One button to mute them all: PowerToys brings forth kill button for the conferencing generation

Also: Organisational tools everywhere and mobile commenting in OneDrive

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In Brief Good news for anyone who has ever tried to use the pure white tile and theoretical quiet of the bathroom as a meeting backdrop without realising their brother was in there: a PowerToys feature that mutes the mic and injects a stream of black instead of video via a virtual driver.

Microsoft's PowerToys gang emitted a pair of releases last week: version 0.21.1, with a "focus on stability, localization and quality of life improvements for both the development team and our end users", and version 0.22 – an altogether more interesting experimental iteration with the Video Conference Mute feature.

The latter feature will be handy for those who spend their time frantically hunting for audio and video controls during seemingly never-ending video conferencing sessions that have become a part of remote working, and will mute both audio and video with a single keystroke.

Prototyped back in June, the PowerToys team reckoned the feature was worth adding despite the impact it would have on the roadmap, and we'd have to agree. With different conferencing tools having different controls, one single function to rule them all certainly has an appeal.

Put out as a pre-release because things remain a bit rough and ready, the feature makes use of a virtual driver for the webcam which injects purest blackness into the stream. "When you toggle the stream back on, the driver just stops injecting black," explained Clint Rutkas, senior program manager at Microsoft.

Mobile commenting comes to OneDrive (if you're on Android)

Consumer users have been given the ability to add comments to non-Office file types in Microsoft's OneDrive mobile app for Android.

Functions such as adding comments to files either owned by or shared (with edit permissions) with the user have been made available and customers can also see existing comments when offline. A badge is shown when there is new comment activity.

A later update will add badging for seen and unseen comments across OneDrive on mobile, web and PC.

Those on free or paid consumer plans get the toys, and the functionality is due to hit the iOS version of the OneDrive mobile app by the end of the year. The feature is not yet available for those using work or school versions.

Interestingly, comments made on Word, Excel and PowerPoint files won't show up in the mobile commenting view. Commenting on folders and push notifications are also not there yet but, according to Microsoft, coming "soon."

Lists for Teams goes to General Availability

Microsoft Lists first took a bow at the company's Build 2020 event and has spent August gradually rolling out to Targeted Release Microsoft 365 customers before going wider last week.

Aimed at tracking information and organising work, the Microsoft 365 app comes in a variety of flavours, and last week the Lists application in Microsoft Teams was rolled out as tab app.

Not to be confused with Microsoft To-Do, Lists is aimed squarely at business. Existing lists can be pulled in from Sharepoint, or templates can be used to create something new. Once populated, individual list items can then be chatted about using Microsoft's Slack-for-suits platform, Teams.

Those using the existing Sharepoint app in Teams with a pinned list "will see their experience inside the tab get upgraded to the latest Lists in Teams experience," according to Microsoft.

Yet more organisational fun with Moca

As well as lists, Microsoft has lobbed some ever so slightly Trello-esque love at Outlook Web users in the form of Project Moca. With the aim of keeping things organised, Moca is a hub where the likes of tasks, lists, events and links can be dumped. As well as OneDrive, it will also take files from other cloud providers.

The preview, accessed from Outlook Web's module switcher, allows users to create "buckets" into which content can be added and tracked. Notes can be pasted in and are saved as Sticky Notes.

The preview is a handy thing, although it will have to fight for attention among all the other organisational tools currently being released by Microsoft. Being hidden away (and off by default) in Outlook for the Web is unlikely to help its case much. It is also only accessible to Microsoft 365 consumer or education subscribers. "Select commercial customers" may also get to wonder what the "Moca" means in the name.

It did make us think a little of Microsoft Cortex topic cards or even Atlassian's Trello, although the latter told us "we don't have anything specific to comment" when asked for its thoughts on Moca.

We await with bated breath the release of a tool from Microsoft to organise all the organising tools it is flinging out nowadays. Maybe a list of wonders? Now, what would one name such a thing... ®

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