Five power tips for LibreOffice users

Once you begin to know your way around the LibreOffice suite, you can add a few advanced techniques to your repertoire. Jack Wallen offers five tips to get you started.

In a recent post, I introduced LibreOffice and shared some pointers to help ease the transition from Microsoft Office to this newly forked piece of software. After you get your bearings with these tools, you may want to expand your LibreOffice prowess and become a power user. How do you do that? You learn some advanced techniques. Here are five tricks that will get you up to power-user speed fairly quickly.

1: Use the slideshow Presenter Console

This feature will be a boon to power presenters. Most presentation modes offer the presenter the same view the audience sees. Because of this, presenters tend to rely on notes to deliver a more professional presentation. This is no longer a necessity with LibreOffice. Thanks to the Presenter Console, the presenter sees a different view from the audience. The presenter can see:

  • The current slide
  • Notes on the current slide
  • A preview of the next slide
  • The current and/or elapsed time

This feature (included as an extension of LibreOffice) will go a long way toward making your delivery as seamless and professional as possible.

2: Apply languages on the fly

Have you ever added a sentence or paragraph to your document in another language, only to have the spell-checker or thesaurus blow up when it comes across that section? That is not an issue with LibreOffice. Say you have entered a Spanish paragraph in your document. You can make LibreOffice aware that it needs to use a different dictionary for that section by highlighting the section, clicking Tools | Languages, and selecting the correct language for the paragraph. (Note: You must have that language pack installed for LibreOffice.) Now, when you use the spell checker or thesaurus, the correct dictionary will be used.

3: Don't overlook templates in Impress

If you recall, the templates included in OpenOffice Impress were less than stellar. Actually, they were less than usable. To create a professional-looking presentation in Impress, you had to either download templates or create your own. This is no longer the case, as LibreOffice includes numerous professional-quality templates. To make use of these templates, click on the New drop-down, select Presentation, choose From Template in the first window of the wizard, and then select the template you want to use. You will find templates for numerous looks and feels. And of course, you can modify these templates to suit your needs.

4: Add extensions to the pre-bundled list

When OpenOffice was installed, you might have opened up the Extension Manager only to find nothing there. LibreOffice changes that and includes a number of extensions that handle a variety of tasks. If you don't find what you're looking for, you can search and download more. To open the Extension Manager, click Tools | Extension Manager. From within the Manager, you can click Get More Extensions Online to find the extension you need. You can also add a previously downloaded extension (or an extension you've created in-house) by clicking the Add button and navigating to the location where you saved the extension.

5: Import PDFs with ease

In previous iterations of OpenOffice, the PDF import was a kludge at best. Although LibreOffice handles the importing of PDFs the same way (imports them as LibreOffice Draw documents), the results are far better. Once you have imported your PDF (you do so by using the Open dialog), you can edit text, images, and layouts by clicking and dragging (for images/layout) or double-clicking a line of text to edit. (You can edit only a single line of text at a time.) When you finish editing your PDF, don't save the document -- instead, export it as a PDF by clicking File | Export as PDF.

More tips

Obviously, this only scratches the surface of advanced tips for LibreOffice. But since this suite is "new," this set of tips will get you started. We will revisit this topic again and bring up some additional tips to satisfy every level of power user out there. If you have a favorite LibreOffice tip, share it with your fellow TechRepublic members in the discussion below.

By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....