5 collaboration tools that enhance Microsoft Office

These apps integrate with Office 365 or Office Online and help your team work together in a variety of ways, from collaborative editing to group task management.

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Collaboration tools are everywhere in the business world, but if you and your co-workers use Microsoft Office regularly, you may want to keep your work together close to its applications. The following web apps work on their own in your browser, but they also interoperate with Microsoft Office Online or Office 365 to add collaborative features to your workflow.

Because of this, you and the people you collaborate with each need to have a Microsoft services account (such as with Outlook.com) or an Office 365 sign-in. Also, most (but not all) of the following web tools require you and the people you're collaborating with to sign up for a free account with their services.

Dropbox

Integrates with: Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online

For: Collaborative editing

Microsoft Office 2016 brought the ability to have multiple people view and edit a file at the same time to Word and PowerPoint (and, later, to Excel for Office 365 subscribers), but it works only with files stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint. If you're a Dropbox user, however, you can bring real-time collaborative-editing capabilities to Office documents stored in Dropbox. The actual editing is done through the Office Online app that's appropriate for the document in question: Word Online, Excel Online or PowerPoint Online.

If you have set a Dropbox folder to be shared with others, you and the people you've shared it with can work on any Word document, Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation stored in that folder simultaneously. Just preview the file in Dropbox and click the Open button in the upper-right corner of the Dropbox screen. From the drop-down menu that appears, select Microsoft [Word/Excel/PowerPoint] Online, and the file will open in your browser in the appropriate Office Online app. Ask your collaborators to do the same so that everyone has the document open in Office Online at the same time.

When you're collaborating with others on a document, you’ll see your name and the names of others who are working with you on it at that time at the top of the window for the Office Online app. Each person sees edits done by the others in real time. All changes are automatically saved to the file in Dropbox.

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