Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Word tables – one click insert

Learn to insert a table in a Word document with a single click

When you need to repeatedly create the same type of table in a Word document you can do so using the new Word Quick Part feature.

This technique works well when you use the same table layout repeatedly. Your inserted table will be the same size, have the same number of columns and rows and contain any preset formatting that it had when you created it as a Quick Part entry. Once created, you can insert it quickly whenever you need it.

To do this:

  1. Create a new table with the number of rows and columns you want all your tables to have.
  2. Include any text in the table that needs to always be in this type of table – if there is none, leave the cells blank.
  3. Format the cells in the way you wan them to be formatted every time – including text formats and cell background colors and borders.

When you are done, select the table by clicking in it and choose Table Tools > Layout > Select > Select Table.

Choose Insert > Quick Parts > AutoText > Save Selection to AutoText Gallery.

In the Create New Building block dialog set the Gallery to Tables and type a description of the table and click Ok.

In future, to create a table to these exact specifications choose Insert > Tables > Quick Tables, locate the table in the list and click it to insert it into the document.

This feature is the successor to the AutoText feature in earlier versions of Word. It looks a little more cumbersome but it is more easily discovered so you don’t have to  remember where the table was saved as it appears automatically on the Insert Table menu.

Helen Bradley

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Cometdocs – A smarter file converting tool

Learn how to convert files directly from Dropbox and Google Drive

Needing to converted a document from one file type into another is very common today, which is why online file conversion services have become so popular. One service that has made a name for itself by offering free high-quality file conversion capabilities is Cometdocs. Cometdocs is a document management service that also offers cloud storage and file transfer options, the website is still primarily used by people who need fast and accurate file conversion online.

The service has unveiled a bunch of updates recently, one of them being integration with popular cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. Even though Cometdocs offers free storage to its users (2GB worth), there is no denying that there are many much more popular cloud storage competitors out there.

Thanks to this new update, Cometdocs users can convert files directly from their Google Drive or Dropbox accounts in two different ways – via their browser or using Cometdocs’ new desktop app.

Of course, in both instances you need to sign up for a free Cometdocs account first. Once you have signed up and logged in, here’s how to integrate Google Drive and Dropbox with the online service.

Right at the top of Cometdocs’ online interface, you will see a button that says “Import file from.” Click on that button and choose to synch either Dropbox or Google Drive with Cometdocs.


Once the synch has been completed, a window will open up listing all of your Dropbox or Drive files. Click on the file you want converted and then click “Choose.”

The file is now sent to your Cometdocs clipboard from where you can drag it to the Convert tab and choose your conversion option. Cometdocs allows users to convert PDFs into a large number of different file formats including MS Excel, Word, PowerPoint, HTML, Text, AutoCAD formats and more. You can also convert these files types and more into PDF with Cometdocs. It’s safe to say that the conversion options are plentiful.


Integrating Cometdocs with your favorite cloud storage service is even easier when using the desktop app. Once you have downloaded and installed the app and you have signed in to your Cometdocs account through it, the conversion process can be completed in just one step.

Simple open your cloud storage folder of choice. When using the desktop app, you are no longer limited to Google Drive and Dropbox integration. You can open up the folder of any cloud service you prefer to use.

Now simply right-click on the file that you want to convert. Find the Cometdocs logo in the menu and select your conversion type.

And that’s all there is to it. The app sends the file off to Cometdocs’ server for conversion, and once the process is complete, the newly converted file is downloaded automatically into your cloud storage folder and synched.

If you are looking for a faster and easier way to convert files from within your cloud storage conveniently, Cometdocs’ integration features are hard to beat.

Go to:  or


Helen Bradley

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Force Chrome to refresh a page

How to Make Chrome display your new web page content without emptying your cache

I use Dreamweaver for my sites and Chrome as my preferred browser but I came close to throwing Chrome out the window these last few days.

You see, Chrome doesn’t like updating your pages which means that if you’re revamping pages as I have been it is perilously slow in delivering the new content to you. In fact, today I checked out a page I edited 4 days ago and while the text is up to date the images were not.

Trying the regular keyboard shortcuts just didn’t work – any key with F5 such as Shift + F5, Control + F5, the reload button Shift + R etc, etc.. I tried them all and nothing works.

I don’t particularly want to have to empty my cache to see the new content – it’s like throwing out a heap of good stuff just to display a page – it shouldn’t have to be done. This browser should work better!

