Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Random text in Word 2010

You may already know that typing =rand(1,2) on a new line in Word types one paragraph of two sentences in Word. The text is this random Word help style text:

“On the Insert tab, the galleries include items that are designed to coordinate with the overall look of your document. You can use these galleries to insert tables, headers, footers, lists, cover pages, and other document building blocks.”

But did you know there are other types of text you can type? Try =lorem(2,3)  and press enter to get two paragraphs of three sentences each of the Lorem ipsum dummy text.

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas porttitor congue massa. Fusce posuere, magna sed pulvinar ultricies, purus lectus malesuada libero, sit amet commodo magna eros quis urna.

Nunc viverra imperdiet enim. Fusce est. Vivamus a tellus.”

If you type =rand.old(2,4)  and press enter you get the older Word dummy text – the Quick Brown fox..

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

So now you have plenty of random text options – of them all the Lorem one is the most  handy for when you really need large portions of dummy text in a document.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Make a Website a Chrome App

I’ve been working with Google Chrome a lot lately because it makes good sense as a Browser. I have my assistant to thank for this as, without his continual poking and prodding to explore Chrome I probably would not have got there as quickly as I did.

One of the nice things about Chrome is its integration with Google+. However it’s not Google+ that I plan talking about here but rather I want to show you how to add a website as an app to Chrome.

If you click the New Tab icon in Chrome and then click Apps at the foot of the page you’ll see that there are some apps already in the list such as YouTube, Gmail and so on. What I am going to show you is how to add your own choice of websites as apps and to do it quickly and easily.

You may already know that you can create an app from a Most Visited page. Click Most Visited at the foot of the New tab and anything that’s in that list can be easily created as an App by just dragging and dropping it onto the Apps icon. This automatically makes the page an App.

The problem is that if something isn’t a Most Visited page it’s a little cumbersome to make it an App. The solution is to click the New Tab icon and display the Apps page. Size your browser down so that you can see everything clearly.

Now click the New Tab icon again and this time browse to the page that you want to add as an App. Once you’ve visited that page drag the tab for that page somewhere else on the screen so that you have two browser windows – one showing the Apps area and the other one with your web page open in it.

Now locate the icon immediately to the left of the page URL that you want to add as an app. As you hold your mouse over it, it will show View Site Information as a tooltip.

Drag and drop this into the Apps area in your Chrome browser. It will automatically be added as a new App. You can then drag and drop that App or any others to rearrange them to suit.

An app can also be created as a Desktop, Taskbar or Start Menu shortcut. To do this right click the web page in the Apps area and choose Create Shortcut. You’ll get a series of shortcut options including Desktop, Start Menu and Pin to Taskbar. Select the checkboxes for those that you want to create and click Create.

There’s a lot of misinformation on the web regarding adding websites to the Chrome apps collection. A lot of sites suggest you repeatedly remove Most Visited pages until you get to the page that you want to add. This solution which involves simply dragging and dropping a URL into the page is far quicker and makes a lot more sense.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Excel fill intermittently empty cells

Often when you’re working in Excel you won’t enter all the data because it is repetitive.

In this example, the cells in column B really should be filled with the months but because the month only changes periodically I have only typed it when the change occurs. If I need to work with this data such as in a PivotTable it may be necessary to fill the data down column B.

This can be done easily by selecting the cells in column B and choose the Home tab  on the Ribbon, click Find & Select > Go To Special > Blanks to select the blank cells.

Type =B2 in the cell, this represents the first cell in column B with the data in it.

Press Control + Enter.

Now, to fix the cells so they contain words and not cell references, select all the filled cells in column B, choose Edit > Copy and then Paste > Values and click Ok.



Helen Bradley

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Print big images with Paint



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.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Add or Edit Outlook E-mail Subject Lines



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.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Recording Yes, No, Maybe so in Excel

You can use Excel to fill a range with ticks and crosses to indicate Yes and No using a simple Excel Conditional Format.

To see this at work place a list such as to do items in column A of your worksheet. In column B, type the numbers 0 or 1 depending on when the task is completed or incomplete – 1 is completed, 0 is incomplete.

To make the numbers appear as checkmarks and crosses instead of 1 and 0, select the column of numbers and choose Conditional formatting from the Home tab on the Ribbon.

Select Icon Sets and then select the indicator set that has a checkmark, exclamation mark and cross in it.

To fine tune this conditional formatting rule so it displays just the checkmark or the cross and not the numbers themselves and so it works correctly, keep the range selected and, from the Conditional Formatting dropdown list select Manage Rules. Select the Icon Set rule, select Edit Rule and click Format all cells based on their values in the top of the dialog.



Select the Show Icon Only checkbox and, set the checkmark to read >= 1 and set the Type to Number. For the ! icon set it to read > 0 and set its type to Number also. Click Ok.

You can change the icons by simply typing 1 or 0 into a cell.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Office 2010 – how to save files as templates

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.

Helen Bradley

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Save an Excel Chart as a Picture

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.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Harness the power of Business Information sets in Publisher


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.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Add Custom Keyboard Shortcuts in Word 2010

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.

Helen Bradley

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Must know Windows 8 keystrokes

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

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Unhide Hidden PowerPoint 2010 animations

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.



Helen Bradley

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Making Groups in Windows 8

In Windows 8 Metro you can name groups of tiles so they have headings on the Start screen and you can drag groups around. Pity that nothing on the screen makes it clear that this is something you can do.

To do this, first use the semantic zoom to shrink the start menu tiles so they are very small.

step 1

Then right click a tile in the group of tiles you want to name.

step 2

A dialog pops up where you can type the group name. This only appears when you are zoomed out making it hard to find.

step 3

When you’re done, zoom out and you’ll see the group named. You can now drag and drop tiles into the group to help keep things nicely organized on the Windows 8 Metro Start screen.


Helen Bradley

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Customize the Quick Access toolbar in Word 2010

customize the quick access toolbar

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.


Helen Bradley

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Excel – conditional sums

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.


Helen Bradley