In my previous post, I introduced you to the core applications of the Microsoft Office suite – Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If you installed a copy of Office (or are thinking about it) you may find it comes with a few other programs as well – such as Outlook, OneNote, Access, and Publisher.
Microsoft Outlook is what you might call a Personal Information Manager (and E-mail) program.
One of the main things people use Outlook for are e-mails, although in this day and age with the popularity of web-based e-mail like G-mail, Hotmail, or Yahoo Mail – many people don’t see the need for an e-mail program like Outlook because most webmail services now also include many of the same features … and the user isn’t limited to whatever computer he “downloaded” the messages to.
But … Outlook has some features that make it rather popular, beyond e-mail.
The Contacts function keeps not just a list of what e-mail address belongs with what person – but it also allows you to store further information – everything from pictures of the contact (so their pictures come up whenever they e-mail you) to addresses, phone numbers, birthdays and anniversaries, notes, websites, and more. Later versions of Outlook also integrate with social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn (even Twitter) so you can access some info about your “friends”, followers, or contacts that way, as well.
In the Calendar, you can keep up with your schedule or be reminded about when holidays are coming up. You can also get it to remind you when people’s birthdays are … at least if that information is in the contacts section.
There’s also a To-Do list … or, as I like to call it – The list of stuff I don’t really want to do … or The list of things I don’t have time to do. And yes, you can give your tasks deadlines, which can show up on your calendar.
Microsoft OneNote is a computerized notebook where you can keep … uh … stuff you’d put in a … uh … notebook. Like … class notes, minutes from meetings, recipes, book reports, movie reviews, or whatever else you want to put into it.
You can even share your notebooks with other people you may be collaborating with.
It also has one real neat tool – it’s easy to make screenshots. All windows users have to do is press the Windows Button and the S at the same time … and when the screen gets shaded white, draw a rectangle around whatever you want to make a screenshot of – be it the entire computer or just a small part … and you can send it to a notebook. (From the notebook, you can save it as a picture to your hard drive.)
Microsoft Access is a database program.
Databases are a lot like spreadsheets in that they keep data organized. The difference is like this: Spreadsheets are rather two dimensional – information is displayed in rows and columns and that’s about it. Databases, on the other hand, are more three dimensional – meaning you can have multiple areas that keep different types of information, and all that info can be linked.
It’s like this: If you wanted to keep a list of who has sent you Christmas Cards and Birthday Cards, you could create a spreadsheet to do that. You could include information like the date you got the card, who sent it to you, and what address it was sent from. Now … if the same person sent you a birthday card and a Christmas card – you may find yourself typing the address information in twice. But, a database works a little different because you can group different kinds of data in different areas so the list of Birthday Cards are in one area, Christmas cards are in a second, and Addresses are in a third. Therefore, you can tell the Birthday and Christmas lists to look up the info from the Addresses list so you don’t have to keep retyping stuff all over the place.
Microsoft Publisher is a Desktop Publishing program. In some ways, it’s kind of like Microsoft Word. However, while Word is more about publishing documents, many people prefer to use Publisher for more graphically dynamic stuff, like flyers, brochures, magazines, or websites. (Although it’s not very good for most websites.)
But, Wait! There’s More…
For most basic users, the above list (including the previous post) contains pretty much all the programs that make up Microsoft Office that you’ll ever need (or want) to know about. However, in corporate settings – there’s even more.
Because many businesses have complex networks where its users can interact with each other, collaborate on everything from documents to reports and presentations and a bunch of other stuff – they are going to need additional tools beyond normal network-based file sharing.
I haven’t included them here because most of them are used more by the IT Guy than the office workers sitting in their cubicles.
Many websites (and stores) do list them as being a part of Microsoft Office, so I don’t want to confuse you if you don’t see titles such as Vizio, or InfoPath being described here.