2023 has well and truly been the year of Generative Artificial Intelligence, triggered by the release of ChatGPT in November 2022. Not only have we seen an entire wave of AI based start-ups spring into existence, but big players like Meta and Google have also launched their own offerings.  

Without doubt though, the latest technology to make waves in the business world is Microsoft CoPilot – an AI-powered tool set to be embedded into almost every Microsoft app from Windows to PowerPoint to Dynamics CRM.  

With a surge of interest and early adopters already on board, it’s essential to understand how to prepare your business for Microsoft CoPilot to not only maximise the return on your investment, but also to avoid potentially unforeseen complications that may arise.  

What is Microsoft CoPilot?

Microsoft CoPilot is an AI-powered tool that uses machine learning to assist users in completing tasks within various Microsoft apps. It has been designed to help with a range of tasks – from writing emails and creating slides, to managing your calendar and organizing data. If you’re at all familiar with other interactive, chat-based AI tools such as ChatGPT then you will be comfortable with CoPilot. 

Why is Microsoft CoPilot Important for Businesses?

It’s fair to say that AI offers huge potential benefits for businesses of all sizes. But what specifically is the importance of Microsoft CoPilot?  

Microsoft CoPilot offers a wide range of benefits for businesses, including increased efficiency and productivity, higher quality outputs, and improved accuracy. By automating repetitive tasks and providing helpful suggestions, it can save employees time and reduce human errors.  

More importantly though, CoPilot offers a number of features that no other AI tool can match.  

Deep integration

CoPilot has been specifically designed to work seamlessly with commonly used Microsoft apps, such as Outlook and PowerPoint, meaning there is no need for users to switch between multiple platforms. Imagine opening up PowerPoint and instructing CoPilot to “Create a 10-slide deck on next year’s investment strategy.”

Access to corporate data

With CoPilot deeply embedded within the Microsoft cloud, it can have secure access to all of your existing corporate data stored not only in Microsoft 365, but other third-party cloud apps. This means that CoPilot can provide personalized responses based on your company’s own data, not just the generally available public information that other AI tools are limited to.

Privacy and security

Microsoft has always been at the forefront of privacy and security, and CoPilot is no exception. All data used by CoPilot is stored securely within the Microsoft cloud and is subject to strict privacy policies and existing security rules. CoPilot will not make your data available to anyone who does not already have access to it. 

The risks of adopting Microsoft CoPilot

While the benefits are clear, it’s important for businesses to understand and mitigate any potential risks associated with implementing Microsoft CoPilot.  Many of these risks are best-practice considerations already but are worth revisiting before considering a CoPilot deployment. 

Poor user adoption

It’s important to remember that CoPilot is an AI tool and therefore requires some level of training in order to use it effectively. Additionally, there may be a learning curve for employees as they get used to using CoPilot and may need support during this transition period. A well-planned training and change management program can help mitigate these risks.  

Data privacy

CoPilot operates within the context of the user, meaning that CoPilot will respect any security restrictions that exist around what corporate information the user can and cannot access. CoPilot will not surface information that the user would not otherwise have had access to. This does however put the onus back on the business to ensure that all data is properly restricted to only those who should have access. 

Governance & compliance

With the use of AI in businesses becoming increasingly common, it’s important for organizations to have a good understanding of how CoPilot is using their data. A governance and compliance plan should be put in place to ensure that all data used by CoPilot is compliant with existing regulations and policies.  

Preparing for Microsoft CoPilot

So, what should businesses do to prepare for the adoption of Microsoft CoPilot? There are three key issues that need to be addressed. 

Microsoft 365 Licensing

The first step is to ensure that your organization has the appropriate Microsoft 365 licenses in place to support CoPilot. CoPilot itself will require an additional per-user license that is expected to cost around $30 per month. In addition to this, CoPilot is only available for users with a Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 license. Unfortunately, at this stage the Microsoft 365 Business Premium license doesn’t appear to be supported, however there is some talk that this may change.  

Application Deployment & Adoption

CoPilot requires the latest Microsoft 365 desktop apps such as Outlook and Word, so if you don’t already have these apps deployed & in use across your organisation, you will need to address this before deploying CoPilot. Don’t forget to also consider user adoption. You can’t unlock productivity gains if no-one is using your new productivity tools.  

Equally as important is where your corporate data is stored. CoPilot is a cloud service, and your data must be in the cloud for it to be accessible. If you haven’t yet migrated your data into SharePoint, OneDrive, or some other cloud service accessible via CoPilot Plugins, you will not be able to receive the full benefit of CoPilot.  

Data Security

The power of CoPilot is in its ability to ingest your corporate data and provide intelligent, insightful responses. However, this also means that you must ensure your data is properly secured and only accessible to those who need it, lest you find information inappropriately surfaced to those who shouldn’t, but do, have access.  

Microsoft 365 is extremely good at automatically surfacing relevant and related content. This can be handy when, for example, Outlook presents you with a list of documents related to your upcoming meeting. Of course, it will only show you documents that you already have permission to access, but there-in lies the potential for problems, when documents may not have been properly secured to only those people that truly need access. 


Microsoft CoPilot offers a wealth of benefits for businesses, from increased productivity and efficiency to improved accuracy and access to personalized data. As with any new technology, there are potential risks to consider and prepare for, such as user adoption and data privacy.  

