Since its initial release in 2010, Windows Phone has generally had a reputation as the “other”. Neither iOS nor Android but something else entirely, its curious and fast user interface has led to it experiencing a slow adoption rate as consumers struggled to work out whether it is a smartphone for leisure or productivity, gaming or business. The truth is, like a desktop PC, it is all of these things and much more.
Over the months since Nokia came on board and started releasing its series of stylish Lumia phone, Windows Phone has slowly become more widely used, especially in traditional Nokia markets in the UK and mainland Europe. The result of this is that there is a huge number of Windows Phone users wandering around unaware that not only can the social network, browse the web, email, play games and enjoy music, videos and apps, they can also be productive with Microsoft Office Mobile. It ships as part of the OS, with every phone.
Below, we’ll take a look at each of the Microsoft Office Mobile 2013 apps and some of the best tips for using them successfully.
What You Will Find In Microsoft Office Mobile 2013
Microsoft Office Mobile 2013 comes with four tools:
When attachments in Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats are sent to you, they can be opened with the appropriate Windows Phone app. Should you wish to share your office files, you will need to open the main Microsoft Office Mobile hub, long-tap the file and select share…, which will then offer you a choice of email accounts to send from.
Documents can be opened, created and saved in largely the same way from app to app.Head to Office > Places to find existing files, while new Word documents and Excel spreadsheet can be opened via New. Another general tip is to use the Office apps in portrait view wherever possible. Although it is more comfortable to type in landscape mode, you’ll see less of the document and this can make using some of the formatting options tricky.
Files that you edit on your phone will be stored locally and synced to your Microsoft SkyDrive account unless you have an Office 365 account or work for a company using SharePoint. Options for SkyDrive and Office 365 are attached to the Microsoft account you have setup on your phone; to use SharePoint, open Office > Places > New and add the URL or file path for your organization’s SharePoint site, document library or folder. SharePoint will try to use any Microsoft Exchange email account that is stored on your phone, but if you don’t have one you will need to use an alternative.
Check with your local IT team for help with the location of your SharePoint site.
Word Processing On Your Smartphone
Perhaps the most widely used Microsoft Office desktop app, on Windows Phone many of your reasons for using Word might be convinced by OneNote instead. Nevertheless, this mini word processor will enable you to open, edit and create new Word documents.
Editing: to change or add to the existing text in a document, tap anywhere in the body and tap Edit in the menu.
Outline view: it’s simple to scroll through a Word document on your phone by swiping, but if you are viewing or editing a longer document, tap Outline then the appropriate option to jump ahead or back. You can also use the Find tool to jump to a word or phrase.
Add comments: when editing, tap a word to highlight it (or make a selection) and then tap Comments to add your thoughts. You’ll also need to include a username so that your comments can be attributed.
Text formatting: while editing your document, tap and select the text you wish to format, then tap the Format button to display Bold, Italic, Underline and Strikethrough, as well as resizing text. The same formatting tools are available in Excel and OneNote.
Spelling: in edit mode, tap the words highlighted with a red line to display the alternative spelling. While selected, you can also delete the word and overtype with the correct spelling if this isn’t displayed.
Editing Excel Spreadsheets
With Excel you can edit spreadsheets, make charts and even create a new workbook from the convenience of your phone.
Entering data: in your new Excel spreadsheet you can enter data by selecting a cell and tapping the formula bar at the top of the screen to activate the keyboard.
AutoSum: to quickly add-up the totals in the row or column, select the next cell and tap AutoSum. Along with Sum, you will see other options such as Average and Count. Functions can be added by tapping a cell and tapping Function.
Sort: data can be sorted easily by tapping the Sort button and choosing the column and sort type you wish to use.
Editing data and adding comments: follow the same process as in Word to edit spreadsheets and add comments.
Charts: select the data in a table and select the Chart button to choose from a list of types (column, line, pie, etc.) The resulting chart will be displayed in a second sheet, and you can switch between the table and the chart by tapping Sheets.