Turns out it does…

….when you know how!

So here’s 2 ways to force Chrome to refresh a page:

1  Click on the page and press Control + Shift + I to display the Developer Tools.  Now, instead of clicking the button to the left of the address bar – right click it to open the menu. Choose Hard Reload – that should ignore the contents of the cache and reload page content and images from the server. This menu only appears if DevTools are enabled.

If that doesn’t work:-

2  Go to the DevTools panel at the foot of the screen and, in the bottom right corner, locate Settings (the gear icon) and click it.

Now check the  Disable Cache (while DevTools is open) checkbox and reload the page – voila! too easy! Yeah… your page appears.

Leave the panel open while you work.

Close it when you’re done.

There… you knew there was a secret to it – and now you’re in on it, but please, don’t keep it to yourself – spread it around, tweet it, share it!



Helen Bradley

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Google Drive Spreadsheet Notifications

Google Drive’s spreadsheets are liable to be shared and edited by many people.

This can potentially compromise the integrity of their data, so it’s a good idea to keep track of the changes made. Fortunately, Google provides a notifications service so the spreadsheet’s owner can do just that.

To access the notification rules, open the spreadsheet you want to track and select Tools > Notification Rules…. The resulting dialogue allows you to choose what changes to track. If only some data is critical, you can choose to only track a specific sheet or cell range. If you’ve set up a form to feed its result into your spreadsheet, you can choose to be notified whenever somebody submits the form. Choosing email – daily digest will add the notification to a daily email that contains all of your notifications that have this rule selected. Email right away immediately sends the specific notification to you.

Click Save when you are done. Your new notification rule will be the first on a list of all the notification rules for that spreadsheet. From the list you can add new rules, or edit or delete an existing one.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Add Spacing to Word Table Cells

Learn to quickly add extra spacing above and below the contents of a Word table cell

When you enter text in a Word 2013 table you may want more space above and below your text than appears by default.

While you can make the table cells larger and vertically centre the text in the cells this is a cumbersome solution and there is better and faster way.

To add extra spacing you can change the table’s cell spacing values.

To do this, first select the table, right click choose Table Properties.

Click the Table tab and click Options.

Here you can set the Top, Bottom, Left and Right cell margins for all cells in the table. Set the Top and Bottom values to 0.25″ to add a little extra space above and below the text in the cells.


Helen Bradley

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Google Drive Change File Ownership

So you’ve decided of your documents is better of in somebody else’s hands. Maybe you prepared the document for a colleague with the intention of handing it off to them later, or maybe you’re just offloading some of your work. Whatever the case, Google makes transferring ownership of your files extremely simple.

To begin, you must first share the file with its new owner. Either click the blue share button in the top right corner of the document, or select File > Share…. When the share menu appears, enter the new owner’s email address and press Share & Save to share the file with them.

Their address should now be listed in the share menu. Click the can edit box next to their name, select is owner, then click Save Changes. The new owner will be notified by email about the ownership change, and you will still have editing privileges as long as the new owner allows it.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Google Docs Search the Menus

Sometimes you know what you want but you don’t know where to find it. Google Docs’ menus are pretty simple, but the Search the menus tool can make menus entirely obsolete. You can find this search tool under the Help menu, but it can be more easily reached by pressing Alt + /.

This search tool is extremely powerful. Type anything related to what you want and it’s almost guaranteed to appear, from basic settings to specific font settings. Search “math” and you’ll see the option to insert a new a equation, “double” will yield the double line space setting, “list” will provide many different types of lists you can insert.

Almost every setting can be tweaked from this search menu. Next time you’re lost in the settings menus, just pressing Alt + / and find what you want in seconds.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Convert text to a Microsoft Word table

Quickly turn text into a Microsoft Word table

It is possible to convert text from a Word document into a table.

However, to do so requires the text to be correctly laid out – if it is not, it is worth a few minutes work to reformat the text so it can be easily converted to a table.

To convert the text each column’s content needs to be separated by a single tab and you need to have a paragraph marker at the end of each line. To check your text is correctly formatted, click the Home tab and click the Show/Hide¶ button to see the tab marks in the document (they are small right pointing arrows).

Make sure there is only one tab marker between each item in the list. If you don’t have data for a particular column add two tab marks to indicate that one column is empty.

Click the Show/Hide¶ button again when you are done.