If you would like to talk about preparing your business for CoPilot, contact us today. 

The question of whether you should be backing up your Microsoft Office 365 data will often illicit passionate arguments from both sides. On one hand, you have those who argue that Microsoft 365 already has built-in backup and disaster recovery features, making an additional backup unnecessary. On the other hand, you have those who swear by Office 365 backups as a necessary precaution against potential data loss. 

But what is the truth? Is backing up your Microsoft 365 data necessary or is it all just a conspiracy by software vendors to sell you more products. The answer to that will ultimately depend on what purpose you see Microsoft 365 backups serving.  

The fact is that the Microsoft 365 platform is built from the ground up with resilience and data-integrity in mind, so many of the traditional reasons for backups, such as protecting against data corruption or system failure, are simply no longer of concern.  

In addition to that, Microsoft 365 has various features to protect against other forms of data loss, such as accidental deletions and malicious attacks (assuming of course that you have appropriate licensing). So why bother with a backup then?  

In our years of experience at Grassroots IT supporting clients with Microsoft 365, there are still several scenarios where the native data recovery capabilities can fall short, and third-party Microsoft 365 backups will shine.  

When you need to minimise Microsoft 365 licensing costs

For those clients looking to actively minimise their licensing costs by choosing a lower-end plan, third-party backup solutions can provide functionality that might otherwise be missing, such as the Litigation Hold feature found in the more complete plans. Litigation hold is an invaluable tool for eDiscovery and compliance purposes, essentially allowing you to indefinitely keep any emails or documents. In lower-end plans without this feature, deleted data will ultimately become unrecoverable after a set retention period, unless you have third-party Microsoft Office 365 backups in place.  

Another related scenario that we often face with cost-conscious clients is what to do with staff members’ Microsoft 365 data when they leave the organisation. To keep their profile fully active would require a paid license, while to archive their mailbox into a free shared mailbox would only retain their mailbox, and not data stored elsewhere, such as in OneDrive. With a third-party backup solution in place, the ex-staff member’s account can be fully deleted, safe in the knowledge that all their Microsoft 365 data has been retained within the backups.  

When you need a point-in-time snapshot of your data

While the native Microsoft 365 backups do retain previous versions of your files to allow recovery from unwanted deletions, they can only go back so far, and don’t always allow you to restore from a particular point in time very easily. External backups on the other hand, provide you with the flexibility to restore from any point in time that has been captured within your backup schedule.  

When you have compliance obligations to meet

For organisations subject to strict compliance regulations, such as those in healthcare or finance industries, having an additional layer of control over your Microsoft 365 data is non-negotiable. Microsoft 365 backups are also important for organisations looking to improve their cybersecurity posture by aligning with one of the major frameworks, such as the Essential Eight 

When data is intentionally deleted

It’s a scenario we all hope to never encounter, but the reality is that data can be intentionally deleted by disgruntled employees or external attackers. While Microsoft 365 does have a feature to recover recently deleted items, this only works if the data is still within the retention period and hasn’t been permanently deleted. Third-party backups are an essential safeguard against these types of malicious actions, ensuring that your organisation’s critical data remains safe and accessible.  

When quick & complete data recovery is a priority

As capable as the native data recovery features of Microsoft 365 are, they don’t always make it easy to rapidly restore the data that you need, nor to recover the full structure of data, such as email folder structure or SharePoint document libraries. With third-party backups, you have the peace of mind that you can quickly and easily restore large quantities of data without any hassle.  


Ultimately the decision is yours – are Microsoft 365 backups a necessity or overkill? From our perspective we see the addition of a third-party backup solution to your Microsoft 365 tenant as a wise investment. In some cases, it can provide the belt to Microsoft 365’s braces, while in other cases, without external backups, you may truly be sod-out-of-luck.  

If you would like to talk about backing up your Microsoft Office 365 data, contact us today. 

As businesses increasingly migrate to digital platforms, cybersecurity has become a non-negotiable priority. Microsoft 365 leads the way in providing robust security solutions and offers an abundance of features designed to safeguard your business data and systems – but how do you navigate the plethora of options available to ensure that you’re choosing the best security measures for your specific needs without feeling overwhelmed?  Enter Microsoft Secure Score.

Just as the name suggests, Microsoft Secure Score is a built-in tool that not only scores your security posture but also recommends actions for improvement. With Secure Score, enhancing your cybersecurity is no longer a daunting task but a series of quick, actionable wins that will strengthen your defence line further against potential threats. 

Secure Score

What is Microsoft Secure Score?

Secure Score is a free tool that comes with Microsoft 365 that analyses your organization’s security stance based on your unique use of Microsoft 365 services. It provides a numerical score, along with a detailed breakdown, of how well you are implementing the recommended security controls. Quite simply, the higher your Secure Score, the lower your risk level.  

Secure Score monitors Identity, Apps, Data, and Devices in Microsoft 365, helping you to report on the current state of your security posture, suggest improvements by providing guidance, visibility and control, and compare yourself against similar sized organisations. 

Importantly, it does not simply focus on one specific area of security in your Office 365 environment. Instead, it looks at all products available under your current licensing and providing recommended actions across multiple areas. Recommendations are presented in an easy-to-understand dashboard, grouped by product, and sorted by the impact the recommended change will have on improving the security of your Microsoft 365 environment. This approach makes it easy to focus your efforts in the right area and avoid spending unnecessary time on actions that won’t move the needle as much.  

