How to get started with Microsoft Copilot in your day-to-day work

May 20, 2024

Let's face it: the daily office hustle often feels like a non-stop loop of drafting emails, juggling messages, jazzing up PowerPoints, automating Excel sheets, and sitting through meetings that seem to drag on forever.

That's where Microsoft Copilot comes in to save the day. Whether you're crafting emails or condensing web pages, whipping up PowerPoint presentations or dissecting data from spreadsheets, Copilot is here to boost your productivity and banish those mundane tasks. In this article, we'll dive into how Copilot can revolutionise your workflow.

How to use Copilot in Windows 11

While you’ve likely used browser-based generative AI tools like ChatGPT, the thing that sets Copilot for Windows apart is that it integrates with—wait for it—Windows.  So in addition to standard content generation and searches, you can also issue commands against your local machine like “Open Notepad.”

If you’re running Windows 11, then accessing Copilot is as easy as typing the Windows key + C to bring up the desktop application.

Let’s look at some examples.  How about “Turn on dark mode” to change the theme on your laptop.  After confirming that’s what you want, Copilot will dutifully change your theme.

Or some other ideas:

  • “Turn on Bluetooth.”
  • “Change wallpaper.”
  • “Snap windows side by side.”
  • “Mute volume.”
  • “Open Settings so I can connect to an available network.”
  • “Launch Microsoft Teams.”
  • “Open the printer dialogue so I can connect to a printer.”
  • “Take a screenshot.”

How to use Copilot in the Edge browser

When working in the Edge browser, the Copilot app is available by clicking the button on the top right of the browser.

This brings up your AI assistant on the side of the browser, allowing you to continue browsing and interacting with your web pages without having to switch to a new window.  You can ask it to take actions on your browser (like “Organize my tabs”) or ask for things that require an internet search or content creation (“Paint an image of a pixelated dragon breathing a rainbow of colors”).

One really cool feature of Copilot in Edge is the ability to summarize or use content from the current web page that’s open.  But you don’t get this automatically; you have to enable it.

On the top right of the Copilot app, click on the three dots and then select Notification and App settings.

In the next screen, toggle on the option to Allow Microsoft to access page content.

Now let’s give it a try.

Navigate to a page you’d like to summarize (I’ll go to the Wikipedia page for Microsoft Copilot).  In most cases, Copilot will give you an easy one-click option to generate the page summary (if it doesn’t, just type in “generate the page summary”).

And, as you wish, you’ll get a summary of what’s on the page.

You can also ask questions about the content of a webpage.  Say, for example, you’ve found a delicious recipe, and you want some suggestions on what drinks to pair with it.  Just ask!

How to use Copilot with Microsoft 365 (Your office apps)

The next flavor of Copilot is for Microsoft 365.  In other words, Copilot for what you might refer to as the Office apps (Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint plus Teams).

In your app of choice, go to the Home ribbon and click the Copilot button.  This is available on the desktop apps, as well as the browser-based apps.

Using Copilot in Microsoft PowerPoint

Here are some ideas for how to use Copilot in PowerPoint:

  • Create a new presentation from scratch
  • Create a presentation based on a file
  • Add a new slide to a presentation
  • Redesign slides to use a new theme or style

Let’s give that first bullet point a try with this prompt: “Create a presentation about Q1 sales for AdventureWorks.  Make it modern with a blue theme.  Include a title slide, agenda slide, five slides for sales data, a summary slide, and a "thank you" slide with contact information.”

And, as we asked for, we’ve got a basic structure for a presentation.  From here, you can ask Copilot to tweak styles or layouts, and/or you can adjust things manually yourself to get it just right.

Using Copilot in Microsoft Excel

When using Copilot in Excel, it’ll give you some nice guidance on how it can help, including a sample table to get started.

After generating that sample table (or using your own data, obviously), you can try a variety of things to see how it works:

By selecting “Show data insights,” we get the following:

Using Copilot in Microsoft Word

Clicking the draft icon will bring up a dialogue box for you to describe what you’d like to draft.

And after Copilot works its magic, we have an outline for the article, along with options on what to do next.  Very nice!

Or you can bring up Copilot in an existing Word document and take a variety of actions.

Using Copilot with Microsoft Outlook

In Outlook, you can get help drafting emails, such as that one you’ve been meaning to send to your boss, asking for a promotion.

But you can also get coaching from Copilot on things like clarity, style, grammar, and tone.  Just start writing an email, and then get an AI coach to give you feedback.

After analyzing the email, Copilot will give you feedback and suggestions on how to write a better email.

How to use Copilot on your mobile phone

In addition to the Copilot goodness you get on your laptop/desktop, you can also use Copilot on your phone.  Just navigate to your device’s app store, search for Microsoft Copilot, and install the app.

The mobile app makes it easy to interact with Copilot using pictures and voice.  For example, take a picture of a plant and ask what it is.

And then use the microphone to ask follow-up questions.  When you ask using your microphone, you’ll also get an audio response, which is a huge win for accessibility.

How to use Copilot through

Finally, if you’re looking for an easy way to use Copilot functionality without having to worry about apps, then just navigate to and click the Copilot tab.  This will bring up the chatbot functionality on the Bing website.

From here, you can do all the usual things you’d expect from a generative AI tool: ask questions, have a conversation, generate text, generate pictures, and do real-time internet searches.

You can also adjust the conversation style, increasing or decreasing the amount of creativity you get in your answers.

Let’s see a couple of examples.  How about writing a short story about a software engineer who works remotely while traveling the world.

Or you can ask for an image.  Copilot will generate four options for you, using the DALL-E technology from OpenAI.

Then selecting the image you like, you get additional designer capabilities to change the style (to things like pixel art, watercolor and more), copy or share the image.

Further your knowledge in Copilot and AI

Hopefully this article gave you some inspiration and how-tos for using the different flavors of Microsoft Copilot in your work.  But we’ve only just scratched the surface!  If you want to dig deeper on this offering from Microsoft , as well as generative AI more broadly, then visit our website where you can find existing resources and sign up for our eagerly anticipated deep dive into Copilot and implementation methods for business.