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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.

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks

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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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How to Set Tags, Flags, and Reminders in Microsoft Outlook

How often do you receive an email in your Outlook inbox only to decide that you’ll deal with it another time? And how often do you forget to return to that email?

Yep, that’s not unusual. Many of us get so much email that we often leave our inboxes filled to the brim with messages that go unattended and unanswered. There must be a way to categorize and flag certain emails so they remain on your radar. And there is, if you’re using Outlook.

Microsoft’s desktop email program offers different ways to handle an email that you don’t want to face right away but still need to keep alive. You can tag a message with a name and color category so you can easily spot it and know how to respond to it. You can flag a follow-up to an email to nudge you to look at it on a specific day. And you can set a reminder on a message so you’re alerted about it at a specific date and time.  The goal of these actions is to highlight important emails in some way so your attention is drawn or redrawn to them. Let’s check out how to set tags, flags, and reminders on your important Outlook emails.

I’m working with Outlook 2016 as part of my Office 365 subscription, but the steps are the same or similar in the prior couple of iterations of Outlook. To start, open Outlook, stay in your inbox, and right-click on a message that you’ve already read but have yet to answer or organize. Here’s one thing you can do right off the bat. From the popup menu, click on the command to Mark as Unread. This action highlights your email in bold and shows you that there’s now another unread message in your inbox.

Another option is to place emails into color categories, a visual clue that tells you that you still need to deal with these messages. You can use color categories to highlight and organize related messages. And you can use each color category for different types of emails and create your own categories if color names don’t do the trick. Right-click on a different email and hover your mouse over Categorize. Click on a specific color category, such as Blue. The first time you use that category, you’re asked if you want to rename it. Let’s leave the name as is for now. Click No. Notice that your email now has a blue header at the top telling you it’s in the Blue category.

Select a few more messages and assign them to the same color category. Alternatively, you can select a message and click on the Categorize icon on the Home Ribbon to assign a category. Select a couple more messages and assign them to a different color category. Select a couple more and assign them to a third color category. You can select multiple messages and assign them all to the same category in one shot. Now click on the View tab to switch to the View Ribbon. By default, your messages are likely sorted by date. Change the view to categories by clicking on the Categories icon on the Ribbon, and your messages are now organized by category. Change the view back to date.

You can also search for a specific category. Click in the Search field and then click on the Categorize icon on the Search Ribbon. Select the category that you wish to search. Only messages in that category appear in the search results. Click the X in the Search field to remove the search.

To remove a message from a category, right-click on the message, move to the Categorize command, and select Clear All Categories. Next, you can rename your categories or create new ones if you want more descriptive names than just colors. Click on the Categorize icon on the Home Ribbon and select All Categories. At the Color Categories window, click on the New button. Type a name for the new category and assign a color. Click OK. To rename an existing category, select the category and click on the Rename button. Type the new name directly in the field of the existing name and press Enter on your keyboard. To remove an existing category, select it and click on the Delete button. Here’s one more trick before we leave this window. You can assign a keyboard shortcut to an existing category. Doing so lets you select a message and press the keyboard shortcut to put it in that category. Select an existing category, click on the dropdown menu for Shortcut Key, and select a shortcut. Click OK to close the Color Categories window.

Check your existing messages for a category that you renamed and notice that they display the new name. Select a message that you want to assign to a category for which you created a shortcut key. Press the keyboard shortcut and notice that the message takes on that category.

You can also draw your attention to certain emails by setting them with a follow-up flag and adding them to your Outlook To-Do list. Right-click on a message and hover over the Follow Up command. At the flyout menu, you can select a specific day or week, such as today, tomorrow, this week, or next week.

Select Today. A flag appears in the message as a visual clue that you need to attend to this message. Hover over or click on the To-Do List icon at the bottom of the left pane. Any messages you flagged this way appear in your To-Do list.

If you accomplish the To-Do item by responding to or dealing with the message, click on the Flag icon. A checkmark indicates that the item has been marked as complete. Okay, that’s fine, but what if you need a reminder to alert you to respond to a message? Right-click on a different message and move to the Follow-Up command. This time, select Custom. At the Custom window, select the way you want to flag the message or just leave the option set to Follow up. Select the Start date and the Due date. Then check the option for Reminder. Select a specific time for the reminder. By default, the Windows reminder sound will play when the reminder is due, but you can change that to a different sound. Click on the sound icon and browse to and select the sound you wish to hear. Click OK to close the Custom window. The item is added to your Outlook To-Do list but also carries with it a reminder.

When the due date and time arrive, a visual and audible reminder goes off, alerting you that it’s now time for you to pay attention to this message.

Whitney, Lance. “How to Set Tags, Flags, and Reminders on Your Microsoft Outlook Emails,” Windows Secrets, Best Practices, Office Productivity, January 9, 2018

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

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10 Forgotton (but still useful) Tips For MS Word

Plenty of Microsoft Word commands have gathered a bit of dust over the years, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful for those who remember them. Here are 10 tricks you may find handy.