Key features of Secure Score

Key features of include: 

Security Recommendations 

Secure Score provides actionable security recommendations tailored to an organization’s specific environment. These recommendations cover areas like identity and access management, data protection, threat detection, and more. 

Point-Based Scoring 

Each recommended security improvement comes with a point value. By implementing the recommendations, your organization can earn points and increase your Score. 

Comparison and Benchmarking 

Secure Score allows you to compare your security posture with industry benchmarks and similar organizations. This feature provides valuable insights into how well you are performing relative to your peers. 

Threat Intelligence Integration 

The tool integrates with Microsoft Threat Protection, offering real-time threat intelligence and helping you stay ahead of emerging threats. 

Historical Tracking 

The system maintains a historical record of progress, enabling you to visualize your security journey and measure improvements over time. 

Why use Microsoft Secure Score?

Microsoft Secure Score provides high impact recommendations to improve your cybersecurity posture, usually requiring little or no additional expense. Rather than requiring new and additional security services, Secure Score simply helps you to make the most of the features that you already have access to within the Microsoft 365 platform.  

Importantly, Secure Score may help you reduce your cyber-insurance premiums. With cyber-insurance becoming a vital piece of any cybersecurity strategy, many insurers are now recognising the value of Microsoft Secure Score and factoring it in when calculating insurance premiums. Improve your Secure Score and you can potentially reduce your cyber-insurance premiums.  

Not only that, but if your organisation aligns with one of the recognised cybersecurity frameworks, such as the Essential Eight, improving your Secure Score can also positively impact your alignment with your chosen framework.  

Using Microsoft Secure Score

You can find your Secure Score in the Microsoft Defender Portal. Navigating the portal is quite intuitive, allowing you to focus on the insights and recommendations provided. Importantly, each recommended action also provides details on how the action will impact your security standing, along with any potential user impact.  

Recommendations may range from reviewing an existing policy to implementing changes that may have a significant impact on users completing everyday tasks. As with all such changes, it’s important that you carefully assess the recommendation and consider the potential impact on operations.  

Secure Score 2

Reporting and Tracking with Secure Score

When embarking on a process of change, it’s important to measure and demonstrate progress over time. Thankfully the Secure Score portal provides a historical view of your organisations score over the last 90 days, showing a trend line that makes sudden changes easily visible. A list of recommended actions is also shown, showing when there was a change to each action, if points were gained or lost and allowing you to understand sudden changes in score. 

The Secure Score dashboard shows different metrics and trends, where an action may have regressed, recent decreases, points achieved, along with a comparison against similar sized organisations. Metrics and trends can be shown over 7, 30, & 90 days or using a custom date range and can be filtered based on the 4 main categories Secure Score applies against.  

Secure Score 4

Safely Implementing Changes (without the drama)

Unfortunately, there are too many stories of (easily avoided) problems being created when security changes are made without proper consideration. One story that we’ve heard too many times is when an over-enthusiastic sysadmin has enabled multi-factor authentication or conditional access policies within Microsoft 365 without properly preparing the organisation – thus effectively locking many, if not all, staff out of the system. Problems like this are easily avoided though, with appropriate forethought and planning.  

For many clients we find that an effective approach is to develop a roadmap of changes based on the Secure Score recommendations, and then progressively work through these changes over a period of weeks, reviewing improvements in their Secure Score as they go. Some changes may be quick and easy to implement, while others may require more careful management, such as technical change control and user training. By approaching this as a progressive roadmap of smaller actions you can ensure ongoing improvement while managing the risk of disruption.  

How we improved both user experience and security with secure score

Grassroots IT recently helped a mid-sized non-profit organisation that was struggling with their systems. They reported inconsistent user experience across their Tenant, no defined settings for users when accessing systems and their users didn’t trust that they could easily access Office 365. When a review was conducted of the organisation’s Secure Score, it was immediately apparent that there were problems with both Identity and Apps within their tenant.  

Utilising the recommended actions in Secure Score, Grassroots IT was able to implement multiple changes to their environment that made the user experience easier while also improving their overall security posture. Some of these changes included simplifying the user login process, enabling self-serve password recovery and using a single authentication service for apps. At the same time, multifactor authentication was enabled for all users, and appropriate policies were implemented to protect users from malicious content and emails, significantly improving their Secure Score and security posture.  

Additional Resources

Microsoft Secure Score is a powerful tool for improving the security of your Microsoft 365 environment. To learn more, speak to us today, or explore some of these additional resources.  

Microsoft Office 365 is built from the ground up to be a highly secure platform, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your own Office 365 environment is configured securely. There are numerous different ways that organisations can use Office 365, and just as many ways that it can be configured.

Ultimately the responsibility for securing your Office 365 environment, and the information and data stored in there, rests with you. Microsoft provides the platform and the means, but it’s up to you to consider your unique situation and ensure that appropriate security measures are taken.

So how do you know if your Office 365 environment is secure? Every organisation is different, and with so many ways of using and securing Office 365 there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The good news is that there are some well-established best-practices that can significantly strengthen the security of your environment.

Here are five critical questions that you need to ask about your Office 365 security to ensure that you’re properly protected.

#1. What Microsoft Office 365 plan do we use?

