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Tame your computer – paste it PDQ

19 Aug

Do you ever copy and paste text from, say, the web or applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint into an email message? If so, you probably first open a new email, then click in the body of the message and finally paste what’s on your clipboard. If so, you can save yourself some time …

Here’s how:

  1. Copy the text or figures or file, as normal.
  2. Switch to Outlook. (Remember ALT + TAB or WIN + TAB to flip through your open windows?)
  3. Press CTRL + V.

Whatever you copied in step 1 is automatically included in the body of the new email message. And as mentioned in step 1, this even works when you copy a file, which will add the document as an attachment to the email. That said, if you want to share one or more files with somebody in your organisation it might be better to send a link to the item, rather than an attachment. See tip 431.

Finally, you can obviously do this copying and pasting even smarter using a macro, but I think the method described above is a great time-saver in itself.

But speaking of macros … on 6 – 7 September we run our next two-day Excel VBA course, aimed at anyone who needs to understand and write code that operates within Excel. If you want to learn how to automate repetitive tasks, add new functionality to Excel and format data into reports why not come along? See http://www.roem.co.uk/msexcvba.php for more detail. Oh, and it’s guaranteed to run!

Related tips:
Tip # 419: Preview and flip through your open windows
Tip # 431 : Send links rather than attachments

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Tame your computer – colour your calendar

27 Jul

Back in January 2016 I told you how to add public holidays to your Outlook calendar. By default they are displayed in white, but the colour can be changed by applying any of the available category colours, making them easier to spot between work stuff.

Here’s how:

  1. Double-click on one of the holiday entries in your Calendar. (For example, press CTRL + G and type 28/8 to jump to our next Bank Holiday Monday.)
  2. Click on Categorize, followed by All Categories.
  3. Click on Holiday (not in Master Category List) and click on New.
  4. Select a colour of your choice and press ENTER or click OK twice.

If you work closely with offices in other countries you might want to add and colour-code those as well. By assigning colours you can quickly see what’s coming up and plan accordingly.

Speaking of holidays … with summer in full swing and a break on the horizon why not have another look at the five tips to prevent email overload upon your return from holiday?

Related tips:
Tip # 417: Add holidays to your calendar
Tip # 489: 5 tips to prevent email overload upon your return from holiday

Tame your computer – simple scheduling

9 May

Some time ago I wrote a tip on how to reply to a message with a meeting request, inviting everyone who was on the To line in the original message as “Required Attendees”, and everyone on the Cc line as “Optional Attendees”.

One of the steps is to click on the Scheduling button, but as I often notice people do not use this great functionality, missing out on a convenient way to check the availability of all those you want to invite, I felt a separate tip was justified. (And – to be honest – also because the other day I did what I often do …thinking I had sent a meeting request, only to find I had entered it as an appointment, forgetting to invite anybody else.)

Here’s how:

  1. Open the Calendar and click on the New Meeting button. (Or press CTRL + 2 followed by CTRL + N.)
  2. Click on the Scheduling Assistant button.
  3. Click in the box under your own name which reads Click here to add a name and type the name of the (first) person you want to attend the meeting.
  4. If necessary, press CTRL + K  or click on the Check Names button to make sure that it is possible to send the meeting request to the person you specified.
  5. Repeat step 3 and 4 for all remaining attendees.

Depending on the setup of your network, a Scheduling diagram might show the availability and busy times of all attendees.

  1. If free/busy data can be retrieved, select the desired date and time from the Suggested times box underneath the Date Navigator. Alternatively, drag the green and red borders in the Scheduling diagram to a suitable new date and time where everyone is available.
  2. Click on the Appointment button and add a subject, location and any additional information, such links to the agenda stored on a shared drive and/or other reading material (rather than attachments).
  3. Click on the Send button.

By the way, do you add reminders as appointments in your Outlook calendar? If so, be aware they go in as “Busy” (dark blue) which means that people might think you’re not available for a meeting they are trying to organise. If you used the appointment to set aside time to get your work done or to have dedicated time to clean-out and archive messages, update tasks, and adjust your schedule … excellent diary management! Otherwise, you might be better off using Outlook Tasks.

That’s it for this week! If there are topics that you’d like to see covered in future items, please let me know.

Related tips:
Tip 412: Respond to an e-mail message with a meeting request
Tip 350: Set a date using  plain English
Tip 297: Quickly book appointments or meetings longer than half an hour
Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.

Tame your computer – note to self

11 Feb

Did you ever have a random thought when you were in the middle of reading an email message? Perhaps you remembered an issue you wanted to bring up at the next departmental meeting – or something to add to your shopping list?

