While OpenOffice is a robust, free, open source office software suite, you may find it beneficial to add a few more functions and tools known as extensions.
These added utilities boost the capabilities of core programs including Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector graphics), Base (database), and Math (equation editor).
If you have used Microsoft Office, you might find it useful to compare extensions to add-ins and apps. All of these tools will typically end up bolted right into the program, right next to the original tools and features.
Extensions give you a little more freedom to customize your user experience in OpenOffice programs.
Examples of Extensions in OpenOffice
Popular OpenOffice extensions range from editing helps to mathematical notation tools. For example, many OpenOffice users have utilized grammar and spelling checkers, language dictionaries, and even templates.
How to Find, Download, and Use OpenOffice Extensions
1. Find an extension from an online site such as The Apache Software Foundation’s own OpenOffice Extensions site, or a third-party provider. I recommend the former for those seeking a trusted source for OpenOffice extensions. Always check to see if any licenses apply to the extensions and whether they are free—many are, but not all. Also, keep in mind that each time you download files to your computer, you run a potential security risk.
Note that you may also need to have an updated Java utility in order to download certain extensions. In other cases, a given extension may not work for certain operating systems.
2. Download the extension file by saving it to a place you will remember on your computer or device.
3. Open an OpenOffice program the extension is built for.
4. Select Tools - Extension Manager – Add – Locate where you saved the file – Select the file – Open the file.
5. You will need to read the terms and accept the license agreement in order to finish downloading. If you agree to the terms, scroll to the bottom of the dialog box and select the Accept button.
6. You may need to close OpenOffice then reopen. If sucessfully downloaded, you will see the new extension added right into the Extension Manager.
Check for Updates of OpenOffice Extension You Have Installed
OpenOffice extensions may need to be refreshed once in a while, as improvements are made. The Check for Updates button will let you know if any new versions are available for the extensions you have already installed, which is really convenient.
Again, this is found when you select Tools – Extension Manager, then browse through the list of installed extensions.
An Alternative Way to Get More Extensions
Also from Extension Manager, you can also select Get More Extensions Online to link to the OpenOffice Extensions site. This is an efficient way to build up extra tools for OpenOffice applications you work with.
Uninstall or Deactive a Certain OpenOffice Extension
By selecting a given extension in OpenOffice, you can also click to uninstall, deactive, or view details about each tool.
OpenOffice Chart Extensions
While not one of the more fully-developed applications, you can find extensions listed under the Chart section. These are useful diagramming and visual charting extensions you may find useful for your projects. For reference, in Microsoft Office, these approach certain functions in Microsoft Visio, and basically add in additional chart options for some programs in the OpenOffice suite.
As you begin using extensions or continue upgrading to newer versions, please consider contacting me with any you find particularly useful. I love hearing from this site’s community, and it benefits all of us!