20 Cool Features In Microsoft Office 2010

Posted on November 16, 2009


It’s time. Time for a new version of Office, that is. The last version, Office 2007, sported a host of new features that some people loved, and some people hated. Ironically, this was around the same time Windows Vista was released– an operating systems with a slew of problems. Now, Windows 7 has just been released, and it’s supposed to be the real deal. It’s supposed to be able to switch most of the Vista skeptics to the newest software. Now, just around the same time as the Windows 7 release, the beta of the new Office 2010 was leaked to the public. As with Win7, the new Office is supposed to be able to convince old Office 2003 users to finally switch to the latest software. Surprisingly, I agree with them! After downloading the beta, I have had a few weeks to mess around with the new version of office, and I am pleased with the results. So, without any further ado, I will show you the top 20 features in the new Office suite that will make it worth it’s hefty price tag!

20. Background Removal In MS Word It’s happened to all of us at one point in time– you need to insert a picture of a person or a product into your document, but that darn background is too distracting! Now, in earlier versions of Word, this was a royal pain in the @%^. You would need to rely on (sometimes costly) third party programs such as Photoshop, GIMP, Paint.net or even *gasp* Paint. In the new Word, however, removing the backgrounds of (simple) photos is a breeze! Just select your picture, go to Format, and select Remove Background. Easy! But wait, It’s not done quite yet. BackgroundRemoval_1 The purple stuff is not part of the picture. Actually, the purple is the part that is going to be removed. Word does a pretty darn good job of detecting the background in most pictures, but as you can see here the bottom of the poor puppy’s neck is chopped off… Brutal! Luckily, there is a simple way to get around this; just go to Mark Areas to Keep and your cursor will be turned into a pencil. Now, just draw a line roughly across the area that you want to keep and… BackgroundRemoval_2Boom! The puppy is saved! Well… sort of. As you can see, the bottom part of the puppy’s neck is still somewhat chopped off. But a quick resizing of the box around the image will fix that.


At last... PETA is satisfied

There! That was simple, wasn’t it? Now all you have to do is click “Keep Changes” and you’re done! Way to go!

19. Taking Screenshots Within Word So, you’re doing a report on a new product in Word and you stumble upon a clip of that item on the Best Buy website. You want to snag that piece of the site and paste it into your document. Sounds simple, right? Right?! …..yeah. Back in the old days, you would have had to take a screenshot of the site using the good ‘ol print key button, then you would have had to insert it into Paint, crop the area you want, copy that area, create a new paint document, insert the clipping into that document, then save it, then in word you would insert that saved image into your document! …WHEW! Thankfully, those stressful days are over. In the new Word, there is a handy “Screenshot” button under the “Insert” tab. Click on it, and it will bring up a quick thumbnail view of all the windows you have open. If you click on one of the thumbnails, it will instantly take a screenshot of the entire page and paste it into Word. Screenshot_1Handy, eh? But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You see, if you don’t click one one of the thumbnails and look down a little instead, you will see this little guy:


Here I am!

If you select this, it will bring you to the window of your choice and then turn your cursor into a pair of cross hairs. You can then select the area that you want to take a screenshot of and voilà! Screenshot_3  

18. Redesigned Print Dialog Now, one of the things I do a lot with Word (or any other Office application for that matter) is print stuff. Now, back in Office 2007, Print Preview (A feature I used a lot) was separate from the main print dialog. This was quite annoying as I would have to keep switching back and forth between the two dialog boxes. Now, however, Microsoft has gotten the brilliant idea to merge the two together and form one sweet print dialog.


It took years to do it, but Microsoft has finally grown some brains

The picture is pretty self-explanatory. You get the print preview on the right, and the options on the left. How easy can it get? Also, if you want more detailed options, just click on the “Page Setup” link.


For all you hardcore printer geeks out there

17. Videos and Video Editing In PowerPoint Let me set the scene for you: you need to do a big presentation on a new product that you have just created. Instead of opening a separate program (mainly windows media player…. yuk!) to play a video showing off the ultra-cool features of the product, you just play the video right inside PowerPoint! The crowd goes wild! All thanks to PowerPoint 2010. That’s right, you can insert videos directly into PowerPoint 2010. But that’s not all. Not only can you insert videos from your computer, but you can even insert videos from the web! Three cheers for Microsoft! shocked-1Now, you may think that I’m done ranting about the videos, but I’m not. Theres more. Not only can you add videos to your presentations but you can also edit them! Right inside PowerPoint! Just right-click on the video that you want to edit and then click “Trim Video”. This will bring up a dialog that lets you select the start and end points of your video. So you can cut a 2 hour video into a 10 minute chunk. Not Final Cut-like editing, but it works.

