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10+ Do’s and Don’ts for Using Office Templates

If your attempts to use Office templates usually leave you feeling stumped and frustrated, read these expert tips to gain a better grasp on how to use them.

Templates are one of Office‘s least used and most misused features. Office templates aren’t particularly intuitive, and misunderstandings regarding their proper use hinder users. On the other hand, once users finally get it right and experience an increase in productivity, they’re hooked. These tips will help you generate and apply templates correctly.

This article focuses on user templates. If you’re developing, distributing, and administering templates for a large organization, you probably won’t learn anything new. However, you can share these tips with the users you support and perhaps thwart a few troubleshooting headaches down the road.

1: Do understand the concept

The term template is very old and originally referred to a pattern or model used to reproduce trade pieces. Within the context of business software, a template is a shell document — it’s a starting point for new documents. Some templates contain basic formatting, while others offer customized tools and content that help users work more productively. Templates get you started and sometimes even help you perform routine tasks.

2: Don’t customize the default template, at least not much

When you open a new document, you’re using the software’s default template; many users customize this template to meet their needs. You can change simple formats (see #3) at this level without issue. On the other hand, when your needs are more complex, you should create a custom template and apply it as needed.

Keep changes to the software’s default template to a minimum. When you upgrade, you might lose all customizations you made to the default template.

3: Do watch for interface shortcuts

If you change the same format or property for all (or most) new documents, watch for interface options that make the change to the default template. For instance, if you don’t like Word’s new line spacing default of 1.15 (instead of 1), you can change Word’s built-in Normal style for the current document. When you do, you can also make the change for all new documents by checking the New Documents Based On This Document option shown in Figure A.

Figure A

note: Some properties have interface options that update the default template

I’m not contradicting #2; I want you to take advantage of the interface default options, but complex changes should go into a custom template.

4: Do use built-in shortcuts for opening and saving templates

Most Office applications offer a shortcut for accessing and saving templates. For example, in Word 2010, you can access your templates as follows:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Choose Open.
  3. Click Trusted Templates in the left pane shown in Figure B.
Figure B

note: Interface access makes working with templates easy.

5: Don’t base new templates on blank documents — or do

If you’re using Office 2010 or earlier, you might open a new document as you normally would, make changes, and then save it as a template in the Save As dialog. This isn’t the preferred method; however, many users do this without issue. Office 2013 users will find this route is now the preferred method, so your route depends on your version.

6: Don’t base new templates on existing documents

If you have a formatted document that meets all of your custom needs, you might be tempted to remove the content and save the underlying styles and other tweaks as a template file. In fact, you’ll find the instructions online, even at Microsoft.com. Everything that’s in that document will be in your template and, consequently, all the documents based on the template. You’re probably thinking that’s what you meant; unfortunately, it can be the route to heartbreak. The source of problems and conflicts will be difficult to troubleshoot later.

Users often choose this route and never encounter problems. I think it’s a crapshoot, but I won’t argue with success. Just the same, I don’t recommend it.

7: Do use the software’s preferred method for creating a template

Your software works best when you use the tools as intended. For example, the correct way to create a template in Word 2010 and earlier follows:

  1. Click the File menu (or Office button). Choose New in the left pane. In Word 2003, choose New from the File menu.
  2. Word 2007 and 2010 users should click My Templates in the Available Templates section. In Word 2003, click On My Computer in the New Document task pane.
  3. In the resulting dialog, click Blank Document.
  4. Click Template in the Create New section (don’t skip this step).
  5. Click OK.

Other routes seem simpler. Often, those results are problematic, and those templates can be difficult to troubleshoot and fix. (I hope reading that a few times doesn’t desensitize you.) If you’re using Office 2013, see #5.

8: Don’t save a template as a working file

Don’t open a template file, add your content, and then use the software’s Save As to change the file’s format. Instead, apply a template when you create a new document. For example, the preferred method for applying a Word template follows:

  1. Click the File menu (or Office button). Choose New in the left pane. In Word 2003, choose New from the File menu.
  2. Word 2013 displays built-in templates; searching online is easy at this point. Click Personal to choose from templates you’ve created and saved. Or, click one of the many templates already listed for quick download and click Create. Skip to step 5. Earlier versions will offer many template folders. Open a folder and select a template.
  3. Click Document in the Create New section.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Give your new document a name and start adding content. All of the customizations you added to your template will be available to your new document file.

9: Do apply a template before you add content

It’s tempting to create a document and format it later rather than as you go. Many of us work that way, and there’s nothing wrong with it. However, you might assume that applying a template after-the-fact should be just as easy. It might be, and it might not. The best approach is to apply a template to the new blank document before you start adding content.

The issue in this case is Word’s dependency on built-in styles. If the template you apply later doesn’t use Word’s built-in Normal hierarchy, you might have difficulty applying the template’s custom styles. It’s not a deal-breaker — it’s just something most users don’t fully understand; they end up frustrated when a template doesn’t apply the styles they wanted in the way they expected.

10: Do save time with generic templates

Users don’t have to create their own templates; there are hundreds of reliable and free templates available via a quick download. If you have a generic need, such as a resume, mortgage calculator, business card, and so on, search online. I recommend that you start your search at Microsoft.com. Office 2013 has built-in online template access.

