Friday, April 20th, 2012

Must know Windows 8 keystrokes

opener 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

powerpoint unhiding unavailable animations opener 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.

powerpoint unhiding unavailable animations step1 Unhide Hidden PowerPoint 2010 animations

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.

powerpoint unhiding unavailable animations step2 Unhide Hidden PowerPoint 2010 animations

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.

powerpoint unhiding unavailable animations step3 Unhide Hidden PowerPoint 2010 animations

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.

powerpoint unhiding unavailable animations step4 Unhide Hidden PowerPoint 2010 animations



Helen Bradley

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Making Groups in Windows 8

Windows 8 groups name group opener 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.

Windows 8 groups name group step1 Making Groups in Windows 8

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

Windows 8 groups name group step2 Making Groups in Windows 8

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

Windows 8 groups name group step3 Making Groups in Windows 8

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 QAT opener Customize the Quick Access toolbar in Word 2010

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.

customize the quick access toolbar QAT step1 Customize the Quick Access toolbar in Word 2010

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.

customize the quick access toolbar QAT step2 Customize the Quick Access toolbar in Word 2010

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.

customize the quick access toolbar QAT step3 Customize the Quick Access toolbar in Word 2010


Helen Bradley

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Excel – conditional sums

Excel conditional sum with sumif 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.

Excel conditional sum with sumif 2 e1329337334611 Excel   conditional sums

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

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

DIY Excel functions

DIY excel functions 3 DIY Excel functions

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.

DIY excel functions 1 DIY Excel functions



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
End If
End Function

DIY excel functions 21 DIY Excel functions 

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.

DIY excel functions 3 DIY Excel functions

Helen Bradley

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Excel 2010 – quick and easy calculations

Excel quick sum status bar options Excel 2010   quick and easy calculations

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.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Pattern fills for your Excel 2007 charts

Excel2007 black and white pattern fills for charts Pattern fills for your Excel 2007 charts

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: 

Update: This link is no longer live so 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.

Excel black and white pattern fills for charts Pattern fills for your Excel 2007 charts

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Quickly access Excel 2010 formula requirements

excel add formula arguments Quickly access Excel 2010 formula requirements
Ok.. so you want to use an Excel formula and you know it is, say, SUMIF that you want to use, but what data does it need and where?

Before you go searching through help or cranking up your browser, let Excel do the work for you. Just type =SUMIF in a cell and press Control + Shift + A and Excel will give you the list of data required. It’s dead simple and it saves heaps of time.


Helen Bradley

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Save space – Compress your images in Word

compress images in Word 2010 Save space   Compress your images in Word

A reader just asked if they added 50 images to a Word file would that blow out the file size when they send it to their colleagues. Answer: Yep! big time.

Most specially if you use your your beaut iPhone to capture the images, or a good compact camera or if you just insert big pictures. You see, unless you do something those big pictures will be inserted in the file and included in it when you save it – you can end up with a monster Word file (think 5Mb x 50!)

The solution to the problem is to compress the images. To compress all the images in your Word 2010/2007 file so that they take less room, click on any image and choose Picture Tools > Format tab.  Locate the Compress Pictures button and deselect Apply only to this Picture so all images will be compressed.

If there is an Options button click it to see the sizing options (this appears in Word 2007 but not in Word 2010). Then choose the Target output – typically Screen or Print are good options as they will view well and print just fine. Check the Delete Cropped Areas of Pictures checkbox so cropped data won’t be saved. Click Ok. Then save the document.

This compression feature will reduce your file to a better size for sharing without compromising the quality of the document. And the changes affect only the images in the document not the originals on your disk.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

How to set up your PC and your iPad for the free iWork and iCloud

icloud system tray How to set up your PC and your iPad for the free iWork and iCloud

If you have an iPad and if you have upgraded to the new iOS 5 then you can take advantage of the free iCloud and iWork tools for synching files and storing them in the Cloud. iCloud allows you to synch not only photos but also data such as files across your devices. So you can use this new technology to share Microsoft Office documents with Numbers, Keynote and Pages on your iPad. And you do this on your PC using a browser and by passing iTunes – something I for one am really glad about.

