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Tame your computer – take a shortcut to appointments

20 Apr

As part of the roadmap out of lockdown the measures in England were eased on Monday (12 April), so it’s been a busy couple of days, appointment-wise … haircut, pedicure, facial, reflexology, outdoor lunch with a friend (and mild hypothermia 😉 ). Oh, and the occasional webinar and training session; thanks for booking!

So with my Outlook calendar in overdrive I would like to share a keyboard shortcut I recently learned from Sharon Connolly, Australia’s Change Superhero … a quick way to show the Appointment page to set up the details of an appointment or meeting without the need to first open your calendar.

Here’s how:

  1. Open Outlook, although since tip 638 it might start automatically?!
  2. Press CTRL + SHIFT + A.

That’s it! Don’t forget to combine it with other tips you’ve hopefully fallen in love with, such as:

  1. Press TAB twice and use English words or formulas such as next Tuesday or 4d.
  2. Press TAB and type 3PM.

By the way, there is a similar shortcut that allows you start a new message from any Outlook view. For example, if you are in your calendar and want to write a new message, simply press CTRL + SHIFT + M. (M is for Message.) It sure beats CTRL + 1 followed by CTRL + N.

Thanks for the inspiration, Sharon! I might need to update my top ten Microsoft Outlook shortcuts.

Related tips

Tame your computer – calendar cleverness

6 Apr

Back in November 2018 I wrote a tip about a feature that can make it a bit easier to schedule a meeting with someone outside your organisation. As they won’t have access to your calendar it can be a bit of a pain, with lots of messages being sent backwards and forwards. Instead, why not send your calendar to someone in another company as an email attachment – or ask them to forward their calendar to you?

Well, for some reason, the button has been removed as an option from the Home tab in the current version of Microsoft 365, so if you want to use it you might want to stick it on your Quick Access Toolbar and use it from there.

Here’s how:

  1. Click on the drop-down arrow at the far end of the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. Click on More Commands.
  3. In the Choose commands from drop-down list, select All Commands.
  4. Scroll down the alphabetical list and double-click on Email Calendar.
  5. Click OK or press ENTER.

You only have to do this once!

Next time you want send a copy of your calendar as an email attachment follow these simple steps:

  1. Open your Calendar. (CTRL + 2, anyone?)
  2. Click on the E-mail Calendar button on the Quick Access Toolbar.
  3. Change the calendar information you want to include using the various options.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Complete and send the message as normal.

The recipient will see the time as “Free”, “Busy”, “Tentative”, or “Out of Office”, unless you changed the level of detail in step 3. The calendar attachment will open side-by-side to their own, which means they can easily compare the content. Oh, and the recipient does not have to use Outlook in order to see the information.

Related tips:

PS To help you put these tips into practice I developed a series of 60-minute webinars, giving you the opportunity to see the hints, tips and time-saving shortcuts in action. I look forward to making you a clever clog.

Tame your computer – mailbox magic

23 Feb

During a recent webinar I did in collaboration with the Cambridge Network we looked at ways to tackle information overload. When I shared some of the powerful and frequently unused Outlook search tips, one of the delegates asked whether there was a way to change the default Search setting so that results don’t just show emails from your current folder. Well, you can change it so that it always searches all mail folders in all mailboxes.

Here’s how:

  1. On the File tab, click on Options.
  2. Type the letter S (or click on Search).
  3. Under Results select the All mailboxes radio button.
  4. Press Enter or click OK.

With thanks to Richard for the tip inspiration! Hope you’ve changed your default setting and put some of what you learned into practice.

Related tips:
Find that needle in a haystack
Find even more needles in that haystack
Reduce irrelevant search results
Search for messages sent to a particular person during a certain period of time

Finally, to help you put these tips into practice I have also developed a series of 60-minute webinars, giving you the opportunity to see the hints, tips and time-saving shortcuts in action. Hope to see you soon!

Tame your computer – delaying tactics

2 Feb

This week’s tip has been inspired by Charlotte who told me about an Outlook feature she has in permanent use that delays sending all her emails by 10 minutes. “It has saved my bacon so many times,” she wrote.

And as I frequently spot my mistakes after I sent a message, I’ve also switched it on. And don’t worry … you can still send a message immediately, using a simple override word.

Here’ s how:

  1. Click on the Manage Rules & Alerts button on the File tab.
  2. Click on the New Rule button.
  3. Under Start from a blank rule click on Apply rule on messages I send.
  4. Press ENTER twice or click on Next twice.
  5. Press ENTER or click on Yes to accept that the rule will be applied to every message you send.
  6. Select the defer delivery by a number of minutes check box.
  7. Underneath, in the Step 2 box, click on a number of.
  8. Specify the amount of minutes you wish to delay the delivery by and press ENTER or click OK.
  9. Click on Next.
  10. Select the except if the subject or body contains specific words check box.
  11. Underneath, in the Step 2 box, click on the specific words hyperlink.
  12. Type the word you wish to use as an override trick.
  13. Press ENTER or click Add.
  14. Click OK.
  15. Click on Next.
  16. Click Finish.
  17. Click OK twice.

