Office Add-Ins

Yes, Microsoft Office has more bells and whistles than you could ever ring or blow. Still, there are useful tools not in Office that you might want to add. Here are some of my favorites:

Microsoft Office Downloads: For links to a wide variety of add-ins for Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint, go to Microsoft Office's download site. Many third-party program developers offer software that increases the already significant functionality of Office apps--usually offering shortcuts to common tasks or other 'there-ought-to-be-a-way' routines (there's even a Word add-on for spell-checking Irish words). These add-ons do not work on their own and must be installed after Office is on your PC. Most offer trial periods so you can audition them. Many are free.

Woody's Office Power Pack 2003: Certainly the most indispensable Office add-on, especially for Word, is Office guru Wood Leonhard's WOPR 2003. Separate packages for each version of Office are available. WOPR offers many of the features that Microsoft should have added when it bulked up Office (but didn't) to make using the software that much simpler and quicker. For example, WOPR's Enveloper lets you print logos, graphics, and barcodes on envelopes, as well as keep customized envelopes for different scenarios such as different envelope sizes, alternating return addresses, and varying fonts. Another tool lets you look up nine-digit zip codes based on the address you just entered in a document. Other tools include a built-in image extractor and editor; a more robust image inserter than Word's InsertA?Picture command; electronic sticky notes; and a formatting toolbar that makes styling a document much quicker. WOPR costs $20 to $30, depending on the version.

File, Print, FedEx Kinko's: For road warriors or other Net-connected Office users who don't have a printer handy, FedEx's awkwardly named add-on File, Print, FedEx Kinko's will work in a pinch. It adds a virtual printer for Office. When you select it, it lets you send the print job to the Kinko's store of your choice, select your print order, and make payment choices. The download is free. Printing costs whatever your local Kinko's charges.

Outlook Add-Ons: Sperry Software offers more than 30 add-ons for Outlook. While each one offers enhanced functionality, the downside is that (except for a few packaged sets) every add-on is priced separately ($20 and up). For the time they save, however, many are worth the cost, such as the duplicate contact eliminator, the automated e-mail address adder and an app that lets you save attachments to a Windows folder in a matter of a few clicks. Auto Print automatically prints e-mail as it arrives in your inbox. And for people on the go, the Email Reminders add-on will send a message to your e-mail-capable cell phone, pager, or PDA to remind you of appointments.

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