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Grow Your Business Technology

Best Microsoft Office 365 Productivity Add-Ons and Features

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undefined undefined / Getty Images

Microsoft's Office 365 comes stacked with lots of features, but your account can be further modified with various add-ons to add new capabilities. These apps can help save you time whether its making certain processes more efficient, keeping you on task or helping you communicate with team members faster. Here are our favorite Office 365 add-ons that will have you doing your best work in record time.

Even if translation isn't a daily task the ability to highlight text and automatically translate it to or from almost 50 languages is simply amazing and much simpler than cutting and pasting text into a separate app or online service. The Translator add-on relies on Microsoft's robust Translator online service for its translations. Suggested translations can easily be edited before inserting them into the document and in the case of multiple potential interpretations of a passage all versions will be displayed. 

Trying to schedule meetings can be one of the most frustrating and time consuming tasks in any office. FindTime can't automate the process completely, but it will definitely save you from endless back and forth. It first locates open spaces in all participants schedules and provides you with those options at which point you select several times and put them to a vote among the attendees. Once sufficient votes have been tallied for a specific time, the meeting is automatically scheduled.

DocuSign is one of the most popular e-signature solutions on the market. With this add-on or its Word counterpart you can securely sign a document yourself or have a recipient securely sign. You also have the option to save all signed documents automatically to Microsoft OneDrive. A 10-day free trial is available to test the service, and monthly subscriptions start at $10 per month.

Looking to dress up that report or presentation with good looking images without scouring Google for an hour? Pexels lets you easily search for professional stock photos and instantly drop them into your document. The images are all under a Creative Commons Zero license meaning that you can use them for any legal purpose without the need for attribution. Speed up the process even further by using the popular images gallery or save your favorites for future usage.

Grammarly is an unsurpassed proofreading tool that will help improve your writing, whether it's a simple email or a full-blown report. The Grammarly add-on operates in Word and Outlook to make your writing cleaner and more direct with more than 250 grammar and spelling checks, vocabulary suggestions, writing style suggestions and even a plagiarism detector. Grammarly Premium costs $11.66 a month when paid annually.

Thanks to every modern web browser, we have all grown accustomed to tabbed interfaces. Office Tab brings that familiar paradigm to Word, PowerPoint and Excel. At a basic level, the add-in allows you to open multiple files within the same window, but the functionality goes much deeper than that. Users can quickly close or save all documents with a single click or all but the currently active document. Some quick changes like renaming a document or saving to a new folder can be done by right-clicking on the documents tab in the taskbar. If you are going head down on a single document you can easily hide the taskbar with a quick keyboard shortcut and then just as quickly bring it back.

For staff workers, Microsoft offers an app that can help them schedule their shifts. This is particularly helpful for service and factory workers who often lack an office or computer, but do have a smartphone. Workers will be able to swap shifts without relying on bulletin boards and paper schedules. IT administrators can also add important documents to the app. StaffHub is available for $4 per user per month.

Built into Office 365 subscriptions is a feature called Teams. It's a hub for teams to collaborate on various Office 365 applications. Besides being an instant messenger and file sharing platform, Teams allows members to join in on documents and spreadsheets to work together and make edits while chatting and leaving notes. You also instantly set up calls and meetings from multiple devices. It offers 2GB of storage per user and 10GB of shared storage. It integrates with up to 140-plus apps and services such as Evernote and Trello. And now there is a free version for small businesses. 

This add-on for email productivity comes with several features that greatly expands Outlook's capabilities. Boomerang allows you to schedule emails to send at a later time. It also allows you to set reminders for emails when they go un-responded to so you can follow-up on them. Boomerang also makes scheduling meetings less complicated, allowing you to make the meeting and invite others with a single email.

Exclusive to Office 365 subscribers, Microsoft has a special tool that's not exactly an add-on. For those who are unable to type or prefer to dictate their writing, Microsoft has enabled Dictation. Users can dictate in nine languages, which are automatically detected for OneNote, Outlook, Word or PowerPoint. Just hit the microphone icon in the app, wait for the icon to turn red to indicate that it's listening and start talking. To insert punctuation, just say the name of the punctuation mark.

Also, not precisely an add-on, Outlook for Android has an exclusive feature you may want to try to help boost your focus and productivity. Office 365 subscribers on Android can set timed or scheduled periods of time when email and calendar notifications will be muted using the Do Not Disturb feature. To enable it, open Outlook. Tap the hamburger icon on the top left. Click the bell icon on the top right. Select the times you want to be left alone.