11: Do use existing templates when you upgrade

When you upgrade to Office 2013, you can use templates you created in Office 2007 and 2010. You’ll want to move them to the Custom Office Templates. Fortunately, there’s a tool for that.

A case for template correctness

Working with templates requires planning and a little specialized knowledge, but it isn’t difficult. You create the templates that contain the custom formats and tools you use most often. When you need those formats and tools, you apply the template before you add content, when possible. You’ll find this route efficient and less problematic than any other method you’re currently using. It isn’t the only way, but it’s the best way.

I can trace many “I hate this #$*(@ software! Why won’t it work the way it’s supposed to?” complaints to bad templates. You might ignore these tips and never see a problem. Unfortunately, if you run into a template issue, you might not know what’s wrong and blaming the squirrelly software won’t help. If you support users, training them to generate and apply their own templates correctly will help them work more efficiently and that will help you as well.

Harkins, Susan. “10+ dos and don’ts for using Office templates” TechRepublic.com/Windows and Office January 2014

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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How to Easily Clean up Your Mailbox in Outlook

Outlook’s integrated Clean Up tool removes messages from your email folders that you no longer need.

Remove redundant messages from your Inbox (or any other email folder), select Home>Clean Up

1. On the Home tab, in the Delete group, click Clean Up.
2. Click one of the following:

• Clean Up Conversation – The current Conversation is reviewed, and redundant messages are deleted.
• Clean Up Folder – All Conversations in the selected folder are reviewed, and redundant messages are deleted.
• Clean Up Folder & Subfolders – All Conversations in the selected folder and any folder that it contains are reviewed, and redundant messages are deleted.

Change Conversation Clean Up Options:
1. Click the File tab.
2. Click Options.
3. Click Mail.
4. Under Conversation Clean Up do any of the following:

• You can change the folder where items are moved, for Cleaned-up items will go to this folder, click Browse, and then select an Outlook folder. By default, messages are moved to the Deleted Items folder. If you have multiple email accounts in your Outlook profile, each account has its own Deleted Items folder. Messages are moved to the Deleted Items folder that corresponds to the email account.

• Note: This option is not available if the destination is Deleted Items folder: To replicate the folder structure of items Clean Up deletes (when you use the Clean Up Folders & Subfolders command), select When cleaning sub-folders, recreate the folder hierarchy in the destination folder.

Posted in: E-mail, MS Office Tips and Tricks

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Turn That Outlook Email Into a PDF

I think it’s fair to say that most of us like to organize our documents so that they are easy to retrieve when needed.  Well, did you know that you can save your email as a PDF using Windows 10 built-in PDF printer?

Saving an email as a PDF is a great way to create a clean copy of a mail message, or a receipt so that you can save it with all the proper formatting, file it as a document and easily retrieve it when you need it.  It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Check out this quick & easy Outlook tip!

1. In Outlook click File or use CTRL+P

2. Next select Print.


3.  From the printer options choose Microsoft Print to PDF or a PDF printer that you use such as Adobe, Foxit, etc. and select Print.


4. Choose a folder and Save.

 

You must admit, that was too easy!  Go ahead and give it a try and let us know if you find this helpful.

 

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks

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How to Protect Your Microsoft Word Documents

You can protect your Word documents from prying eyes and itchy fingers.

You’ve created a critical Word document, one that you wish to keep private or that you want to share with only certain people. But perhaps you don’t want others to be able to edit the document, and you certainly don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands. How can you protect your document?

Word offers a few options:

  • You can finalize the document to alert people not to edit it.
  • You can encrypt the document with a password so only people who know the password can access it.
  • You can restrict the type of editing others can perform on the document.
  • You can add a digital signature to the document to ensure that no one can tamper with it.
  • And you can employ more than one of these tactics to truly secure your document.

Let’s look at the many ways you can protect your Word documents.

As always, I’m using Word 2016 here, but the options for protecting a document are the same for the prior couple of versions of Word.

Start by opening an existing Word document that you want to protect. Click on the File menu and then click on the button to Protect Document. From the Protect Document menu, select the first option to Mark as Final.

A message tells you: “This document will be marked as final and then saved.” Click OK.

Another message pops up saying:

“This document has been marked as final to indicate that editing is complete and that this is the final version of the document. When a document is marked as final, the status property is set to ‘Final’ and typing, editing commands, and proofing marks are turned off. You can recognize that a document is marked as final when the Mark as Final icon displays in the status bar.”

The goal of this action is to dissuade anyone from modifying the document by telling readers that it’s completed, and no more editing changes should be made.

When someone opens the document, a message appears at the top: “MARKED AS FINAL.  An author has marked this document as final to discourage editing.” An “Edit Anyway” button also appears. If someone clicks on that button, that person can still edit and re-save the document. That person could then also mark the document as final if he or she chooses. But then the document would show you as the author and that person as the one who last modified it. (You can see the author and other information on a document by clicking on the File menu.)

So the purpose is not to prevent someone from editing the document but to alert readers that it’s in its final version and that you should appear as the author and the person who last modified it.

Alternately, try this:

  • click on the File menu and click Protect Document.
  • Select the second option to Encrypt Document.
  • At the Encrypt document window, type a password and click OK.
  • At the Confirm Password window, retype the password and click OK.
  • Save and close the document.
  • Try to reopen it.
  • This time, you’re prompted to enter the password. If you don’t type the correct one or you click Cancel, the document won’t open.

