Office 365 Spotlight: Office Online

Welcome back to the Office 365 Spotlight Blog series! If this is your first time here, check out our blogs on Delve, Sway, and Yammer. This week I’m diving into Office Online and how it works with the desktop version of Office.

Like all other Office 365 programs, you can access Office Online from the Office 365 portal. Instead of a single icon for Office Online there are icons for each of the individual Office programs including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

For this blog, I’ll use Word Online as an example, but Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, and OneNote Online all work the same way. 

When you select the Word Online Icon, you will see a new document screen very similar to the desktop version of Word. The left sidebar shows the recent documents I have worked on and gives me links to access them quickly. The main screen gives me all template options available for a new document. These templates are great for when you need to make special documents like flyers, calendars, or business memos. For now, I’ll choose a new blank document. 

I have created a new document that lists the programs included with Office. The layout for Word Online is nearly identical to the desktop version of Word so creating a document online feels natural. However, there are features of Word that are not available to the online version such as picture and table customization. 


You can also easily share the document with other users right from the document's toolbar. I'll share this document with a colleague so I can get a second opinion. To do this, I simply click the share button in the top right corner and input their email address into the pop-up box. Notice that I can share with multiple people, set their viewing/editing privileges, and provide a message explaining what I need them to do with the document. When I click the Share button, and email is sent it those users with a link to the document and my message. The document will also show up in their OneDrive under the Share with Me folder.


At any point I can check who has access to the document. The Shared with tab allows me to stop sharing the document with individual users or I can remove access from the document altogether. I also have the option to email users who are collaborating on this document and give them an update on the document. 


If you don't want to share the document via email, you can generate a link to the document. Don't worry, you can still choose the reading/editing privileges that the link gives the user who receives it. It is important to note that this feature is set by the company administrator so it may not be available to everyone.


I have shared this document with my colleague, Jenna, so she can add any content that I may have missed. This is where Office Online shines. The live group editing feature enables Jenna and I to edit the document together in real time. The document notifies me that Jenna is also editing the document in the top right corner and shows me where she is typing with a green icon. If another user begins to edit the document, their name will show as a different color. 

If I was editing this document on the desktop version of Word, I would need to save the changes I have made. Thankfully, I can skip this step online. Because Office Online is connected to OneDrive, your documents are automatically saved to the cloud. Desktop versions of Office programs require that you manually save a document to a specific location after you create it, but as soon as you create an online document, it save to OneDrive so you never lose your work and can access it from any device with an internet connection. 

There is one final trick in Office Online that is perhaps the most important. Most Office 365 packages come with desktop versions of Office as well as Office Online. When you have both, it is very easy to switch between the two. 

I'm happy with the content in my document, but I'll need to take my document offline so I can create a price table with customized style and cell sizes. To do this, all I need to do is click the Edit Document button in the top right corner and select Edit in Word. This will automatically launch the desktop version of Word and load my document right where I left off. 

Microsoft Office has been the go-to productivity software suite for a very long time. With the addition of automatic saves to OneDrive, access anywhere via the web, and real-time group editing, Office Online definitely proves its worth as the next evolution of productivity software.

But why take my word for it? Contact us for an Office 365 demo or learn more about Office 365 packages on our website