Let me start by saying that Microsoft has a frustrating habit of changing product names and bundles regularly, which can lead to some confusion. So, for the sake of clarity, let me share a bit of history with you.

First there were the Office 365 plans, offering a suite of products such as Word, Excel, Email and Teams. Then Microsoft added a whole new line of plans called Microsoft 365, which included all the things from Office 365, plus added a whole lot more, mainly to do with security and governance. Then more recently the Office 365 name has been retired entirely, leaving only Microsoft 365 plans to choose from. If you were using Office 365 plans before these changes happened, you will still be on those same Office 365 plans now.

It’s important to understand which Microsoft Office 365 plan you subscribe to, because not all of them have access to the better security features. For most organisations, we recommend that you subscribe to the Microsoft 365 Business Premium plan, or for some larger organisations, the enterprise level Microsoft 365 E3 or Microsoft 365 E5 plans. The important services that are included in these plans (but not the lower plans) are Azure Information Protection and Intune, both of which bring a range of security and data governance capabilities to your environment.


Review all your Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions and consider upgrading any that are not Microsoft 365 Business Premium, E3 or E5 so that you can take advantage of the better security and governance capabilities.

#2. What’s our Microsoft Secure Score?

Microsoft Secure Score is a rating of your organisation’s Microsoft 365 security posture, compiled from a range of configurations, metrics and various other data points, depending on what Microsoft 365 plan you subscribe to, and what services you use. The higher the number, the more secure you are.

In addition to a numeric score, the Secure Score dashboard will also provide actionable insights and prioritized recommendations tailored to your unique needs. By following these recommendations, you can progressively improve your Secure Score and strengthen the security posture of your Microsoft 365 environment to provide better protection for your confidential data.


Review your Secure Score and progressively implement the recommendations to improve your score.

#3. Is Multi-factor Authentication enabled on all our Microsoft 365 accounts?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an authentication method that requires a user to provide two or more verification factors to prove their identity and gain access to your Microsoft 365 environment, most often a password plus a unique code provided by a separate app.

Despite being one of the most effective cybersecurity measures you can implement in your Microsoft 365 environment, MFA is not always enabled by default or enforced across all accounts. The important point to remember is that your security is only as strong as the weakest link, so for MFA to be most effective it must be enforced on all accounts in your Microsoft 365 environment, not only some of them.


Review all accounts in your Microsoft 365 environment and enable MFA where necessary. Configure Microsoft 365 to enforce MFA on all accounts by default.

Read more: 3 reasons you need to enable Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) today

#4. Are we using dedicated Microsoft 365 admin user accounts?

Every Microsoft 365 environment has one or more “admin” user accounts. These accounts possess elevated privileges that allow them to perform sensitive tasks such as changing system settings and accessing data anywhere across the environment. These admin privileges can be seen as the “keys to the kingdom”, and if allowed to fall into the wrong hands can be exploited to cause significant damage.

User accounts used for everyday tasks such as checking email and editing work documents should never be granted such elevated admin privileges, so as to reduce any potential harm should the account be compromised. Instead, dedicated “admin” accounts should only ever be used for duties requiring elevated security privileges.

Not only does this approach reduce the risk of accidental changes or security breaches, but it also makes it easier to monitor and audit their activities, improving accountability and traceability of any suspicious actions taken within your Microsoft 365 environment.


Review all user accounts in your Microsoft 365 environment for elevated admin privileges and remove such privileges in favor of dedicated admin accounts.

#5. How are we monitoring for suspicious activity within Microsoft 365?

Even with a well secured Microsoft 365 environment, ongoing monitoring and alerting of unusual activity is important for the prevention of a full-blown security incident. Monitoring can help identify a range of suspicious activities, such as multiple failed login attempts, unusual data access or transfers, and changes in user permissions. These could be signs of a brute force attack, data breach, or insider threat.

Moreover, monitoring isn’t just about detection, it’s also about response. When you spot suspicious activity, you can quickly investigate, take corrective action, and learn from the incident to strengthen your defenses.


Ensure monitoring is configured within your Microsoft 365 environment, and alerts are sent to the most appropriate person to take action as required.

Microsoft 365 is a highly secure platform, but that doesn’t mean that your organisation’s Microsoft 365 environment is secure by default. Microsoft provides the means, but ultimately, it’s up to you to ensure that your environment is secured appropriately, and that starts with asking the right questions.

If you have questions about your Microsoft 365 security, Grassroots IT can help. Speak with us today.

How the app can connect your staff and share ideas

Microsoft Office 365 is designed from the ground up to enable seamless collaboration and encourage greater team communication. With this philosophy built into every app, it’s not surprising that there is some crossover between what each app can be used for.

Yammer, SharePoint, and Teams can all be used to improve office communication, each adding different value to the process. Here are 5 ideas for how you can use Yammer to connect staff and share ideas.

1) Share videos of internal training & project handovers

At Grassroots IT we frequently run internal training sessions. These sessions are normally hosted by one of our team who has a particular expertise, or body of knowledge that we want to share with others.

Recent examples include a refresher session for our helpdesk staff on best practice for managing tickets; an introduction to Privileged Identity Management; and a project handover from our project team to the support team, training them on what they need to know to support a new Azure implementation.

Yammer 1

Because our team works across multiple locations, these sessions are always held online via a Teams video call, making them super easy to record. These recordings are then stored in Microsoft Stream and shared in a Yammer post.

