If you’re thinking about buying the latest version of Microsoft Office (without paying for a monthly or annual Office 365 subscription), then you may want to consider getting the new Microsoft Office 2019. In this article, I’ll break down the different features your one-time purchase is going to get you.
- The Different Versions of Microsoft Office 2019: Which Is Right For You?
- What’s New In The Core Apps Of Microsoft Office 2019?
- Should You Buy Microsoft Office 2019?
The Different Versions of Microsoft Office 2019: Which Is Right For You?
Office 2019 isn’t exactly cheap, but then again you only pay the hefty price tag once. With no upgrade options, however, you’ll be stuck with the same version until you decide to upgrade sometime in the future. With that said, here are the three versions of Office 2019:
Version #1: Office Home and Student 2019
If you need Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for school or home use, then this is the version for you. This ‘basic’ version is great if you only intend to install these classic Office apps on one computer (either Mac or PC). Grab this version if you’re not worried about getting the latest incremental software updates from Microsoft, and the current features are more than enough for your needs. Microsoft is selling the Office Home and Student 2019 version for only $149.99.
Version #2: Office Home and Business 2019
Practically everyone on the planet knows what Google is. And millions, if not billions, of people have a Google/Gmail account. According to Litmus Labs, Apple iPhone and Gmail have the lion’s share of the email client market with 27% each (out of 945 email opens). However, Outlook occupied the #3 spot at 9%; this translates to over 85 million email opens done on Outlook.
If you’re one of those who absolutely need to use Outlook in your workflow, then this is the version of Office 2019 you need to get. Of course, you still get Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote with this Office 2019 version, but the extra $100 will get you a licensed copy of Outlook. The listed price of Office Home and Business 2019 on Microsoft’s website is $249.99.
Version #3: Office Professional 2019
At $190 more than the second version (Office Professional 2019 costs $439.99), this is the most expensive version of Office 2019. For the extra fee, you get access to 2 more apps – Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Access. The bad news is these apps are strictly PC or Windows only. So, if you’re on a Mac and you absolutely need to run Publisher and/or Access, then you can install Windows on Boot Camp. Alternatively, you can use software like Parallels or VMWare Fusion to run Windows side by side with your favorite Mac apps (no rebooting required).
What’s New In The Core Apps Of Microsoft Office 2019?
Alright, so now that you know what the different versions of Office 2019 are, let’s dive into the new features in the 4 core apps: PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and OneNote.
Microsoft PowerPoint 2019 Features
When it comes to presentations, PowerPoint remains the king of presentation software. And with the release of PowerPoint 2019, it further cements itself as the presentation software to beat. Now, both the Windows and Mac versions get much awaited updates. As usual, however, the Windows version still have a slight edge over the Mac version especially with the new digital ink features. Without further ado, here are the top new features and updates in PowerPoint 2019:
- Morph transition (Windows | Mac). One of the coolest features in the new PowerPoint is the Morph transition. Creating seamless-looking animation no longer needs to be so complicated. With just a few clicks (and some good planning ahead of time), you can achieve your desired effect quickly. For a quick peek on where this new feature is, click on the Transitions tab, then select Morph. If you want to know more, I wrote a detailed tutorial on how to use the Morph transition here: Everything You Need To Know About PowerPoint’s Morph And Zoom Features.
- Zoom for PowerPoint (Windows only). Zoom is one of my favorite features in Office 365 and I’m pleased to see it included in PowerPoint 2019. Unfortunately, it’s not available on PowerPoint 2019 for Mac. With Zoom, you’re not limited to presenting your slides in a linear fashion. You can jump from one section to another, from slide 5 to 10 to 3 to 6, and so on. You can try out this feature by going to Insert > Zoom. Check out my tutorial on this awesome feature here.
- Insert 3D models to see all angles (Windows | Mac). Inserting 3D models onto your presentation slide is now extremely easy. Simply click on Insert, then go to 3D Models, then choose either ‘From a file’ or ‘From Online Sources.’ Their online source is Remix 3D, an online community with a large collection of free 3D models.
