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Tame your computer – easy way for U to mark up emails

24 Jun

CleverclogsTipTime2Depending on how you work with your inbox, you could end up with Outlook marking your email message as read, while you really only flicked through the list using your up and down arrows, having a quick peak at the text in the Reading Pane. You can change the settings (perhaps I’ll write a tip about that at some point) but in the meantime here’s a quick way to mark your email as though you haven’t read it yet.

You can obviously use the Unread/Read button in the Tags group on the Home tab. Or perhaps you are a “right-mouse clicker” and you select Unread? But sometimes it is just easier to use the keyboard rather than your mouse, especially if it is an intuitive shortcut to mark something “Unread”. (You can probably guess?!)

Here’s how:

  1. Select the message(s).
  2. Press CTRL + U.

To mark several messages as unread, click the first message, hold down CTRL and click the other message(s). Use the CTRL + SHIFT + arrows to select multiple, adjacent messages.

Related tips

Tame your computer – make light of lists

2 Jun

CleverclogsTipTime2This week’s tip is inspired by a question from one of the 98 (!) people who attended last week’s Cambridge Network webinar. (Thanks for organising, Andrea!)

Although I could answer the question (how to add people to a contact group) I missed the opportunity to promote what I believe is by far the quickest way to create a distribution list – or Contact Group as they are nowadays called. Contact groups can be particularly helpful if you regularly email or schedule meetings with a certain group of people.

Here’s how:

  1. Press CTRL + SHIFT + L. (L for list, if you need a mnemonic.)
  2. Type a name for your contact group.
  3. Click on the Add Members button and add people from your Outlook Contacts or Address Book or type a New e-mail contact. (You can also copy and paste names from an existing email message.)
  4. Click Save & Close.

In future, simply use the name of the contact group to send them an email or invite them to a meeting. If you click on the plus next to the group’s name you will see all the people in the group and you could temporarily remove one of the recipients. Useful if you want to organise a party for one of them, but you don’t want them to know about it.

Related tips
Create a distribution list from a single e-mail
Top ten Microsoft Outlook shortcuts

Upcoming courses
As classroom training is suspended for the foreseeable future, we offer one-hour hands-on virtual training sessions. You can cherry-pick the most relevant topics from the various ‘off the shelf’ course outlines. Or why not book a “How did you do that?” session for your team and I will share my top time-saving tips. Even if you believe you have mastered Microsoft Office I guarantee you will go away with new tricks, tips and shortcuts that you never would have found on your own.

Tame your computer – recycle and reuse Quick Parts

26 May

CleverclogsTipTime2The other day I had to change the text of one of my “Quick Parts” and realised it wasn’t as intuitive as you might think. So here’s a tip, giving me the opportunity to remind all of you of this underutilised feature to create reusable bits of preformatted text or pictures and logos you frequently use in Word or Outlook.

Here’s how:

  1. If necessary, remind yourself of the name you gave the Quick Part entry or temporarily add the old text. (On the Insert tab, in the Text group, click Quick Parts. Or perhaps you stuck the Quick Parts button on your Quick Access Toolbar as suggested in tip 335?)
  2. Modify and select the text or picture.
  3. On the Insert tab, in the Text group, click Quick Parts, click Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery.
  4. Enter the same name to identify the entry, which can also be used for shortcut purposes.
  5. Press ENTER or click OK.
  6. Press ENTER or click Yes.

In future simply type the name of the Quick Part and press F3. If you prefer or cannot remember what you called the Quick Part, click on the Quick Parts button on the Insert tab – or (by now) from your Quick Access Toolbar.

NOTE: When you have added or modified building blocks and you close down Microsoft Word or Outlook, you will be asked whether or not you want to save them for future use. Unless you want to follow the steps described above again, click on Save.

Related tips

Tame your computer – calendar clarity

8 Apr

CleverclogsTipTime2If you start your day checking your Outlook calendar, you might want to open it by default, rather than the Inbox.