So this is a secure option to ensure that only people who know the password can even view your document. Just be sure not to forget the password yourself as there is no way to recover it or unlock the document without it, at least not within Word or Windows.

To remove the password, click on the File menu, click on Protect Document, and again select Encrypt Document. Delete the dots that hide your password and click OK. Your password is deleted. Resave the document before you close it.

Here’s another trick.

  • Click on the File menu and click Protect Document.
  • Select the third option to Restrict Editing. Your document reappears, this time with a pane on the right for setting formatting and editing restrictions. This is the option to choose if you want people to be able to open your document but limit or restrict the changes they can make. This option also password-protects your file so only those who know the password can modify the document.
  • Check the box to Limit formatting to a selection of styles if you want to prevent people from changing the formatting of your document through styles.
  • Click on the link for Settings underneath.
  • In the Formatting Restrictions window, all styles are allowed by default. You can keep that setting, change it to the Recommended Minimum, or change it to None.
  • If you’re not sure, choose the option for Recommended Minimum. You can also check any of the three options under Formatting to allow the first one or block the other two.
  • Click OK to close the window.

  • Check the box to Allow only this type of editing in the document.
  • Click on the dropdown menu underneath. You can now choose from among four options. Tracked changes turns on Track Changes for any reader of your document and restricts any other type of editing. Comments allows readers to insert comments in your document but make no other changes. Filling in forms lets readers fill in forms that you’ve created but not change those forms. And No changes puts your document in read-only mode so no changes can be made.
  • Select the appropriate option.

If you check the fourth option for No changes, you can create exceptions for certain user accounts to edit your document.

  • In the Exceptions section, check the box for Everyone and select any parts of the document that you want anyone to be able to edit.
  • Click on the option for Yes, Start Enforcing Protection.
  • You’re prompted to create a password. Type and then retype the password and click OK.
  • Save, close, and then reopen the document. You’ll see now that the editing controls on the Ribbon are grayed out.
  • Click in any section of the document that you allowed for editing, and the controls are now available.

To turn off the protection, click on the Stop Protection button at the bottom of the right pane. Type the password and click OK. You can now edit the document and permanently turn off the editing restrictions if you wish.

Finally, you can add an invisible digital signature to your document. Such a signature tells readers of your document that you and no one else signed its contents, assuring people that you were the last person to revise your document. Your document becomes read-only after the digital signature is implemented. To create a digital signature, you need a signing certificate to your identity.

  • Click on the File menu and click Protect Document. Select the fourth option to Add a Digital Signature.
  • The first time you do this in Windows, Word tells you: “To sign a Microsoft Office document you need a digital signature, would you like to get one from a Microsoft partner now?” Click Yes.
  • You’re taken to a Microsoft support page to help you find a digital ID. Try the links for the different providers to get a digital ID.
  • Then click on the link at the webpage to Add or remove a digital signature in Office files.
  • Scroll down the page to learn how to add a digital signature and how it secures a document or other file.
  • After you’ve obtained the digital ID, return to the Protect Document button and again click on the option to Add a Digital Signature.
  • At the Sign window, fill out the necessary fields and click the Sign button.
  • You may be asked to confirm the digital signature. Click OK.

Your document is now digital signed and made read-only. Anyone who opens the document will receive notice of your digital signature.

Whitney,Lance. 2018, February, 8. “How to Protect Your Microsoft Word Documents” Windows Secrets, Office

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks

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Use Eyedropper Tool to Match Colors in PowerPoint

With the eyedropper tool in PowerPoint you can match the color from a shape or picture to another element of your presentation for a more cohesive look.

Select and apply a color with the eyedropper tool

Double-click the shape or other thing you want to match colors for. (To select multiples, press Ctrl and then click the shapes.) Then click any of the color options, such as Shape Fill in the Shapes Style group, found on the Format tab under Drawing Tools.

Shape Fill dropdown menu showing the Eyedropper

Using the eyedropper, click the color you want to match and apply to the selected shape or object.

Eyedropper cursor and matched color

As you move your pointer around the different colors, a live preview of the color appears. Hover or pause on a color to see its RGB (Red Green Blue) color coordinates. Click on the color you want. For a more accurate way of getting the exact color you want when many colors are clustered together, select the color by pressing Enter or spacebar instead.

Numbers for RGB colors selected using the Eyedropper

To cancel the Eyedropper without picking a color, press Esc.

Tip:   You can also match colors from elsewhere on your screen. After clicking Eyedropper, click and hold the mouse button as you drag your mouse to the color you want to match. The eyedropper tool disappears when you move outside the PowerPoint window, but the color will still preview and be matched.

Posted in: Mac OS, MS Office Tips and Tricks

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Getting the most from OneNote, Part I: A hidden Office gem

The more information you put into OneNote the more useful it is. You can tag, flag, recognize, record and search just about anything.

Microsoft’s cross-platform notebook tool OneNote has long been a hidden gem in Office. In the last few years its success in the education market has prompted Microsoft to invest more in the application. As well as adding specific Learning Tools. Microsoft is bringing the Mac and web versions closer to parity with the desktop Windows version of OneNote, improving the iOS and Android mobile applications and building a brand-new Windows Store OneNote app that will soon replace OneNote 2016. It’s also making OneNote notebooks part of every SharePoint team site and Teams team. But what can you actually do with OneNote and how do you make it useful?

