Thursday, July 24th, 2014
You can quickly insert text from a file into your document using Word’s Text from File command. This used to be as simple as choosing Insert > File but the command got hidden behind an additional layer of the UI in Word 2007, making it almost entirely invisible to most users.
To insert text from a file in all recent versions of Word, open the Insert tab in the ribbon and, in the Text settings find the Object button. Click the small arrow to the right of the Object button, and choose Text from File…. Choose the file you want and click Insert. The file type selection here defaults to Word documents only, so if you wish to insert a .txt file or other non-Word document, you’ll have to change the file type to your desired type or All Files.
If you insert a Word document it will include all elements of the document such as images and special formatting. If you wish to include the file’s header or footer (if it has one), you should insert the file into a new section of your document. Be careful when inserting multiple files with different formats, since text from one file may take on another file’s format if the inserts aren’t separated properly.
Monday, June 16th, 2014
Yikes! Just how do you resize a photo inside a PowerPoint or Word SmartArt placeholder
I got an email from a reader this morning. He has a PowerPoint slide (but it could as easily be a Word document or an Excel worksheet) and he wants to size a photo inside a placeholder. You see he was making an organization chart and he was dealing with lots of different head shots – all photographed differently. He wanted to make the faces the same relative size inside the placeholders – but to do this he had to get access to the photos inside the placeholders.
You see that’s the problem, every time you right click the placeholder and choose Size and Position you’re affecting the placeholder not the thing inside it! The solution is to use the Crop tool – so click on the placeholder and choose Picture Tools > Format tab and click the Crop tool.
Now you get handles around your photo and you can drag the handles to resize the image and you can move it to change its position inside the placeholder. When you’re done, click Crop again to finish. Easy when you know how.
Thursday, April 10th, 2014
If you always start a new page for a particular type of heading – include the page break in the style
When you always start a major heading item on a new page in a Word document you can configure your heading style so it has the page break built into it – saving you having to insert it manually.
To do this, select some text with formatted with the style that is to include the page break and locate the style in the Style gallery. If it does not appear there, display the Styles and Formatting task pane by clicking the dialog launcher in the bottom right of the Styles area in the ribbon.
Right click the Style name, choose Modify and then Format.
Click the Paragraph option and then click the Line and Page Breaks tab.
Enable the Page Break Before checkbox and click Ok twice.
The page break is now part of the style so a new page will be started each time you use that style. The style will also update and effect any text already formatted using that style in the current document.
Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
If you’re using Windows 8 or 8.1 you can play videos and movie files you have stored on your computer but you can’t view DVDs using Windows Media Player—this feature was removed from Windows 8 along with the Media Guide. If you want to be able to play DVDs in Windows 8 you will need to download and install a DVD player. If you’re using Windows 8 Pro then you can download and install Microsoft’s Windows Media Center which costs $9.99 – this site will step through the process. If you’re not using the Pro version then you would need to upgrade to Pro to use the Media Center, which ends up being a $100 upgrade just for the ability to play a DVD. Instead, I recommend you use the free VLC Media Player.
If you need to burn DVDs you will need a DVD burner to do so. Windows 8 doesn’t ship with a DVD burner but that doesn’t mean that the manufacturer of your computer hasn’t provided one. Check the Start screen and see if there’s a DVD burner already installed. If not, here is a round up of some of the DVD burning tools around which are Windows 8 compatible. The good news is that most have free trial versions so you can test them out and see how they perform:
Wondershare DVD Creator — $39.95
Ashampoo Burning Studio Free — upgrade to full version for $49.99
Aimersoft DVD Maker for Windows – $39.95
Nero Burning ROM 12 – $49.99
Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
When pasting large data tables from your web browser into an Excel file you’ll probably be displeased to find that they do not match the formatting of the worksheet.
By default Excel will paste the data with the formatting it used on the source web page instead. This is rarely useful, since it’s very unlikely the web page had formatting that is compatible with your document. As you can see in the image above, using the source formatting can result in the inclusion of links, improper font and font size, and a number of other formatting issues.
To make Excel paste the data with destination formatting (i.e. the formatting of the destination Excel worksheet), you’ll need to add a special command to your quick access toolbar. To do this, select File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar. Above the left column, select the Choose commands from dropdown and choose All Commands. Scroll down the list and find Paste and Match Destination Formatting. Select it and click Add, then OK.
Now whenever you wish to paste web data into Excel, click the Paste and Match Destination Formatting button in the Quick Access Toolbar instead of using the standard paste tool. This will result in the data being automatically formatted to match the look of the rest of your worksheet.