So, if you’re using a Windows PC, you can automatically access documents that have been sent from the iPad to the iCloud without needing to plug your iPad into your computer or use iTunes. It is a long over due technology and it provides a more professional approach to the task of file exchange – not to mention it will solve the problem that some users experience where their network administrators block iTunes.

Getting this all configured is simple but it is far from intuitive. Nowhere could I find step by step instructions so I had to piece this stuff together bit by bit. Hence this post – it will explain all you need to do. From start to finish, I’d allow about 1.5 hours – if you finish early that’s a bonus but none of this stuff is totally trivial so allow time to get it all done.

Start by updating iTunes to 10.5 on your PC. If you haven’t done this – you do this from inside iTunes. Then, connect your iPad to your PC and update the iPad to iOS 5 – this might take some time depending on how much data you have on your iPad as everything will be backed up – then reinstalled once the operating system is updated.

While iTunes is updating and iOS 5 is being configured, you can – on your PC – visit the Apple site at and download and install the iCloud control panel for Windows.

icloud for pc free download How to set up your PC and your iPad for the free iWork and iCloud

Back on your iPad when everything is running again, go into Settings and create your iCloud account.

icloud setup on ipad How to set up your PC and your iPad for the free iWork and iCloud

On the iPad, in Settings > iCloud you can set up syncing for email and other items such as your Photo Stream and Documents & Data. For Documents & Data you have a choice of using your cellular data plan to upload or Wi-Fi only – for your Photo Stream you can only synch this using Wi-Fi.

If you have Numbers, Pages and/or Keynote installed, in Settings select these each in turn and enable the Use iCloud option – you need to turn this On before any of these apps will access iCloud.

configure numbers pages keynote for iwork icloud How to set up your PC and your iPad for the free iWork and iCloud

iCloud can be accessed on your PC by opening the system tray and clicking on its icon – if it isn’t there, choose the Start menu and type iCloud. Use the settings to configure how and what you want your iCloud and iPad to share. For example, click Photo Stream and configure a folder for images to upload to the iPad and one to use to download into. On the PC you can select whether email, contacts and Calendars & Tasks should be shared with Outlook. I suggest you backup your Outlook pst file before you even consider enabling this!

icloud system tray How to set up your PC and your iPad for the free iWork and iCloud

So far you have everything working except your documents. For this, confusingly enough, you head back to your PC and crank up your browser and visit Sign in using your Apple ID. If prompted you should download and install the browser plug-in.

icloud login PC How to set up your PC and your iPad for the free iWork and iCloud

Here you will find links for Keynote, Numbers and Pages. Click on one of them to view the documents synched from your iPad – first time you do this it might take a while as the synching takes place.

In future, every time you create a document on your iPad or edit one it will be synched automatically and will appear in this list.

icloud iwork pc browser How to set up your PC and your iPad for the free iWork and iCloud

Although it is not obvious that you can do this, you can also drag and drop a document, spreadsheet or PowerPoint document into the appropriate panel and it will be synched with your iPad. You can double click a document in the list to download it to the appropriate application on your computer – here I’ve chosen a Pages document which will open in Word.

icloud iwork downloading synched documents How to set up your PC and your iPad for the free iWork and iCloud

You can also now share documents with others who have Apple IDs using iWork. So, on your iPad, open a document, spreadsheet or presentation and click Share and Print (it looks like a spanner) and choose Share via Type the email address of the person you want to share it with and they will receive an invitation to view the shared document:

icloud iwork free file sharing How to set up your PC and your iPad for the free iWork and iCloud



Helen Bradley

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Shape images and Clip Art in Word 2010

word 2010 shape clipart opener Shape images and Clip Art in Word 2010

There is a healthy range of free clip art available from Microsoft and it includes some photos including content from However, the process of getting them into your document any other way than by choosing Insert > Clip Art is not always obvious.

Here’s how to add a clip art image to a circle shape:

Choose Insert > Shape and select the Oval. Hold Shift as you draw to create a circle on the screen. If you choose Drawing Tools > Format > Shape Fill you get the option of applying a picture to the shape but not clip art.

Instead, right click the shape and choose Format Shape to get access to the new to Word 2010 – Format Shape dialog. Choose Fill > Picture or Texture Fill and click the Clip Art button.

word 2010 shape clipart 1 Shape images and Clip Art in Word 2010

Browse or search for an image. You could also have placed a Clip Art image into your document using Insert > Clip Art and then selected it and cut it to the Clipboard. Here in this dialog you can choose Clipboard to add the image from the clipboard – in short you have more options here for using image than you have using the Shape Fill list.