You could obviously stop what you’re doing and scribble it down, risking getting side-tracked and derailing your productivity. So why not use Outlook’s Notes functionality to park your idea for easy reference once you’ve read your message?

  1. Press CTRL + SHIFT + N.
  2. Type your thought.
  3. If you want, click on the note icon in the upper left corner of the form and assign a colour category or contact name to the note.
  4. Continue your work as normal.  No need to close the note.

By the way, if you want to use this when you are in the middle of writing an email message, you need to make sure your cursor is in top half (the message form), not in the message area itself.

The Notes folder containing your personal reminders and other messages you sent to yourself can be found at the bottom of the Navigation Pane.

The quickest way to open it is by pressing CTRL + 5. (It’s the fifth item in the Navigation Pane, underneath Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks.) From there it will be easy to print the notes or forward them as attachments. Simply use the right-click menus.

Related tip: Tip # 259: Quickly jump between the various Outlook components

Tame your computer – speed up your bullets

28 Jan

Do you ever create lists of items in Word? For example, a numbered list of agenda items or a bulleted ‘to do’ list? If so, you probably use the Bullets and Numbering buttons on the Home tab. But did you know you can benefit from the “format-as-you-type” feature to quickly start a bulleted or numbered list?

Here’s how:

  1. Move the insertion point to the location where the list is to appear.
  2. Type an asterisk ( * ) or type the first number and press the TAB key.
  3. Type the list items, pressing ENTER at the end of each item.

To cancel the bullet or number, simply press ENTER a second time. This will also remove the indent level.

To keep the indentation, press the BACKSPACE key. If you use BACKSPACE it is very easy to create a combined numbered and bulleted list.

By the way, in step 2 you can also use the SPACEBAR key rather than TAB. But be aware that for numbered lists this only works if you type a number format such as 1. or 1)

Oh, and this numbered format tip works in Outlook as well.

Have a go. It is easier than it sounds!
* Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.

Tame your computer – energise your emails

15 Jan

Last week I told you that apparently the best time to send an email is on a Tuesday morning if you want people to read your message. Well, there’s more …

Research has shown that emails sent on Mondays contain more mistakes than those sent on any other days. It also states that making an error in the subject line translates into a 5 percent decline in the likelihood the message will be opened.

So I felt it was time to dust off an oldie but a goodie … how to configure Outlook so that it automatically checks for spelling mistakes – including the subject line.

Here’s how:

  1. Click on the File tab and select Options.
  2. Press M or click on the Mail category. (The second one.)
  3. Select the Always check spelling before sending check box.
  4. Select the Ignore original message text in reply or forward check box. (You obviously do not want to correct somebody else’s spelling mistakes, do you?)
  5. Click OK.

Next time you send a message, Outlook automatically checks for spelling mistakes and prompts you if there are any.

Tame your computer – schedule your sends

4 Jan

Happy new year to all of you! Hope you had a relaxing break and didn’t return to an overstuffed inbox. Speaking of which …

If you want people to read and answer your email message, apparently sending it on a Tuesday morning is the best time. After all, everyone finds a lot of messages on Monday morning and most people have mentally switched off by Friday afternoon. But what if you don’t have time to send your message on a Tuesday morning? Well, you can easily schedule a date and time at which your message should be delivered.

Here’s how:

  1. Create your email message as normal. (CTRL + N springs to mind.)
  2. Click on the Delay delivery button in the More Options group on the Options tab.
  3. Select the Do not deliver before check box.
  4. Press TAB and type your preferred delivery date. For example, tomorrow, next tuesday, next month, 5/1 … In short: no need to use the drop-down arrows.
  5. Press TAB and type your preferred delivery time. For example, 10AM or 3PM. (Or use the drop-down arrows if you prefer.)
  6. Click the Close button.
  7. Click the Send button.

Your message remains in the Outbox folder until the specified delivery time. When closing down Outlook, it will remind you that there are unsent messages. Treat this as a prompt not to close down Outlook as the scheduled message might not be sent. (If you work somewhere where they run a program named Microsoft Exchange Server you do not need to keep Outlook open and you can log off or shut down as normal.)

By the way, if you want, you can set up a rule that will delay the delivery of all your email messages – by up to 120 minutes. This might be particularly helpful if you often wished you hadn’t sent it. Perhaps you suddenly remembered something you needed to change? Or perhaps a related email came in. Maybe you often forget to add the attachment you mention in your email? Anyway, I’ll use that as input for a future tip.
PS Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.