Archive | September, 2012

Tame your computer – countdown to Christmas

30 Sep

You might have used Excel’s TODAY worksheet function to automatically enter the current date. But did you know you can also use this Function to create a countdown to the given date of your upcoming events such as a holiday, anniversary, birthday, wedding, retirement, completion of house … or Christmas?

Here’s how:

  1. Enter the date of the event (say, 25/12/12) in, say, cell A1
  2. Select cell B1 and type =TODAY()
  3. Select the cell in which the countdown result is to appear (say, C1) and type =A1-B1
  4. If necessary, right-click over cell C1, select Format Cells and choose General (from the Number tab)

If you save the file as normal you can check every day how many days are left between now and your special day. (See for an example.)

Tame your computer – simplify searching

22 Sep

Searching in Outlook 2007 and 2010 is easy. Simply open your mail, calendar, contacts or task folder and type the words or phrase that best describe the information or the name of the person you’re looking for in the Search box. But what if your inbox is an out of control beast and you get too many hits? Or you have a lot of contacts with a similar sort of name? (I get Alan, Ank, Anna, Anne, Anneke and Andrew when I’m looking for An.) Well, did you know you can use the double quotation marks (” “) in the same way you might be used to when you search the web?

Here’s how:

  1. Open the item you want to search in, such as your inbox or to-do list.
  2. In the Instant Search box in the top right hand corner, type the exact phrase or specific word you are looking for, enclosed in double quotation marks (” “). For example, “outlook 2010”. Or “an” if I don’t want to find Alan, Ank, Anna, Anne, Anneke and Andrew.
  3. If you cannot find what you are looking for, you could click on the All Mail Items button in the Search Tools tab (Outlook 2010 only) so that it won’t just look in, say, the inbox but also all the subfolders.

By the way, see  and for more tips on finding that needle in a haystack.

Tame your computer – be a desktop genius

13 Sep

Are you the sort of person who stores items on your desktop? I am! OK, I am obviously well aware you should not store files on your desktop (as they aren’t backed up and it slows the computer down) but I use it to keep shortcuts to web pages or documents of temporary value within easy reach.

The downside is that I end up with a messy desktop and spend ages hunting for the right item… until Ramón told me I can use the normal “find trick” I thought I could only use in Windows Explorer. (Thanks, Ramón.)

Here’s how :

  1. If  necessary, press WIN+D to display your Desktop.
  2. Type the first letter of the document or shortcut to find the item with the first occurrence of that letter.
  3. If that’s not the one you are looking for, type the same letter once more and the next occurrence in the list will appear.
  4. Press ENTER or the carriage return key when the correct item is highlighted to open the document or shortcut.

By the way, I suppose as a document and records management trainer I’m not really setting a good example working with a messy desktop, but as Albert Einstein once put it: if a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?