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Windows 10 Tip: Five ways to personalize notifications on your PC

Did you know you can easily personalize what notifications you get on your Windows 10 PC and how they show up, so you can focus on the ones most important to you?

To get started, head to Settings > System > Notifications & actions‌.

First, send notifications, reminders and alarms directly to the action center by right-clicking action center in your taskbar, then selecting Turn on quiet hours.

Stop notifications from showing during a presentation by turning on Hide notifications when I’m duplicating my screen. Or, keep them from showing on your lock screen when you’re not logged in by turning off Show notifications on the lock screen.

If you’re tired of seeing notifications from a particular app, turn them off next to the app under Get notifications from these senders – or, click on the app for more options.

You also always have the option to stop getting notifications on your PC by turning off Get notifications from apps and other senders.

Pidgeon, Elana. “Windows 10 Tip: Five ways to personalize notifications on your PC” Windows Blogs August 2017

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

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Microsoft Excel: Why your spreadsheet is so slow

How to deal with “Out of Memory,” “Not Enough System Resources,” and more.

When your Microsoft Excel spreadsheet slows to a crawl, you can’t help but notice. It may take longer to open and save your files, longer for Excel to calculate your formulas, and longer for the screen to refresh after entering data, or sorting and formatting the cells.  System memory is the other issue that relates to Excel’s slowness.

Slow spreadsheets take longer to manage and, as always, time is money. We’ll show you how to tackle this problem.

When Excel spreadsheets get too big

Excel is capable of creating a very big spreadsheet, but the bigger it gets, the more memory is needed to keep it open on your PC.

In the current version of Excel, each spreadsheet has 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns (A1 through XFD1048576). Each cell can hold a maximum of 32,767 characters. I would not advise pushing these limits.

The number of records (rows), fields (columns), and formulas can slow down performance considerably. Every time you add new records, then press the Enter key—or use features such as Sort, Format cells, or Insert/Delete Columns or Rows—Excel recalculates all those formulas. This can cause a lag time of several seconds or more between each process. Using a lot of graphical elements can also hinder performance.

One solution, and one that I highly recommend, is to keep your spreadsheets small and tight, with fewer fields and, if necessary, fewer records. You can accomplish this by creating multiple spreadsheets in a single workbook, with links or three-dimensional formulas. You could also create Relational Database spreadsheets that connect your tables with unique, key fields.

Turn on Manual Calculation and use F9

Another solution is to turn off the Automatic Workbook Calculation option, instead using the Function key F9. When Manual Calculation is selected in the Calculation Options, Excel withholds calculating your formulas until you press F9.

1. Select File > Options > Formulas.

2. In the first section: Calculation Options under Workbook Calculation, click the Manual button.

3. Check the Recalculate Workbook Before Saving box if you want to ensure that the spreadsheet calculation is always current. Or uncheck this box if you plan to calculate the spreadsheet manually using the F9 key before exiting.

4. When finished, click OK.

Excel memory limits

Users constantly ask me: Why does my spreadsheet say “Excel cannot complete this task with available resources. Choose less data or close other applications?” Similar errors include “Not enough System Resources to Display Completely,” or “There isn’t enough memory to complete this action. Try using less data or closing other applications,” or just “Out of Memory.”

Although memory does not affect Excel’s calculation or manipulation speed, the size of your database (number of columns and rows used) is affected by the amount of available RAM in your system. Remember, just because your computer has 8GB of RAM, that doesn’t mean you have that much available to work with.

Excel has its own memory manager and memory limits. The 32-bit version has a limit of 2GB of virtual memory, while the 64-bit version offers up to 8TB of virtual memory. Contrary to some rumors, those numbers include the software itself, plus any add-in programs you have installed.

And that’s just in Excel. Other demands on your system’s memory include the OS, all the other applications that are currently open on your computer, plus a dozen other hidden processes such as DLLs, drivers, and a long list of .exe (executables) that are running in resident memory and/or in the background. Graphics, charts, formulas, and features such as the spell checker, sorting, and printing also consume memory.

For the many users still working with the 32-bit version of Excel, if your spreadsheets are less than 2GB and you’re still receiving memory error messages, try closing all other programs that are running (including the Internet and your email program) to gain additional working memory.