OneNote is ideal for storing unstructured information — not just the notes you take in lectures or meetings, or digital versions of Post It notes, but also photos, videos, receipts, emails (and attachments), web pages, PDFs, presentations, your optical prescription in case you break your glasses, the frequency for your favorite radio stations in cities to which you travel. In short, anything you can print, write down or photograph and might need to refer to one day.

Individual notes live in the sections of a notebook; you can have multiple sections in multiple notebooks that you keep private or share with colleagues and sync across devices. You can open a notebook that someone else has shared with you and have it fully synced on your own device, making it easy to collaborate. As you can rename and move all of these, you don’t need to get the perfect structure straight away. Instead, the first step of making OneNote useful is to put as much information that you might need later as possible in there, so that you can search for it.

Send everything to OneNote

You can type, handwrite, record audio and video, and paste in text, images, video and other content in OneNote. You can even do simple math in OneNote; just type in the equation, followed by ‘=’ and OneNote will work it out for you. You can also share and print from other applications straight into OneNote, but the different tools give you slightly different results.

OneNote 2016 has a snipping tool (trigger it from the toolbar, the Windows system tray or make a keyboard shortcut for it) that lets you drag to select an area and choose the notebook section or even individual page where you want to save an image of what you snip. You can find the section or page by searching for the title, so you don’t have to scroll through long lists of sections and pages.

In the Windows 10 OneNote app, you can use the Windows snipping tool, then either find the note you want and paste in by hand or open the Screen Sketch tool then use the Share charm (which can only target the current page or notebook section).

You can print from any application using the OneNote printer drivers. The OneNote 2016 printer driver is automatically installed and can print into any page or notebook section, which you choose in the same snipping dialog. The OneNote Store printer driver you have to install yourself from the Store, and can only print a new page into notebook sections, which you have to painstakingly navigate to rather than being able to search for. Both drivers save images of the individual pages you print. You can also import files into the current page in OneNote 2016 as printouts or attachments. Outlook on Windows (and Mac for Office 365 users) has a Send to OneNote button that copies email text and attachments, or the details of meeting attendees, into OneNote. You can also grab the details of an Outlook meeting that you want to take notes on from inside OneNote 2016 and OneNote 10, to get the list of everyone who’s there quickly.

If you use the OneNote Web Clipper extensions for Edge, Chrome and Firefox, you get the editable text and images (you can choose whether to clip the whole page or just the main content); you can clip into any notebook section that’s stored in OneDrive or OneDrive for Business (even ones that are shared with you) if you don’t have the notebook open on your device, but again not into existing pages. If you have a lot of notebooks and sections, having to scroll through the alphabetical list is much slower than the OneNote 2016 word wheel search. You can’t clip PDFs, so if you’re viewing them in a web browser, print them to OneNote instead.

OneNote is also a share target in the iOS and Android browsers, although that saves a printout rather than the editable text of the web page.

Microsoft’s Office Lens app on iOS and Android (and Windows Phone) can save images directly into OneNote sections, which is a good way of capturing whiteboards, presentations, business cards and documents. (The Office Lens feature is also built into OneNote on iOS and Android, so you can snap photos on your phone and have them show up in the right place in a note you’re editing on your Mac or PC).

OneNote is also an  “If This Then That” target  (IFTTT) so, you can do things like archiving tweets, RSS feeds, Reddit posts, DropBox files, starred Gmail messages or articles from Pocket, Feedly or Instapaper into OneNote. This isn’t always reliable and high-volume archiving will quickly hit the size limit of OneNote sections, but it’s very convenient when it does work.

If you record audio or video into OneNote (on Windows or Mac), any notes you take while recording or playing back the recording are time synced, so you can easily jump to the most important section of a meeting or lecture. (OneNote can also record unlimited audio on iOS, but you can’t take notes at the same time.) The audio is also searchable in OneNote 2016, but as it’s just matching the sounds of words it’s not very accurate.

Searching in OneNote

OneNote 2016 has one search box and two keyboard shortcuts for searching: Ctrl-E searches across all your notes (or a subset that you choose), while Ctrl-F searches within the current note. OneNote for Windows 10 has the same keyboard shortcuts, although they select from a unified search dropdown. Either way, that makes it easy to find the right note and then the right sentence. Both versions of OneNote use the same Ctrl-M shortcut to open a new window, so you have multiple notes open at once.

You can also see a list of recently edited notes, as a way of getting back to what you were working on recently. In OneNote 2016 you can pick multi-time periods (from ‘today’ to the last six months or even a chronological view of all notes in the section) or search for changes by specific people.

If you have a digital pen, or a touchscreen PC or iPad, you can draw and handwrite notes, and OneNote uses handwriting recognition to make them searchable even if you don’t convert them to text. If you want to draw with your finger, turn that on in the Draw toolbar — and then turn it off again when you want to go back to using your finger for scrolling. If you want more space for drawing, both OneNote 2016 and OneNote 10 have a full-screen mode that hides all the toolbars and other controls.

Images in OneNote are automatically OCR’d, so you can search for text shown in an image or a printout. You can also right-click on them to copy the recognized text to use elsewhere, making this a quick way of scanning paper documents.