2ac29_surprised-cat16. Compressing PowerPoint Presentations

So, after you finally finish off that awesome slideshow jam-packed with sweet animations, pictures, and video– you want to send it to a friend via email. The only problem with this is that videos and pictures take up a lot of space. So your slideshow ends up being about 50MB big. No problem! The guys at Microsoft have got you covered! Just go to File>Info>Media Size and Performance

Compress_1Now, as you can see in the picture. It says that media files in my presentation take up 274 MB!!! Umm…. Let’s try and get that number down into the double-digits. Just click on Compress Media and a dialog like this will pop up:

Compress_2Now as you can see, there are three options for reducing the size of your presentation; Presentation Quality, Internet Quality, and Low Quality. Let’s choose Internet Quality and see what happens. Basically, a window pops up showing the progress of the compression. After that’s done, It’ll tell you how much space you saved and how big your presentation is now. Mine went down to 50 MB! Now, that’s still a reasonably big file, but it pales in comparison to the 274 MB monster it used to be. Now imagine how much space you would gain using low quality……

15. Easier Setup In Outlook

Remember the old Outlook setup? Where you had to enter in all that pesky server info? I did. Now, it was quite a breeze for me because I have that stuff memorized. But what about people who don’t know what their server is? This is where Outlook 2010 comes in. Now, when you’re setting up your account it gives you the option of setting it up manually or doing it automatically. Now, because I never tried the feature before, I did automatic.

All you really have to do is enter your name, email address, and password. Then, it searches for your email server, contacts it, and proceeds to set up your account. This took about 2 minutes for me, but it may be longer or shorter for you.

Now, unfortunately I didn’t snag any screenshots of the setup, but just imagine the normal Outlook setup window… with a lot less text fields.

14. Text Messaging in Outlook

If you text a lot with your friends or colleagues, you may like this feature of the new Outlook. Basically, you can configure Outlook to send and receive text messages from your phone, as well as regularly update your Outlook calendar on your phone. It also let’s you forward emails to your phone.

Your new best friend

Setup is straightforward– just enter some simple information like your service provider URL, user ID, and password. Now, because I don’t have a phone I can’t fully test this out. But what I do know is that you phone owners out there may want to check this out.

13. Easier Organization in Outlook

Now, back in the old days (old days being a few years ago) when you wanted to email someone you had to manually type in their email address or select their name from your contacts. Doesn’t sound that hard, right? Well, that is right. It doesn’t sound that hard… if you are only emailing the person occasionally. What if you have someone that you write to on a daily basis? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was just a button that would automatically bring up a new blank message with their name already in the address field? Well, your prayers have been answered.

In the new Outlook, there is a button under the “Home” tab that does exactly that. It’s called “Team E-Mail”. Basically, when you click on it, it brings up a dialog asking what you want to name it and what action you want it to preform.

In this case, I called the action “Email Mom”. Then, I told it to create a new message with my mom’s email address in the field down below. Simple! Once you are done this, a little button will pop up in your ribbon and whenever you want to email someone again, just click it!

12. “Themes” in Excel

Themes in Excel, eh? No. Not the kind of themes that you’re thinking about. Basically, these “Themes” are for your cells. You could have note themes and calculation themes and such. To understand it more, see the picture below.

These little guys

11. Advertisements and Coupons In Publisher

Say that you are making a newsletter for you’re business and you want to grab the reader’s attention with a snappy “50% OFF” ad or maybe a coupon that they can use at your store. These are both great ways of drawing customers to your business. Now, thanks to the new Publisher, you can make great attention-getters, coupons, or advertisements in seconds! Just go to Insert>Advertisements and then your ready to go!


10. One-Click Calendars in Publisher

Calendars. In Publisher. Easily. These are three words that took Microsoft over a decade to finally implement into a version of Publisher. Now, I’m not saying that in older versions of Publisher you couldn’t make calendars. In fact, over 70% of Publisher users make newsletters. What do those newsletters contain? Usually calendars. In older versions of Publisher, creating calendars was relatively easy, but even that pales in comparison to Publisher 2010. Yes, Microsoft finally got it right. They made a calendars button. Hover over it, and you are greeted with a dropdown showing you many different kinds of calendar themes. The themes are arranged nicely, too. You get three separate sections of the menu; “This Month”, “Next Month”, and “Recently Used”. Click on one, and the calendar appears in your document! What a concept!