When it’s time to move from 32-bit to 64-bit Excel

If the performance and memory tips above both fail to increase your system’s performance or reduce the number of memory errors, then maybe it’s time to switch to the 64-bit version of Excel. This version does not limit your file sizes, but instead enforces limits only by available memory and system resources. This means if your system has 8GB of memory, Excel can access all of that minus whatever the system uses.

If you’re considering a change from Excel 32-bit to Excel 64-bit, here’s what to keep in mind:

1. Check out the Large Address Aware update. Microsoft rolled out this patch in June 2016, for 2013 and 2016 Excel versions. This update alters the 2GB limit on address space to 4GB when installed for the 32-bit version of Excel in the 64-bit version of Windows. For 32-bit Excel running in 32-bit Windows, the 2GB address space limit is increased to 3GB.

2. Other files are affected when you install this update: For example, for 32-bit Excel with 32-bit Windows, you must make a change in your boot file. Be sure to read Microsoft’s documentation on the Large Address Aware update before you install anything or make any changes.

3. 64-bit Office only works with 64-bit Windows. You cannot run the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Office on the same computer. If you attempt this, Microsoft displays an error message.

4. If you want to upgrade from your 32-bit version to the 64-bit version, you must uninstall and then re-install Office. The reverse is also true.

32-bit vs. 64-bit Excel: Features you’ll lose

Despite the performance beneifts of 64-bit Office, Microsoft actually recommends the 32-bit version of Office for most users, because of its greater compatibility with other applications (particularly third-party add-ins). Also, some of Office’s application features are not supported in the 64-bit OS, such as:

1. The legacy versions of Equation Editor and Equation Builder are not supported

2. The Word Add-in libraries are also not supported (many dozens available online for free or for a minimal cost).

3. Some ActiveX controls and some VBA codes are not compatible.

4. Some database files in Microsoft Access have source code issues.

5. Outlook MAPI applications must be recreated, and

6. The Graphics Device Interface (GDI) rendering may have performance issues due to incompatibilities between the 32-bit and 64-bit devices.

Sartain.JD. “Microsoft Excel: Why your spreadsheet is so slow” PCWorld September 2017

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

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Try These Top Add-Ins for Microsoft Word

You can beef up Microsoft Word with the right add-ins.

Microsoft Word packs a lot of features and functionality into one single application. But there’s always room for more. Perhaps you wish Word included a built-in dictation feature that converted your speech into text. Or maybe you’d like a Word feature that reads your documents aloud to you. Or perhaps you’d like a built-in translator that can translate your text from one language to another. Well, Word may not include these items, but you can tap into them by installing an add-in. Add-ins provide greater functionality and flexibility to an Office application so you can do so much more with the program.

You’ll find an array of Word add-ins through Microsoft’s online Office Store, but I’m going to highlight what I think are some of the top and most interesting add-ins to give you a head start. We’ll look at Dictate, an add-in that lets you dictate your documents directly into Word; TextAloud, an add-in that reads your text aloud to you; Read My Document; another add-in that reads your text to you; Translator, an add-in that can translate text in your document between different languages; Collins Dictionary; an add-in that offers a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a translator with audio pronunciation; and Wikipedia, an add-in that lets you access the online encyclopedia site without leaving Word.

Dictate

Windows 10, 8.1, and 7 already come with built-in speech recognition and dictation. But now there’s a new kid on the block. A Microsoft Garage project, Dictate is a free add-in designed for Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Tapping into the technology behind Cortana, Dictate uses speech recognition to convert your words into text. After installing this add-in, launch Word and you’ll see a new menu called Dictation. Click on that menu to display the Dictation toolbar.

Click on the Start button in the Dictate toolbar and begin speaking. As you dictate, you can see the text as interpreted by the Dictate add-in appear in the Response field next to the Start button. You can speak punctuation marks and other non-alphanumeric items, such as periods, commas, and quotes. You can say “new line” or “new paragraph” to move to a new line or paragraph.