Here’s how:

  1. On the File tab, click on Options.
  2. Type the letter A (or click on Advanced).
  3. Under Outlook start and exit, click on Browse.
  4. In the Select Folder dialog box, click on Calendar.
  5. Click OK twice.

You can also use this to automatically open a particular subfolder, which might be handy if you use rules to move emails to a specific folder.

Next time you open Outlook, the calendar will be displayed by default. And remember, you can have both your calendar and inbox open at the same time.

 Related tips

Tame your computer – a TABulous tip

28 Mar

CleverclogsTipTime2There are various ways to insert rows and columns in a table. Come to think of it, I might list them at some point in a future tip. (Watch this space.) But time and time again I notice people don’t know about what I believe is the fastest way to insert a row at the end of a table, underneath the last row.


Here’s how:

1.       Click anywhere in the last cell of the table.

2.       Press TAB.

If you have the total row switched on in a table in Excel, make sure you click in the last cell above the total row.

Simply hold down the TAB key (no need to release it) to add multiple rows.

Finally, I want you to know that I plan to continue to publish my tips during these tricky times. I hope you find them helpful and a welcome respite among all the information about the evolving COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Stay safe!

Related tips
Quickly jump between the start and end of a row in a table (MS Word and Outlook)
Keyboard shortcut to move rows in a table (MS Word)
Quickly jump between the beginning and end of a document or email (MS Office)
Total the data in a table (MS Excel)

Tame your computer – bring Quick Parts to the table

14 Mar

CleverclogsTipTime2Preparing a new Word training module (more about that later), I fell in love all over again with “Quick Parts”. If only Microsoft had given it a different name, I’m sure it wouldn’t be such an underutilised feature.

I’ve already written tips about how to use it for text and graphics in Word and Outlook, but did you know you can also save tables or part of a table as a “building block” (another unintuitive term, given by Microsoft)?

If you regularly use tables with particular text and formatting you probably copy and paste them from somewhere else. But why not save time and add it to the Quick Tables gallery in Word or Outlook for quick retrieval?

Here’s how:

  1. Select (part of) the formatted table.
  2. Click on the Table button on the Insert tab.
  3. Hover over Quick Tables and click on Save Selection to Quick Tables Gallery at the bottom of the dialogue box.
  4. Type a name to identify the reusable table. This name can also be used for shortcut purposes, so keep it short and memorable.
  5. Click OK or press ENTER.
  6. If the name you typed in step 4 already exists and you do not want to overwrite the existing table, click on No.

To reuse the table simply type the name you identified in step 4 and press F3. If you prefer or cannot remember what you called the table, click on the Table button on the Insert tab and scroll down the list of Built-In Quick Tables to find yours.

NOTE: When you have added or modified building blocks and you close down Microsoft Word you will be asked whether or not you want to save them for future use. (I cannot see a reason why you wouldn’t click on Save.)

Finally, as mentioned at the start of the tip, I’ve added a new Microsoft Word module to our course portfolio, handpicking the most popular topics from the Intermediate and Advanced training.

You probably think “I have been using Word for years and I can make it work to meet my day-to-day tasks.” If you are a “stuck in a rut” user you might want to work smarter rather than harder. But if you don’t have the time to sift through the fast amount of information that’s out there, this new module is for you! Come along on 17 April and discover overlooked and underused tools that can help you save time and streamline your workday. (Team discounts are available and training can also take place at your premises.)

Related tips
Create, store and insert frequently used text and graphics (Word and Outlook)
Create and insert frequently used text and graphics (Outlook)
Tricks and shortcuts for selecting blocks of text (Word and Outlook)

Tame your computer – with a post-holiday clean-up

3 Jan

CleverclogsTipTime2Hello and welcome to the first tip of the decade. Hope you all had a relaxing break.

