Note: This article is also available as a download.

The Office section of the Microsoft Downloads Center contains 1,912 items,
at last check, including all manner of service packs, security updates,
converters, viewers–and some surprisingly useful add-ins. It’s definitely worth
a spin through the collection to look for tools that could help you fill some
feature gaps. Here are 10 add-ins to get you started.

#1: Read in
Microsoft Reader 1.1.3

In lets you turn Word documents into eBooks that can be read using Microsoft Reader.
The eBook format offers a book-like display with onscreen features such as
text-to-speech and library storage. Converting a Word document involves
clicking a button to access the options shown in Figure A. Once you’ve made the
necessary specifications, Read In will create an eBook file and place it in
your My Library folder.

Figure A

Works with:

  • Word 2000/2002/2003

Microsoft recommends that you install
Microsoft Reader
to obtain full functionality from the eBooks you

#2: Project Report Presentation

If you spend a lot of time reporting on project issues, conducting meetings to
communicate project objectives or changes with stakeholders, and/or debriefing
management and staff on project status and what’s needed for successful
completion, you should definitely check out this unassuming little tool.

Once you install it, you can open a project and click Create Report Presentation on
the Project Report Presentation toolbar. Specify the tasks and fields you want
to include (Figure B) and the tool will build a new presentation with a tasks summary
table that shows the status of project tasks (e.g., Start, Finish, % Complete).
Along with the task summary, the presentation consists of slides for the title,
introduction, agenda, overview, outstanding risks and issues, budget, schedule
and scope, acceptance review, and next steps.

Figure B


  • Project 2003
  • PowerPoint 2003

#3: International Characters Toolbar

This is a simple tool but it has big timesaving potential if you frequently enter
special symbols or foreign characters into your documents. It’s one toolbar
with 26 language options (each of which is its own toolbar) so you can just
click to enter the character you need. The Most Recently Used toolbar stores
your more common selections, and you can create additional toolbars and put
your own special characters on them. Microsoft touts this tool as being
particularly convenient because you don’t have to change any keyboard or
language settings.


  • Outlook 2003 (if you have Word 2003 set as your
    e-mail editor)
  • PowerPoint 2003
  • Word 2003

#4: Word Redaction

If you’re looking for a simple but effective way to mask portions of text in a
document before allowing others to view it, the Redaction tool might be worth
checking into. It’s the online analog to taking a big black marker and
obscuring text passages on printed copy. The Redaction tool bookmarks text
you’ve selected and then adds gray shading to show you what you’re about to
redact. Click Redact Document, and it creates a new document with your
selection blacked out. The tool will prompt you to protect the new document.
When you click Yes, you’ll have a redacted document that is password-protected
against any changes.


  • Word 2003

#5: Learning Essentials for Microsoft Office

Learning Essentials comes in two flavors: one for students (shown in Figure C) and one for teachers. Both versions include Office-integrated sets of templates, tools, and tutorials, along with supporting information and
links to resources designed to help students work through their school assignments and to help teachers put together effective lessons and handle administrative tasks. More impressive still, you can download the Content Development Kit and use it to build your
own project-based teaching tools.

Figure C

Works with:

  • Word 2002/2003
  • Excel 2002/2003
  • PowerPoint 2002/2003

#6: MSN Money Stock Quotes

Here’s a handy little tool for keeping your finger on the pulse of your favorite
stocks. It’s an Excel add-in that makes it easy to retrieve dynamic stock info
from the MSN Money Web site. You can enter the stock symbols of interest
into a worksheet and create a named range from those entries. Then, just launch
the tool and specify the range or enter any stock symbol you want to look up (Figure D).
Choose the information you want to retrieve and where you want to insert it.
Click OK and the tool will insert the specified data in your worksheet. The
tool also inserts stock symbols as smart tags, offering a variety of options as
shown in the Figure E.

Figure D

Figure E

You can click Update Stocks on the MSN Money Central Stock
Quotes toolbar to get the latest information. (You have to wait at least five
minutes before updating the information.)


  • Excel 2002/2003

#7: Outlook 2003 Add-in: Video E-mail

If you have a Web camera, you can use this tool to quickly record and send a
little video e-mail. Just make sure your camera is connected, click the Video
Message button, and click Record. You can stop the recording manually or set
the timer to 5, 10, or 15 seconds. Click Insert Video To Email and then send
the message as you normally would. If Word is your e-mail editor, the video
will be sent as an attachment. Otherwise, it will be send in the body of the


  • Outlook 2003

#8: Remove Hidden Data

The Remove Hidden Data tool lets you eliminate hidden data, such as comments,
tracked changes, and various types of metadata, from your Office files. You can
run the tool on individual files or on multiple files from the command line. Figure F shows the Remove Hidden Data dialog box.

Figure F

The tool removes these types of data:

  • Comments
  • Previous authors and editors
  • User name
  • Personal summary information
  • Revision marks
  • Deleted text
  • Versions
  • VB macros (descriptions and comments are removed from the modules)
  • Document ID number
  • Routing slips
  • E-mail headers
  • Scenario comments
  • Unique identifiers (Office 97 documents)

Works with:

  • Excel 2002/2003
  • PowerPoint 2002/2003
  • Word 2002/2003

#9: Outlook 2003 Add-in: Personal Folders Backup

This add-in turns .PST backups into a regular routine, prompting you at periodic
intervals to make sure your Outlook folders are backed up. You specify the
folders you want to back up and the interval using the Backup Options dialog
box (Figure G). This article offers instructions for using the tool.

Figure G


  • Outlook 2000/2002/2003

#10: Microsoft Producer for Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003

Producer lets you put together rich media presentations, capturing and synchronizing
audio, video, slides, and images. Figure H shows the Producer interface.

Figure H

After you create and preview a Producer
presentation, you can publish it so that it can be viewed in a browser. other things, Producer lets you:

  • Import a variety of audio and video formats,
    images, and HTML
  • Capture and integrate live audio and video
  • Automate PowerPoint slide conversion
  • Use PowerPoint slide timings and animations
  • Synchronize audio and video with slides and
    still images to create rich-media presentations
  • Select various video effects and transitions
  • Define sections in your presentation by using a
    table of contents
  • Share your presentation on a corporate intranet,
    on the Web, or by CD
  • Create a project archive by using the Pack and
    Go Wizard
  • Integrate your presentation in a FrontPage Web

For more details, check out the Producer product overview page.

Works with:

  • PowerPoint 2002/2003