The add-in supports 29 spoken languages and can handle real-time translation to 30 languages, so you can speak your text in one language and have it converted into the text of a different language. So, how did Dictate fare? Not as well I had hoped, at least initially. In my testing, Dictation got a fair number of words wrong and was no more accurate than Windows own Speech Recognition feature (which you can access from Control Panel). But the more I used Dictate, the more its accuracy improved. So, if you’re willing to put some time into training it, Dictate is definitely worth trying.

TextAloud

Here’s an add-in I’ve used for years to help me proofread and edit my documents. TextAloud reads your text aloud to you, so you can listen for any mistakes and hear how your documents sound. After you install TextAloud, open Word and click on the new TextAloud menu. From the TextAloud toolbar, you can opt to hear your entire document, the part starting from the cursor, or only selected text. You can pause, stop, and resume the speaking of your document. You can also alter the speed at which the voice speaks.

TextAloud isn’t free. The software by itself costs $29.95. If you want more natural sounding voices, you can add two AT&T Natural Voices for an additional $25. But if you need a reliable tool to help you listen to and verbally proofread your documents, TextAloud is worth the price.

Read My Document

Want a no-frills but free add-in that can read your documents to you? Read My Document fills that bill. Add Read My Document to Word. You have to trust the add-in and follow a few more steps. You then control it from the right pane and can access it by clicking on the Insert menu and selecting My Apps from the Add-ins button. Select the text you wish to hear or select the entire document and then click on the Read selected text button. You can pause or play the reading. The voice used by Read My Documents doesn’t quite have the smoothness of the AT&T Natural Voices but it’s not bad. It has a certain accent to it that makes it pleasing to the ear. You can’t switch voices or control the speech as you can with TextAloud. But for a free program, Read My Document is quite effective.

Translator

Using the power behind Microsoft’s own Translator app, the free Translator add-in can translate text in a document into a different language. After adding Translator, you’re prompted to open Word and trust the program. You can then access it by clicking on the Insert menu and selecting My Apps from the Add-ins button. The program pops up in the right pane. Choose the source and target languages. Select text in your document or select the entire document, and Translator displays the translation in the right pane. You can change the target language, and the displayed text automatically switches to your new language. Translator is a cool and convenient tool if you need to translate text on the fly.

Collins Dictionary

This helpful and free add-in provides a dictionary, thesaurus, and translator in one package, and can even pronounce words for you. Add Collins Dictionary from its page at the Office Store and then open it in Word. After you trust it, the add-in appears in the right pane. Select a word in your document, and the dictionary serves up a definition. In some cases, you can click on a speaker icon to hear the word spoken aloud.

Click on the link for the Thesaurus, and Collins offers synonyms for the word you selected. Then click on the Translator link, select a source language, and Collins translates the text into your chosen language, courtesy of Microsoft Translator.

Wikipedia

Yes, you can always access Wikipedia directly from the Web. But this free add-in provides access to the online encyclopedia within Word. After you add Wikipedia, the usual right pane pops up. Writing about a specific topic, and want to learn more about it? Just type a word or phrase in the search field and click on the search icon, or just select text in your document. The program displays the Wikipedia entry about your subject. Scroll down the pane and you’ll find more information and a link to expand the article to get even more details. Clicking on a link within the article brings you to a new article corresponding to the link, and all within the same pane. If you use Wikipedia as a source of information, you’ll find this a helpful and handy add-in.

 

Whitney, Lance. “Try these Top Add-in’s for Microsoft Word,” Windows Secrets July 2017

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

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6 Features to Make you More Productive in Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is a software which is running on almost every computer.  It is a valuable tool that is used by many on a daily basis. You need it whether you are a professional, a retiree or a student.

When Microsoft releases new versions of Office, it always comes with new and improved features.  So, if you want to take full advantage of this tool it is important that you stay up-to-date and familiarize yourself with its many new features.

Here’s a list of some good tools that I think you will find very useful.

1. The Smart Lookup Feature:

This is a feature which makes it easier to find facts through search engines.  This feature is available in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. This will launch a pane, which is powered by Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Articles, definitions, images etc. will appear in the pane.

