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Convert any Office file to PDF for free

Recently an associate whose PC lacked Adobe Acrobat sent me a Word file via e-mail, asking if I could convert it to PDF and e-mail it back to her. Since the process took all of about 30 seconds, I was delighted to help. Then the next day she sent two more files in need of conversion to PDF, and a couple of days after than another. After her fourth request of the week I felt compelled to tell her about two ways she could have converted the files herself for free: Adobe's own Create Adobe PDF Online free trial, … Read more

Making the switch from Microsoft Office to Web apps

The only reason I've opened Microsoft Outlook or any other desktop e-mail program in the last year is to test tips. Since I added my ISP account to my Gmail in-box, and moved my Outlook appointments to Google Calendar, I get all the information I need in my browser.

Now I'm getting ready to boot Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for their Web alternatives, but before I bail on Office entirely, I stuck a toe in the Web-apps water by using the free ThinkFree Online service irregularly over the past few weeks. So far, I haven't missed Word, … Read more

Expand your file-protection options via Microsoft Office 2007's Trust Center

One of the most notable additions to Microsoft's 2007 Office System was the Trust Center, which centralizes the security options in Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and the other applications in the suite. Of course, this being Office, it figures that many of the most important security features--including the new Document Inspector--also reside elsewhere.

To open the Trust Center in the 2007 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access, click the Office button, select the Options button at the bottom-right of the window, choose Trust Center in the left pane, and click the Trust Center Settings button in the right … Read more

Stay safe while using Microsoft Office 2003

You trust Microsoft Office with your most important documents, spreadsheets, e-mail, and presentations. Unfortunately, many of the default security settings in Office applications may not provide a sufficient level of protection for your data, your system, and your reputation. Follow these steps to fine-tune the security settings in Office 2003; tomorrow I'll cover the new security options in Office 2007's Trust Center and elsewhere.

Office 2003 lets you encrypt files so that you need a password to read or edit them. In Word 2003, open the document and click Tools > Protect Document. To restrict the styles that … Read more

Let viewers set the pace of your PowerPoint presentations

It's your presentation, and you have every right to control its pace by deciding when to move to the next slide. But there are times when you want to let the presentation run itself, or you may want to allow the person viewing it to decide when to move to the next slide (or maybe even a little of both). You can convert any PowerPoint presentation into a self-running slide show, or add controls that let the viewer go to the next slide, with just a few simple settings.

Once you've finished putting your presentation's slides in … Read more

Five great freebies improve your Office experience

Microsoft Office is so jam-packed with features that an entire industry has been created to help people find the ones they need. (An example is Addintools' $30 Classic Menu for Office 2007.) Why would anyone suggest that you add even more functions to Office apps? Because the best free Office add-ins can save you considerable time and trouble, without costing you a red cent. Here are five of my favorite Office helpers.

Poll attendees to find the best time for a meeting Everybody's busy, as anyone who has ever tried to schedule a meeting with more than two attendees … Read more

Word 2007 loses the ability to export outlines to PowerPoint

There's a great little feature in Microsoft Word 2003 and earlier versions of the word-processing program that lets you export to PowerPoint an outline of any Word file formatted with headings. I admit that it's a specialized operation that probably doesn't get used all that often, but it's a handy way to work between the two Office apps.

I was all set to tell you how to use the feature in Word 2007 when I realized it has been removed. So all that noise Microsoft made when the new Office System was released more than a … Read more

Google Presentations gets embeddable slide shows

The Google Docs team, has posted on their blog about the availability of a few new features for Google Presentations to start off the new year. The most significant of the new features is the ability to embed slide shows in web pages. It's not a surprise that Google decided to go this route, given the huge success of embeddable video with YouTube and other embeddable content around the web.

As you can see in my slide show that I have included at the end of this post, it works in a similar way and looks very much like YouTube's embeddable player. Overall, sharing and embedding your slide shows is a fairly painless process. As I said in my original article about Google Presentations, their strong point is collaboration and sharing. This latest feature has continued that trend.

While this is all great, my big problem with Google Presentations is still the lack of a professional look to the slide shows. The feature set just is not quite there yet. I am sure that Google is hard at work, implementing features like transitions, animations, etc., so I can't penalize them too much for that yet, being such a young product. However, if they want to capture any significant portion of the market share, Google Presentations needs the more advanced features.

Other features included in this release are importing slides from other presentations, drag and drop image insertion, and an improved UI. Check out my embedded slide show after the jump.… Read more

Microsoft upgrades its Office for Mac upgrade offer

Correction 2:10 p.m. PDT: This blog initially misstated the savings for buyers of Office 2004 for Mac Student and Teacher edition if they choose to upgrade to the 2008 Special Media Edition. The savings would be $350.

Microsoft has improved on an earlier offer to those who buy Office 2004 for Mac before the new version of Office is released in January.

In September, the company said it would offer buyers of Office 2004 an upgrade to the comparable version of Office 2008 for the cost of shipping and handling.

Now, those who purchase Office 2004 for Mac … Read more

Mac Office 2008 adds Excel templates, supports Exchange

Microsoft is revealing more details about new features in its Office for Mac 2008 suite, due for a release early next year.

Excel 2008 for Mac will offer worksheet templates with baked-in calculations designed to make it easier to balance household finances, manage inventory and other common tasks. The new Ledger Sheets features will include a gallery of elements, shifting formulas to the background.

In addition, the Entourage e-mail client will offer more support for Microsoft Exchange, which traditionally has enabled non-Mac PC users to make appointments and share notes and files with each other.

Each version of Office for … Read more