Viewing PowerPoint Presentations
Essentially a small-screen PowerPoint player with limited editing options, this app is really designed for those wishing to review their presentation before showing it. New presentations cannot be created.
Pin: as with any document, you create a shortcut to a presentation you will be using a lot by opening Office > Recent and long-tapping to display the context menu, where you will find Pin to Start among the options.
Navigate: there are two ways to flick through presentations, either by swiping left and right or by tapping Slides and selecting the slide you wish to view or edit. Note that in Slides view you may see previews of slide elements that are not visible when you open the full slide.
Edit text: editing in PowerPoint is largely the same as in Word, except that titles, text and images are in boxes that must be selected before editing can take place.
Add notes: tap the slide and then again in the notes area to annotate or edit an existing note. Tap Done when finished.
Make Notes With OneNote
Launched from its own tile in the app list, OneNote enables you to keep track of everything you need to remember, and can handle text, images and voice notes.
Creating and Saving OneNote: after opening, tap New to start a new OneNote document, adding a title, your notes and tapping Back twice when you’re done to save. Existing notes can be opened from the main OneNote screen.
Voice notes: while editing a note, audio can be added by tapping the microphone-shaped Audio button. Tap stop when you have finished making the recording. Listen to the note by tapping Play. You can also dictate to OneNote – hold Start, say “Note” and then your instruction, for instance “Note: don’t forget to pay the bills.”
Lists: lists are very useful and in OneNote these (like other OneNote files) can be synced and shared between a phone and your desktop computer. To create a to-do list, tap the note, then the To do button. Begin typing, pressing Enter when you have added each item in the list. Bulleted lists can be added with the List button, while you can add a Numbered list by opening the full menu. Tap Enter twice at the end of a list to end the formatting.
Pictures: photos from your Photos library can be added to OneNote documents. Tapping the Picture button in OneNote will present you with a view of the Photos hub, where you have a choice of snapping a new image via Camera or selecting an existing snap. Note that you can also add a group of photos to OneNote – from the Start screen, open Photos > Camera Roll and tap Select, choose the images you want and then use Share > OneNote to export them into the app.
There Is No Outlook Mobile
Windows Phone features a good email tool which is often referred to as Outlook – but it isn’t. It really bears no resemblance to the desktop app, and the key elements of email, calendar and contacts are all separate, distinct tools in Windows Phone.
There isn’t even a native task manager.
This doesn’t mean that you cannot be productive, but it does feel strange referring to Microsoft Office without mentioning an email tool. Thanks to this omission, of course, there are no productivity tips. See Everything You Need To Know About Emails & Windows Phone 8 for more details on using email in Windows Phone.
Compatibility: These Are Not Desktop Apps
It’s worth pointing out that as these are mobile apps, some features added using the desktop versions may not work. For instance, the mobile version of Excel doesn’t handle Pivot Tablets.
In the event that you need to edit a document, spreadsheet or presentation that features data that your phone cannot display (perhaps embedded video), the document will either fail to open or you will be blocked from saving any changes. Be aware, also, that documents saved in the old format (.DOC, .XLS, .PPT) will not open in Microsoft Office Mobile. Instead, files sent to you should be saved as .DOCX, .XLSX and .PPTX.
However, despite this, these are extremely useful apps, as functional as they need to be. I completed a portion of my recent review of the Acer Iconia W7 on my Windows Phone in Word Mobile.
Take Microsoft Office In The Palm Of Your Hand
These tools might not be the full versions, they might not offer the full set of tools and features but they are good, they’re certainly useful and in OneNote Mobile you have one of the best note-taking apps available.
Better still is the cloud support through SkyDrive, Office 365 or SharePoint, enabling you to effortlessly share documents between devices and work on and develop them wherever you might be.
This integration is excellent, and the nature of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in their portable forms means that when using a Windows Phone you will never have to wait until you get back to the office to use Office.