sell it or give it away. To learn more about creating your own Office 2019 apps, view the brief tutorial on how to create your first Office 2019 app).

If you don’t want to create your own Office apps, click the Insert tab and then click the Store icon. Now you can browse through Office add-ins that other people have created for use (for free or for a price). By downloading and installing Office add-ins, you can boost the capabilities of Office.

Collaborating with the Office 2019 review tab

If you’re the only person who needs to edit, view, and use your Office 2019 documents, you can safely skip this section. However, if you’re like many people, you need to collaborate with others.

The old-fashioned way of collaborating meant printing paper copies, sending them to others, and writing directly on them. With Office, you can highlight, mark up, and edit documents electronically so that you can distribute files by email or through a network. Each time someone makes a change to a document, Office 2019 tracks the changes with a different color and identifies the contributor by name. Now you can see who wrote what, and you can selectively keep the comments that are most valuable and ignore the ones you don’t like.

Some of the more useful commands hidden on the Review tab are

  • New Comment: Inserts a comment directly into a document without affecting the existing text.
  • Track Changes: Highlights any new text or data that someone adds to or deletes from an existing document.
  • Compare: Examines two files and highlights the differences between the two. This tool also gives you the option of selectively merging changes into a single document.

By using the features stored on the Review tab, you can send multiple copies of a file to others, let everyone make comments, mark up the text, move data around, and then merge everyone’s comments and changes into a single, final version.

Using Word 2019’s References tab

Most people use Word just to write letters or short reports. If you need to create longer documents, you may be interested in using some of the following the features buried on Word’s References tab:

  • Table of Contents: Creates a table of contents based on the header styles used in a document
  • Insert Footnote: Creates a footnote at the bottom of the page
  • Insert Endnote: Creates a list of notes at the end of a document
  • Insert Caption: Automatically numbers figures, tables, or equations
  • Insert Table of Figures: Creates a list of figures, tables, or equations that you created using the Insert Caption command
  • Mark Entry: Tags words or phrases to appear in an index
  • Insert Index: Creates an index based on words or phrases tagged with the Mark Entry command

Using Excel 2019’s Data tab

Most people type data directly into an Excel worksheet and then manipulate that data through formulas or other commands. However, you can also design a worksheet and then import data from another location (such as stock quotes that you retrieve from a website), a text file, an Access database, or even a database file created by another program (such as an ancient dBASE database).

Following are some of the features available from the Get External Data icon on Excel’s Data tab:

  • From Table/Range: Retrieves data from an Excel table or range
  • From web: Retrieves data stored in a table on a web page
  • From Text/CSV: Retrieves data stored as an ASCII text file
  • Get Data: Retrieves data stored in other sources, such as an SQL Server or XML file

Saving and sending Office 2019 files

The traditional way to send a file to someone is to save your file, load your email program (such as Outlook), create a new message, attach your file (if you can remember where you stored it), and send it over the Internet.

Here’s a faster way to send a file:

  1. In the file that you want to send, click the File tab.
  2. Click Share.

    The Share window appears.

  3. Click Email and then click one of the following:
    • Send as Attachment: Attaches the Office 2019 file. Recipients will be able to view and edit this file only if they also have Office 2019.
    • Send a Link: Sends a link to a file when you’re collaborating over a local area network.
    • Send as PDF: Converts the file to PDF (Portable Document Format) before attaching it to the message. Recipients who don’t have special PDF-editing software will be able to view the file but not edit it.
    • Send as XPS: Converts the file to XPS (Open XML Paper Specification) format before attaching it to the message. Recipients will need a program that can open and display an XPS file, which preserves formatting and works similar to a PDF file.

Encrypting an Office 2019 file

After creating a file in Office 2019, you may want to show it to others but not let anyone else modify it. You could trust that nobody will mess up your file, but a better option is to password-protect it so nobody can modify it without your permission.

To password-protect a file, follow these steps:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Info, and then click the Protect button (such as Protect Document or Protect Presentation).

    A menu appears.

  3. Click Encrypt with Password.

    An Encrypt Document dialog box appears.

  4. Type a password and then click OK.

If you forget your password, you won’t be able to access your own file, so make sure you remember your password. Many third-party companies sell password-cracking tools for retrieving the password to Office 2019 files. These tools can be useful if you forget your own password, but they can be used also by malicious people, so don’t think that passwords alone can protect your Office 2019 documents from prying eyes.

Saving Office 2019 files to the cloud

In the old days, everyone saved files directly on their computer’s hard disk. Although this method worked, it had problems. If you took a laptop but forgot to copy a crucial file off your desktop, your laptop would be essentially useless.

That’s why Microsoft offers OneDrive, their cloud-based service that lets you save files over the Internet to your OneDrive account. After you save a file on OneDrive, you can access that file from any computer that has access to the Internet. So, for example, you can store crucial files on OneDrive from your desktop PC, and then take a laptop and access the same files on OneDrive. Now, instead of having two copies of a file (one on your desktop and one on your laptop), you just have one file on OneDrive. This eliminates the need to keep track of multiple copies of the same file.

Storing files on OneDrive has another advantage in that it allows multiple collaboration on the same file. If you are in Berlin and your co-worker is in Tokyo, you can both access and edit the same file on OneDrive. By saving files to OneDrive, you can access them at any time and share them with others as well.

To save a file on OneDrive, follow these steps:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Save As.

    A menu appears.

  3. Click OneDrive.

Ignoring the silly Office 2019 Ribbon

Although the Office Ribbon represents a more visual way to use Microsoft Office, some people still prefer the classic pull-down menu interface of previous versions of Microsoft Office. Those who don’t want to give up their familiarity with pull-down menus can buy an add-on program dubbed Classic Menu for Office.

This program essentially gives back your pull-down menus so you can choose between the Office Ribbon and traditional pull-down menus. Now you can have the best of both worlds without giving up either one.

The main drawback with this add-on program is that if you have to use someone else’s copy of Office 2019 that doesn’t have this add-on installed, you may feel lost trying to use the Ribbon alone. For this reason, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the Office Ribbon and use this Classic Menu for Office add-on program to help you make the transition from an older version of Office to Office 2019.

Find more Office 2019 templates

Templates help you create well-designed and professionally formatted documents quickly and easily. Programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access offer plenty of templates to choose from, but those aren’t the only templates you can find and use.

Microsoft offers an online list of templates, and many companies offer unique templates as well. Avery, a popular mailing label company, provides templates designed for printing mailing labels, business cards, and other specialized documents.

If you search for Microsoft Office templates in your favorite search engine, you’ll likely find many companies offering Microsoft Office templates that you can download and use free.

Use Microsoft Office everywhere

When you use OneDrive, you can access your files from any computer. For greater versatility, consider using Office 365, Office for Android, or Office for iOS.

Office 365 runs entirely within your browser, which means you can use any computer that can connect to the Internet, such as a Linux PC or a Chromebook, to create and edit Microsoft Office documents. If you want to use different types of computers and still use Microsoft Office, you’ll want Office 365.

Office for Android lets you run Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook on any Android smartphone or tablet. Office for iOS lets you run Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook on an iPhone or iPad.

With either Office for Android or Office for iOS, you can create and edit Microsoft Office documents on your favorite mobile computer. Now you’ll be able to use Microsoft Office wherever you go.