Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
Well, who knew the humble Microsoft Paint could do what just about no other program can easily do? Well it can. I recently assembled a very large image from a series of screenshots of a help screen. The help screen was really long so I captured screenshots of each portion of it, assembled them into one really narrow and long file and then got stuck – how the heck could I print this? Hmm… enter Microsoft Paint… but first, here’s the entire process from Print screen to Photoshop to Paint!
I brought all the screen capture images into Photoshop, cropped them using an action to do it very quickly, rotated them counterclockwise 90 degrees and then saved the images with sequential numbering. There was a bit of overlap in each image – you need this for the panorama merge to do its stuff and they need to be rotated or they won’t assemble properly.
Having done that I then used the photo merge tool in Photoshop (File > Automate > Photomerge) to create a merged image from the individual images.
Then, once the merge was complete, I rotated the image back this time 90 degrees clockwise to get a vertical image that was 770 pixels wide and over 9,000 pixels long.
The problem with an image this size is that when you try to print it from Photoshop – it has to be squeezed down to a very small size to print on a single page and no other option is available so you can’t print it on multiple sheets.
The question then becomes how to print a very large image in lots of smaller pieces. The solution is nearer than you think and, curiously, it comes in the form of Windows Paint.
Launch Paint and open the image. Choose File > Print > Page Setup. Here you’ll find an option for sizing the printout to a fixed number of pages wide or long or you can shrink option to adjust the percentage scaling size. Wow! This is really very smart indeed.
When you do this, watch the boxes below as this will tell you how many pages tall and wide the image will be printed at. When you’re satisfied with the results, you can go ahead and click to print the document. If you have a PDF printer then you can print the document direct to a PDF file or if preferred, feed some paper into the printer and print the image. Then get out some sticky tape and stick it all together.
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
It is just plain annoying when you receive an email without a subject line or with one that makes little sense or which doesn’t relate to the email topic. Luckily you can fix this very easily.
First locate and open a message that doesn’t have a sensible subject line or which has none at all. Click in the subject area – it’s greyed out but it is actually editable. Make your desired changes to the subject and add one if there is none.
It is also possible to edit the message itself if you click the Message tab and choose Actions > Edit Message.
Once you are done, click Save to save your changes and close the file.
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
Each of the Office applications allows you to configure a look for a document, spreadsheet, publication or presentation and then save it as a template so that you can reuse it anytime.
Templates in PowerPoint 2010
In PowerPoint you’ll create your presentation and then save it using File > Save As and select from the Save As Type list choose PowerPoint Template (*.potx). Give your presentation template a name and click Save.
In future you can locate this presentation by choosing File > New > My Templates and click on the template to use it as the basis of a new document.
Templates in Word 2010
In Microsoft Word choose File > Save As and from the Save As Type dropdown list choose Word Template (*.dotx). In the top left of the dialog click the Templates option to make sure that the template will be stored in the correct location and give the template a name.
In future choose File > New > My Templates and select the template to use.
Templates in Excel 2010
In Microsoft Excel, you can save the look of your document so that it can be used as the basis of a new document by choosing File > Save as and choose Excel Template (*.xltx ) as the file type. Type a name and save the template file.
In future you can base a new worksheet on this template by choosing File > New > My Templates and select it from the Personal Templates list.
Templates in Publisher 2010
In Publisher you’ll choose File > Save As and then select Publisher Template (*.pub). Type a name for the template and click Save.
In future you can access this template by choosing File > New > My Templates, select the template and click Create. You may need to close and reopen your software before the new templates are available.
Monday, April 30th, 2012
You can save a chart as a picture from inside Excel so you can use it elsewhere such as in a report or on the web.
To do this you will use a workaround and the simplest way to do it is to size the chart on the worksheet so it is a good size. Choose File > Save As, select the location to save the file in and from the Save As Type dropdown list choose Web Page (*.htm;*.html), type a name and click Save.
This converts the worksheet to an html file and because html files cannot contain images the chart is saved as a separate png image file and linked to the html file.
You can find your chart in the folder that you saved the html file into. So, if your file was called sales.htm then the images will be in a folder called sales_files. Of course, you’ll also need to save your Excel worksheet if you want to save the data and chart to work on in Excel in future.
Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Publisher’s Business Information Sets make it easy to populate documents with information about people and businesses. You only need type the text once and you’ll know it is always correct wherever it happens to be used.
To use these sets, in Microsoft Publisher use File > Info and select the Edit Business Information. Here you can view the information sets that you have available. While they’re called Home/Family, Other Organization, Primary and Secondary Business, you can make them anything you want them to be.