That said, some of your colleagues or clients might have sent you messages during your absence. And others might have responded or forwarded messages. You obviously don’t want to read and keep all those redundant emails or risk knee-jerking into answering an old question. Back in June last year I told you to right-click the inbox to keep only the most recent message from every conversation in your inbox or those that changed or contain attachments. But why not use KeyTips to quickly clean up messages?

Here’s how:

  1. In the Inbox, press ALT, H, C, F. (Press and release the ALT key, press and release the letter H, press and release C and press and release F.)
  2. Press ENTER.

I know the keyboard shortcut is very unintuitive (to say the least), but if you keep an eye on the ribbon you will see that when you press the ALT key, letters appear over every tab and button in the tab. You can then press the corresponding letter to trigger a command.  So this can be a great general tip to speed up your way of working, especially if you are a touch-typist!

To hide the KeyTips, simply press the ALT key once more. Or press the Esc key in the top left of your keyboard.

Oh, and for those of you who are using Outlook 2016 … you might notice that the Clean Up Folder shortcut when using KeyTips is L, not F. No idea why Microsoft changed that, but please note that you have to press ALT, H, C, L if you want to trigger that option.

Related tips

Tame your computer – with sticky stuff

10 Dec

CleverclogsTipTime2During a recent one-hour Outlook hints and tips session, I checked whether those present could relate to having chunks of text that they use over and over again in their email messages. I showed them that, rather than copy and paste from other emails or Word documents, you can set up a Quick Part Gallery.

Going “off-piste”, I then told them about Microsoft’s Sticky Notes, but as soon as I got back to the office I wondered why I hadn’t promoted Outlook’s own Notes folder to store text you might need later.

Here’s how:

  1. In Notes, on the Home tab, in the New group, click New Note. (Or simply press CTRL + SHIFT + N if you are using Outlook 2016 and don’t see the Notes folder.)
  2. Type the contents of the note.

The note is saved automatically and there is no real need to close it. Simply continue your work in Outlook and go back to the Notes folder (CTRL + 5 anyone?) when you want to open, edit or delete your notes.

By the way, in Outlook 2016 you do not see the Notes folder at the bottom of the navigation pane. (You only see the first 4 components: Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks.) If you cannot bear the CTRL + 5 keyboard shortcut, click on the three dots (…) next to the icon for Tasks, go to Navigation Pane Options and set the Maximum number of visible items to 5.

With thanks to Noel for today’s tip.

Related tips

Tame your computer – in your own good time

14 Oct

CleverclogsTipTime2By default, Outlook specifies your work week as 8AM to 5PM, Monday to Friday. This means that if someone is trying to schedule a meeting using the free/busy time shown in the Scheduler they might think you are available.

So if you work part time or do not want people to schedule meetings before 9AM or after 4PM, why not change your work days and times?

Here’s how:

  1. On the File tab, click on Options.
  2. Click on Calendar (or type the letter c).
  3. Under Work time change your Start time and End time.
  4. Tick or untick the check boxes to reflect your work week.
  5. Press ENTER or click OK.

And no, I’m afraid you cannot have different start and end times for different work days.

Related tips:

Tame your computer – what a to-do!

27 Sep

CleverclogsTipTime2Do you set follow-up reminders by dragging your email message over the Tasks folder? Or perhaps you create tasks from scratch? (CTRL + 4 followed by CTRL + N)

If so, you might want to display your To-Do list for, say, the week ahead.

Here’s how:

  1. Switch to Tasks, as normal. (For example, press CTRL + 4.)
  2. Click in the Search box in the top right hand corner or press CTRL + E.
  3. Select the relevant period from the Start Date or Due Date button, depending on what you specified when you created the task.

If you did not find what you were looking for, click on the Try searching again in All Task Items link at the bottom of the search results page.

With thanks to Kate for this week’s tip inspiration.
Related tips
Park your thoughts
Display your flagged messages in a “For Follow Up” folder
Set a date using plain English
Quickly jump between the various Outlook components
Setting a follow-up reminder for an email message