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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.

Tame your computer – the top 10 tips of 2016

19 Dec

This will be the last tip of the year as I’m pretty sure that you’re all ready to tuck into mince pies and mulled wine.

So here are your favourite, most commented on, tips from the last 12 months. Don’t forget to check out number 6 before you’re off on your Christmas break!

  1. Add holidays to your calendar (Microsoft Outlook) – http://roem.co.uk/tip_471.php
  2. 10 tips for safe online banking – http://roem.co.uk/tip_473.php
  3. Make text look like it was marked with a highlighter pen (Word and Outlook) – http://roem.co.uk/tip_475.php
  4. Stop AutoCorrect from capitalizing text following specific abbreviations (Microsoft Office) – http://roem.co.uk/tip_476.php
  5. Create, store and insert frequently used text and graphics (Microsoft Word and Outlook) – http://roem.co.uk/tip_486.php
  6. Five tips to prevent email overload upon your return from holiday (Microsoft Outlook) – http://roem.co.uk/tip_489.php
  7. How to remove limitations of what is displayed in a cell (Microsoft Excel) – http://roem.co.uk/tip_491.php
  8. Set the default colour of a hyperlink (Microsoft Outlook) – http://roem.co.uk/tip_492.php
  9. Automatically move low-priority emails from your inbox (Microsoft Outlook) – http://roem.co.uk/tip_496.php
  10. Change the emphasis of a SmartArt graphic by changing its direction (Microsoft Office) – http://roem.co.uk/tip_501.php

Wishing you a relaxing holiday season. Escape isn’t just a button on your keyboard!

Tame your computer – be selective

22 Nov

Back in May 2014 I told you how to print a specific page of an email message, similar to printing, say, the current page of a Word document. (See tip 422 if you missed it or cannot remember how to do it.)

But what if you only want to print part of the whole email trail, not a specific page? I’m afraid Outlook doesn’t offer a Print Selection option like Word and Excel. So what I normally do is copy and paste what I want to print in Word and print from there. But there is a nifty workaround in Outlook you might like.

Here’s how:

  1. Open the email message, as normal. (It won’t work from the Reading Pane.)
  2. On the Message tab, in the Move group, click Actions, followed by View in Browser. (Before you click on View in Browser, you might want to right-click the button and stick it on your Quick Access Toolbar.)
  3. If you get a warning message, click OK. (If you think this step will annoy you in future, I recommend you tick the Do not show this message again check box.)
  4. Select the text you want to print.
  5. Press CTRL + P.
  6. Tick the Selection radio button.
  7. Click on Print or press ENTER.
  8. Press CTRL + W to close the browser window.

But don’t forget … Think before your print. Be green – keep it on the screen.

Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.