With the video available in Yammer, staff who were unable to attend the live session can still join the discussion afterwards, raising any further questions or comments that they may have. Stream also offers the additional benefit of automatic transcription of the audio, providing an easy way to search the video for any particular references.

2) Encourage experts to share their knowledge via Yammer

Every organisation has its subject matter experts. These champions have a particular passion for a topic and enjoy digging deeper and learning all they can. Yammer provides the perfect platform for these experts to share their unique knowledge with the broader team. It helps not only to educate others, but also to celebrate their own contribution to professional development.

Yammer 2

In the complex and fast moving world of IT we find posts such as this Weekly Learning Post on the Microsoft Power Platform particularly useful for encouraging learning and further discussion.

3) Use Yammer to explore ideas together

It’s often said that two heads are better than one. So if you have a team full of people with diverse and valuable experience, why wouldn’t you use that resource for exploring ideas? Yammer is the perfect platform for encouraging the sharing of ideas across the broader team in an asynchronous way.

Yammer 3

One recent example was when a client wanted greater control of their internal cost allocation of Microsoft 365 licensing. This isn’t something that Microsoft 365 could help with out of the box, but with some collaborative ideation we were able to design a solution that met their needs.

4) Keep staff connected with business leaders

Keeping staff connected across all levels of the organisation can offer significant benefits. It’s particularly important as staff numbers grow, and the risk of communication breakdown increases.

Yammer 4

Yammer offers business leaders the ideal platform for keeping staff informed about business performance and strategy, and inviting questions and discussion.

5) Have some fun!

Who says work shouldn’t be fun, right? It’s fascinating to learn more about what our team do with their time. Recently via Yammer we’ve discovered that James grows chilies, David recently completed the trek of a lifetime, and Michael’s mad keen on footy tipping.

Yammer 5

Find out more about improving office communication

If you’d like to know more about how you can use Yammer to connect your staff and better share ideas, contact us today. 

Manoeuvre your Windows PC with just your voice

When Pam (a busy property manager) broke her wrist roller skating over the weekend, she thought she wouldn’t be able to get back to work at the real estate agency until she got her plaster off.

However what Pam didn’t realise is that Microsoft has some pretty nifty dictation features built into Windows and the Office 365 suite which had her back in action sooner than she expected.

Yes. You can do this with Windows’ dictation feature that uses speech recognition.

This is a speech-to-text tool that provides accessibility to its users and, conveniently, it’s already built in to Windows so you won’t have to install new programs for it to work. Microsoft envisions this tool will support users that are looking for a more accessible alternative to traditional typing.

We don’t want an unfortunate roller skating incident to keep you from getting work done on your PC or mobile device. Here’s how to activate and start using the dictate feature in Windows and Office 365.

First, you need to make sure that Speech Recognition is enabled on your PC. You can do that by looking up ‘Turn On Speech Recognition’ from your Windows search bar. This will take you to the Speech settings window.

Speech Recognition 1

From Speech Settings, see that the toggle marked Turn on Speech Recognition is set to On. If not, click the toggle to turn it on and a speech recognition widget will appear.

2 Windows Settings

Now, you can try using speech-to-text dictation on several apps.

Please note that you need to be connected to the internet to be able to use dictation because it is part of the Azure Cognitive Services. This means that this tool uses utterance from users to further improve the dictation experience.

On a Windows machine, you can utilise Cortana (like Siri on Mac and mobile devices) as your digital assistant to do things such as opening apps, setting reminders and writing emails.

To start dictation, select a program you generate text in (like a Microsoft Word document or an email in Outlook). You can then easily use the hotkey Win+H (Windows icon key then ‘H’) on your keyboard to open the dictate toolbar. You’ll then hear a beep and text on the toolbar saying ‘Listening…’ which means that your dictation service has started.

There are a couple of other ways to activate dictation depending on the app or device you are on.

On Desktop Office Apps

The dictation feature is most useful in the following Office applications where its main focus is generating text:

  • Word
  • OneNote
  • Outlook
  • Powerpoint

(Less helpful in apps like Excel, for obvious reasons).

In Microsoft Word, you can find the Dictate button from the Home ribbon.

3 Dictation Tool Button

You can click on the arrow down button to show a drop down menu. It offers various language options for you to choose from.

4 Language List

Here’s a short tutorial video to help you navigate the Dictate button on Microsoft Word:

Unlike Word that has a dedicated button for the Dictate feature, the other Office applications mentioned above may need the use of the hot key Win+H for dictation to start. There are also restrictions to the capacity of the dictate tool to respond to certain commands in other Office applications. 

In 25 August, 2020, Microsoft announced a new feature called Transcribe in Word which allows you to record or upload audio of conversations and have it automatically transcribed into a Word document. This feature enables users to proactively participate in an oral discussion without the worry of missing out on notes.

The Transcribe feature supports various audio file types like .mp3, .wav, .m4a or .mp4. For now, Transcribe for Word is available at no extra cost using the web version of Word in all Microsoft 365 subscriptions but you can look forward to using it in your Office mobile in the coming months.

On Mobile Office Apps

If you’re using the Office app on your mobile phone, tablet, or touch screen device, you can select Documents from the main menu and then choose to Dictate in Word.

