Office for Mac Now Does Real-Time Co-Authoring!

Office for Mac now lets you co-author in real time just like the online version! (Read more at Arstechnica.) To enable this functionality, update your Office apps by opening any of them, go to the Help menu, and choose Check for Updates. After updating, you will be able to open documents and change them with other people at the same time. Note that the other users ALSO need to be on the latest version if they are also using the Mac apps.

Create Fillable Forms in MS Word

If you don’t have PDF editing software like Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can still easily create fillable forms using Microsoft Word. Avita recently used this feature to create internal forms for the counseling department.

Follow these instructions from Microsoft to create your form or watch this video from a guy on YouTube.

Excel Tips

​At this week’s after school PD, we learned to use Excel to manipulate text and numbers with formulas and array formulas and look up information/fill in information automatically with VLOOKUP and LOOKUP.

For manipulating text and numbers, use these formulas:

  • CONCATENATE, CONCAT, “”&”” – combine two or more cells, strings, or numbers
  • LEFT, RIGHT, MID – take X characters from the left, middle, or right of a cell
  • UPPER, LOWER – convert a cell to upper or lower case

We also learned about these Excel features:

  • Inserting columns and rows
  • Filtering and sorting (under the Data tab) to make large spreadsheets easier to read
  • Splitting into columns by delimiter use Text to Columns, also under the data tab
  • Freeze panes to make a row and/or column always show, even when you scroll right or downHide columns/sheets
  • Filling by dragging the square in the bottom-left of a cell
  • Dollar sign use in formulas to use an absolute reference to a cell
  • When you begin typing a formula, Excel will show a pop-up explaining the syntax you need to follow

Finally, we used VLOOKUP to automatically retrieve information about students based on a key value, such as their student ID number.

Contact Matt directly to get the practice workbook.

Office for Mac Fast Insiders Enables Real-Time Co-Authoring in Desktop Apps

The desktop Office apps are more powerful than their Online counterparts, but the current release doesn’t support the real-time co-authoring that helps us collaborate. Luckily, you can opt into the “Fast Insiders” version that enables this key feature. While it’s technically an unsupported release, feedback from users so far is that it’s stable and gets rid of those “locked for editing” errors that happen when multiple users use the regular desktop apps.

Get instructions on signing up direct from Microsoft’s support site:

Student OneDrive Adoption Rates Climb

At the end of October, we noticed that many students had very few files in their OneDrive. The percentage of students with fewer than six files in their OneDrive reached as high as 66% for some grade levels. Since OneDrive use is critical for students’ abilities to create and collaborate, the English and Chinese departments collaborated with Matt K to create a 15-minute lesson on syncing with OneDrive, using the Outlook app on phones, and accessing the school calendar at

As of November 29, OneDrive use has climbed steadily due to most students using the OneDrive sync client to store and back up files from their Macbooks to OneDrive:

% of students not actively using OneDrive (have <6 files)

​Grade Oct 24​ ​Nov 29
​12 ​47% ​26%
​11 ​46% ​21%
​10 ​66% ​28%
​9 ​25% ​6%

We hope this is making it easier for students to collaborate and work productively in your classes. Thanks again to the courses and teachers in the Chinese and English departments who contributed their instructional time to make it happen!

Share OneNote student notebooks with parents

If you’re using OneNote Class Notebooks, you’ll be pleased to learn that you can mass-generate private links for parents to see the notebooks of their children:

This will let you and the students share evidence of their learning with parents without letting them change anything in the notebooks. You can use an e-mail merge to send out all those logins automatically to parents. Get step-by-step instructions straight from Microsoft:

Selective Sync with OneDrive

A great feature of the OneDrive sync client is that it lets you sync your group files to your laptop. But you may not want to sync all the files in your groups or individual ​OneDrive, for example to save hard drive space. In these cases, you can choose the folders you want to sync:

Find step-by-step instructions in the OneDrive for Mac FAQ.

Sway Your Audience with Sway

Sway is an app in Office 365 that we haven’t covered here before, but it’s worth checking out. It goes beyond Powerpoint by letting you create online presentations/websites that look great on mobile phones and computers. This means that Sway goes great with QR codes. We tried this out at the recent Student Leadership Summit, where participants used QR codes to access content in a Sway on their phones. See the Sway below for more information…


…and learn more at​​​​

Don’t Use Forms to Create Forms

Yes, the best way to create forms is to first go to your individual or group OneDrive and click the + New button, then choose Forms for Excel:

This creates an Excel workbook in your OneDrive that you can use the share the results with collaborators. You’ll notice a new Forms button in the toolbar:

If you create a Form using the Forms tile rather than by using the + New button, you won’t see it in your OneDrive and you won’t be able to share the results spreadsheet with collaborators or store it in a Group. So remember: to create forms, don’t use Forms.