iUse Microsoft Office on My iPad®

– By Jeff Richardson

A frequent presenter at ABA TECHSHOW, Jeff Richardson is a partner in the New Orleans office of Adams and Reese LLP, where his practice primarily involves representing defendants in class action and complex litigation, appellate litigation and products liability litigation. He practices law in Louisiana and Florida. Mr. Richardson is also the publisher of iPhone J.D., the oldest and largest website devoted to the use of iPhones and iPads by attorneys. Mr. Richardson graduated from Emory University in 1991, summa cum laude, and Georgetown University Law Center in 1994, magna cum laude.

This post is excerpted and adapted from the materials he prepared for his ABA TECHSHOW 2015 session “iUse Microsoft Office on My iPad®”.

Attorneys have been using iPhones and iPads since the very first models were introduced in 2007 and 2010. For many years, the #1 requested app for attorneys was Microsoft Word … and I have to admit, I didn’t think that Microsoft would ever create a version of Word for iOS.

All of that changed during ABA TECHSHOW 2014 when, on March 27, 2014, Microsoft released Microsoft Word for iPad, along with Excel and PowerPoint for iPad. The first version of the app was missing a few obvious features, such as the ability to print, but was surprisingly full-featured for a 1.0 version of the app. For example, it included the ability to view and create track changes (redline edits), which is so important for attorneys. Better yet, Microsoft has updated the app every few months since then, adding support for the iPhone on November 6, 2014. And then, in January of 2015, Microsoft added one more app to its Office suite for iOS: Outlook.

This session at ABATECHSHOW 2015 will focus on just two of those apps:

  • Word
  • Outlook

This post just scratches the surface of the tips and strategies the session will include.


Importing Documents Into Word for iOS

Unless you are starting a new document from scratch, the first step is to get a Word document into the Word app. Importing documents from another app is fairly easy because you can use the standard iOS Open in… function. For example, if someone emails you a Word document, you can simply hold your finger down on the Word document icon for a second or two, then when the Open in… selection appears you can simply select Word.

Export to PDF

On July 31, 2014, Microsoft released version 1.1 of the app, which added the ability to export a Word document to PDF format. To do so, tap the Share menu button, which is the last button on the right, the one that looks like an outline of a person with a plus sign. This gives you an option to Email a document as an attachment. Select that option and you have two choices — send as a Word document, or send as a PDF document. This lets you share a document with someone else but do so in PDF format. Or you can email the document to yourself so that you have a PDF version of the document.


Outlook Advice

The Outlook app was released in January of 2015, but it is actually not a new app at all. In April of 2014, an app called Acompli debuted, a free email app with some innovative features. Microsoft acquired the app on December 1, 2014, and the new Outlook app is — for now — essentially the old Acompli app with a new name. But Microsoft promises updates in the future, and now that Microsoft owns the app, I’m sure that the app will continue to work well with Microsoft Exchange, which is used by so many offices, including law offices. Note, however, that the app doesn’t require Exchange; it also works with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and iCloud email.

I never tried the Acompli app, but the Outlook app has some nice features that do not exist in the iPhone and iPad built-in Mail app, and I’ll start by discussing those features. Note, however, that the last thing I discuss in this document is a potentially serious security concern that might cause attorneys to pause before installing this app. But let’s start with the good stuff.

Sending Attachments

The built-in Mail app has support for attachments, but it is limited support. Of course you can read and work with attachments to any email that is sent to you, but if you are initiating an email in the Mail app you cannot start typing a message and then decide that you want to add a file as an attachment, unless that file is a photo or video from your Camera roll. For example, you cannot suddenly decide to attach a Word file to an email that you are typing. Instead, you need to go to another app that can open the Word file, then use that app to create a new email with that file attached.

But in Outlook, any time that you are composing a message, you simply tap the paperclip icon to add one or more attachments to your email. You can add as attachments photos or videos from the Camera Roll (the same thing that you can do in Mail), or you can add attachments from your Dropbox, in which case the file itself is not attached but instead a link is created so that the recipient of your email can click the link to see a preview of the file on Dropbox.com and have the option to download the file.

But the feature that I think many people will like the most is the ability to attach any file that was an attachment to any of your recent emails. This is a feature that I have wanted for a very long time. It makes it easy to forward a document without having to forward an entire email. It also lets you gather attachments from multiple different emails and attach them to the email that you are composing.

Even if Outlook had no other unique features, this one feature alone would make me want to have the Outlook app on my iPhone and iPad to make it easier to add attachments to messages.

Quick Filter

Just above the list of emails, there is a button called Quick Filter. Tap that button and you have three choices: Unread, Flagged and Files. Tapping Unread will instantly show you only the unread emails in your Inbox (or whatever folder you happen to be viewing). Tapping Flagged instantly shows you flagged messages.

But the most useful one (for me) is Files. Tapping that button immediately shows you only the emails that have files attached. Sometimes I am looking at my email specifically because I want to find an email that had a file attached. It takes less than a second to tap Quick Filter and then tap Files, and suddenly I am only seeing the emails that have files attached, making it that much faster to find the email that I needed.


Speaking of files, one of my favorite buttons in Outlook is the Files button at the middle of the bottom of the screen. Tapping this button instantly shows you a list of attachments in your recent email messages, listed in order of when the email with the files was sent to you, with the most recent ones near the top.

I often open the Mail app, not because I want to find an email but instead because I just need to get a file that was attached to a recent email. This single button makes that task incredibly fast. Tap on an attachment and you see a preview of it, and you can then attach that file to a new email, save that file to a cloud service such as Dropbox or iCloud, or share the file by opening it in another app.

ABA TECHSHOW 2015 has a track devoted to iOS devices on Thursday, April 16; four sessions devoted to ways lawyers can use an iPad and/or iPhone to work more effectively when away from the office.