Image OCR and handwriting recognition work locally in OneNote 2016, which also gives you the widest choice of where to store notebooks — in OneDrive, on your local PC or on a network file share. Notebooks stored in OneDrive can sync automatically to your other devices and you can share them with colleagues for live co-editing. Content syncs right into the page, marked by the initials of the person adding it. Notebooks stored on a network file share can sync onto other PCs that have access to the network, including over a VPN, but you can’t open them on other devices.

Branscomb, Mary. “Getting the most from OneNote, Part I: A hidden Office Gem” TechRepublic July 30, 2018

Posted in: Mobile Computing, MS Office Tips and Tricks, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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10 Microsoft Word Tips to Save Your Job

When executives at any company are considering which employees to cut and which to keep, they want to hold onto the most helpful, knowledgeable people. So, if you’re the only person on your team who knows how to format the company reports properly or you’re the one that your boss counts on to help with document formatting, you have a leg up on your coworkers. Master the Microsoft Word tips below and make yourself indispensable.

Your boss calls in a panic, because he was working on an important document and his computer crashed before he had a chance to save it. Be a hero by heading over to the File menu on his computer, clicking the Manage Document button and selecting Recover Unsaved Documents. You should then see a list of all the available unsaved files. The latest one should be his lost Word document.

You send a critical document to a business partner or client and they send you back a revised version, without enabling the track changes feature. Whether it’s a joint press release, a legal contract or just an important memo, you need to see exactly what changes they made to your work.

To compare two documents in Word 2016, navigate to the Review tab, click on the Compare button and select Compare from the drop down menu which appears. Then select the two files you want to look at and hit Ok. You’ll see a version of the document with all the changes highlighted.

Word makes it easy to draw on top of your document with your finger, a pen or even your mouse. You can draw lines on top of your text, scribble a shape and have the program automatically convert it into a resizable vector graphic or even draw an equation and insert it into your document as ASCII text. Unfortunately, most people do not have the Draw tab enabled by default so they can’t use any of these features.

To enable the Draw tab, right click on the navigation bar at the top of the Word window and select Customize the Ribbon. In the dialog box that appears, check the box next to Draw under Main Tabs.

When you’re writing a long report or white paper that you plan to distribute, a tablet of contents makes your document much easier to read. Fortunately, Word makes it easy to generate a TOC, without manually entering all the sections and page numbers yourself.

While you’re editing your document, use headings and subheadings for the different sections you want to appear in your TOC. When it’s time to generate the TOC itself, click Table of Contents under the References Tab and choose the style you like best. Word will then add the TOC to your document and you can edit its content as wish. You can also click the Update table button to regenerate the TOC, based on any changes you’ve made to the document.

While Word’s collaboration features are not nearly as good as those on Google docs, the software provides a way for you, your boss and your coworkers to edit the same document at the same time. There’s just one caveat: you all have to have accounts in the same Office 365 organization so forget about co-editing in real-time with people at other companies or freelancers.

First save your document to your company’s OneDrive account. Then click the Share button in the upper right corner of the Word window and enter the names of the people you want to share it with. Click the Share button and you’ll all be good to go. You will see each other’s changes in real-time with a different text color for each person (and their name next to it).

Your boss gets a document with a lot of images in and then needs to post those images to a web page, re-use them in another document or send them in an email. You can right click each image, select copy and then paste it into an image editor and save it, but that’s a time consuming process when you have several pictures to deal with.

To export all the images in a Word doc, make a copy of the document file and rename it with the file extension .zip instead of .docx (ex: myreport.docx becomes myreport.zip). Open the zip file and navigate to word\media directory. There you’ll find a complete set of files you can copy to your hard drive and email to the boss.

It’s 2017 and yet there are still some people who can’t break the annoying habit of putting two spaces are a period. Back in the typewriter-era, it made sense to have a larger space after a period, because all letters were about the name size and it was more difficult to identify the end of a sentence. However, in the age of computers and the Internet, this is an extremely outdated practice.

If a business partner (or your boss) sends a document with two spaces after a period, you can get rid of them in a couple of clicks. Hit CTRL + H to bring up the Find and Replace dialog box. Enter a period with two spaces into the “Find what” box and a period with only one space into the “Replace with” box. Click Replace All and you’re good to go.

You use a lot of company and product names in your documents, but Word flags them as spelling errors. Ugh! You can add all these words to the custom dictionary so Word never hits them with a red underline again.

Navigate to the File menu and then click Options. Select Proofing from the left-hand menu and click the Custom Dictionaries list. Select CUSTOM.DIC from the menu and click the Edit Word List button. You’ll then see a dialog box which allows you to enter new words one at a time. When you’re done, you may want to copy the CUSTOM.DIC file on your computer and share it with your coworkers.

Your company has a form letter that you need to send out in a regular basis, but whenever you print it, you want it to have the current date on top. Sure, you could go in and edit the dateline manually, but it’s easy to forget to do it or make a mistake.

Insert a dateline that always shows the current month, day and year (or even the time) by navigating to the Insert tab and clicking the Date and Time icon, which looks like a calendar with a clock on top of it. Then select the date format you want and make sure the Update automatically box is checked.