5 Mobile App 1
6 Mobile App 2
7 Mobile App 3

The Help & Support feature within the Office app can provide more tips on voice commands to ensure your dictation experience is more smooth.

8 Mobile App 4
9 Mobile App 5

What commands can I use?

Since the dictation service is part of the Azure Cognitive Services, it is continually improving and expanding its command knowledge. We can list down some of the most common commands you can use using the dictation tool but keep in mind that this list will continue to grow as more people use the tool.

To do this… Try saying…
Clear section Clear selection or unselect that
Delete the most recent dictation result or currently selected text Delete that; strike that
Delete text, such as the current word Delete [word]
Enter one of the following keys: Tab, Enter, End, Home, Page up, Page down, Backspace, Delete Tap Enter; press Backspace
Select a specific word or phrase Select [word]
Turn spelling mode on and off Start spelling; stop spelling

Although dictation can support multiple languages, it can only dictate basic words, symbols, letters, and numbers in seven other languages besides English. The dictation commands mentioned above are available in English only.

To know more about dictation commands, Microsoft has a document source page to help you.

It is believed that our brains work with ideas faster when we speak than when we write or type words. Therefore, this dictation tool opens a potential for better productivity and faster thought process for its users. But keep in mind that there are still windows for error on this one. Like on formatting and grammar.

 Although it is continually improving to provide a more accurate dictation service, the tool still does listen to what you say and translate it to text as it is without the punctuations you mean to put in between words (unless you say a command to add in the formatting). You can say ‘period’ at the end of your sentence to add a period or ‘comma’ to separate words with a comma and so on.

Take note also that the words may look a bit dodgy at first as you speak but be patient as the dictation tool will often automatically fix those when you finish speaking.

Dictation is a powerful tool that provides greater accessibility for users who are experiencing difficulty in using keyboards or other typing tools. So next time you have a rollerskating accident, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll be back typing (using your voice) before you know it.

It’s promising what else the dictation tool may provide in the future as it improves to have better accuracy and a wider array of languages to support with its machine learning capabilities.

Tips for installing Word and Excel

A lot of Microsoft Office 365 plans include what’s called Desktop Licensing. This is the bit that lets you install the Microsoft Office applications such as Word and Excel on your computer. In this post we show you how to install Office 365 on your computer.

1. Sign in with your work or school account at https://portal.office.com/OLS/MySoftware.aspx.

Note: If you don’t see Office listed, your plan probably doesn’t include Office applications. If you know your plan includes Office, you may not have a license assigned. See What Office 365 product or license do I have? If Office is not listed, ask your Office 365 administrator to assign a license to you.

2. On the Office page, set-up which version of Office 2019 you want to install. By default, the 64-bit version is selected. You can change this by clicking on the drop-down box under Version.

Install O365

IMPORTANT: The process that installs Office 2019 also uninstalls all Office 2016 products. If you previously have the 32-bit version of Office installed, you should first uninstall this version before upgrading to the 64-bit version.

If you’re not sure which version you currently use, have a look at What version of Office am I using? or if you’d like to know which version you should install, read on Choose between the 64-bit or 32-bit version of Office.

3. Select a preferred Language from the drop down list under Language.

Install O365 Lang
  1. Select Install.
  2. Depending on your browser, go to the install pop-up that appears then click:
  • Run (in Internet Explorer)
  • Setup (in Chrome) or;
  • Save File (in Firefox)

NOTE: If you’re using Edge, first click Save, and then click Run.


If you see the User Account Control prompt that says, “Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?” Click Yes.

6. The install begins…


7. Your installation of Microsoft Office 365 is finished when you see the phrase, “You’re all set! Office is installed now”and an animation plays to show you where to find your Office applications on your computer. Follow the instructions in the window.
For example Click Start > All Appsto see where your apps are, and select Close.

66 Office

8. Start using an Office application right away by opening any app such as Word or Excel. In most cases, Office is activated once you start an application and after you agree to the License terms agreement by clicking Accept.


Now you’re ready to use Office 365!

A quick recap of the steps for installing Office 365

  1. Sign in with your work or school account.
  2. On the Office page, set-up which version of Office 2019 you want to install.
  3. Select a preferred Language.
  4. Select Install.
  5. Depending on your browser, go to the install pop-up that appears.
  6. The install begins…
  7. Your installation of Microsoft Office 365 is finished when you see the phrase, “You’re all set! Office is installed now”
  8. Start using an Office application right away by opening any app such as Word or Excel.

If you’re curious as to how other successful businesses utilise the Office 365 suite to the best of their advantage, you can head to one of our free webinars by clicking here or if you’re looking for new features and new ways to work your way around your freshly installed Office 365, click here.

Right when you need professional assistance in your Office 365 journey, we’d be glad to be there and help! Just reach out to us and let’s talk about how you can make the most out of your Office 365.

Are you ready to get solutions that drive positive change to your business? Reach out to us to know more about how we can build these solutions together.

There is one app on my iPhone that I now simply cannot live without. The app is called Office Lens and it is available for free at the Apple App Store and for your Android phone on Google Play.

In a nutshell, the Office Lens app is a portable scanner in your pocket. Now, these kinds of apps aren’t new. You have Evernote, Scanbot and no doubt a variety of other flavours available to you on your Smartphone but where Office Lens shines is in its tight integration with the Office 365 suite.