Select the list and choose Insert > Table > Convert Text To Table.

Word should automatically suggest the correct number of columns. From the Separate text at options select Tabs, set the AutoFit behavior to AutoFit to contents if the items are short like ours are and click Ok.

The text will be automatically placed in a new table ready for you to continue to work on it.

Helen Bradley

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Convert Hex to VBA colors

Unbelievable! Hex colors don’t work in VBA without conversion!

It is totally unbelievable to me but today I wanted to put an ActiveX option button on an Excel worksheet. I could set the BackStyle to transparent so I can see the color in the worksheet through it but every time I clicked the option button it showed up white – and UGLY.

I managed to get the hex color of the worksheet – I got the RGB from Excel then put it in PaintShop Pro to get the hex value. So R242, G157, B 0 became #F29D00 hex.

At this point I was feeling rightly proud of my color conversion skills until I tried to set the  Backcolor property to this value. It WAS BLUE!? not orange… WTF?

Seems like VBA color isn’t the same as Hex colors … it is nearly the same but not quite. You need to switch the R and B values with each other. So my orange #F29D00 becomes #009DF2 for VBA – of course you need to then wrap it in the other little bits so it looks like this: &H009DF2& and all is hunky dory. Paste that into the Properties box and VBA makes it into a nice long integer all by itself – that bit at least is simple.

So now you know how to convert hex colors to VBA colors.

I just have to ask the burning question – WHY? Why isn’t good ol’ RGB good enough for Microsoft – why is it BGR?  And just which programming genius dreamed that one up?


Helen Bradley

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Create an Archive of Your Entire Google Account

If you rely on many of Google’s products, you may have stored a lot of important data on your account.

Even though Google’s servers are very reliable, it’s still a good idea to backup your critical documents, photos, messages, etc. Fortunately, Google provides a service called Google Takeout which provides a quick and easy way to backup everything on your Google account, even your Google+ circles and pages. The service can be found under your account settings, labeled download your data. You can also find it at this link.

At the Takeout page you’ll find a full list of what is being archived. You can uncheck anything you don’t need to save. If you click on a category, a list of settings will appear for that category. Sometimes no changes can be made, but some categories allow you to change their archive’s file format. Others allow you to filter what you want to save, so that only specific data—such as a certain folder in your documents library—will be archived.

Once you have selected your desired settings, click “Create Archive.” If your account includes a lot of data, it may take a while to finish generating the archive. You can leave the page, however, and Google will email you when the archive is ready for download so you don’t have to wait around for it. To finish the process simply follow the provided download link to download your Google profile archive.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Hanging Indents in Google Docs

If you’re writing a paper with a bibliography or works cited page in Google Docs, you may be frustrated to find there’s no formatting button for hanging indents.

You can create these manually, however, using Doc’s ruler tool. If the ruler is not already visible, select View > Show Ruler. It will appear across the top of your document.

To create your hanging indent, first select the text you wish to add the indent to. Notice two small blue shapes on the left side of the ruler, a triangle and rectangle.

The rectangle represents your left margin, the triangle your indent. There is also a grey section of the ruler that shows you the standard 1 inch margin. Move the triangle to 1/2 inch right of the left margin. Keep in mind that while a 1/2 inch indent is standard, you should adjust this if a different sized indent is required. Now pull the rectangle back to the original left margin. You should see your text move with these shapes such that the text’s margin aligns to the rectangle and the hanging indent aligns with the triangle.Keep in mind that just like any other formatting choice, this indent will only be applied to text you’ve selected or text written following the change.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

A Comment on Comments

Sometimes you’ll want to add a comment to a piece of text but not so that it actually appears in the text.

For example you may want to ask someone else who is working on the document with you a question about something mentioned in the text or you may want to remind yourself to check the source of a quote you have used. The best choice for this task is Word’s Comment option. Select the text to attach the comment to and select Review > New Comment. A comment box will open to the side of the document with your initials and a comment number in brackets (eg [HB1]).

If your initials or name are incorrect, alter them by selecting File > Options > General and changing the Username and Initials text boxes.

If you’re viewing a document which contains a number of comments you can move from one to the next quickly by using the Previous and Next. Use the Delete Comment button to delete a comment, leaving the text it’s attached to intact – right clicking a comment and selecting Delete Comment works the same way. You can edit the text in a comment simply by selecting the comment and typing.

