Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Excel Convert dates from MDY to DMY

Today I encountered a problem when downloading some data from an Australian bank. Australia uses the DMY date format whereas the US uses MDY, my computer is set to use US as its region which means Excel expects dates to be entered using MDY format. Excel gets its country information which affects dates, in particular, from the setting you have for your Windows Region.

So, I had a .csv file in which all the dates were entered wrongly – they read 22/11/2010 instead of 11/22/2010, for example. When the dates are typed incorrectly for the country you are currently set to use, you can’t simply apply a format to them to fix the problem because there is no such date as 22/11/2010. And worse still a date like 2/1/2011 which is 2-Jan-2011 in Australia will be formatted as 1-Feb-2011 in my US Excel – throwing all my data spectacularly out.

So what to do?

The simplest solution is to use the Excel data parse tool. Select the column of dates and choose Data > Text To Columns. This opens the Convert Text To Columns Wizard which is the old way of parsing data into Excel.

In Step 1 select either option as you only have one column of data selected anyway. Click Next twice. Now in step three of the wizard, select the Date option and select the formatting for the displayed data. So if the data has been typed in DMY format, select DMY. If it has been typed in MDY format, choose MDY. Click Finish.

The date data will be automatically converted to match the correct date syntax for your version of Excel. In short this converts all my Australian dates to US date format so they are correct in Excel. Select the column of dates and you can now format the dates using your preferred format.

It’s a simple but effective solution that avoids the necessity of retyping the date data.

Helen Bradley

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Multiple image printing in Photoshop CS4 & CS5

One real annoyance with Photoshop CS4 and CS5 is that Print Package and Contact Sheet printing is missing. These options appeared in earlier versions of Photoshop but they aren’t installed automatically in Photoshop CS4 & CS5.

You might be excused for thinking this means you can’t print multiple photos per page in Photoshop CS4 & CS5. Nothing could be further from the truth. The secret is to find the missing features on your program disk or, quicker still, download them from the web.

Here are links to the files you need for the Mac and the PC:

Mac version for CS4:

and for CS5:

Windows version for CS4:

and for CS5

Download and run the files. If you’re on a PC the download zip file contains an executable file you simply run and it places the files you need in a folder on your desktop.

Open the desktop folder, open the appropriate English, French or Spanish folder, choose Goodies > Optional Plug-ins. Then choose the plug-ins appropriate to your version of Windows. In the folder are the Contact Sheet, Web Contact Sheet and PhotoMerge plug-ins. You need the Contact Sheet plug in as it provides both the Picture Package and Contact Sheet features.

Copy the ContactSheetII.8LI file to your C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS5\Plug-ins\Automate folder.

You will also need to copy the Goodies> Presets > Layouts folder and place it in your C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS5\Presets folder – just drag and drop the entire Layouts folder into the Presets folder.

Restart Photoshop, open a file and choose File > Automate > Picture Package.

When you launch the Picture Package choose either the Foremost Document, Folder or File from the Use menu as the image(s) to start with.

Select the page size to use and then the layout arrangement. You can, for example, print four 4 x 5 images or a combination of 4 x 5 and 2 x 2.5” – there are plenty of options to choose from.

If you enable the Flatten All Layers checkbox you will end up with all images on a single layer rather than each  image appearing on its own layer.

Set the printing Resolution and add Labels to your images if desired and click Ok.

To customize a layout, click Edit Layout and you can click and drag to resize any of the images in the layout.

To add an additional image click Add Zone and then size it.

If the ratio of your selected image’s height and width are different to the ratio of the zone the image is placed in, the image will be scaled to fit one dimension – it will not be cropped – but it will print slightly smaller in the other dimension.

What isn’t at all obvious is how to print multiple images at various sizes in the Picture Package.

To do this, click on an image in the Picture Package and a File dialog will open. Select the image to print at this location in the Picture Package.

Continue and select different images for every one of the layout boxes if desired.

When you are done, click Ok.

Photoshop creates an image the size that you specified with all the images that you selected sized and positioned in the layout. Depending on whether you had Flatten All Layers enabled or not, each image will be on a separate layer or your image will have one layer full of images.

You can now save or print this image.

Print Package is a feature of Photoshop that really should have been included in a regular install of Photoshop CS4 or CS5. It shouldn’t be as difficult as it is to find and install.

The good news, however, is that once you’ve gone to the trouble of installing it, it will be there every time you need it and also, by adding this feature you’ve also reinstated the Contact Sheet option.

Helen Bradley