Wednesday, October 24th, 2007
If you’ve never had problems burning CDs, please feel free to continue surfing past this blog entry and go somewhere else. Also buy a lottery ticket because you are a very lucky person.
To those still here and struggling, here’s a link to a list of troubleshooting tips that might help solve the problems. While it says Apple and Mac all the way through the list, the solutions are equally as valid for working on the PC.
The biggest gottchas I have found is buying the wrong disk type for your drive and trying to burn too fast. I crank down my writing speed to a slow crawl. It takes a lot longer but I have a lot fewer drink coasters around the house. Also, if you’re prompted, always specify Audio CD for playing in an audio player if that’s what you want to do with the disk. And, if closing the disk is an option – select it – most players won’t play disks that aren’t closed.
I’ve also had problems with Vista burning a DVD of photos which is a data DVD. I haven’t solved the problem in its entirety but I have found Windows Media Player is the best burning tool to use for the task. Simply create a burnlist of photos to burn to the disk. You will have to close the DVD if you plan to read it in a Windows XP machine but it does work.
Sunday, October 21st, 2007
If there is an image that you typically use in a document such as your company logo you can create it so that it can be automatically inserted into your documents.
To start, first place the image into the document and size it and format it to suit your needs – this will include setting its Text Wrapping properties.
Now select the image and choose Insert > AutoText > New and type a descriptive word to describe the image such as logo. Click Ok.
In future, type the word logo and press F3 and the image will automatically appear in the document. This saves you from having to insert it and format it manually each time you need it. It’s a big time saver.
Friday, October 19th, 2007
The new Office 2007 is packed full of great features and I’m finding that the more I work with it the more I like it.
Take Tracked Changes, for example. The Reviewing pane can now be placed vertically along the edge of the page (or horizontally, if you insist). I just find the vertical arrangement so much easier to work with.
Also Word now tracks moved text! Yes, you can grab a sentence or paragraph or more and move it from A to B in your document and Word knows you’ve done it and marks it with double strikethrough (where it has been removed from) and double underlining in the position it has been moved to. Neat stuff!
If you later Reject the move step Word checks to see if the moved text has been altered, and if it has it tells you this and asks you what version of the text you want to undo to. It’s smart and a much better solution than marking the text as being cut and inserted.
To use the feature, make sure you’re in Word 2007 mode and not Compatibility mode where you’re working on an older 2003 format document.
Wednesday, October 17th, 2007
To ensure your Outlook .pst file stays trim and doesn’t get bloated with old and outdated emails, configure its AutoArchive options so that older messages are automatically removed or filed away. To do this, right click the folder to archive (such as your InBox) and choose Properties, AutoArchive tab and select the Archive this folder using these settings option. Now enable the Clean out items older than and set the appropriate time period. Only select to Permanently delete old items if you really don’t want them saved. Enable, instead, Move old items to default archive folder and Click Apply.
If you haven’t got AutoArchive configured to run periodically, you’ll get a warning to this effect and Outlook will set it to 14 days by default. You can change the timing by choosing Tools, Options, Other, AutoArchive. Now, every 14 days (or when you specify), AutoArchive will run and the old items will be moved to your archive folder. Your archive file will appear in your folders list so you can drag and drop messages from it back into your regular Outlook folder if there are archived messages you need to refer to.
The reason you need to do this is two-fold. One is that Outlook stores everything in its PST file – emails, contacts, appointments and worst of all – email attachments. So the file can get very large indeed. At or near 2GB in size the file becomes unstable and you risk losing everything – permanently – can we just say “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? Archive now – before your computer does the deed for you – permanently and with little or no chance of recovery.
Tuesday, October 16th, 2007
If you too often send an email message and then think “Oh no! I forgot to say xyz” or “Oops, I shouldn’t have been that blunt”, then build a delay into Outlook so the messages aren’t sent right away. It just might save you having to write a second email or save you grovelling to your boss!
To do this use a rule to delay sending emails. Choose Tools, Rules and Alerts and click on New Rule. Choose the Start from blank rule option and then select Check messages after sending and click Next. Click Next as all messages will be delayed (but you can set an exception shortly) and click Next and Ok again to confirm the rule will apply to all sent messages. Choose Defer delivery by a number of minutes and set this to the number to wait – say 2 minutes and click Next.
Now, set an exception for messages that just have to be sent immediately, for example, select Except if it is marked as importance and set this to High. Click Next, type a name for the rule such as Delayed Send, enable the Turn on this rule checkbox and click Finish.
Now, whenever you click Send, your messages will be held for 2 minutes before being sent except if you make them High importance.
No more grovelling!
Thursday, October 11th, 2007
It’s handy to be able to click an email address on a web page and have your email software launch automatically with a new message ready for you to type. It’s a nuisance if you do this and the wrong email software opens.
It is, however, quite easy to set any email software to be the default program to use in these circumstances. To do this, choose Start, Control Panel,
Tuesday, October 9th, 2007
Older versions of Word included a Calculate option on the Tools menu which let you make quick calculations.