Unless you type the magic word you specified in step 12 in the subject line or in the body of your email, your message will temporarily go in your Outbox folder from where you can amend it until the number of minutes you selected in step 6 has been reached. If that folder is too far down the bottom of your list, you might want to right-click it and select Add to Favorites.

Thanks for the tip, Charlotte! I only knew how to do this for a single email.

By the way, two months ago I started drip-feeding a shortcut of the week on LinkedIn. Follow #CleverClogsTipTime if you want to keep an eye on them.

Related tips

Tame your computer – Happy N(ew) Year

5 Jan

Hello and welcome to the first tip of 2021. Happy new year!

Speaking of new … do you use the File tab when you want to create a new document in Office? (That’s four clicks – not that I’m counting.) Or perhaps you click on the New button on the Quick Access Toolbar? (That is, if you stuck it on there.) Or perhaps you love keyboard shortcuts and use CTRL + N?

But did you know you can use this intuitive keyboard shortcut (the letter N for new) for so much more?

Here are some suggestions:

Word, Excel and PowerPoint : open a new document
Outlook : create a new email message or a meeting, contact or task – depending on what part of Outlook you’re in
Teams: start a new chat
Chrome and Edge : open a new browser window with cursor in address bar
Internet Explorer : open a copy of your current web page in a new window
Windows: open a copy of your current folder in a new window

By the way, on 1 January 2001 I turned my idea into reality and started my own business. So … happy 20th birthday to us. I would like to thank my clients for the opportunity to work on some amazing projects. And to my all-important course participants for choosing me to help tackle their time-consuming and frustrating day-to-day tasks. I wouldn’t be having a birthday if it wasn’t for you!

Related tips
Schedule your e-mail message to be sent at your preferred date and time (Microsoft Outlook)
Find the best time to schedule a meeting (Microsoft Outlook)
Open several workbooks with a single click (Microsoft Excel)

Tame your computer – stop the traffic again

10 Nov

A couple of weeks ago I told you that – if you’re not bothered to know whether or not people plan to attend a meeting you organise – you can set the Response Options so that you will not receive any replies. (See tip 626 if you missed it.)

But as mentioned in that tip, this would mean you won’t be able to track and summarise all meeting request responses. So, if – like me – you frequently use Tracking (as described in tip 617) you might want to change the default setting so that all responses that don’t contain comments will be deleted automatically.

Here’s how:

  1. On the File tab, click on Options.
  2. Type the letter M (or click on Mail).
  3. Scroll down to the Tracking section and select the Update tracking information, and then delete responses that don’t contain comments check box.
  4. Click OK.

In future, only if someone edits the response before sending Accept, Tentative or Decline, you will receive the response in your Inbox rather than it going straight in the Deleted Items folder. So that’s people like me who might write “Thanks for organising”. I know, I know … some say you shouldn’t send these sorts of messages, but I still like to think we’re dealing with people. What are your thoughts about that?

Related tips

Here to help

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Upcoming courses

Given the new national lockdown restrictions, all our training sessions will be in a virtual setting until 2 December. Our current course and webinar schedule can be found online.

Tame your computer – stop the traffic

20 Oct

If you’ve ever organised a big happening using Outlook’s meeting request, you’ve probably had to wade through lots and lots of RSVPs. If you’re not bothered about whether people plan to attend or not, why not set the Response Options so that you will not receive any replies?

Here’s how:

  1. Prepare the meeting request, as normal.
  2. Click on the Response Options button in the Attendees group.
  3. Click on Request Response to unselect the default setting.

The recipient will still have the possibility to click on AcceptTentative or Decline (or YesMaybe and No if they look at the invite in Gmail) so that the meeting goes in their calendar. But if they are really observant they might spot that they cannot edit the response, as normal, and that there is a message stating that “The organizer has not requested a response for this meeting.” (And yeah, I know organiser is spelled with an s, but this is the exact American English text they see.)

With thanks to Clementine for this week’s tip inspiration. And for a future one, as I noticed that if you use the option described in this tip you won’t be able to benefit from Tracking, as described in tip 617. So I’ll write a tip about how to change the default setting so that all responses that don’t contain comments will be deleted automatically, but that you can still check the tracking information. (If you want a sneak preview … It’s under File Options Mail. Simply scroll down to the Tracking section.)

Related tips
Copy and summarise all meeting request responses
Respond to an e-mail message with a meeting request
Set a date using plain English
Jump to a specific date in your calendar

Hints and Tips webinars
The best way to understand my tips might be to see them in action. So why not sign up for one of the upcoming 60-minute webinars? £24 only!
60-minute Outlook and Word Hints and Tips, Tue 10 Nov, 09:00 – 10:00
60-minute Microsoft Excel Hints and Tips, Thu 12 Nov, 10:00 – 11:00
60-minute Microsoft Office Hints and Tips, Wed 18 Nov, 10:00 – 11:00
60-minute Microsoft PowerPoint Hints and Tips, Thu 26 Nov, 10:00 – 11:00

Tame your computer – think out of the box

15 Sep

When I entered the world of work (many, many moons ago) there was no such thing as email and you would write office memorandums on a typewriter. If you needed to have more than one copy of the memo you would put a sheet of carbon paper between two or more sheets of paper and the pressure applied by the typewriter caused pigment from the carbon paper to reproduce the same – albeit slightly lighter – words on the sheets below. The top sheet was your original and each of the additional sheets was called a carbon copy. So why am I telling you this…?