If you are rocking Office 365, odds are that you already enjoy the mobility and agility of access to all your documents and productivity applications from anywhere on your phone. Here is another tool in your toolbox to get the most out of the modern workplace.

Practical uses of Office Lens

Here are just some of the ways that I have personally used Office Lens in the past few weeks:

  • At presentations:

I have been fortunate to attend some fascinating road shows hosted by cloud companies who are making fantastic presentations up on the big screen. Problem is, you’re often seated at a weird angle off to the side, right?  You will see people snapping pics of the big screen at these kind of events, which is a great way of capturing the information. But, if you are using Office Lens, the image will automatically identify, keystone (correct the angle of the image for ease of viewing) and save with an optimised image where you can store it away in a OneNote file to annotate and comment so that you can more easily document and retain all of the cool stories on display.

  • When collecting business cards:

Collected a pile of business cards at that networking event?  Snap them in Office Lens and the app will automatically identify the printed text with optical character recognition (OCR) and generate contacts that you can add right into your phone. Handy.

  • When documenting receipts:

When compiling expenses, having to dig out all those paper receipts can be tedious. Instead of being monopolising the office scanner in a scanning marathon, Office Lens enables you to snap a photo with your phone at the time. Office Lens will automatically crop, enhance and clean up the image and export it to your OneDrive as a PDF document ready to attach to your expense claim. Job done.

Sounds good, right? But how do you do it?

How-to Steps

  1. Install Office Lens on your device. Run the app, then give it permission to access your camera.
  2. The default view is a camera viewfinder. You can select from “Business Card”, “Document”, “Whiteboard” or “Photo” then point the phone at whatever you are wanting to capture.
  3. For Documents or Whiteboards, you’ll see the app attempt to frame the object by detecting the corners. Once it is framed to your satisfaction, snap it.
  4. The app will present you with a preview and give you the option to perfect the layout, be it cropping or rotating the image.
  5. You will be presented with a list of destinations for the image. This is where Lens comes into its own. You can save as: an image to your Photo Gallery, as a PDF to your OneDrive (perfect for those expense reports), to OneNote (perfect for saving presentation slides where you can annotate and comment) and you can even save directly to a Word document or PowerPoint Presentation.
  6. If you are working through multiple slides, or receipts, go ahead and append on the next one.

Have you given Office Lens a run yet? I’d love to hear how you are using it in your business.

4 tips for avoiding an embarrassing mistake

Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling as you realise you have accidentally sent an email to the wrong person?  

If you are lucky, it could just be an embarrassing blip on your day, but there is the potential for some very real damage. There is the occasional story on the news, for example the story about the insurance company that accidentally sent out an email dismissing its entire workforce, instead of just firing “Terry from Accounts.”

So yes, sending an email to the wrong person or group can be embarrassing. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to prevent such disasters.

Measure 1: Use Common Sense

Yes. There are measures that you can take to avoid the embarrassing debacle but regardless of the technology, just like it is with cybersecurity the first line of defence should always be you. 

In all cases, you should read the “To”“CC” and “BCC” fields before you click on that Send button. Check what attachments are in the email and give the content in the body a once over. In fact, maybe write the email first and THEN add the addresses carefully at the end. And then double check that you’ve selected the correct email addresses.  

Beware of that ever so helpful feature in Outlook where it autocompletes the address! I was once injected into a river of emails between the management team of a retailer containing discussions about stuff that I really had no business knowing after an employee had unwittingly rapped out “Gary” on their Address field. Even after advising them, I continued to receive emails for some time.  

 Always proof read your emails. 

Measure 2: Delay Sending your emails

A very wise manager I once worked with had an excellent tactic to protect himself against the risk of the wayward email. He would set a rule in his Outlook to delay the transmission of his emails and allow himself some time to review and reflect before he pulled the trigger.  

It’s not hard to do, and it can help you from some potential bad news be it an email launched into the wrong inbox, or an email to the right inbox that was banged out in haste.  

Let’s guide you through how to do it, step-by-step. 

How to set a rule to delay emails 

1. While composing your message on Outlook, go over the Ribbon and click on the Options 

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2. Under the Options tab, click Delay Delivery

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3. A new window will appear with the delivery properties of your message. You’ll want to go over to the Delivery Option section 

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4. Under Delivery Options, pick a date from the date picker of until when you want to delay your email delivery 

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5. After choosing a day on when your email will be delivered, pick a specific time to send it out 

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6. Close the window by clicking the Close button on the lower right part 

Measure 3: Recall the Message

So, you have checked and double checked, and your email is sitting there in the ‘Sent’ tray.  

You can try to recall the message from the recipients by using the Recall This Message feature in Microsoft Outlook. This lets you recall, replace or delete the messages sent.  

The success or failure of a message being recalled depends largely on their mail system and settings and whether they want to let you recall it, which is probably the single best reason why this method is probably not the best one to use. There’s also the fact that recalling a message will generally inform the recipient that the email exists and highlight the fact that you want to recall it.  

You can think of it like stopping a bullet in flight.  This is one of your last resorts. 

How to recall an email using Outlook

1. From your Sent Items folder, double click the email you’d like to recall.

2. Click on the Actions icon

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3. From the Drop-down menu, click on Recall This Message

4. A dialog box would then appear to confirm how you want to recall your email

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5. You can choose whether you’d like to receive notifications about your recall and track its activity.