  1. Select the portion of text you want to look up.
  2. Right Click, Select “Smart Lookup” or go to Review > Smart Lookup  for Office 2016
  3. Right Click , select “Search with Bingfor Office 2013

2. Helping you with Recent Documents:

  • Click File > Open > Recent Documents

This feature is turned on by default, but you can turn it off, turn it back on, or adjust the number of files that it displays. So, if you want to change the number of files that appear in the list of recently used files:

Directions for Word 2016

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Options.
  2. Click Advanced.
  3. Under Display, in the Show this number of Recent Documents list, click the number of files that you want to display.

Directions for Word 2013

  1. Click File > Options > Advanced
  2. Make changes desired under “Display
  3. Click okay

3. The ‘Tell Me’ Feature: (in Office 2016)

You’ll notice a text box on the ribbon in Office 2016 that says ‘Tell me what you want to do.’ This is a text field where you can enter words and phrases about what you want to do next and quickly get to features you want to use or actions you want to perform. You can also use Tell Me to find help about what you’re looking for, or to use Smart Lookup to research or define the term you entered.

4. Using Date Fields:

Microsoft Office offers the feature of adding the latest date and time to the document. When you use the document on any other date, then you can put the current time and date on it. It only takes seconds. It is possible that you may forget to update the date and time, so Word offers a feature which helps in updating it automatically.

  1. Click in the document where you want to insert the date.
  2. Click Insert > Date and Time.
  3. Choose the correct format.
  4. Check the box: Update Automatically (optional).
  5. Click OK.

 

5.  Creating Graphs from Tables is as Easy as 123:

If the document that you are writing has a lot tables in it and you need to create graphs, the new Word feature has made it easier to convert the tables into graphs.

  1. Select the table to be converted.
  2. Click on Insert > Chart
  3. Select the chart type and click OK

6. Translation Options:

You can translate the document into different languages by using the translate feature.  You can translate just a word or as many sentences as needed.

  1. Right Click > Translate
  2. Select the Language of choice in the Research window
  3. Click Insert and the text you selected will be translated.

These are just a few of the many features offered in Microsoft Office.  I hope they are helpful!

Manzoor, Adnan. ” 7 Things You Should Know About Microsoft Office to Make Work Easier” Lifehack June 2017

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks

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Do you Know These Double-click Tricks in Excel?

Do you know these Double-click Tricks in Excel?

Most of us think of mastering formulas, learning macros and being super good with charts when we think of being productive with spreadsheets. But often learning simple stuff like keyboard shortcuts, using mouse and working with menus and ribbons can be a huge productivity booster for us.

Double Click on the Office Button / Logo to Close Excel

 

 

This is simple. Displays “do you want to save…” dialog if the workbook is not saved.

Adjust column widths by selecting multiple columns and double clicking on the separators

 

 

 

 

This is my favorite. You can use the same trick to adjust row heights too.

Double-click in the corner, just above scroll-bar to include a split

 

 

 

 

It is surprising that very few people know about split and freeze panes feature in excel. I have often seen colleagues struggling to freeze top row of a large workbook or include a split so that they can see 2 different things at a time.

You can also create a vertical split by clicking on the little bar shape next to horizontal scroll-bar near bottom right corner of the excel window.

(If you are wondering where the split would be created, it will be created at selected cell’s row (or column))

Double click on ribbon menu names to collapse ribbon to get more space

 

 

 

 

In MS Office 2007 you can double click on the ribbon menus to collapse the ribbon to one line. In Excel 2003, when you double click on the empty space in the toolbar area, it opens up the “customize” window (same as Menu > tools > customize)

Auto-fill a series of cells with data or formulas by just double clicking

 

 

 

 

I have saved countless minutes ever since I learned this little trick. Lets say you have a table where in one column you have some data and in the next you have written a formula in the first row. Now how would you copy the formula and paste it in all cells in that column?

Copy the formula (ctrl+c), select all cells, paste the formula.

Well, no more. Just select the formula in first cell, double click in the bottom right corner and see the magic.

The trick works for formulas, auto-fills (of numbers, dates, what not) as long as the adjacent column has data.

Jump to last row / column in table with double-click

 

 

 

 

Just select any cell in the table and double click on the cell-border in the direction you want to go. See the screencast.