So select an option and click Edit. Enter the information for your business including the person’s name, address and information. Click Add Logo to add a your company logo.
You can also type a new set name in the set name box. By adding to the business information sets details you use frequently, you can use this information in any document later on such as business cards and brochures.
To do this, select the business card template to use and then select the business information set to use with it. You can choose to include your logo or not as circumstances demand. Click Create and the business card will be created for you with all the details already in place.
You can also use business information in regular documents by choosing Insert and then from the Business Information dropdown list select the items that you want to use in a document. For example, you can drag and drop telephone information into any document from the business information set.
You can also change the business information in a document. So, if you’ve created a business card and want to do the same thing for another person for whom you have a business information set created, just choose File > Info > Edit Business Information and select the set to use and click Update Publication. This allows you to quickly change information in documents and create flyers for multiple businesses or business cards from multiple people.
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
In Word 2010 you can set keyboard shortcuts for ribbon buttons using the program options. Choose File > Options and click Customize Ribbon. Click the Customize button at the foot of the dialog – this is available in Word 2010 but not in Excel 2010 curiously.
Click the tab that you’re interested in and locate the button on the tab that you want to customize. For example, if you choose the Home tab and click Bold as the command you’ll see that there are already keyboard shortcuts associated with that command.
Many other commands do not have keyboard shortcuts associated with them and if you want to add them you can do so.
For example, there is no keyboard shortcut for the Font Color Picker. Select Home tab and then Font Color Picker and press a new shortcut key. For example the shortcut Alt + Ctrl + Shift + C is not currently assigned.
Click in the box and press that keyboard combination. If you want to use that for the Font Color Picker, you can do so by clicking Assign. This assigns this keystroke to the Font Color Picker tool.
To test this, click Close and then Ok. Now when you select a piece of text you can apply the currently selected font color to it by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C.
Friday, April 20th, 2012
Windows 8 makes a lot of use of keystrokes - more use than other versions of Windows ever has. Here is a list of handy keystrokes, you won’t use all of them but some are totally awesome for getting around. My fave? This week it is Windows + E! yeah instant access to My Computer – you gotta love it!
Windows key display the Start menu
Windows + tab display the task switching panel
Windows + C reveal Charms
Windows + D switch to the desktop
Windows + M switch to the Desktop
Windows + H Share charm
Windows + I Settings charm
Windows + K Devices charm
Windows + L Lock the screen
Windows + P shows second monitor options
Windows + Z display an app’s application bar
Windows + T Cycle through small images of open apps – press Enter to switch
Windows + Q Open Metro search charm
Alt + Tab Cycle through open apps
Windows + , (comma) Show desktop (temporarily)
Right click an application window reveal the application bar
Windows + PrtSc Capture a picture and save it to the Pictures folder
Windows + Space change input language and keyboard
Windows + R Display the Run dialog
Windows + T Cycle through programs on the taskbar
Windows + F Find other computers on your network
Windows + E Open Windows Explorer and show My Computer
Windows + left arrow Dock a desktop app to the left of the screen
Windows + right arrow Dock a desktop app to the right of the screen
Windows + Shift + Up arrow maximize desktop app’s height (width is unchanged)
Windows + Shift + Down arrow restore/minimize desktop app’s height (width is unchanged)
Windows + 1 (or 2, 3…) Launch or switch to the application at this position on the taskbar
Windows + Shift + 1 (or 2, 3…) Launch a new instance of the application at this position on the taskbar
Windows + + (plus) Magnifier – zoom in
Windows + – (minus) Magnifier – zoom out
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Sometimes when you’re working in PowerPoint you’ll notice that an animation is not available and it is greyed out.
For example add an image to a slide and then try to select the drop animation from the Entrance Effects. It’s not available because what you’re trying to select is a tool that is used to animate text and you are using an image.
However you can use this animation on an image, you just need to know how to do so. To do this, place the image inside a shape. So, add a shape to the slide – a plain rectangle will do, and as the shape background add the picture by right-clicking the shape, choose Format Shape and then from the shape Fill options select Picture and fill it with a picture.
Right click the shape and choose Edit Text and press the spacebar a couple of times so that you add some text to the shape – spaces won’t show but they are text. It’s critical that you do this because without the text the shape will not be able to be animated using text animation tools.
Now when you select the Animate options and the Entrance Effects you’ll find that the effects that you couldn’t use before like Drop, Flip and Whip are now available because you’re working with PowerPoint deems to be a text object.
Thursday, April 12th, 2012
The Quick Access Toolbar or QAT runs across the top left edge of the Word 2007 and 2010 window. It also appears in other ribbon compatible programs like Excel 2007 & 2010, PowerPoint 2007 & 2010.