- Vector graphics for visual impact (Windows | Mac). Inserting and editing SVG files like icons and logos is now possible on the latest version of PowerPoint. To add icons, simply click Insert > Icons if you want to utilize Microsoft’s free icons database. Alternatively, if you want to upload an SVG file from another source, you can click on Insert > Pictures and select your image source from the list.
- Convert SVG icons to shapes (Windows only). An SVG icon is made up of different elements or shapes. If you only want to use one or two elements and delete the rest, you can do this by clicking on the SVG icon you want to convert. This will open up the Graphics Tools. Click on the ‘Convert to Shape’ button.
PowerPoint will ask you to confirm that you indeed want to convert the icon to a Microsoft Office drawing object. Click Yes. You will now be able to move the different shapes around and delete those that you won’t need.
- Easier background removal (Windows only). You can remove image backgrounds on Mac, but the Windows version of PowerPoint makes it a much simpler process. Microsoft has made the background removal feature more intuitive and the marking pencil can now draw free-form lines. You can try out this feature by inserting a photo and then clicking on Remove Background in the Picture Tools.
- Export to 4K (Windows only). Ultra HD or 4k is fast becoming the norm in video nowadays. If you’re planning on showing your PowerPoint presentation on a 4K monitor, then I’ve got some good news for you. You can easily export your presentation to 4K by going to File > Export > Create a Video > Ultra HD (4K).
- Recording features (Windows | Mac). You can record your slide show on both Windows and Mac, but the Windows version has a few more perks that aren’t available on Mac. For instance, you can add a Recording tab by customizing your PowerPoint ribbon (go to File > Options > Customize Ribbon > tick the Recording box). You then have easy access to all Recording features in one place. Here’s what it looks like:
- Draw or write with digital ink (Windows | Mac). If digital ink is your thing, then you need to be on Windows. Mac does have a Draw tab, but the options are severely limited, as you can see below:
The Windows’ version of Draw tab, on the other hand, has way more options:
PowerPoint 2019 on Windows have various digital ink features. As you can see on the screenshot above, you can convert ink to text, ink to shape, and ink to math. You can even replay ink drawings on your presentation slide, this is great if you’re doing a tutorial on a step-by-step process. Meanwhile, the Ruler button allows you to align objects and draw straight lines on your slides.
- Text highlighter (Windows | Mac). This feature is a staple in Word, however, it’s only just now that PowerPoint users will be able to use this nifty feature in presentations. You’ll find the text highlighter on the Home tab, just beside the text Font Color button.
- Insert funnel chart (Windows only). Inserting funnel charts directly on your PowerPoint slides is now possible. All you need to do is just click on Insert > Chart > Funnel. Then click OK. An Excel spreadsheet with some sample data will then pop-up. Replace the sample data with yours, and you’re good to go.
- Insert 2D map charts (Windows | Mac). Yep, inserting 2D map charts on PowerPoint is now a simple 4-click affair (Insert > Charts > Maps > Filled Maps). However, if you don’t want to the built-in maps, there are plenty of free vector maps you can download online. In fact, we’ve even got free maps templates in our Template Hub. I wrote an article on the best free maps PowerPoint templates and I included a section on how you can insert maps in PowerPoint, so you should go check it out as well.
Now, I’ve got some good news for Mac users. In this version of PowerPoint, Microsoft has finally decided to add some features that have long been enjoyed by Windows users. If you’re a Windows user, then feel free to skip this section. But if you’re a Mac user, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can now finally do the following on your copy of PowerPoint:
- Insert online video – yes, you can now finally insert videos from YouTube, Vimeo, and SlideShare.net. Make sure you have the latest version of PowerPoint and are running at least macOS 10.12 (Sierra). Go to Insert > Video> Online Movie and enter the URL of your online video.
- Trim media files – you can now trim video files, music and sound clips directly in PowerPoint. You simply need to click the media file you want to edit to activate the Video Playback or Audio Tools tab.
