As a member of #WindowsChampions I receive products for review and am a compensated member of #OfficeChamps.
One of the best gifts we can give our parents is the gift of tech support. With Mother’s Day past and Father’s Day on the horizon, it’s a great time to give them some tutorials to help them become Office power users. Little lessons about the many things they can do on existing or shiny new devices with Office can help them work more efficiently, communicate more effectively, and be more confident users of any new or existing devices.
If you’re not feeling up to teaching your parents how to use technology, take a deep breath and start small! By helping your parents do any one of these nine things helps them become Office power users and you might be surprised at how quickly they catch on with a little hands on instruction!
1. Check their Office 365 subscription. It seems like such a simple thing to do but making sure their Office subscription is up to date and is best serving their needs is key! Earlier this spring Office ended support for Office 2003 and Windows XP so there’s no better time for an Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal subscription. What’s the difference? Office 365 Personal is designed for an individual, allows for one PC or Mac and one tablet to be connected to the service and will be available for $69.99 USD/year or $6.99 USD/ month. Office 365 Home is still the best subscription for households. Both subscription types still come with Skype minutes and OneDrive storage.
2. Introduce them to Office templates. For years, my mom asked me to help her create labels for her Christmas cards. For years, she’s been handwriting their home address along with the recipient’s and while I was visiting over the weekend, I showed her Office templates. Office templates features more than just templates for addresses! There are monthly meal planners, grocery list templates, budget worksheets, home maintenance schedule and task list, and even a house cleaning checklist. It’s also a great way to keep track of your workouts and help count calories. Introducing parents to helpful resources like Office templates will make them feel like they don’t have to reinvent the wheel when they get stuck.
3. Show them how to share documents with OneDrive. My parents have smartphones, tablets, and laptops but sometimes when they’re visiting us in Washington, D.C., they’re frustrated that they can’t get to documents they’ve saved on devices they’ve left in California. Documents created on a Mac or PC can be accessed on any machine or mobile device thanks to OneDrive. Having access to Office 365 documents via OneDrive is a lifesaver and allows them to access necessary documents at home, during their visit, or through their mobile device on the go.
4. Install Office Mobile on their devices to show them how to access important documents when they’re away from home. The free Office for the iPad and Office mobile for iPhone and Android devices make it easy to read, view, and present your documents. If mom and dad are Office 365 subscribers, teach them how to edit and create new documents on an iPad and show them how the content and formatting remains the same across Office on a PC, Mac, tablet, or phone! They’ll be so impressed!
5. Encourage a more paperless life with OneNote. My dad is a paper person. He loves his hard copies of important documents organized neatly in binders but since he banks online, I’m hopeful that one day he might live a more paperless life with OneNote. OneNote serves as a digital notebook that allows you to take notes anywhere on the page, add text, to-dos, pictures, files and audio recordings. He can also save important items from the web he wants to remember later, digitize anything by taking a photo thanks to Office Lens, and jot notes directly on his smartphone screen that are converted into neat typed text thanks to Inking, and even email notes directly to OneNote using the email@example.com. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the robust OneNote so pick one thing to start with and then teach one new way to use OneNote each time to nudge your parents away from a paper-filled life! There’s a free version of OneNote for every platform so even without an Office 365 subscription, it’s still possible to use OneNote anywhere and everywhere. You can install OneNote for any platform at OneNote.com.
6. Assist them in organizing their OneNote notebook. Talk to your parents about their current organizational structure for their digital files to help them come up with a way to organize their OneNote notebooks. Before they start scanning, saving, and creating notes, encourage them to make a notebook for home and another for work. Then walk them through creating tabs in each notebook for items like bills, meeting notes, home projects, travel, taxes, etc.
7. Highlight simple searching in OneNote. Maybe living a paperless life won’t be so intimidating if mom and dad know how to quickly find the things they need. You can recall anything you’ve ever put in OneNote using Instant Search in the search bar on the top right. In addition, Optical character recognition (OCR), allows OneNote to recognize text within images, so finding an image they have inserted into OneNote (by taking screen shots, clipping images from the web, or using Office Lens) will never be a problem. Office Lens is free in the Windows Phone Store and has been built in to the recent OneNote for iPad update.
8. Share tips from the Office Blog. The Office Blog is a treasure trove of updates. Encourage mom and dad to take a peek at the Office Blog from time to time or keep an eye on it and send them relevant tips that will help them become the ultimate Office Power User.
9. Watch an Office Webinar every Tuesday. Every Tuesday at Noon ET/9 am PT, Office offers 15 minute webinars about how to use Office programs. Take a look at the schedule to see the upcoming topics and become even more of a power user by watching the webinars live or viewing the archived version at your leisure as often as you’d like.
If you’re feeling like it will be impossible to teach your parents tips and tricks to become an Office power user, remember—start small! Each of the nine lessons can be further broken down into smaller, more digestible lessons and it’s always a good idea to give them a little tidbit of knowledge and give it time to settle in before teaching something new.
Images courtesy of Microsoft.