Perhaps no enterprise productivity tool is used more often in today’s office setting than Microsoft Word. It is the familiar workhorse that creates our emails, reports, proposals, and just about every other document important to the daily operation of business. Yet despite that popularity and familiarity, many quirks and tricks in Word go neglected and unused—tricks that could save us time and frustration if we could just remember them.

In an effort to remedy that situation, here are 10 useful Microsoft Word tips that many of us have forgotten about but shouldn’t have. These tips apply to any version beyond Word 2007 and in some cases even earlier versions than that.

1: Start typing anywhere

This is a simple tip I often forget myself. In the default Print Layout display mode, you can just double-click anywhere on a page and start typing. It doesn’t matter if the page is blank, Word will fill in the space above your cursor with blank paragraphs automatically. You don’t have to start at the top of the page and manually fill it in with blank lines.

2: Auto generate filler text

Even though it might not be the best tool for the job, many people use Word to create layouts in columns and around images, like in a newspaper. In some cases, planning a layout will require the use of filler nonsense text to help gauge page breaks, image placement, and so on.

You can generate filler text written in Latin by using a special command. Type this text into the document body:

=lorem(p,l)

Replace the “p” with the number of paragraphs you want and replace the “l” with the number lines you want. The command will fill in the Latin text for you automatically.

3: Replace special characters

As a former editor, I can attest to the usefulness of this next tip. You can use the search and replace function in Word to locate and replace special and nonprinting characters. This comes in handy when you want to replace double paragraph marks between paragraphs with single marks, for example, as shown in Figure A.


In the Find What field, I entered the code for double paragraph marks (^p^p). In the Replace With field, I specified a single paragraph mark (^p). You can use this technique to replace things like tabs, line breaks, and page breaks as well.

4: Replace styles and formatting

Similar to the previous tip, you can also use the Word search and replace features on styles and other formatting. For example, you might replace the boring normal text used for every mention of your new product in a press release with bold formatting.

To reach these extra parameters, click the More >> button in the Replace dialog box to access expanded options (Figure B). Then click on the Format button and set the format or style to what you desire.

5: Generate quick calculations

This tip may have limited uses, but it can still be useful in a pinch. You can use Word’s Calculate command to solve algebraic equations you have typed as text. The Calculate command is an obscure listing found deep in the All Commands tree. Navigate to File | Options | Quick Access Toolbar | All Commands and add the Calculate command to your Quick Access Toolbar. You can then use it to solve a highlighted equation. For example, if you type

=2+2

the calculated answer will appear in the lower left-hand corner of the Word document where the number of words normally appears.

6: Auto update date and time

In business, you often have to create a dated document, such as a monthly invoice, on a recurring schedule. You can save yourself some time by adding a date function that automatically updates the date each time you create a new invoice.

Place the cursor where you want the date to appear and then navigate to the Insert | Date & Time item on the Ribbon. You’ll have your choice of formats—just be sure to check the Update Automaticallybutton before you click OK.

7: Reveal paragraph styles

The underlying style of each paragraph or section of a document can sometimes be vital information. This is particularly true when a document is going to be run through a specific publication process.

Using an obscure setting found in the Word options menu, you can show the style of each paragraph in the left margin (Figure C). First, change to Draft Mode. Then navigate to File | Options | Advanced and scroll down to the Display section, where you will see this entry: Style Area Pane Width In Draft And Outline Modes. Change the number in that box to .5 inches and click OK. You should now see a pane that displays style information for your document.

 

8:Remove all manual formatting

It happens to everyone who uses Word on a regular basis—sometimes you screw up the formatting to a point where you just want to start over. There is a button on the Home tab of the Ribbon that many people don’t realize is there. It is the Clear All Formatting button and it can be a real time saver.

Highlight the text you want to clear and click that button (which looks like the letter A with an eraser over top of it). All manual formatting will be removed and the text will revert to the underlying style. Then you can start over.

9: Spike it

Just about everyone is familiar with the usefulness of the Copy and Paste keyboard shortcuts—but there is an often overlooked feature called Spike that may be even more powerful. With Spike you can move several bits of text, images, and tables from one document to a different part of the current document or to another document all at the same time.

First, highlight an area you want to cut. (Note: Spike will cut, not copy.) Next, press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + F3. That places the text onto a special clipboard. You can keep adding to that clipboard using Spike without each new cut replacing the old one. Once you have everything you need, open a new document (or click somewhere in the same document, if you prefer) and press Ctrl + Shift +F3. Everything you cut will be placed at the new spot and the Spike clipboard will be cleared.

10: View side-by-side documents

On occasion you may want to view documents side by side. Word makes it easy with a feature found on the View tab of the Ribbon.

Open the documents in question and navigate to the View tab, where you will see the View Side By Side button. Clicking it will split the display in half, so you can see both documents at the same time. Clicking the Synchronous Scrolling button on the View tab will make comparison even easier.

Kaelin, Mark. “10 forgotton (but still useful) tips for Microsoft Office,” TechRepublic, Software, June 2016

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

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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

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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

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