- Animate the background of your slides – make your slides come alive by animating your still image background. Once you’ve added your background image to your slide, click it to access the Picture Format You’ll then see the Animate as Background button on the far right corner.
- Hyperlinks in living colors – links no longer have to be in the standard blue color. If you want to change your hyperlink color, just highlight the URL, then change the font color like you would any other text. That’s it!
- Render embedded fonts – this used to be a major compatibility issue between Windows and Mac users. Embedding fonts in Windows is relatively easy, but viewing it on Mac was another matter entirely. Thankfully, Microsoft has listened to its users and have now made it easier for Mac users to view and embed fonts on presentations. To embed fonts in your presentation, go to Preferences > Output and Sharing > Save. In the Font Embedding section, tick the box that says “Embed fonts in the file.”
- Customize ribbon and quick access toolbar – customizing your PowerPoint ribbon and your toolbars is now easier on PowerPoint 2019. Check it out by going to Preferences > Authoring and Proofing Tools > Ribbon & Toolbar.
- Laser pointer in slide show – you can use your mouse or your trackpad as a laser pointer during your presentation. While your slide show is going on, you’ll see 4 buttons appear on the lower left hand corner. Click on the pen icon to view the different options. You can even change the laser color into red, green, and blue (make sure you choose the right color that will be easily visible to your audience whether they’re sitting in front or at the back).
- Touch Bar support for MacBook Pro – if your MacBook has Touch Bar, then you’ll love this new feature!
Microsoft Word 2019 Features
Both Mac and Windows get an upgrade, but not all new features are available on both platforms. For instance, Focus Mode is now back on Mac, but it’s still not available on Windows. Likewise, LaTex math syntax support is now available on Windows, but not on Mac.
Here’s summary of what’s new in Word 2019 for both Mac and Windows:
- Collaborate in Word and see others’ changes in real time (Windows | Mac). This super cool feature works great on both Mac and Windows. All you need to do is just click on the Share button on the upper right hand corner, upload the file to One Drive or SharePoint, and send the file to your colleagues. Make sure you tick the ‘Allow editing’ box if you want your colleagues to edit your file. You’ll be able to see real-time edits as they happen on your document. You’ll know exactly who’s editing which part of the document, too.
- Break the language barrier with Microsoft Translator (Windows | Mac). You no longer need to go to Google Translate to understand the foreign texts you’re reading. With Word 2019, you can click the Review tab and hit the Translate button. You’ve got 2 options: you can (1) translate some selected text, or (2) you can translate your entire document. Once you click on Translate, the Translator sidebar will pop-up. In the screenshot below, you can see that I translated a selection of text from English to Japanese (just a random choice). If you understand Japanese, give the translated text a read and see if it makes sense!
You can then choose the language you want your text or document to be translated to. Of course, no software-based translation is (as of writing) as good as a human translator, so take your translated text or document with a grain of salt. But for on-the-fly translation, it’s good enough (in most cases).
- Improve your reading skills with the new Learning Tools feature (Windows | Mac). Learning Tools is great for those who want to improve their reading skills. To activate this feature, go to View then click on Learning Tools. You’ll then see a tab for Learning Tools, like this:
You can adjust the Column Width to make it as narrow or as wide as you want. Adjust the Page Color to make the text easier on your eyes. You can choose between Sepia and Inverse (this basically turns your document into a white-text-on-black-background document).
Also, you can adjust the Text Spacing and show the breaks between Syllables to help improve word recognition and pronunciation. Read Aloud is also great for those who want to learn how to pronounce certain words or those who’d prefer to listen instead of reading an entire document. Note, however, that not all Learning Tools features are available in all languages.
