Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Grid and Guides in PowerPoint 2007

If you’re like me you like to have everything neatly aligned on your PowerPoint slides. If you don’t, a slide with navigation and action buttons can very quickly become very untidy.

To line everything up, you need to be able to see the gridlines. Gridlines on a PowerPoint slide? I hear you ask. Why not?

To see the gridlines, right click an empty area on a slide and choose Grid and Guides. Select the Display Grid on Screen checkbox and configure the grid size and click Ok. You can also display drawing guides using the same dialog. By default these are placed in the middle of the slide horizontally and vertically.

To add a new guide, hold the Control key as you drag a new guide from an existing one.

Reverse the process to hide the guides and grids when you’re done.

Helen Bradley

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Never miss a trick with Outlook 2007

I often get emails that need attention such as a tip that a reader sends in for an column I write in the Sydney Morning Herald that I like and plan to use in an upcoming column – just not now. I flag it by right clicking and choose Follow Up and then a flag, like this week, next week, no date etc..

Having done that, the item appears automatically in my Outlook 2007 to do list so, provided the To do bar is showing, it’s there and I can check the items and find the tip whenever I need it. Combine follow up with color categories and you’re set. When you’re done with an item, right click it in the To Do bar and mark it as complete and it disappears.

Seriously, the To Do bar has the ability at last to be some use in Outlook 2007 so it’s time to begin using some behaviors that will make it work for you.

Helen Bradley

Friday, May 11th, 2007

Working between Office 2007 & 2003

If you’re using Office 2007 in a workgroup with others who are 2003 users, then you’ll encounter problems with them not being able to read your 2007 documents.

The simple solution is to change the default save format in the Office 2007 applications so they save automatically in the older formats. To do this, click the Office button and choose the Word Options button (for example), and click the Save option. In the dropdown list, Configure the Save files in this format option to the 97-2003 format.

You’ll need to do this separately for each application you want to change the default save format for.

Of course, this doesn’t stop you from saving in the new format or any other supported format. It just ensures that the default save format is backwardly compatible with other users.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

PDF Writer for Office 2007 – free!

Why would you go to all the trouble of creating Office 2007, packaging it into a cute box and then leave some of the best bits out? Ask Microsoft because I sure as heck don’t understand it. In the past they’ve left out Producer for PowerPoint, options in Excel and now, in Office 2007, the PDF writer. Seriously – it’s silly and it’s sad ’cause lots of folks don’t know that these tools are there so they struggle along without them or worse still, go and pay for something they could have had for free.

So, in the interests of getting the word out, here’s a download link for the PDF writer for Office 2007. Grab it, install it and use it.. you’re entitled to it.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Speed up slow ol’ Outlook 2007

Ok, so Outlook 2007 is running like a dog. It’s slow and cumbersome to use. Microsoft has admitted it and pointed a finger at overlarge .PST files. One wonders why Microsoft persists in forcing hapless users to jam all their emails (plus attachments) and RSS feeds into one .PST file anyway. Heaven help the new user who plain doesn’t understand what a .PST file is anyway, much less why it affects their system performance.

Until the folks at Redmond come to their collective senses and offer us an alternative solution, your options are to work around it. Split your emails into multiple .PST files by archiving them and keep your main .PST file at a small size.

Here are Microsoft’s current series of recommendations for speeding up Outlook 2007, it’s a KnowledgeBase article, and here’s a link to an update for Outlook that promises to fix some of the speed issues: Microsoft Outlook 2007 update download site.

I just have to have the final word here… why, in 2007, should are we still bothered by this stuff?

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Text on a chart, Excel

It’s easy enought to place a title or Y and X axis titles on a chart but what about a note or comment?

The secret is in the Drawing tools. Display the Drawing toolbar and click on the Text Box button. Now you can drag a text box on your chart and add text inside it. Size it, format it and you’re off.

Helen Bradley

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Circular images in Word

I love this tip. It’s so much fun and so unexpected that you can do it. In fact, I’ve been working a lot lately on funky graphics stuff in Word so expect to see more in future. It seems like the fewer tools they give us the more I want to make them work for me.

So, here we go. Open a Word document and, from the Drawing toolbar, click the Oval tool and draw a circle on the page. Click the shape, right click, choose Format AutoShape and click the Colors and Lines tab. From the Fill Color dropdown list choose Fill Effects then the Picture tab. Then click Select Picture and locate and open your image by clicking Insert. Click the Lock picture aspect ratio checkbox and click Ok twice. It sounds complicated but it’s really pretty easy to do and the results.. well they’re great.

Better still, you can use any shape – it doesn’t have to be a circle… any of the AutoShapes will do.

Helen Bradley

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Reuse a Chart’s "Look"

Sometimes you’ll create a chart that just looks so good you want to save the ‘look’ so you can use it again. You can do this by turning your chart into a template. This would be a technique you could use if you were creating a report and you need to use multiple charts that are all formatted in a similar way.

To save a chart as a template, first display or create the chart and select it. On the Chart Tools, Design tab, choose Save As Template in the Type group. In the Save In box check you’re using the Charts folder and type a name for your template and click Save. Later, to apply the template, to a chart you’re about to create, select your data the Insert tab, click the Other Charts button to open the list and choose All Chart Types. Choose Templates and then the template you just saved. If you already have a chart created, click the chart and click the Design tab, then Change Chart Type. Click Templates, then click the template to use from the My Templates area.

