The best new features in Office 2010

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InfoWorld's expert reveals the top 25 new features and provides free QuickStart PDF guides for each major Microsoft Office application

It's been a long time since the last Microsoft Office revision, and it can be hard to imagine what new capabilities Microsoft could possibly add to the 20-year-old suite. But Office 2010 does in fact have a lot of new capabilities to offer.

Let me show you 25 features in Office 2010 you may not know about yet -- but should.

You can also download my free set of Office 2010 QuickStart PDF guides, so you have these tips at your fingertips:

Across the Office suite

Word 2010

Download the Word 2010 QuickStart Guide

  • Insert a screenshot: Now you don't have to take a screenshot using a tool such as the Windows Snipping Tool and then paste it into your document. Instead, you can use the Insert ribbon and click Screenshot to grab an image you want to insert.
  • Crop images to a shape: You can now select an image, go to the Format contextual ribbon, and under the Crop option, choose Crop to Shape.
  • New photo-editing options: Word 2010 has a variety of new photo-editing tools that you can find by inserting a picture and selecting it, then going to the Format contextual ribbon and looking at its options, which include Remove Background and Artistic Effects.
  • Navigation pane: Locate anything in your document by going to the View ribbon, and under Show, click Navigation Pane (or press Ctrl+F). It's like the document map where you can search for text, graphics, tables, equations, and/or comments, but it's better in that you can drag and drop sections of your document to rearrange it quickly.

[ Read the InfoWorld Test Center's reviews of Office Web Apps and its picks for the best business features in Office 2010 and the best Office 2010 capabilities for remote and mobile users. ]

Excel 2010

Outlook 2010

Download the Outlook 2010 QuickStart Guide

  • Conversation view: This feature allows you to manage your email correspondence through groupings where you can condense and categorize the emails you receive. This feature can be enabled/disabled through the View ribbon under the Conversations group with a single click. You can even ignore a conversation that perhaps has become boring or irrelevant to you.
  • MailTips: Sometimes you need a little help when sending an email. For example, when you are blind-copied on a message, you often don't want to reply-all, as doing so exposes the fact that you were secretly in the loop. In Outlook 2010, if you do reply-all to a message you were blind-copied on, a MailTip appears to let you know you are about to reveal your having been in the loop. This is one example of the many helpful MailTips.
  • Social connector: Although not completely baked, this feature is excellent for keeping you connected with your SharePoint 2010 world. Ultimately, the goal is for you to see at-a-glance information about people who are emailing you. The SharePoint connection is strong in that you can view your colleagues' information (you might see a picture of the person, communication history, meetings, attachments, and activity feeds). Downloadable connectors allow you to reach out to social media sites such as Facebook for additional news about the person you've selected.
  • Quick steps: Sometimes you have an entire ritual when it comes to handling emails. Quick steps are like little macros that allow you to simplify the tasks. You can use the built-in steps located on the Home ribbon, or you can create your own. Configure these to make your common "rituals" that much easier to perform.
  • Cleanup: Sometimes your mailbox is cluttered with redundant messages. Use the new Clean Up option (located on the Home ribbon under the Delete group) to tidy the folder or conversation.

This article, "The best new features in Office 2010," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com.

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