- Draw and write with your digital pen (Windows | Mac). If you’ve got a touchscreen device, the Draw tab will be accessible to you. However, if you’re on a non-touchscreen computer (like a Macbook for instance), the options on the Draw tab won’t be clickable like you see below:
What’s interesting though is I’m running Windows 10 on my computer using the Parallels Desktop software and I’m able to access the Draw menu on Word 2019 for Windows! Well, the ‘Draw with Touch’ button is greyed out, but I can play around with the pens and other tools.
- Use LaTeX syntax in your equations (Windows only). For students and educators who’ve been clamoring for the inclusion of LaTeX Math Equation syntax, this one’s for you. Unfortunately, you need to be on Windows to access this feature. Mac users need to wait a bit longer for LaTeX support to appear on their version of Word.
To use LaTeX, go to Insert > Equation. This will then open up the Equation Tools tab. You’ll see the LaTeX input button in the Conversions section:
- Add icons and SVGs (Windows |Mac). Using pixelated icons, logos, and other similar graphics on your Word documents are a thing of the past. With SVG (scalable vector graphics) support, you can now insert SVG files and resize them to any size you want without worrying about turning it into a bunch of unsightly pixels. Additionally, if you’ve got an Internet connection, you can easily download icons directly in Word. Simply, go to Insert > Icons, and you’ll be able to access hundreds of free icons right away. You’ll see something like this on your screen:
- Get all the angles with 3D images (Windows | Mac). Inserting a 3D model to your Word documents is as easy as hitting the Insert button, then clicking 3D Models. You can either insert from a local file or you can search online via Remix 3D.
- Remove distractions with Focus mode (Mac only). In my opinion, Windows users are missing out big time with the lack of Focus Mode on their version of Word. If you write a lot and you want to avoid the plethora of distractions on your screen, then turning on Focus Mode is an awesome solution. The ability to change your background is a nice addition too, though you need to be on Print Layout view to access the different background options.
- Fix accessibility issues with one click (Windows | Mac). If you don’t want to exclude people with disabilities from accessing your entire document, then you should find and fix these issues before you share your document. Click on Review > Check Accessibility to find out if you need to fix anything. I checked this very document you’re reading right now and look what it gave me:
As you can see, I’ve got quite a few accessibility issues I need to fix. The Why Fix? and Steps To Fix sections at the bottom are really helpful, so you should check it out if you’re not sure why you need to fix something. Then do the necessary changes to your document.
- Sound effects to enhance your productivity (Windows only). Microsoft wants to make Word as accessible as possible. For instance, people with visual disabilities may appreciate audio cues to confirm a certain action has completed or when options change on your screen. If you want to activate this feature, go to File > Options > Ease of access. In Feedback options, tick the box that says ‘Provide feedback with sound.’ Unfortunately, Mac users may need to wait for the next version of Office before they can take advantage of audio cues to help them with their work.
- Improved visual basic editor (Mac only). If you create and edit macros in your line of work, and you’re on a Mac, then you’ll be happy to know that their visual basic editor has been improved. Check it out by going to Tools > Macro > Visual Basic Editor.
- View a page at a time, side by side (Windows only). Sometimes you just want to read lengthy documents like you would read books – by flipping it from side to side. Well, you can do this now if you’re on Windows. Go to View and click on Side to Side on the Page Movement section. If you’ve got a ton of pages to scroll through, the Thumbnails button will help you get to your desired page quickly.
Microsoft Excel 2019 Features
In the 2019 version of Excel, Microsoft has done a great job at improving an already powerful software. There are a lot of new features and updates, however, most of these are available on the Windows version only.
So, I’ve divided this section into a list of common features in both Mac and Windows versions, and in the second half, I’ll be going through the latest improvements in the Windows version of Excel.
- New functions (Windows | Mac). A few native functions have been added to Excel, namely, CONCAT, IFS, SWITCH, and TEXTJOIN. These are the common functions to both platforms, however, Windows users get an extra edge with two extra functions added, the MAXIFS and MINIFS functions.
- New charts (Windows | Mac). You now have the ability to add 2D map charts and funnel charts in Excel, just like with PowerPoint. Just go to the Insert tab, and click on the Maps or Waterfall button to generate your new map or chart.