Sometimes you paste something from an external source (like a web page) or you edit something in Word and end up with formatting you don’t like or want. Your boss may send you a document with all kinds of unruly fonts, bold face and awkward bulleted lists and ask you to “fix it.”

To remove the formatting on any portion of your document, start by selecting the text you wish to clean or select the entire document by hitting CTRL + A. Then navigate to the Home tab and hit the Clear All Formatting icon, which looks like an eraser on top of the letter A.

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6 Cool Things in Windows 10 April 2018 Update

Microsoft no longer releases major overhauls to its operating system. Windows 10 is the “last” version of Windows, and Redmond now releases upgrades to it on a semi-annual basis instead of one huge upgrade every few years.

The latest, out today, lacks a descriptive name; it’s just the April 2018 Update. But while it’s smaller than previous releases, there are several noteworthy goodies available to Windows users, many of which aim to save you ti me or help your manage time better.

Speaking of time, the update will roll out slowly, first to the most compatible PCs. The whole roll-out process can take months, but you can install the April 2018 Update manually via the Update Assistant utility from Microsoft’s website.

But unless you’re super-stoked to get the new features, you’re actually better off waiting for the normal Windows Update process, as your machine may not be ready to run the new software reliably. In fact, if you’d rather put off the update, you can go into Settings > Windows Update > Advanced Settings and defer the update for up to 365 days. You’ll still receive security and reliability updates.

1. Timeline

The biggest feature of the April 2018 Update, Timeline was originally planned for the Fall Creators Update. It takes over the OS’s multiple virtual desktop button to add the element of time. For me, usurping the multiple virtual desktop feature for Timeline cluttered up the interface, but your desktops still appear across the top clearly. Only activity from the last 30 days is included.

A plus is that Timeline includes activities you performed on your iOS or Android smartphone if you’ve installed Office or Edge there. It will take time to build up some history with Timeline to see whether the feature really delivers. For it to work between devices, Timeline must store your activity in the Microsoft Cloud; if you don’t want that, you can disable it in Settings or set it only to work on the local machine.

2. Nearby Sharing

Apple devices like Mac computers and iPhones have long included the nifty though underused AirDrop feature. This lets you send a photo or document to someone nearby who’s also using an Apple device. It doesn’t require internet connectivity, just Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (though you don’t even need to be connected to a Wi-Fi router).

As with AirDrop, you need to turn on Nearby Sharing, in this case in the Action Center right-sidebar. And as with Apple’s feature, when you tap an app’s Share icon, nearby recipients with the feature turned on appear as targets. It’s a convenient way to get pictures, websites, and documents to someone nearby without having to email or message.

3. Focus Assist

With all the constant bombardments hitting knowledge workers these days—from Slack, email, social networks, and more—the new Focus Assist feature can help you get things done and take control of your time use. Windows 10 already had a “quiet hours” feature accessible from the Action Center, but the new feature adds the ability to schedule focus times, provides a summary of what you missed when you return from focus, and lets you designate contacts who can still reach you during focus time. You can also allow alarms during focus if you choose.

4. Dictation Anywhere

Microsoft has long been strong in speech technology, with dictation an option for over a decade, and Cortana listening for her name and your command. But now you can enter text with your voice in any text entry area you see, simply by hitting the Windows Key-H hotkey combination. This feature has already made it into some pre-April 2018 versions of Windows, so give the key combo a try. One shortcoming is that it doesn’t punctuate what you say—something I’d expect in this day of speech AI.

5. Edge Browser Improvements

Edge already lets you see which site tabs are making noise on your PC, but with the update, you can now silence them by clicking the mouse cursor on the small speaker icon that appears in the offending tabs. With the update, Edge also gets full-screen capability for PDF and ebook viewing (What? You didn’t know that Edge also had ebook capability, and even a bookstore?).

The April 2018 Update adds the ability to store payment information to speed up online transactions. Printing webpages also gets better with a new clutter-free option. And finally, a Grammar tool shows learners syllable breaks in words as well as parts of speech, such as adjective or noun.

6. Cortana Smart Home Control

Don’t feel like buying another gadget to control your smart home? The Windows 10 April 2018 Update lets you do it from your PC, using Cortana. Just say, “Hey Cortana, set the lights to 25 percent” and your Philips Hue bulbs respond appropriately. Ditto for ecobee, Nest, or Honeywell smart thermostats. Of course, if you don’t want to leave your PC on all the time, you could also do this through the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker.

 

Muchmore, Micheal. “6 Cool Things in the Windows 10 April 2018 Update” PC Magazine, April 2018

Posted in: IT Support, Mobile Computing, MS Office Tips and Tricks, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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4 Ways to Control Outgoing Email in Outlook

Outlook doesn’t have to control when your messages go out. Take charge and send emails when you want.
Out of the box, Outlook sends emails immediately, which probably isn’t a great idea for most of us. There are many reasons not to send email immediately, but here are a few:

  • Allowing an email to sit for a few hours, or even a few minutes, gives you a chance to review the content with (sort of) fresh eyes. You’ll catch errors you didn’t catch before.
  • Some conversations go back and forth too quickly, so you might respond before you have all the information or ask questions that the next message answers. Slow down and avoid playing email tag.
  • It’s easy to fire off an angry response in the middle of a heated discussion. Give yourself some time to cool off. Most likely, you won’t send an angry message at all.

