11 Hacks to Get the Most Out of Your Microsoft License

We all are looking for ways to do more with less. The Microsoft 365 (M365) productivity stack (formerly Office 365) has a wide breadth of capabilities. However, many people need help in the pattern of using Teams, Word, and Excel. M365 has so much more to offer! Here are a few hidden tips, tricks, and features to help push your software to its limit.

Concentrated bearded young man using laptop while his friends studying together

  • Take advantage of the site template gallery! When creating a SharePoint site, you can choose from an existing template or create your own. You can also change the look and feel of an existing template or start from scratch. All versions of on-premises SharePoint include the template gallery.
  • Use tags to organize your content. Tags are labels that can be applied to any information in SharePoint or OneDrive for Business. For example, if you have an Excel spreadsheet with sales figures for the last quarter, but many people access this file in different locations, simply assign the “Financials” tag to the document. Then, you can search for this tag and find the spreadsheet, along with other important tagged documents, without remembering the file name or location.
Power Platform
  • Use Power Automate templates to simplify your workday. We have a webinar that walks you through the different use cases, where to find the templates, how to use them and more. These templates work with Microsoft applications and connect with third-party services like social media platforms, Google Cloud Apps, and Dropbox. Browse through the templates here and watch our video to get oriented here.
  • PowerBI makes data analysis a breeze. There are hundreds of shortcuts in Excel, which are helpful for small, simple datasets (more on that in a minute). If you want to take your analysis to the next level, PowerBI is your tool. In addition to the math side of data analysis, PowerBI allows you to create dynamic dashboards to keep you up to date without extra work. Just like Power Automate, PowerBI offers connectors to third-party solutions so you can import the data you need.
  • Keep a list of relevant Excel shortcuts and tricks handy. The more I learn about Excel, the less I feel like I can list it as a job skill. Gone are the days of impressing your boss with a VLOOKUP, macros, or PivotTables. My favorite trick is pulling data from a picture. You go to Data -> From Image -> Image From File. You can find some more here and copy over ones relevant to you.
  • Did you know that you can save your favorite formatting settings? Microsoft Word has a feature called Quick Styles that functions like a document template. Select the text you want to model your new style after, right-click the text, click Styles, and then Create a Style. In the Create New Style from the Formatting dialog box, give your style a name and click OK. To use a style once it has been created, look under the Styles pane in the Home tab.
  • Convert a Word document into a presentation. This super simple hack can help streamline your presentation creation process. Open the Word document on which you would like to base your presentation; under File, select Send To, then click Microsoft PowerPoint. If that option is not shown, manually add it to your Quick Access Toolbar from File -> Options. Now you can edit and tweak like usual to make your presentation executive worthy.
  • Third-Party templates are your friend. If you want to impress whoever you are presenting to, try free websites like Canva, SlidesGo, and SlidesCarnival for extra detailed templates. Microsoft does provide some templates, but these websites will take your PowerPoint to the next level! Use keywords like technology, school, business, fun, or science to find the best templates for your need. Not sponsored, just a fan!
  • Remember that Microsoft Planner exists and integrates with Microsoft Teams! Microsoft Planner, To Do, and List are excellent productivity tools to keep you on track. Planner specifically follows a Kanban Board structure and is best for working with your team. It is very similar to popular tools like Monday.com, Trello, and JIRA, but it also integrates with Teams, SharePoint, Outlook, and more.
  • Shortcuts! We all know shortcuts like Ctrl + S, Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V, and Ctrl + P, but did you know there are shortcuts in Microsoft Outlook as well? Try Ctrl + R to reply, Ctrl + Shift + M to create a new email, Ctrl + 1 to open the email, Ctrl + 2 to open the calendar, Ctrl + 3 to open contacts, and Ctrl + 4 to open tasks.
  • Seamlessly automate actions in Outlook with Quick Steps. Do you see that tab in Outlook called Quick Steps that you probably never touch? It turns out it can be a huge time saver! The default ones, like Reply & delete, Team Email, and Add to calendar, are helpful, but you can also create your Quick Steps tailored to your needs. To do so, select Create New in the Quick Steps gallery, add your chosen name, and under Actions, select the action(s) you would like the automation to perform. You can also create a keyboard shortcut in the Shortcut key box.

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Bonus: Use the Forums!

The great thing about Microsoft 365 is that most organizations use at least a portion of it as their primary productivity tool. That means there are millions of users, many of which have posted questions. If you run into issues, check the associated forum for an answer that may help you. Even if that’s a dead end, posting a question will get you a reply typically within a few hours. You can learn new tips, workarounds, and plug-ins for all your favorite Microsoft services in the forums.

If your organization wants to get the most out of its current licenses and stop paying for services they don’t use, contact us today to see if you qualify for a FREE licensing assessment. We’ll identify overlaps in coverage and recommend the best course of action to save the business money and better empower its users.



Would you like to find out more about Microsoft 365? Learn how you can transform the way you work with Microsoft 365 today.