6. Close the dialog box by clicking Ok

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7. If you chose to get a notification, you should get an email confirming that the recall process was a success. It should look like this:


Measure 4: Disclaimer

Email disclaimers inform recipients about what they can and cannot do with the emails sent from your organisation. In fact, in North America and Europe having an email disclaimer is now a legal requirement, in Australia it’s simply a matter of good sense. 

For sensitive emails, it’s advisable to include a message that states for whom the message is intended and that sharing the content is strictly forbidden.  For wayward emails to the random public, a humble request to inform the sender in case the message was intended for someone else will often work.

Here at Grassroots IT we use an excellent tool called Exclaimer! for helping to manage and control the email signatures. It means that we can have a consistent branding for all our email communications and focus on what we like to do, which is to help you do your best work possible through the best possible use of technology. It also means that we can add in and adjust information like disclaimers whenever we need to.

Recalling emails in Outlook is possible, but we recommend it as a last resort. Check, check and recheck before you send – especially if the topic is a bit controversial or includes highly private and confidential information.

For most of us, the goal of achieving Inbox Zero (“a rigorous approach to inbox management, aimed at keeping the inbox empty”) is not an easy task to work on. It’s just a lot to have to go through tons of emails from who-knows-when with the goal of clearing up unwanted emails from your Outlook Inbox then, as soon as you finish halfway through your emails, you start to realise that newer ones are replacing those that you have just removed. So what the heck is the point?

Well, what if I tell you that there’s a way to reduce the amount of redundant emails sitting around your Inbox?

Enter, Microsoft Outlook. There is a feature within Outlook called Conversation Clean Up that helps in clearing out unwanted emails by evaluating the contents of your email conversations. From there, it eliminates any emails with redundant content from previous conversations.

“What the what?!” You might think. Here, let’s go through it in more detail

What is a Conversation?

Does an “email thread” ring a bell? Well that is the quickest definition of an Outlook Conversation. “A Conversation is the complete set of email messages from the first message through all responses. The messages of a Conversation have the same subject.” (source: support.office.com)

Here’s an example, If I send an email to you, then you send me a response with MY original email still attached to YOUR reply then that, my friend, is a Conversation. Here’s a sample image to draw a clearer picture:

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How do I Use Conversation Clean Up?

This tool is most helpful with your emails that contains a lot of ping-pong responses, especially those with many recipients. Now, how do you utilise this cool Outlook feature?

“I’d like to remove redundant email messages.”

1. Open your Outlook desktop app.

2. Find one of your emails or email folder that has a lot of back and forth responses, open it.

3. Go to the Home tab.

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4. From the Home tab ribbon, find the Delete group.

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5. Click on Clean Up (a drop down list will appear).

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You can select one of the options from the drop-down list:

  • Clean Up Conversation.

This is the option for when you want your current Conversation be reviewed, and redundant messages be deleted.

  • Clean Up Folder.

This option allows you to have all email messages in your selected folder be reviewed, and redundant messages be deleted.

  • Clean Up Folders and Subfolders.

This will allow you to have all email messages in your selected folder and its subfolders be reviewed, and redundant messages be deleted.

Will the cleaned-up emails be permanently deleted?

Not entirely. Once you’ve enabled the Conversation Clean Up on one of your emails, email folders and subfolders, detected redundant messages will be moved to your Deleted folder and not eradicated permanently. If you wish to recover some of the most recently removed emails, you could head to the Deleted folder to find them (although we don’t recommend using your Deleted folder as a storage option!). But remember that the redundant information should still be located in the email you are keeping, that hasn’t been ‘cleaned up.’ 

You can also set an exception for emails that you do not want to be moved out of your main Inbox. You can find more details on how you can customize your options in one of Microsoft’s support docos available on their page.

Here are some bonus tips on how you can achieve Inbox Zero:

There are more ways than one for you to strategize your way to Inbox Zero without having to sacrifice loads of your precious time. Here are a few handy tips:

  1. Always remember that our time is very important.

This may sound cliched but, “Time is Gold.” Especially if you’re running a business, you can’t afford to use up a day or give it an hour just to sort out your overflowing inbox to eliminate the unwanted ones. Ideally, if you make deleting (and unsubscribing from promotional emails you no longer read) a regular habit, it’s less likely you’ll need to deal with tons of emails when you next face your inbox.

  1. Lose your attachment to ‘attachments.’

Do you feel guilty and anxious when asked to get rid of an old email you’re afraid you might need someday because it has a file attached? Just download all the files and links from emails that you find important so they are safely retained, then delete the email. Magic.

  1. Utilise your Outlook tools.

Besides the Conversation Clean Up Tool, there are a lot of tools in Outlook that can help you clean and organise your inbox. You just have to start exploring your Outlook ribbon or head to the handy Outlook help website for more ideas. Or seek for the assistance of your trusted IT partner who can give you pointers on where to find the handy tools. 

  1. Take out the trash right away.

Like your rubbish at home, you wouldn’t want to keep it hidden under the sink for too long. Once you’ve read an email that can be deleted or you’ve finished a conversation, make sure to get rid of it right away to prevent it from being buried under newer emails that will later on make it harder to find. 

Inbox Zero can be a lofty goal, but not unachievable. A daily habit of action to remove unwanted emails and the use of handy tools like Conversation Clean Up can help you keep on top of inbox clutter.

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