Friday, March 21st, 2014
Learn how to make sure that printing multiple sheets to a pdf gives one pdf and not many
If you have ever tried to print a large Excel workbook to a PDF file, you’ve probably run into this issue. You press print, Excel asks you to name the PDF, and then it begins to print. Everything seems fine, but then Excel asks you to name another PDF, then another, then another, ad infinitum. When the operation finally finishes, Excel has properly printed the workbook to a PDF format, but your worksheets have been split into several different PDF files. Some PDFs contain multiple worksheets, others only a single one, but all you really wanted was one PDF file with the entire workbook.
It turns out this issue is caused by having different Page Setup options on each worksheet. For example, Excel can’t print two pages with different paper sizes to the same “piece of paper” (actually a PDF in this case). Instead, it insists on having two different PDFs to print to, one for each paper size. So, to resolve this issue, you must make sure each worksheet’s page setup agrees with the others.
Fortunately, doing this is very simple. To begin, in your Excel workbook, right click one of your worksheet tabs at the bottom of the window and choose Select All Sheets. Any changes to the Page Setup options will now be applied to every worksheet.
This means we don’t have to check each worksheet to make sure it has the same settings as the others; we simply choose which settings we want and all the worksheets will automatically match. To do this, go to the Page Layout tab in the ribbon. In the Page Setup section, click the small arrow in the bottom right corner to open the Page Setup dialog.
The Page tab of the dialog contains the critical options that can lead to this issue, namely the paper size and print quality settings. Change these to whatever you wish, typically something like letter paper at 300 dpi. Other settings, such as orientation and scaling, do not cause the multiple PDFs issue so if you wish you can change them for individual worksheets. Still, it’s best to have all worksheets print with the same settings. Once you have chosen your desired settings click OK and they will be applied to every worksheet.
You can now print your workbook to a single PDF file.
Thursday, March 20th, 2014
Database in Microsoft Access
Learn to create a database in Microsoft Access. This video steps you through the process of creating a report for your Access database file. In other parts of this series you can learn how to create the database, write Queries and create a Form for easier data entry.
For a text version of this video check out this article on my website: First Steps with Access
Monday, March 10th, 2014
Learn these quick techniques to format your Sticky Notes
I love using sticky notes to stick things to my desktop. Using these on my digital desktop is helping keep my real desktop clean and tidy. However, sometimes I need to format my notes and help for doing this is not easy to find. So, here, in a nutshell, are the super secret shortcut keys you can use to format your text on your sticky notes :
Bold Ctrl+B Italic Ctrl+I Underlined Ctrl+U Strikethrough Ctrl+T Bullet list Ctrl+Shift+L (press this twice for a numbered list) Subscript Ctrl+= Superscript Ctrl+Shift++ Increase/Decrease font size Ctrl+Shift+> and Ctrl+Shift+< (or Ctrl+Scroll wheel)
Single space lines Ctrl+1 Double space Ctrl+2 1.5 Line spacing Ctrl+5 Captialize Text Ctrl+Shift+A Right Align Ctrl+R Left Align Ctrl+L Center Align Ctrl+E
You can also use fancy effects in sticky notes if you create them in another application such as Word and then copy and paste them into the Sticky Note.
Other handy Sticky Notes keyboard shortcuts:
Undo Ctrl+Z Redo Ctrl+Y Cut Ctrl+X Copy Ctrl+C Paste Ctrl+V
New Note Ctrl+N
To change the color of a note, right click it and choose a color.
To Backup your Sticky Notes:
You will find your Sticky notes file at
To make a backup, copy the stickynotes.snt file you find there.
To launch Sticky Notes if you haven’t yet discovered them:
Start > All Programs > Accessories > Sticky Notes
Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Enhance your Charts with Visuals
by Helen Bradley
Why have boring old column and bar charts when you can have picture charts instead?
Learn how to replace bars and columns in Excel charts with small images stacked up to show the values being compared.
Image charts like this are one of Excel’s secrets so let me show you how to make them.
In the video you will learn how to replace columns and bars in Excel charts with images. You will see how to find images to use and how to stack and resize the images to fit the chart’s columns and bars.
Friday, January 31st, 2014
Memo to my Mac – Don’t go to sleep on me!
Hmmm me and my MacBook Air are getting along pretty well but some things still bug me from time to time.
One is the display dim time. You see it seems like I just look away and all of a sudden the Mac has gone elsewhere – the screen turns off and I have to wake it back up and enter my password.