That last one has saved me more than once—I have a hot temper (but I’d like that to remain a secret). I’ve never had a knee-jerk reaction serve me well. Never.

If you’d like to take control and decide when messages go out, you can. In this article, I’ll show you how to manually send messages or schedule messages to delay the sending.

I’m using Outlook 2016 (desktop) on a Windows 10 64-bit system. Most of these tips will work in earlier versions, but the route to the options might be significantly different. There’s no demonstration file for these techniques, and they don’t apply to 365 Mail.

1: Disable the default

As I mentioned, Outlook sends email immediately. The easiest way to determine when email goes out is to send it yourself, but you must disable this feature first:

  1. Click the File tab, choose Options, and then choose Advanced in the left pane. In the Send And Receive section, click Send/Receive or press Ctrl+Alt+S.
  2. In the resulting dialog, uncheck the three options under Setting for Group “All Accounts” (Figure A). You could also select individual groups, if they exist.
  3. Click Close and the click OK.

Outlook won’t automatically send email once you uncheck these options.

The options might need a bit of explanation. The first and third options allow you to customize your send tasks a bit.If you want to continue to use F9 to send messages, don’t uncheck the first option. Uncheck the third option if you do not want to send messages when exiting Outlook. Definitely uncheck the second option to disable automated send tasks—that’s what you’re trying to do!

By default, Outlook includes all accounts in the All Accounts group; you won’t see individual accounts listed. So, it’s an all-or-nothing option as is. If you want to remove accounts from the group, click the Edit button. Doing so allows you to leave the automated default setting in tact for only those accounts that remain in the group. Any account you remove will need your manual attention. Then you can create new groups and change those options as needed—or not.

You might notice that you still receive mail. For better or worse, you might not be able to control your server. Most likely, nothing is wrong. If you can’t control where your email sits until you download it, you might have to live with this inconsistency.

With this feature disabled, use the options in the Send & Receive group on the Send/Receive tab to control when messages go out. If you want a bit of control, check out the dropdown options for the Send/Receive Groups. Using these options, you can send mail for one account or all accounts.

2: Delay all outgoing mail

Outlook routes outgoing messages through the Outbox. Once there, by default, it immediately sends the message. Disabling the automated send feature might be too much control; after all, you must remember to send the mail. Whether you’re forgetful or interrupted by meetings, phone calls, and so on, this option might not work best for you.

If you don’t want to disable the automated send feature but you’d like a little bit of a delay, you can set a rule on outgoing messages in the Outbox. While messages are waiting in the Outbox, you can edit or even delete them. To set up a rule that delays all outgoing mail, follow these steps:

  1. Click the File tab and double-click Manage Rules & Alerts. Or choose Manage Rules & Alerts from the rules dropdown in the Move group on the Home tab (in Mail).
  2. In the resulting dialog, click New Rule.
  3. In the Start From A Blank Rule section, select Apply Rule On Messages I Send (Figure B) and click Next.
  4. In the following wizard pane, don’t check any options; the lower pane will display Apply This Rule After I Send The Message. Click OK without changing anything. When Outlook asks you to confirm that the rule will be applied to every message, click Yes.
  5. In the next pane, check the Defer Delivery By A Number Of Minutes option.
  6. In the lower pane, click the Number Of Minutes link, enter the number of minutes (Figure C), and click OK. The link will now display the number of minutes you entered. Click Next.
  7. At this point, you can check exceptions, or not. For instance, you might want to bypass the delay if you’ve marked a message as Important. For this example, don’t check any exceptions. Click Next without changing anything.
  8. In the final window, give the rule a name, such as 10-minute delay. If necessary, check the Turn On This Rule option. You can also select Create This Rule On All Accounts, if that’s your intention. Click Finish and then click OK when you’re ready to create the rule.

Launch the Rules wizard.


Enter the number of minutes you want to delay each message.

If you edit a message while it’s in the Outbox, Outlook doesn’t reset the timer. It’s possible that you might decide to rescind the delay, and fortunately, Outlook has an option to do so:

  1. Open the delayed message (you’ll find it in the Outbox).
  2. Click the Options tab.
  3. Click the Delay Delivery option.
  4. In the resulting dialog, uncheck the Do Not Deliver Before option (Figure D).
  5. Click OK.

You can change your mind and send a delayed message at any time.

It’s counterproductive to disable the automated send feature (#1) and set a delay rule. Outlook ignores scheduled delays if you’ve disabled the automated send feature.

3: Delay a single message

If disabling the automated feature or delaying all messages is overkill, you can always delay individual messages, as needed. Fortunately, the process if easy and flexible. To delay an individual message, do the following:

  1. Click the Options tab in the new message window.
  2. In the More Options group, click Delay Delivery.
  3. In the Delivery Options section, set the date and time Outlook should send the message. The default settings (shown earlier in Figure D) are for 5:00pm on the current day, and I don’t know of anyway to change this default setting.

If you decide to send the message before the scheduled time, simply uncheck the Do Not Deliver Before option.

4: Send after connecting

If you leave messages in the Inbox when you exit Outbox, Outlook can send them when you next launch, if you like:

  1. Click the File tab, choose Options, and click Advanced.
  2. In the Send And Receive section, check the Send Immediately When Connected option (Figure E).
  3. Click OK.
Send when launching Outlook.