You can store lots of templates to meet any need you might have and change from one to the other as required.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

Gilding the Lily – Animating SmartArt

I love the new SmartArt feature in Office 2007 and I’d buy Office just to get hold of it. The images are drop dead gorgeous and they’re so easy to make and to color.

So, what’s better than great looking SmartArt? Animated SmartArt, that is. Launch PowerPoint 2007 and create a SmartArt object. Select it and then click the Animations tab. From the Animate dropdown list choose One by One and Preview the result – deliciously animated SmartArt. Of course, you can do all sorts of Animations – this is just to whet your appetite.

Fun huh?

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Hide the Ribbon in Office 2007

Ok, I’m on record, I love the ribbon in Word but on my laptop with its scrunched up screen (in the tradeoff between size and weight, I opt for weight!) the ribbon is sometimes too big.

Not a worry, it’s simplicity itself to hide it. Press Control + F1 and it disappears and press it again and it reappears. You can also have it disappear so it will come back with a single click on any tab name. To do this, double click a tab name and the ribbon disappears. Single click a tab name and it reappears – click again on the tab or in the document, and it disappears. Repeat until you’re tired of the magic! Double click or Control + F1 to go back to how it is.

It’s a neat party trick to play on a co-worker (no! I did not tell you to do that), and a great way to buy back some much needed screen real estate.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Hide or color Excel gridlines

Ok, grey is my favourite colour – it’s the colour of my old school uniform. I’m an Aussie and we still wear uniforms to school! Mine was grey serge in winter and grey cotton in summer, complete with hats and gloves. I kid you not and this is seriously OT and it uses Australian spelling so I’ll get back to what I was saying.

Ok, so gray might be my favorite color but it’s probably not yours. If Excel’s gray gridlines offend your color sense, you can change them or remove them entirely. To remove them choose Tool, Options, View tab and disable the Gridlines checkbox.

To change the color of the lines, choose Tool, Options, View tab and choose an alternate color from the Gridlines color dropdown list. If you didn’t realise gridlines were little dots and not solid lines, you’re about to see that that’s exactly what they are.

Helen Bradley

Monday, April 30th, 2007

PowerPoint – to fit or not – it’s your choice

PowerPoint has a handy tool (or a very annoying one – depending on your perspective) for adjusting text on a slide.

In PowerPoint 2003 and earlier choose Tools > AutoCorrect Options > Autoformat as you Type and you will see that there is an option called Autofit body text to placeholder. Enabled this and all the text that you type on a slide is automatically sized to fit the slide – you can type gobs of text and it just keeps getting made smaller and smaller as PowerPoint shoehorns it in so it fits.

If you disable this option, you get to control the slide’s text size yourself – a rough rule of thumb is that if it goes over the edge – it’s too much text for one slide so make another one or edit your text.

Autofit is a tool you can disable or enable as you like – once you know it’s there – it’s your choice what you do with it.

Helen Bradley

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Vale PowerPoint features

Hmm – there is good and bad in everything I presume but I’m particularly bummed by the fact that a couple of the tools that I have grown to love in PowerPoint over the years have been removed from the new PowerPoint 2007. Well, perhaps love is too strong a word, but I liked them a lot and they’re gone.

Gone is the AutoContent Wizard but you can find much of its functionality in templates. There’s no broadcast feature and no macro recorder (but you can still use macros), and no title master – but there’s a new title layout which really makes better sense. All this I could live without, what I’ll miss is the Speaker Notes tool which let you record notes while making a presentation which you could save later on. Gone too is the summary slide tool which really is a big omission – summaries were a great way to create an agenda so folks knew what they’d be learning… poor choice of tools to go in my book.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

PowerPoint Master shortcut

If you’re like me and you use the PowerPoint master view a lot—and you really should because it allows you to control the formatting of all the slides in your presentation from one place—you will know that there’s no quick way to open into master view.

That is unless you read this tip.

To quickly access the slide master view hold Shift and click the Slide View button in the bottom left corner of the PowerPoint screen. This automatically opens master view allowing you to work on the slide master then close it and return to your PowerPoint presentation. Simple, when you know how?

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

The Ultimate Password

At a guess I have around 50 passwords to remember for sites as diverse as online banking to my NAPP membership. Some stay the same, others I’m forced to periodically change. It’s clearly impossible for anyone, to remember all of these – I’m certainly not able to and the price of forgetting is that I can’t do the things I do every day.

The practical reality of course is that you (me) either use the same password for everything (bad idea) or you (me) write them down (pretty bad idea). I suffered agonies of guilt over how I handled them until I met Locknote. This tool is a saviour – it’s small, it’s smart and it works. It is a single executable file that you put wherever you like – it doesn’t install, it just is so you can take it with you on a keychain USB drive, for example. You launch it and open it with a password – the only password you ever need to remember! Inside is a plain text document into which you type your password information – or, indeed, anything you want to record and keep secret. When you’re done, click the Close (X) button and answer Yes to closing and saving your data. That’s it! the data is encrypted into the executable file – its a true “all in one” solution.

In this age of programs trying to do more and more (and in the process, annoying many long time users by providing unwanted features – for this read McAffee Virus scan, for example) this program is smart. It only does one thing and it does it perfectly.

Interested? you should be! find it here: http://locknote.steganos.com/

Oh! And did I say it was free? – Yep, it is… you have no excuse for not using it.

Helen Bradley