Lock a particular feature and reuse them with double-click

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can lock any repeatable feature (like format painter, drawing connectors, shapes etc.) by just double clicking on the icon (in Excel 2007 this works for format painter, but for drawing shapes you need to right click and select lock drawing mode). This can save you a ton of time when you need to repeat same action several times.

Chandoo. “Do you know Double-click Tricks in Excel?” Excel Howtos, Learn Excel June 2009

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks

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4 Ways to Lock Your Windows 10 PC

Many of us are responsible for not only our own data, but the data of our clients as well.  Whether  or not you are subject to compliance regulations such as those in the medical or financial services industry, it is vital that we take seriously the security of the data that is entrusted to us.

Most importantly, you should never leave your PC unattended. But if you have to leave your Windows 10 PC alone for a period of time and don’t want to shut it down, we have a few alternatives for you.

Give these tips a try!

  1. Windows-L

Hit the Windows key and the L key on your keyboard. Keyboard shortcut for the lock!

  1. Ctrl-Alt-Del

Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete. On the menu that pops up, click Lock. Easy as 1,2,3 –  done!

  1. Start button

Tap or click the Start button in the bottom-left corner. Click your user icon and then select Lock.

 

  1. Auto lock via screen saver

You can set your PC to lock automatically when the screen saver pops up. Go to Control Panel > Appearance & Personalization > Change screen saver and then check the box for On resume, display logon screen. You can also set a time for how long your PC should wait before starting the screen saver. Now, when you exit out of the screensaver, you’ll need to enter your system password to get back in.

 

With Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft moved this screen saver setting from the Control Panel to Settings. You can find it by going to Settings > Personalization > Lock screen > Screen saver settings.

 

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks, Security

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Make Important Email Standout in Outlook

 

To make sure emails from important contacts stand out and do not go unnoticed, you can set up a rule that makes the email appear in a specific color or a specific size and type of font. For example, you can make emails from your boss appear in a larger font or have emails from family members all appear in red. To set up the way emails are displayed for Outlook 2016, Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007:

For Outlook 2016:

  • Go to the View tab

  •  Select View Settings

 

  • Choose Conditional Formatting

 

  •  Click add
  • Name your rule
  • Click on Font and pick a color, style and size and click OK

 

  • Click on Condition

 

  • Type in the email address of the sender or senders you want to highlight. For multiple people, separate the email address with a semicolon.

 

For Outlook 2010:

  • Go to View tab

 

 

  • Select View Settings

 

  • Choose Conditional Formatting

 

  • Click Add
  • Name your rule
  • Click on Font and pick a color, style and size and click OK

 

  • Click on Condition

 

  • Type in the email address of the sender or senders you want to highlight. For multiple people, separate the email addresses with a semicolon.

 

For Outlook 2007:

  • Go to the tools menu

 

  • Select Organize, using colors

 

  • Then choose specific colors for emails from specific people

 

  • More advanced automatic settings for applying font type and size to emails can be added by selecting Automatic Formatting in the top right corner of the Using Colors screen.

 

  • Click “Add” to create more rules
  • When you’re finished creating your rule, important email will stand out.

 

 

Kantra, Suzanne. “Make Important Email Standout in Outlook with Color Coding” Techlicious February 2017

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

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The 10 Best Features Coming to Windows 10

Microsoft wants to make you love your computer again.

This spring, Microsoft will release the next major update to Windows 10. Dubbed Creators Update, the free download includes new 3D apps, VR capabilities and 4K game streaming among its flashier features.

But you don’t need to be a graphics professional or VR-headset owner to appreciate what the Creators Update has in store.

I believe these are the true top 10 features coming to Windows 10 — not the snazziest, but the ones that might actually make Windows work better when you’re trying to get work done. As neither a visual artist nor a VR early adopter, these are the changes I’m most excited about.

  1. Smarter Settings layout

If you head to the Bluetooth page in Windows 10’s Settings page right now, you won’t find a button to Add a Device, which I find maddening. Instead, you must tab over to “Connected Devices” to perform the simple, common task of adding a Bluetooth peripheral to your computer. There’s also no easy way to disconnect from a Bluetooth device without removing it entirely.