This is what Cc in, for example, Outlook stands for and it’s meant to be used as sending a copy, for information only. Let me repeat that … for information only.

So if you’re drowning in emails, why not concentrate on the important ones – those where you are in the To field – and automatically move messages where your name was only in Cc to a separate when I have time to read this folder?

Here’s how:

  1. On the Home tab in the Move group, click on Rules, followed by Create Rule.
  2. Click on Advanced Options.
  3. Select where my name is in the Cc box.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Select the move it to the specified folder check box.
  6. Underneath, in the Step 2 box, click on the specified hyperlink.
  7. Click on the when I have time to read this folder you created earlier or click on New to create a folder “on the fly”.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Click Finish.
  10. Click OK.

Related tips
5 tips to prevent email overload upon your return from holiday
Automatically move low-priority emails from your inbox 
Manage interruptions by setting up specific notifications only
Display the total number of messages in a folder, including those you read

Related webinars
Is your Outlook inbox an overstuffed, out-of-control beast? Sign up for the 60-minute Outlook/Word webinar and let me guide you through the more hidden features:

Monday 21 September 10:00 – 11:00 Book now
Wednesday 14 October 15:00 – 16:00 Book now

As a delegate wrote last week: “Just understanding how some of the search shortcuts work will undoubtedly save me many hours.”

Tame your computer – meeting matters

17 Aug

CleverclogsTipTime2When you invite people to an Outlook meeting you can use the Tracking button to view the various responses.

But did you know you can easily copy and paste the text elsewhere? This way you can quickly print a list of the meeting attendees –  if necessary – or summarise how many people AcceptedDeclined, clicked Tentative or didn’t respond at all.

Here’s how:

  1. Open the meeting request, as normal.
  2. On the Meeting tab, click on the Tracking button’s drop-down arrow and select Copy Status to Clipboard. (In Microsoft 365 I have a separate Tracking tab.)

You can now paste the information in, say, Word. But why not take it a step further and summarize it in Excel, using a PivotTable?

  1. Open Excel and press CTRL + V.
  2. Press CTRL + T.
  3. Make sure the My table has headers box is ticked and press ENTER.
  4. Click on the Summarize with PivotTable button on the Table Tools Design tab.
  5. Press ENTER to put the summary on a New Worksheet or click on the Existing Worksheet radio button and click on a cell in the current sheet where you want the report to be placed.
  6. In the PivotTable Field List on the right hand side, click on Response, followed by Name and drag Name to the Values box.

Experiment with the layout and design and you’ll see how easy it is!

Related tips
Total the data in a table
Quickly format and enable filtering of your data
Filter data in a PivotTable and PivotChart using Slicers

Upcoming courses
Remember, we were allowed to reopen in June and offer training at our premises in Cambridge. And as we respect the fact that people make special arrangements in their personal and professional lives for attending a course, we never cancel classes due to insufficient enrolments. So if you’re lucky you have a one-to-one session.

If you prefer to stick to virtual training sessions, let me know and we can cut regular sessions up in short chunks. Or why not book one of our 60-minute webinars?

Tame your computer – it’s a date!

28 Jul

CleverclogsTipTime2Back in 2004 I wrote a tip about the fact that Outlook understands normal English when you want to schedule a meeting, create a follow-up task or a flag to remind recipients to reply by a specific date. No need to pick dates or times using the drop-down menus. You can simply type tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, this Wednesday, next Wednesday, next Tue or combinations such as tomorrow next week.

But did you know you can use formulas? They can be extremely handy when someone writes they’ll get back to you in, say, five days’ time and you want to set a reminder.

Here’s how:

  1. Make sure your cursor is in the date field. (Perhaps use TAB to jump to it.)
  2. Try out one of the following:
  • Type 5d to add 5 days to the date shown in the date field. OR
  • Type 5w to add 5 weeks to the date shown in the date field. OR
  • Type 5m to add 5 months to the date shown in the date field. OR
  • Type 5y to add 5 years to the date shown in date field.

You cannot use formulas to go back in the past, but you can type phrases such as Friday before 20 July or Mon before 20/7 or month before 20/7. Outlook also understands Last week or last month. (With thanks to Sally for the tip inspiration!)

And remember, there is no need to pick up your mouse to select times. Simply type, for example, 10am or 3pm.

Oh, and in Outlook 365 you can also use “natural language” to search. For example, you can type “from karen last month”. But I’ll write a separate tip about that at some point. Lots of inspiration right now because of the recent 60-minute webinars.

Related tips