The great minds of Microsoft at work

9. Send Any Document As A PDF

This is a truly great feature. PDF conversion right inside Office! By Office I mean every office application. Anything from Word to Publisher has this feature. You can find it by going to File>Share>Create PDF/XPS Document. It should look like this:

8. Tons Of New PowerPoint Themes

One of the easiest ways to spice up any dreary meeting is to add a cool theme to your presentation. Now, PowerPoint 2007 had tons of great themes, but after almost three years stuck with those themes, they’ve started to become repetitive. Thankfully, PowerPoint 2010 brought many great new themes with it– including my personal favorite: Pushpin (Pictured below)

Solid advice

8. Broadcast A PowerPoint Presentation Over The Web

Get rid of crowded rooms full of bored people and projectors forever! Seriously, it’s the digital age, everything businesses need to do can be done on computers now. Meetings included! The PowerPoint development team caught onto this pretty quickly and devised a way to do this. They call it…. well, nothing actually. Just a little button under the “Slide Show” tab that says “Broadcast Presentation”. Straightforward. I like that.

Basically what it does is gives you a link to a site. You send the link to everyone else who wants to see the slideshow and they put it in their browser. You play the slideshow and they can see it in real-time on the other end! Brilliant!

7. Captions in Word

Ever wanted to add a caption to a picture in Word before? If you were writing a report or an instruction manual, this may be important. Unfortunately, in previous versions of Word you had to manually position your blinker (I really don’t know the technical term for it) under the picture (which could really be a pain) and then type your caption. The problem with this was that it was way too annoying! Well, Microsoft has solved this in Word 2010. Just select your picture and go to the “References” tab. Then go to “Caption” and type your caption! Done!

My only problem with this is that there is no way to get rid of the “Figure 1”. There is a button that is called “Remove Label”, though. Now, i’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if I check that box it will remove the label. Right? No. Actually, it just reduces the “Figure 1” to “1”, which is even weirder, because the reader will have no idea what the “1” is there for. Hopefully this will be fixed in the final version.

6. Artistic Effects

Were you ever working on a project and then suddenly realized that the pictures in it were boring enough to cure insomnia? Well then Microsoft’s new “Artistic Effects” feature is right for you! Artistic Effects lets you take a picture like this:

And in a few seconds you can turn it into this!

Sweet. Want to do this yourself? Just select your picture, got to Format>Artistic Effects. It should bring down a little box and let you choose from tons of effects!

5. Brightness and Contrast Options

Are the pictures in your document or presentation too bright? Are they too dark? Do they need some minor corrections to make them look right or some silly tweaks to make them look awesome? Well, look no further than the Color Corrections button (Format>Color Correction)! It will give you a dropdown box showing you all the different preset tweaks that you can do and also it will give you a “Picture Correction Options” button for you to use if you want to do some advanced editing.

4. Compatibility Mode in Word

Compatibility in Office is a hassle. Because of all the new features in new versions of Office, Microsoft had to change the file type to better suit the new features. However, when you try and view older files in newer versions of Office (Especially Word and PowerPoint) the file layout may change, which causes problems. Word 2010 fixes this problem quite nicely. In the File menu, you get a button called “Compatibility Mode”. Basically, when you click it, it converts your older file type to the newest version. Great for businesses and home users alike.

3. Easy Business Information In Publisher

This is great for all you businesses out there that like to put out newsletters. Remember back in the old versions of Publisher, where inserting business cards was a pain? Well those days are over! In the new publisher, theres a button under the “Insert” tab called “Business Information”. Basically, it’s a dropdown box with tons of different styles of business information.

It looks like this

2. Design Checker in Publisher

Have you ever sent out a newsletter, then realized a few days later that there were mistakes in it? Too much spacing between the margin? Is it not optimized for commercial printing? Did you misspell a website address or a email address? Well, now you can run the “Design Checker” (Found in the File menu) which will go through your page for you and find mistakes for you. Now, you can send out the perfect newsletters anytime!

1. Email Preview in Publisher

Microsoft has done lots of people a favor by streamlining the way people send Publisher documents to each other via email. They have added a neat little button that will automatically convert your document to HTML and send it to someone. But how is that email going to look in HTML? Are there going to be formatting errors? Now, with Microsoft’s new handy “Email Preview” button, you can see what your recipient is going to see! All it does is open your page as an HTML document, inside your web browser. Simple, but effective.

Well, that’s all for this super-long article! I hope you enjoyed it! (You better have, because I spent several days writing it) Also, you may notice that I have not covered things like OneNote and Project. That’s because I don’t use those programs. If I don’t use them, then I couldn’t give an accurate view of them. So if you want to learn about those programs, you can go and find them on another site. I’m sure plenty of people use those programs and are willing to write about them.


Posted in: Microsoft, Products