You can choose to print with or without comments by selecting the print range dropdown menu under print settings and checking or unchecking Print Markup.

Using comments is particularly useful when you’re working on a document with someone else as they effectively allow you to ‘carry on a conversation’ about the document.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Use OpenType to Beautify Fonts in Word 2010 & 2013


Using OpenType, you can add caps, ligatures, and other styles to your fonts to beautify your text.

To get started with OpenType in Microsoft Word 2010, and in particular if you have the font Gabriola installed, type some text using the font Gabriola. Include some numbers because Gabriola has a particularly attractive range of numbers.

With the text selected from the Font group click the dialog launcher to open the Font dialog and select the Advanced tab.

From the Ligatures dropdown list, select Standard Only and from the Stylistic Sets dropdown list select style 6 and click Ok to apply it to the text. You will see that the text changes to show some attractive swashes on some letters. If you change to a different Stylistic Set you will see that some characters may change. You may need to increase the line spacing to see the full swashes appear.

This OpenType font feature only works for fonts that actually have these characters in them, which include Gabriola, Calibri, Cambria, Constantia, Corbel, Consolas and Palatino Linotype. You must also be working on a .docx format document and not in compatibility mode in Word. If you don’t have access to these font features, choose File -> Options -> Advanced and scroll to the bottom of the screen and click Layout Options. Ensure that the Disable OpenType Font Formatting Features checkbox is disabled.

In Word, if you set the typeface to Gabriola and then start typing you’ll notice that as you type, the characters may change because the position of the characters in relation to other characters around them has an effect on how individual characters are drawn.

Helen Bradley

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Automatic Table of Contents in Google Docs

When creating a long document with many different sections, it’s often necessary to create a table of contents to make navigation easy. Fortunately, Google Docs can generate a table for you almost entirely automatically.

To do this, you must first create section headers using the list under Format > Paragraph Styles. Simply highlight a section title and apply an appropriate heading style for it. Each style grows progressively smaller from 1 to 6. Major sections, such as chapters, should use the largest headings while smaller subsections should use progressively smaller headings.

Once you have created all of your headings, select where you want the table of contents to be in your document and choose Insert > Table of Contents. The table will automatically fill with links to each heading and arrange itself according to the heading styles chosen. Smaller headings will be indented beneath larger headings in the table, indicating that they are subsections.

Helen Bradley

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Put the Apps back on my Chrome New Tab! NOW!

If the new Chrome Update (Sep 2013) messed up your browser, here’s how to get the old look back

Ok, I am rightly angry – my Chrome browser just updated and all the Apps on the New Tab (that I had laboriously configured and which I use daily because, hello Google I need them)disappeared.

Sure, I can click the new little Apps button on the Bookmark bar to view them – I get that – but why? I had Chrome all nice and organized – I didn’t need Google’s input to fix it… just like I don’t expect Google to walk into my house and rearrange my desk or my bookshelf or anything else I have organized the way I want it.

So, rant aside, here’s the solution to how to put the Chrome Apps back on the New Tab:


As of Chrome 33 the option to fix the problem as detailed below (in red) has been removed. Seriously at Google people actually worked hard to remove this feature so we can no longer make Chrome behave the way we want it to? Way to go! Yet another reason I hate the Cloud and I hate apps that automatically update and companies that couldn’t care less about the needs of their user base. I just don’t understand why Google doesn’t listen to its users and help them out instead of giving us a totally useless Google search box in the middle of the new tab window. Now I understand that not everyone wants or likes the old style interface but why break the fix (that worked), for those of us who do?

Ok, today’s solution (until Google folk mess with this and break it too) is to download the New Tab Redirect app from the Chrome Web store here. Once installed, the Extension launches so you can set it to show your apps. So, you need the My New Tab page should show this URL to read:


You can do this by typing the entry yourself or you can click the Apps button below Quick Save and it will be done automatically for you.

Now, in future when you click the New Tab button it will show your apps.

It works, no thanks to Google.

I hope this solution saves you from the stress of having Chrome apps disappear from your New Tab Page. It has certainly reduced my blood pressure!

1.    Go to the address bar and type this in:


2.    Press Enter and then search for this word:

Extended API

This will take you to the Extended API option which is set to Default

3.   From the drop down list choose Disabled and then close and reopen Chrome.

Voila! your browser is now restored to its former glory!

Helen Bradley

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