Creators Update addresses this mess by combining the separate “Bluetooth” and “Connected devices” pages into one “Bluetooth & other devices” page in Settings where you can add, remove, connect and disconnect devices at will.

Elsewhere in Settings, you’ll find new categories for “Apps,” “Gaming” and “Mixed Reality” as well.

  1. Free up disk space without lifting a finger

Hard drive nearing capacity? Mine always seems to be. Creators Update can help keep your drive from filling up with crap. Head to Settings > System > Storage and turn on Storage sense.

With this setting enabled, Windows will automatically delete unused temporary files, as well as files that have been in the Recycle Bin for more than 30 days. I’m pretty good with emptying the Recycle Bin on something approaching a regular schedule, but I’m also very happy to have Windows track down and eradicate needless temp files.

  1. Action Center sliders

Right now, when you swipe in from the right edge of your screen to call up the Action Center, there’s a control to adjust display brightness — but tapping it only bumps up display brightness in huge, 25 percent blocks. Usually, I’m looking for finer control. But Creators Update offers handy sliders for both brightness and volume.

Microsoft is also testing a slider that could help you fine-tune the balance between your computer’s battery life and performance. You can see a picture of that below.

  1. Easier to change screen resolution

One of the more puzzling things about Windows 10 is how difficult it is to change the resolution of your display. (Currently, you must right-click on the desktop, select Display Settings, scroll to the bottom and click “Advanced display settings” to find it.)

I’d argue that the display resolution isn’t exactly an “advanced” setting, and Microsoft finally agrees; Creators Update places the screen resolution drop-down in its rightful place on the main Display settings page.

  1. Hit the Pause button on automatic updates

I agree, the worst part about Windows 10 is automatic updates. With Creators Update, you can’t stop automatic updates from happening, but you can delay some of them — for about a month, anyhow. Head to Settings > Update & security > Windows Update and click Advanced options under Update settings. Here, you’ll see a toggle switch for Pause Updates, which lets you prevent updates from being installed for up to 35 days.

You aren’t completely free from the specter of an automatic update taking control of your machine and potentially losing unsaved work. As the panel clearly states, “some updates… will continue to be installed.” But, hey, at least it’s a start.

  1. Metered Ethernet connection

Originally designed to give you control over your data usage if you’re using, say, a mobile hotspot or a satellite connection that has a data cap, a metered connection also has the added benefit of keeping Windows Updates at bay. Windows won’t download the update until you tell it to, or set your connection as unmetered.

But what if your computer is connected with a physical Ethernet cable? Creators’ Update adds that as well. To set your Ethernet connected as metered, head to Settings > Network & Internet > Ethernet and then click your Ethernet network. Next, toggle Set as metered connection.

  1. High DPI support

It’s a bummer to upgrade to a 4K display only to find some of your apps look blurry, because the developer has yet to update them to run on a screen with so many pixels. Creators Update adds a way for you to override DPI settings so individual apps can scale properly (read: crisply) on high-resolution displays. Here’s how:

Right-click on the app and choose Properties. Click on the Compatibility tab and check the box for Override high DPI scaling behavior and then choose System (Enhanced) from the pull-down menu.

  1. New Reminders recurrence options

Forget to pay your cable bill or buy flowers for your wedding anniversary? Hopefully, never again: Creators Update adds two new options for Cortana Reminders, so you can now ask Cortana to remind you to do something “Every Month” or “Every Year.”

  1. Share menu where you want it

Currently, when you hit the share button in an app, the sharing options slide in from the right edge of the screen — usually not where I’m looking. But soon, the share window will pop up right in the center of the current app. The new Share menu in Windows 10 Creators Update offers the usual suspects — Cortana Reminder, Facebook, Mail, OneNote and Twitter — and also features suggestions to install the Box, Dropbox and Line apps.

  1. Night light for less blue light

Staring at an unnaturally blue screen at night can shift your body’s natural clock and make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Your phone likely has a way to switch to warmer colors at night, and Windows soon will, too. In Creators Update, there’s setting to lower the blue light of your PC. Head to Settings > System > Display > Night light settings. You can schedule it to come on at sunset or manually set hours. You’ll also find a new Night light button in the Action Center to toggle the setting on and off.