The QAT is a handy place to put icons that you use all the time. It can be customized through this Quick Access Toolbar option.
Click this icon to show the QAT editing options. Click Show Below the Ribbon to place the Quick Access Toolbar below the ribbon – I think most people will find its current position acceptable but if you want to move it that’s how to place it elsewhere.
Choose More Commands to add more commands to the Ribbon. From the Choose Commands From list you can select commands to view. These include Popular Commands, Commands Not In The Ribbon, in other words commands that are available in Microsoft Word but for which you have no other easy way of accessing, All Commands or Macros. The remainder of the dialog gives you access to the individual tabs in Word so that you can get access to icons listed there.
Some options you may want to add to the Quick Access Toolbar include the Close/Close All Button, Quick Print and I like to add Switch Windows which is available from the All Commands list. Other tools that you use frequently can be added to the Quick Access Toolbar making them instantly accessible.
You should note that you can set the features for all documents or for just an individual document so that you can, for example, set a different toolbar for a specific document. When you choose this option the specific document will get all the tools on the standard quick access toolbar plus those that you’ve added to just its toolbar.
Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
In some instances you may want to sum a column of numbers depending on the contents of that column. For example, if you want to total the sales figures in the range B3:B35 but only where those values are greater than 10000, this SUMIF formula will do the work:
The Sumif function takes first the range to sum and then the condition to match. In this case you will be summing all values in column B from rows 3 to 35 inclusive which contain values greater than 10000.
The SUMIF function can also sum a different range than that used for the test. Here it sums all values in the range D2:D19 where the corresponding values in the range C2:C19 are Produce.
Sunday, February 19th, 2012
With a little bit of coding experience it is possible to create your own functions in Excel 2010 and earlier.
In Excel 2010, make sure the Developer toolbar is visible – if it is not, follow this post to make it so.
Now choose Developer tab and click the Visual Basic button. In the Project – VBAProject pane, select the current file and choose Insert > Module.
Type this function into the dialog and then close the VB editor and return to your worksheet:
Function Commission(Sales) As Currency
Commission = Sales * 0.05
If Commission > 1000 Then
Commission = 1000
To test your function type this formula into a worksheet:
or as shown here:
The function calculates commission at 5% of the amount of sales. If the 5% value is more than $1,000 then the commission is pegged at this amount – to check this, test the function with a very large number. Functions created this way are only able to be used in the current workbook.
Thursday, February 16th, 2012
One of the handiest calculation tools in Excel isn’t a function and instead it appears automatically on the Status Bar.
Select a series of numbers and in the Status Bar you will see, by default, the Sum of those numbers.
Right click the Sum and you can select from other calculations such as Min, Max, Count Items, Count and Average. These calculations are useful when you need to quickly check a calculation. It doesn’t get any more convenient than this.
Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
In Excel 2003 and now in Excel 2010 , there are pattern fills which you can use to fill chart bars so your charts print just great in black and white.
Unfortunately the same feature was removed from Excel 2007 – wtf? I have no clue why but it was but it has to be a very silly thing to have done.
If you are using Excel 2007 and you need to use pattern fills with a chart you are out of luck – well not really – you just need to read the rest of this tip because I can tell you how to put the fills back into Excel 2007.
To begin, download this handy add-in: http://officeblogs.net/excel/PatternUI.zip
Update: This link is no longer live so patternui.zip is not longer available. You can find an add-in here (with instructions which achieves the same thing) courtesy of Andy Pope.
The zip file contains a single file patternUI.xlam which you need to extract and place somewhere you will find it easily and where it won’t get deleted by accident. You could make an Excel add-ins folder for it, for example.
Once you’ve done this, open Excel 2007 and choose the Office button > Excel Options > Add-ins and from the Manage dropdown list, select Excel Add-ins and click Go. This opens the old Add-ins dialog from earlier versions of Excel. Click Browse and locate the .xlam file that you just unzipped and placed somewhere safe. Select it and click Ok. Ensure that the PatternUI option appears in the Add-ins available list and that it is checked and click Ok.
Now create an Excel chart. Once you have you chart, click on the data series to fill with a pattern – if you have a single series plotted then select just one of the columns at a time. Select the Chart Tools > Format tab and notice that you now have an option called Patterns available. Click the Patterns option and select a pattern to apply to the currently selected chart series or column. Click on each series or column in turn and apply a pattern to it. When you are done, you can print your chart as usual.
Installed add-ins are managed automatically by Excel so you will find that the add-in will still be there and accessible next time you use Excel.
If you are using Excel 2010 you don’t need this add-in as the pattern fills are back where they should have been all the time.