If the image is skewed out of shape – and it will be if it is a portrait or landscape image inside a circle which is pretty much a square with the corners cut off – you can adjust it.

Select Crop and, for a landscape orientation image inside a circle, increase the Picture Position Width value. For a portrait orientation image inside a circle, increase the Picture Position: Height value.

Then adjust the Offset X or Offset Y values, if desired, to control which portion of the image shows up inside the circle.

word 2010 shape clipart 2 Shape images and Clip Art in Word 2010

Helen Bradley

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Reformatting pasted text in Word

linebreaks Reformatting pasted text in Word

I recently grabbed some text from an email that I’d sent to someone. The text was in numbered point form and I wanted to add some more items inside the list of points. This is where everything started to go hair-raisingly wrong.

It seemed as if my list was no longer reformatting correctly and the numbers were everywhere. Worse still, that old standby of copying and pasting formats using the FormatPainter didn’t fix the problem.

By selecting the Show/Hide¶ icon on the Home tab in Word I immediately saw the problem. Instead of paragraph marks at the end of each paragraph there were bent arrows indicating a manual line break. I didn’t put them there but the email software had.

To get my list back to something that I could work with, I needed to quickly replace the manual line breaks with paragraph breaks.

If you open the Find and Replace dialog and click in the Find What: box you immediately see the problem – how do I tell it what a manual line break is and what a paragraph break is? The solution is to click the More button to show more options. Then click Special to get access to the Manual Line Break character. It’s actually a carat and what looks like a pipe symbol but it’s easiest to get this by clicking  this by clicking Manual Line Break because the pipe symbol on the keyboard isn’t the right one – go figure!

Then click in the Replace With box and select the Paragraph Mark  - this one you can type manually as it is carat + p (^p) but since you’re there why not click to insert it instead. Now click Less to return the dialog to what it looked like before and click Replace All to turn all the manual line breaks back to regular paragraph marks. Now my numbering worked just fine.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Excel – get the day or month name from a date

text function in Excel 1 Excel   get the day or month name from a date

Often you will want to extract a month or day of the week from an Excel date. This is extraordinarily easy to do using the text function.

To get the name of the day of the week from a date in, for example, cell A1 type this into another cell:

= TEXT(A1,”dddd”)

This will give you the full day name spelled out such as Monday or Tuesday.

If you want a three character name use:

= TEXT(A1,”ddd”)

The same basic formula can be used to get the month of the year from a date. Use this to get the month name spelled out in full:

= TEXT(A1,”mmmm”)

Use this to get the month of the year spelled out in three characters:

= TEXT(A1,”mmm”)

and this for a single letter month:

= TEXT(A1,”mmmmm”)

This formula can be easily constructed and copied down a column of dates to extract just the information you want very quickly and easily.

The Excel help file has some information about the different formats you can use to extract data using the TEXT function.

text function in Excel Excel   get the day or month name from a date

Helen Bradley

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Switch between open documents in Excel and Word

Switch between windows excel word Switch between open documents in Excel and Word

Hmmm … I am fussy, I want my cake and I want to eat it too!

I want to have a clean task bar so I don’t want to see lots of files lined up there so I love Windows 7 and its clean task bar. But I find the new panel that opens when I right click an icon on the task bar to be just a little bit too free with information. I really want it to show me a list of currently open files – not everything that I have open or have recently opened. Actually I could live with the information it gives me if I didn’t have to actually use it to switch windows.

So, problem is… how can I switch between open documents in Excel or Word, for example, without having to use the Windows task bar? Solution is to use the Switch Windows button. I add it to the QAT (Quick Access Toolbar) and it totally makes sense to me.

In Excel or Word, click the Customize Quick Access Toolbar button and choose More Commands. From the list which currently shows Popular Commands choose All Commands and scroll to find the Switch Windows button and click Add.

Now it is on the QAT and it will show you all your open files and you can use it to switch between them by just clicking on the one to go to. Repeat the process for both Excel and Word and you’ll be happy – at least until something else bugs you!

Helen Bradley