3 Ways To Use Office 365 To Cut Down On Email

February 2015: Microsoft Office 365 comes with super-productive ways for you to communicate with others and get rid of annoying email strings — woo-hoo!

With Office 365, the online version of Office (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and others), you get access to features similar to those in DropBox, Google Docs and social media newsfeeds without having to leave the Office environment. Check out these three ways to collaborate better, faster and without email:

Note: Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud-based suite of apps. It’s cross-platform, works with tablets and comes in different versions with different features. Also, Office 365 and Office 365 for Business work differently in some ways. Visit Office Support for details about your version.

1. Share a mailbox or use a public folder.
Working on a project or planning an event? Set up a single mailbox for lots of people to use. They can access it, monitor it and send emails from it. No need to cc everyone about everything — they can see what’s up by checking the shared mailbox. Public folders work in a similar way — like DropBox except integrated within Office so the folders appear inside Outlook. Here’s a good comparison of shared mailboxes and folders from CodeTwo.

2. Work on the same files at the same time.
No more emailing changes to documents! Or scrolling your inbox to find the latest draft. You and your collaborators can work simultaneously on the same files that are stored in your Office 365 libraries, in Windows Live OneDrive or on a server that has Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 installed. Once you each save your changes, the others will instantly see your work — you can accept the changes or not. Google Docs, on the other hand, let’s you see each person’s changes as they’re making them in real time but you must use the “See revision history” command to reject any changes.

As with the offline versions of Office, you can also use the Office 365 in-app commenting function to send feedback back and forth within the document — and without using email.

3. Use the SharePoint Newsfeed.

If you’re using Office 365 at work and your company uses Microsoft SharePoint, a collaboration platform for business, you can take advantage of the SharePoint Newsfeed. Use it instead of sending emails to a group to ask questions or share news that’s not super timely or critical — it works similarly to social media newsfeeds. And if you talk your colleagues into using it, too, you’ll stop getting so many emails that really have nothing to do with you! Each of you can just check the Newsfeed when you have time.

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