Sunday 8 August 2021

Take time to try tech tools during lockdown

Trying a new tech tool is like trying a new recipe. Sometimes it's great from the start, or it needs tweaks and flavouring to be worth using again. Here's a tool I've mentioned before but I'm adding the Family History flavour to emphasise why I have kept this one in my genealogy recipe book of apps.

The free Office app for your Android or iPhone or tablet is useful in so many ways for family historians. If you have not tried it, let me try to convince you with this range of options. 

If you do not have a OneDrive account with Microsoft, now is the time to sign up and get your free 5GB of storage.

Download Office from your app store and log in to your free Microsoft account. 
Ensure that you also have the free Office app downloaded to your computer from the Microsoft Store.

The Home Screen on my Android phone

The Plus Button Reveal

Will you make a quick note and give it its own background colour, add an image to it, or use a note for a list?

Perhaps you just want to remember something while you are out walking. The voice option is the way to go. I find walking alone without the ubiquitous earphones is a good way to distil my thoughts. I need to record them or that brilliant sentence I thought of has been forgotten by the time I return home!!

Maybe there's a document you need to scan but the flatbed scanner is attached to your partner's computer and he/she is currently busy using it. What about those photocopies someone sent you in the post? Less clutter lying around if you scan them. One can crop, rotate, add text, add more pages then save as images, PDF or Word.

None of that suits your needs? Then let's start with Word.
Ooh, there's that Scan text option on the far left, but I just can't line up my scans nicely! Lucky me, I just drag the corners in until the selected lines of text are contained in whatever weird shape and the app will straighten the page for me.

Speak instead of type, I find the keyboard on my phone very small so the speech option is a better choice. Here's a compilation of the next two screens in Word where I have chosen to dictate my text. Notice the keyboard in the top right-hand corner in case I want to change back to typing, or need to correct my spoken text.


Not convinced? Let's try the Actions menu accessed from the Home page.
Here's the first page of Actions with some comments for you to ponder.

But wait, there's more (no not steak knives!) The second screen of Actions with some suggestions for family history users.

Choose where to save your files. OneDrive is the default location but other choices such as the local device, Google Drive, Dropbox etc. are available. 

Open the Office app on your computer to see your files and download them. Here's a link to a PDF I created in the mobile app, the covers of three books currently in my reading pile. I chose Scan to PDF.
These options are available after scanning.

No, I do not have or pay for an Office 365 account but use the free tools provided. Even with a free account, files can be shared. 

Perhaps you too will find the free Office app useful for family history.

As an aside:
I do have Office Pro 2019 on my computer purchased at a very reasonable price from MrKeyshop as a one-time payment. This was the last "on your own computer" Office software before Microsoft migrated to the every year subscription payment for its 365 product. Given that I was using Office 2010 until 4 months ago, I feel confident that the 2019 version will serve my needs for many more years. 

I purchased the 2019 edition for its many updated features and to have access to the video recording capabilities of PowerPoint, a simple but effective method for presenting and narrating family stories.

This post first appeared on


  1. Great tips once again, thanks Carmel.

  2. Thanks for these great tips Carmel. I’ve never used OneDrive but will now give it a go. I’m definitely not a techie but love that I can rely on you for great tips

  3. I never use my OneDrive account but now I may. An app that can do Image to Table - I'm sold. Thank you so much for sharing your enthusiasm, knowledge and excellent instructions. I have successfully applied the tricks you taught me last week. Thanks for this week's challenge.

  4. Dear Carmel - hmmm I hadn't thought of adding One Drive to my tablet. I will give it a go. Maybe that will help me create some PDFs of receipts that I have been trying to give to our Treasurer at the Society. Thanks for all your helpful tips as always and your contribution to the blogging challenge this month.


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