If you’re using Word 2003 you can add the tool back by right clicking any toolbar and choose Customize. Select the Commands tab and, from the Categories list choose All Commands and scroll the Commands list to locate ToolsCalculate. Drag this onto the Tools menu and hold your mouse there until the menu opens and then drop the option into place. If desired, right click the new entry and remove the word Tools from its name so it simply reads Calculate.
Now test your new menu item by typing some values eg 24, 25 & 26 and select them. Choose Tools, Calculate and the status bar will display “The result of the calculation is 75″. If you later click Control + V you can paste the result of the calculation (75) into your document.
To sum a column of numbers, hold Alt as you drag over the column with your mouse then choose Tools, Calculate. It also works inside tables and you can type a more detailed calculations such as 25*25 and it will calculate the result for you (answer: 625)
So, put away the calculator and let Word to the work for you.
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007
When you’re writing newsletters, company reports and other documents in Word you may find that they look more professional if you condense your font slightly. Even a reduction as small as .3 points changes the look of the font significantly and makes it look, well just a little more classy.
To do this, select the text to alter and choose Format, Font, Character Spacing tab and set the Spacing to Condensed and the By value to, say, .3 points.
If it’s too tight, loosen it up a bit, if not, try a little more compression until you get something you like.
Monday, October 1st, 2007
Need a copy of part of an Excel worksheet? Too easy!
You can take a picture of a range in Excel and, for example, insert into Word as a picture or place it an image in another area on a workbook. To do this, first select the area to snap and hold Shift as you open the Edit menu. Choose Copy Picture, select As shown on screen or As shown when printed and click Ok.
Now go ahead and paste the image wherever you desire. This Shift + Edit menu option also works for copying a clip art or other type of image inserted into an Excel workbook.
Saturday, September 29th, 2007
When you have a table in Word that extends beyond a single page in your document it can be hard to follow what the table is all about when you’re looking at page 2 because the headings are all back on page 1.
Solve this problem in Word by selecting the rows that contain the headings and, from the Table Tools tab on the toolbar, click the Layout option and then choose Repeat Header Rows. The contents of the header row will now appear on all pages where the table appears.
Saturday, September 22nd, 2007
This cool new Photo Gallery tool from Windows Vista is at last available for Windows XP.
This was a Vista only program but, recently, it was released as a private beta, now it’s public. You can download it from here: http://get.live.com/betas/photogallery_betas.
To use it, you’ll need to have Windows XP SP2 installed and expect the download and installation process to take a while – actually, scrub that, it takes ages.
However, it looks great, it has the Vista look to it and it’s a worthy replacement for the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer.
It has a great panorama assembly tool under the Make menu – just select the panorama images first then click this option.
Overall the program is pretty good and probably the biggest missing omission is a good rotation tool. While it rotates in 90 degree increments it sorely needs a tool that rotates in tiny quantities like fractions of a degree.
Thursday, September 20th, 2007
Let’s face it, plain old white backgrounds are, just that, plain old white backgrounds. If you’re like me, you’ll want to change the color of your page background.
To do this, choose the Page Layout tab from the Word 2007 Ribbon, and choose the Page Color dropdown list and choose a page color from it. If you choose a color from a Theme set then, later, when you change the Theme – the page color changes accordingly.
Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Since Microsoft Word 2002, it has been possible to format a series of cells in a table all at the one time, even if they are not contiguous (a lovely word that means not side-by-side).
To do this, select the first cell then Control + click on the other cells that you want to share the same formatting. Once all the cells are selected you can apply a formatting such as a shading to those cells. Note, that the Shading button on the Tables and Borders toolbar in Word 2002/2003 is the one to use, the one on the Drawing toolbar is the Fill button – it looks the same but doesn’t work the same!
Selecting and formatting non contiguous cells all at ones makes it a quicker process to format a table than it would be if you selected and formatted each cell individually.
However, of course, the F4 key still works in cells in a table so you can, for example, fill a cell with a shading color or a format option and then click in another cell and press the F4 key and have that format applied to this cell too. The F4 key is a repeat key which repeats the previous command and it’s a great key to learn to use anytime you’re working with Word.
Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Text wrapping in Publisher works a little differently to how it works in Word. To configure how text wraps around an image in Publisher, click the picture and choose Text Wrapping from the Picture toolbar.
If you’re creating a Web publication this won’t be an option – it is only possible to do this with a Print publication. Choose a wrapping option from those shown. To configure text to wrap tightly around an image choose Tight and then choose Edit Wrap points option to create the exact shape for text to wrap around the image.
When you do, if you drag the wrap points inside the image, that part of the image will be cropped away – this is not the behaviour you might expect if you’re use to working in Word. You’ll need to do a workaround if you want text to wrap irregularly around an image but not so as the image is lost.
To do this, place the image below the text and set its wrapping to None. Draw an irregular shape over the image and set its wrapping to tight. This uses the shape to manage the text wrapping and thus avoids damaging the image. Format the shape by right clicking it and choose Format AutoShape, Colors and Lines tab, set the Line Color to No line and the Fill Color to No fill so you won’t see it in the final presentation.