This option isn’t a catch-all for forgotten messages. If you’ve disabled the automated send feature, it won’t work even if you select it. If the scheduled time for a delayed message hasn’t arrived, this option won’t send that message. This option doesn’t add much to the mix.

Additional insight

You can do everything right and not get the desired results; your expectations probably don’t fall in line with Outlook’s reality. If you disable Outlook’s ability to send messages waiting in the Outbox, you may or may not receive a prompt to remind you when you exit. It depends on cache settings and even an add-in can usurp this option. In addition, Outlook doesn’t send messages when closed, regardless of what you might have scheduled. Anything sitting in your Outbox when you exit will still be there the next time you launch Outlook. If a scheduled send time has lapsed, Outlook will attempt to send the messages upon launching. Don’t schedule send tasks if you’ve disabled the automated send feature; these two features don’t work together.

If you schedule messages and you’re sure that the automated feature is enabled, but Outlook never sends the scheduled messages, talk with your administrator. If you don’t have one, it’s possible that an add-in is interfering. Disable all add-ins and see if the scheduling feature starts working for you. If it does, enable the add-ins one at a time until you find the culprit.

Harkins, Susan. “Four ways to control outgoing email in Outlook” TechRepublic, MS Office, January 28, 2018

Posted in: E-mail, MS Office Tips and Tricks

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Hidden Gems in Windows 10

There are a few items sprinkled throughout the OS that tend to not get the headlines or perform any functions that are earth shattering but they deliver capabilities that can be very useful to many Windows 10 users.

I have seven items that I want to share with you today. Now, it is likely you know about some of these if you have been using Windows 10 for some time now but I am also sure that there is at least one of these you have never heard about.

So, in the spirit of discovery let’s take a look at these hidden gems in Windows 10.

 

If you are not a fan of the Start Menu with all the Live Tiles spread across your screen there is a way to return to Start Menu that is similar to the one we had in Windows 7.

First step is to open the Start Menu and right click on each Live Tile and select Unpin from Start – repeat this for each individual Live Tile.

Note: Unfortunately, there is no options for removing an entire group of Live Tiles at once, so the individual removal is necessary.

Once they are all removed exit the Start Menu and head into Windows Settings > Personalization > Start and make sure Show app list in Start menu is toggled on.

Now when you open the Start Menu you will see the minimal view just like the image above.

Bonus Tip: If you go back to Windows Settings > Personalization > Start and click on the Choose which folders appear on Start you can place shortcuts on the left side of your fresh Windows 7 style Start Menu to quickly access system and user folders such as Documents, Music, Videos, and Pictures. In addition, there is a shortcut for File Explorer.

Calculator Modes

Many users do not realize the capabilities that are built into the default calculator app in Windows 10 as it does much more than just addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

There are three main modes in Calculator:

  • Standard (Default mode)
  • Scientific
  • Programmer

Then there are the 13 converter modes:

  • Currency
  • Volume
  • Length
  • Weight and Mass
  • Temperature
  • Energy
  • Area
  • Speed
  • Time
  • Power
  • Data
  • Pressure
  • Angle

There is also a Date Calculation mode so you can quickly count the number of days between two dates on the calendar.

Quick Assist

Many of you, just like myself, provide tech support to many family and friends. In previous versions of Windows you had to use Remote Assistance to connect to distant devices and at time that could be challenging for some users however, the new Quick Assist app in Windows 10 makes this connecting process very simple.

You begin as shown above with just two choices once the app is open – get assistance or give assistance.

When you select Get Assistance you are asked for enter a code to facilitate the remote connection and that code comes from the person who selects Give Assistance.

Just pass the above code to the individual waiting for assistance within the 10 minutes shown and the connection between the two devices will be made.

Once that is done the user receiving assistance grants permission for the person giving assistance to access their device remotely and you are on your way to helping sort out issues with the remote system.

Windows 10 Tips App

The Tips app in Windows 10 is updated after each feature update is released so the latest information is reflected for users who want to learn more about Windows 10.

It is broken down into two main sections. One is the Recommended tips as shown above and then there is the Collections.

Each are laid out by categories to group things together in logical lists of tips and assistance. The tips are provided in text and video formats to accommodate the different learning methods that individuals use.

Virtual Agent

This app brings a little Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to Windows 10 assistance and uses natural language searches to retrieve help articles from the Microsoft support website and other documentation repositories at Microsoft.

You just type what you are looking for and the assistant will give a response along with links to further steps and directions.  If the assistant does not understand a question just rephrase it. Even one word inquiries will work with the Virtual Agent.

Snipping Tool

This is one of my favorite tools in Windows 10 because it allows me to capture elements of the screen using four different snip modes:

  • Freeform
  • Rectangular
  • Window
  • Full Screen

You can set a delay up to 5 seconds, which allows you to capture an item that shows up after your initial click on the screen. This is handy for snipping images of sub-menus that do not remain on the screen for very long.

Once you have grabbed a snip from your screen, there are also tools built in that allow you to ink on the image to highlight a certain item or area of the capture.

The resulting snip can then be pasted into other apps or you can save the image for later use.

In fact, all of the images in this article were captured using the Snipping Tool.

Hay, Richard. “Hidden Gems in Windows 10” Windows Secrets, Best Utilities, March 13, 2018

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