- General improvements (Windows | Mac). Quickly deselecting a selection is now made easy thanks to the new and improved precision selecting feature in Excel. Pivot tables also get an upgrade with the new timeline filter. Ribbon customization is no longer exclusive to Windows, Mac users can now customize their Excel ribbons, too. Microsoft Translator and the Accessibility Checker both get improvements as well.
So, those are the new improvements that go on both Windows and Mac. If you’re on Windows, then you’ll be pleased to know that the Windows version of Excel has several additional features. Here’s a summary:
- Enhanced visuals. Inserting SVG files to your Excel file is a painless process on both Windows and Mac, however, the ability to convert your SVG graphic to shapes is only available on Windows.
- Ink improvements. Ink support on Windows is, by far, superior than on Macs. For instance, you get 8 new ink effects, digital pencil texture effect, a customizable and portable pen set. You can also add ink equations, convert ink to shape or math, replay your ink drawings, and more. Lastly, if you have a Surface device, you can use the Surface pen to select, move, resize, rotate and change objects.
- Sharing is easier. The ability to insert recent links, view and restore changes in workbooks that are shared, and quickly save to recent folders has now been added to Excel 2019.
- PivotTable enhancements. The already awesome PivotTable function is now even more powerful with multiple usability improvements. You can now personalize and set up a PivotTable exactly the way you like it. Relationship detection is now automatic so you can make insights quickly. You can create, edit, and delete custom measures so you can save a lot of time. You can search in the PivotTable, and a whole lot more!
- Power Pivot updates. If you use Excel for its data analysis and data modeling capabilities, then you’re going to love Excel 2019. Microsoft has done several fixes that will improve your overall user experience.
- Publish to Power BI. If you have a power BI subscription, then you’ll appreciate this new feature. With a simple click on a button, you can publish files to Power BI. Here’s a screenshot:
- Improvements to Get & Transform (Power Query). There are a number of improvements in the Data tab, especially in the Get & Transform Data section. Microsoft has added new connectors, improved transformations, a new Queries & Connections button, and more. For a complete list of Get & Transform experience, check out this link.
- General improvements to Excel 2019. You now have more options to personalize your copy of Excel. You can choose from 4 different themes: Colorful, Dark Gray, Black, and White. If you frequently use superscripts and subscripts, then you can now add these commands to your Quick Access Toolbar. When saving CSV files, you’ll no longer get that annoying pop-up reminding you that some features may not be compatible with CSV. You can also now save files in CSV UTF-8 format.
Microsoft OneNote 2019 Features
With the 2019 version of Microsoft Office, OneNote gets a significant update. Currently, there are two desktop versions of this software: OneNote that comes pre-installed on Windows 10 and OneNote 2016.
It’s easy to feel confused if you’re new to the OneNote world. However, with the release of Office 2019, OneNote for Windows 10 will be the default version for both Office 2019 customers and Office 365 subscribers.
It’s less confusing for Mac users though – the OneNote 2019 Mac app will only unlock stickers. For Office 365 subscribers on Mac, you’ll get the same stickers, but you’ll also automatically receive any future updates.
Should You Buy Microsoft Office 2019?
Microsoft made substantial updates to its core Office 2019 apps, most notably, PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. However, all the features baked into your Office 2019 apps are all you’re going to get – forever. The only way you’re going to get regular, monthly updates is by purchasing an Office 365 subscription.
Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft Office 2019 is great. But let’s face it. Microsoft is doing a great job with their frequent updates to the Office 365 ecosystem. In fact, most of the new features I’ve listed in this article were released to Office 365 subscribers months, or even years, ago! They’re well ahead of the pack. And the truth is, by the time you purchase your copy of Office 2019, Office 365 subscribers may already be enjoying new features which you’re never going to get.
So, the choice is yours. Get Microsoft Office 2019 for a relatively affordable one-time fee, or subscribe to Office 365 and get regular software updates from Microsoft.