How Great is MS Office Mix

office mixI first met Office Mix a few years ago, before I had the required Office 2013 or higher. I loved the demo I watched, cried a bit that it wouldn’t work for me, and then forgot about it. Now that I’ve upgraded to Office 365, I’m eager to use all the features that got me so excited back then.

Before I get into those, let me back up for those who have never heard of Office Mix. It’s a free PowerPoint add-on that turns your existing PowerPoint slideshow program into a fully-featured presentation tool. Using the traditional slide decks you love, you can now collect all the resources required for a presentation, webinar, or book launch into one place including video (book trailer), narration (book blurb), audio (author interview), form (sign up for the blog hop), screen captures, photo albums (images related to your book), and more. Just like with PowerPoint, you start with either a blank slide or a professional-looking template. Once the slide deck is completed, you share it via link or embed it as a slideshow or video on any device.

Because Mix uses audio and video tools to communicate ideas, users are eager to view the result making it a perfect addition to a book marketing program.

How to get started

To get started, download the add-on from the Mix website. When you open PowerPoint, Mix will appear on the toolbar, toward the right side. Click and you’ll find the features that have made Mix a new favorite digital tool with so many educators.  You can watch a collection of how-to videos, but if you’re in a hurry, Mix is intuitive enough to skip right to the “get started” step.


Because most people already use PowerPoint, this feels natural. There’s nothing tricky; in fact, it’s intuitive and easy.

I like that you can include a Discussion Board, encouraging readers to add their thoughts and react to those of others.

Mix videos can be downloaded as .mp4s making them easily used in a wide variety of places, including a YouTube channel.


Mix allows you to embed a web page into a slide, which is cool, but it only allows those with https — the designation for secure sites. I was surprised how many sites don’t include that and were, therefore, unable to be shared.

You have to have MS Office 2013 or above to run Mix. This isn’t really a “con”, more of a warning.

Writing applications

There are dozens of authentic uses for Mix in your writing. Let me share the top three mentioned to me by my community:

  1. Use the screen recording tool to capture just a portion of a longer video (from, say, YouTube) and embed that into a slide.
  2. Videos recorded using the screen recording tool can be saved as a stand-alone video and embedded wherever you need (keeping in mind appropriate copyright protections) such as your book’s website or blog.
  3. Rejuvenate slideshows you created in the past by uploading them to your 2013 or later PowerPoint and “Mix” them by adding video, screencasts, audio, whiteboards, and more.

Overall, Mix is one of the most exciting free tools from Microsoft in years. It’s one of many of the free add-ons now available through MS Office and reason enough to update to MS Office 2016.

More on Microsoft tools:

8 Ways to Use Minecraft in Your Classroom

OneNote–the all-in-one digital notetaking app

Tech Tips for Writers #100: Top Nine MS OfficeTips

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 20 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thriller series, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days.


How I use Microsoft OneNote as my writer’s notebook

In recent days I started to reap the rewards of a decision I made two years ago to utilize the Microsoft OneNote application as my writer’s notebook.  I use this software application to organize story concepts, manuscript outlines, character descriptions, dialogue snippets, and inspirational photographs for characters and settings.

Think of OneNote as an infinitely-sized, electronic version of a physical three-ring binder that contains one or more smaller-sized binders.  Within these smaller-sized binders you can insert and re-arrange single loose-leaf pages, separating the pages using adhesive section tabs.  Of course, pages and binders can be re-ordered on a whim when the need arises.  Now imagine having this binder with you on your laptop, tablet, mobile phone, or even all three!  In essence, this is the power of OneNote.

Within OneNote I create a new notebook for each new story, in addition to a more generic notebook for more nebulous ideas that pop-up throughout the week but are not yet solidified into an existing story I’m working on.

MS OneNote Notebook Example

Next, I’ll create a few new sections within the notebook, like Plot, Characters, Dialogue Snippets, etc.

MS OneNote Section Example

Lastly, I’ll create pages as needed to further separate content.

MS OneNote Pages Example

The real power of OneNote is in the type of content you can create within each page.  Unlike a word processor, in OneNote you can click anywhere on the page and begin typing, or inserting bulleted/numbered lists, or insert photographs, or insert sound clips, or draw with the mouse, or insert shapes, and so on.

MS OneNote Detailed Page Example

For me, OneNote is an indispensable tool to organize my writing.  What tools do you find useful?  Do you stick with a physical notebook, or do you use software for organizing your thoughts and ideas before writing?