Thursday, February 19, 2009

9 Must-Have OpenOffice Extensions

Like Firefox, OpenOffice also comes with extensions that you can use to improve its functionality. Here, we have tested all the extensions and sorted out those that are useful for everyday use. Some of them are for general use while some are only meant for Writer, Calc or Impress. (For those who haven’t heard about OpenOffice before, it’s a popular free alternative to Microsoft Office)

Before you carry on reading, here are some things that you need to do/know:

    Obviously, the extensions require OpenOffice to work. If you have not installed OpenOffice, grab the latest version here.

    To install the extension, you have to go to Tools -> Extension Manager in any of the OpenOffice applications. Click ‘Add’ to install the extension that you have downloaded.

Let’s proceed onto the 9 must-have extensions for your OpenOffice.

open office extensions

1) Sun PDF Import Extension

open-office import-pdf Normally, OpenOffice only allows you to export your file to PDF format, but not to import and make changes to it. With this PDF Import extension, you can now import your PDF files and make changes to the date, numbers or even a small portion of text.

By default, this extension imports the PDF file into the Draw application rather than Writer, even though it may contain a full page of text. You may be wondering why, but if you remember that when the PDF format was first created, it was designed not to allow any editing at all. As such, importing as a text document into Writer may prove too difficult a thing to do.

With that, capturing the content as a Draw object now seems the easiest and most logical thing to do. When you import your PDF file into your Draw application, every single line of text will be treated as a draw object and you can edit the text and rearrange it as you like.

Sun PDF Import Extension is still in beta and only works in OpenOffice 3.0.

2) Professional Template Pack II – English

open-office-templatesWith more than 120 professionally designed document templates at your fingertips, it is hard not to create a high quality document or presentation.

This extension adds various kinds of templates, ranging from business correspondence, budgets and project plans, event posters, invoices, notes, minutes, press releases to personal letter templates.

You’ll never have to spend your time writing up the whole document again.

After installation, the templates can be found under File -> New –> Templates and Documents.

3) OpenOffice.org2GoogleDoc

OpenOffice to Google docs

This extension allows you to export and import documents from Google Docs, Zoho and any WebDav server. Files supported include OpenDocument Text (.odt), StarOffice (.sxw), Microsoft Word (.doc), Rich Text (.rtf), OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods), Microsoft Excel (.xls), Comma Separated Value (.csv) and Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pps).

Java 6 is required to use this extension.

4) Writer’s Tools

writer-tool If you are just like me, who spends a great deal of time sitting behind OpenOffice writing articles, then Writer’s Tools is the extension that you must have. Writer’s Tools is a set of utilities designed to help OpenOffice users perform a wide range of tasks. You can back up documents, look up and translate words and phrases, manage text snippets, and keep tabs on document statistics. Some of the useful functions of this extension include:

  • Lookup word from several sources, including Cambridge Dictionaries, WordNet, and Google Define.
  • Backup a copy of your current document by sending an email to a specified address.
  • Wikify Word tool links a selected word or text fragment in the current document to a Writer document, which is created on the fly
  • Quick Converter that lets you convert between the metric and imperial systems easily.
  • Bookmarks tool allows you to bookmark often-used documents, so you can access them with a few mouse clicks.
  • Word of the Day tool picks and displays a random word and its definition from the accompanying WriterDB database.

and many more…

5) LanguageTool

open office spell checker

What use is there if you can’t check your grammar and other language errors in an Office suite? The LanguageTool extension is an Open Source language checker for English, German, Polish, Dutch, and other languages. It is rule-based, which means it will find errors for which a rule is defined in its XML configuration files. Rules for more complicated errors can be written in Java. You can think of LanguageTool as a tool to detect errors that a simple spell checker cannot detect, e.g. mixing up there/their, no/now etc. It can also detect some grammar mistakes.

The Language Tool extension does not include spell checking.

6) Creative Commons Licensing


If you are always creating open source projects with the Creative Commons License, this extension will come in handy to you. The Creative Commons Licensing extension provides the ability to select and embed a Creative Commons License in Writer, Calc and Impress documents.

7) Data Form

In the Excel application in Microsoft Office, there is this feature - Data -> Form - that allows you to key in data easily. What this extension does is to replicate that feature in OpenOffice. The Data Form extension generates a data input form for tables in the Calc application that you can use to enter values.

In Calc, create a table with at least one row and the headline, for example:


Then, click on a range or any cell of the newly created table (not on empty cells), and go to Data - Form. That’s it. A form should appear letting you insert other records, or edit-delete the old ones.

8) Modern Impress Template

open office impress template

The Modern Impress template extension installs more than 30 beautiful templates that you can use for your presentation. All the graphics in the template are based on open-source art.

After installation, you can access the template at File -> New -> Templates and Documents -> Templates -> My Templates

9) Sun Presenter Console

For those who need to give presentations regularly, wouldn’t it be great if during the presentation, you can view what the next slide is and read the note that you have written all from the screen? It will take the guesswork out of you and also keeps you away from the troublesome paper notes scribbled with tiny text. What this extension does is to project different views to different monitors and allows you to see your upcoming slide and note while the audience only sees the current slide and the slide effect.

There are three views that you can configure in the Presenter Console. The first view displays the current slide for your audience to read while the second view shows the speaker’s notes in large, clear and scalable type plus the current and upcoming slide. The third view is a slider sorter view with the slide thumbnails. In your Impress application, go to Slide Show -> Slide Show settings and you can decide which view is to be projected to each monitor.

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