Tip o’ the Week #203 – Remote control of Office

clip_image002Anyone who regularly presents will have had the occasion when there’s a need to wander around the stage, or instead be marooned behind a lectern on the side, yet if there’s no presentation “clicker” provided, it’s difficult to control the flow. A/V professionals complain that they can never keep hold of clickers as they grow legs and walk, so unless you bring your own, you might be out of luck.

There have been any number of attempts to build remote control software for Pocket PCs, Stinger smartphones, but none have been altogether successful – usually requiring faffing about with esoteric networking to make them work. There was also the snappily-named Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000, which could be flipped over from its primary rodent function, to expose PowerPoint clicker type buttons below. It’s so bulky, maybe the mouse’s best use in retirement is to torment cats with its laser pointer.

clip_image001Enter Microsoft Research, who recently produced Office Remote – and a means, with your Windows Phone in paw, to remotely operate Office apps using a Bluetooth connection direct to the PC.

Frankly, controlling a remote Word doc (by jumping around the structure of the document, zooming in/out etc), or Excel (moving about, using Slicers/Filters/Pivots, as well as the jumping/zooming around) is something of a novelty. How many cases will you find yourself where you’re looking at a screen showing your document from your PC, but you don’t have the means to control the document directly?

Where the remote control really comes into its own, however, is with PowerPoint. You can read speaker notes and even use your phone screen as a virtual laser pointer on the main screen – as well as swiping back and forth to move through the slide being shown on the main PC.

There are two routes to go about installing the software – there’s an agent that needs to run on your PC, and an app on the clip_image003 phone. If you run the Setup app on your PC, then look under the “OFFICE REMOTE” tab in your Word/Excel/PowerPoint apps, you can remotely install the controller app on your phone. Or start with the phone install first.

Simply install the app on both PC (running Windows 7 or 8.x) and on your mobile device, bond the two together in Bluetooth settings (part of the setup to add a new device) and you’re off. Simple, effective and free. Thanks to Simon Boreham, Ant Austin, Rina Ladva and others for recommending the application.

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