Elliot, Matt.  “10 Best Features Coming to Windows 10” CNET February 2017

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

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Get the Most out of Windows 10 File Explorer

You probably use Windows 10’s File Explorer a hundred times a day.  You already know how to use it to move around your hard drive. Why bother to learn it better?

Because you’ll work more efficiently.  This truly excellent file manager has little-known tricks that makes it even more powerful and convenient.  You can control what folder the program opens to.  You can hide and unhide the ribbon. You can make your favorite File Explorer tools more readily available. And you can use keyboard shortcuts to make everything easier.

I’m not going to tell you how to use File Explorer.  I assume you already know the basics.  But I’ll take you to the next level, and make File Explorer easier and faster for you.

The Many Ways to Open File Explorer

Of course, you know how to open File Explorer.  But do you know the fastest and simplest way to do it? Or how to control what folder it opens to?

The fastest and easiest way to open File Explorer doesn’t involve your mouse or touchscreen.  Simply press Win-E and up comes a File Explorer window.  If you’re already running the program, it opens another File Explorer window.

That window opens to File Explorer’s default location.  You can change that default, but the options are very limited.

To change the default location, select File>Change folder and search options. In the General tab, pull down the “Open File Explorer to” menu and select your choice.

Unfortunately, that menu has only two options: Quick access and This PC. The first displays folders and files you may likely want based on past usage. The second displays library folders and drives.

Fortunately, you can create a shortcut to open File Explorer to any specific folder. All you need do is drag your desired folder into the Navigation pane’s Quick access section. That’s the top section of the Navigation pane, and it’s connected to the File Explorer icon on the taskbar. Don’t worry; dragging the folder will not move it. You can create several of these shortcuts.

Then, when you want to open File Explorer to your desired folder, right-click the File Explorer icon on the taskbar and select the folder.

At some later date, you may want to remove the shortcut to a folder from that pop-up menu. To do that, right-click the File Explorer icon on Windows’ taskbar, point to the folder on the pop-up menu, and click the thumbtack icon next to it.

The ribbon and the toolbar

Somewhere along the line, Microsoft decided that File Explorer should look like a part of Office. Instead of menus, it has ribbons. Ribbons are better than menus on a touchscreen, but they take up a lot of screen real estate.

To hide the ribbon and regain that real estate, click the tiny chevron in the upper-right corner, directly below the X that closes the window.

Or you can use the keyboard. Press Ctrl-F1.


You can still access the ribbon while it’s hiding. Click or tap on any of the ribbon names (File, Home, Share, or View), and that ribbon will temporarily appear.

To bring back the ribbon permanently, click the chevron or press Ctrl-F1 again.

File Explorer also has a configurable Quick Access toolbar, which makes your favorite tools always conveniently available. You’ll find it at the very top-left corner of the File Explorer window. Unlike the ribbon, it doesn’t take up much room. To add something to the Quick Access toolbar, right-click the item on the ribbon and select Add to Quick Access Toolbar. To remove an item, right-click the icon on the Quick Access Toolbar and select Remove from Quick Access Toolbar. But that small size has a price. The toolbar icons are so tiny that they’re difficult to identify, and on a touchscreen, difficult to tap. The Quick Access toolbar doesn’t have to be at the very top of the menu. You can move it to directly below the ribbon. Click the little arrow to the right of the Quick Access icons to pull down a menu. Select Show below the Ribbon.

Search tools

Searching in Windows 10 can seem pretty obvious. You type your criteria in the Search field below the ribbon on the right side of the File Explorer window.

Type in a word, and files containing that word pop up.

However, if you want a more complex search – i.e. you need to narrow it to a certain type of file, or files of a certain date — you have to remember all sorts of criteria.

But just look up from the Search field, to the File Explorer ribbon. As soon as you clicked that field, the Search tab appears on the ribbon. While the ribbon is hidden, the ribbon tabs remain, and in this case, the Search ribbon appears. All the user has to do is click the tab.

