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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

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)