Right now I am trying to download some software so this is getting pretty annoying. I want to be able to see the progress without having to the Mac up all the time. This constant jiggling the touchpad and entering a password is becoming frustrating.
Seems like there are a couple of settings needing changing. One is in Settings > Security & Privacy. If I set the Require Password value to something more than Immediately I will get some leeway in having to enter my password all the time. I set this to 1 hour. But, the screen is still dimmed after only a minute or so. That setting is in Settings > Energy Saver – there you can set the Display Sleep – mine was set to 1.5 minutes – I ramped that up to 1 hour.
So now my Mac doesn’t go to sleep when I am downloading stuff on it and working on another computer and I don’t have to enter my password like every few minutes. In short, life is a lot simpler.
Hope this helps you and your Mac to be friends again?
Saturday, January 11th, 2014
How to display your desktop – hiding all open programs on the Mac
I am in ‘traveling with my Mac mode’ – I have a MacBook Air and it is so light and thin that it makes a great traveling companion – sort of like having an oversize iPad that runs Illustrator, Photoshop and Lightroom.
BUT, and there are some big buts! I use a desktop PC so little things on the Mac bite me because I simply don’t have the knowledge at my fingertips. In the last couple of days the issue has been the desktop – I need to get to some files saved there but there is all this stuff in the way. Turns out there is a shortcut key you can use – F11 – if you’re on a notebook you’ll need to use the Fn function key with this so it is Fn + F11 but that’s all you need to hide everything and show your desktop.
Now I can take my screenshots Command + Shift + 3 then hide the junk so I can see the image to drag and drop it into a Word document or into Photoshop.
Yeah! Me and my Mac are friends again.
Sunday, December 1st, 2013
This is the old map gadget from Google – it doesn’t exist any more and the maps created using it won’t exist soon either.
If you’re asking yourself: What happened to Google Docs Gadgets? – the answer isn’t anything you want to hear
I loved Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) gadgets. These were advanced options you could use with Google spreadsheets.
There was a Motion Chart gadget which helped you to create a great looking motion chart. You could set it up the way you wanted it to look and save those settings to the defaults. Click Publish and you’d get the code for the chart and you could embed it into a blog or website. Now it’s gone and the alternative is pretty awful by comparison. You can’t preset the motion chart settings – well you can try – but they aren’t saved with the worksheet and you can’t configure it and then put it on your website or blog. The chart keeps reverting to the default settings making it a whole lot less useful than it used to be.
This and other old Gadgets either don’t exist in Google Drive or they have a really reduced functionality.
Don’t get me started on the Map Gadget
Please don’t ask me about this one. This is so totally totally sad! The map gadget let you type a series of addresses into a Google Drive spreadsheet and you could select them and add the map gadget and it would plot the locations on a map.
It was A W E S O M E. And you know what? Google killed it – D E A D.
There is no map gadget – not even one which works horribly(like the other charts that replace deprecated gadgets) – it’s all gone. The only saving grace is that some folks have created apps to fill the gap and MapAList.com does a good job of taking the data from a Google Drive spreadsheet and plotting it on a map. Only I wish I didn’t have to use it – the old Google Gadget was a heap easier to use. To help you get started with MapAList I created a Youtube video that goes through the process.
This is why I hate the cloud
Yep.. there are things I hate about the cloud. Before the cloud took over our lives we bought software and it worked. If a developer made a new version of the software with new features – of if they removed old ones, we could decide to upgrade or not.
The cloud changed all that. Now Google makes changes and not only can we not do what we want to do but things we made don’t work anymore. The map gadget is being deprecated – for that read folks who used it in the past will find their published maps won’t work in the future. Don’t you hate that?
So what other bad news is there?
Sadly there is a lot. Google not only killed gadgets but it made a half hearted attempt at mollifying us with some new charts. Problem is that they suck – really, in contrast to what we had, they are pretty awful. They don’t have headings – so you can’t add a heading to charts like the motion chart, table chart, organization chart etc. So, if you post a chart to your blog you’ll have to find another way to title it – really! Table charts used to be able to filter data – now they can’t – the list goes on.
So, what can you do?
Bellyache about them – like I am.
Realize that all those blog posts out there that talk about Google Docs Gadgets are now wildly out of date – they are mostly useless as the charts don’t work like they use to.
Hope someone creates better solutions. The folks at MapAList.com have done a good job of simplifying map creation. Hopefully other developers will create solutions that give us the functionality that Google saw fit to remove.
Stop talking about the cloud as being the panacea of all ills – it too often sucks and it disadvantages users when companies like Google take away functionality from their products.
OK.. rant over..
… for now ;)