Here you can control where you want to search. This PC, Current folder, All subfolders, and Search again in are all pretty clear options. If Search again in is grayed out, do your intended search and that option will become available.

You can also refine your search by Date, Kind, Size, and Other properties, which includes the confusing option Type. To clarify this, Picture is a Kind; Jpeg is a Type. In other words, specific file formats are types.

Additional options let you repeat previous searches, control whether to search in .zip files, and to save searches. By default, searches are saved in the Search folder within your Users folder (probably C:\users\yourname\searches).

The keyboard shortcuts

The great thing about keyboard shortcuts is that you just type them and the action happens. The bad thing is that they’re useless unless you memorize them.

Here are seven File Explorer shortcuts that are worth memorizing. I’ve mentioned a couple of them in the article already, but I’m repeating them here for easy lookup.

Win-E: Opens File Explorer. If it’s already open, this will open a new window. Unlike the other shortcuts below, this one works whether or not you’re in File Explorer.

Ctrl-F1: Hide or unhide the ribbon.

Alt-P: Toggles the preview pane.

Alt-Enter: Opens the selected file’s Properties dialog box.

Alt-Up: Go to the folder containing the current folder. In other words, if you’re in D:\Libraries\Documents, this shortcut will bring you to D:\Libraries.

Ctrl-N: Opens a new window to the current folder.

Ctrl-Shift-N: Create a new folder.

Microsoft has turned File Explorer into a very powerful tool. The more you study it, the more tricks you’ll learn.

Spector, Lincoln. “Get the Most Out of Windows 10’s File Explorer” Windows Secrets January 26, 2017

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks

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7 Ways to Take Screenshots in Windows 10

Capture all — or just part — of your screen with a few keystrokes.

windows-screenshots

Screenshots are handy — whether you’re trying to write a how-to article or show your friend something on your screen — but taking screenshots in Windows 10 is not as simple as it could be.

Don’t get me wrong, you have plenty of options. There’s the Snipping Tool, various keyboard and physical button shortcuts, and tons of third-party tools. It’s just not as intuitive as I’d like (I’m a big fan of Apple’s screenshot process in OS X). But if you’re looking for screenshot info, look no further — here are seven different ways to take a screenshot on your Windows 10 device.

Snipping Tool

Windows’ built-in screenshot tool, the Snipping Tool, has been around since Windows Vista. You can find this tool in Start > All Programs > Windows Accessories > Snipping Tool.

snipping-tool.png

 

To use the Snipping tool, open it and click New to begin the screenshot process. The default snip type is a rectangular snip — you’ll use your mouse to crop a rectangular part of your screen for capture. You can also take free-form, window, and full-screen snips with the Snipping Tool.

The Snipping Tool does not automatically save your screenshots — you will need to manually save them in the tool before you exit. It does automatically copy your captures to the clipboard.

Print Screen

To capture your entire screen, tap the PrtScn button. Your screenshot will not be saved, but it will be copied to the clipboard — you’ll need to open an image editing tool (such as Microsoft Paint), paste the screenshot in the editor and save the file from there.

Windows Key + Print Screen

To capture your entire screen and automatically save the screenshot, tap the Windows Key + PrtScn. Your screen will briefly go dim to indicate that you’ve just taken a screenshot, and the screenshot will be automatically saved in the Pictures > Screenshots folder.

Windows Key + H

If you’d like to capture your entire screen for sharing purposes, you can use the Windows Key + H keyboard shortcut. This will capture your entire screen and open the Windows Share toolbar so you can immediately share it with your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, OneNote, etc.

Alt + Print Screen

To take a quick screenshot of the active window, use the keyboard shortcut Alt + PrtScn. This will snap your currently active window and copy the screenshot to the clipboard. You will need to open the shot in an image editor to save it.

Windows Logo + Volume Down

If you’re rocking a Windows Surface device, you can use the physical (well, sort of physical) buttons to take a screenshot of your entire screen — similar to how you would take a screenshot on any other smartphone or tablet. To do this, hold down the Windows Logo touch button at the bottom of your Surface screen and hit the physical volume-down button on the side of the tablet. The screen will dim briefly and the screenshot will be automatically saved to the Pictures > Screenshots folder.

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