Tame your computer – pick out your pointer

5 Mar

If you want to add some text in, say, a Word document or an Outlook email message, you must move the insertion point to the location where the change is to be made. The pointer usually appears as a vertical bar, but what if you struggle to spot it? If so, you’re not alone… Many users don’t like the standard mouse pointer. So why not change it?

Here’s how:

  1. Press the Windows (WIN) key and type pointer. (No need to first click in the Search box; your cursor is already there – even though you might not spot it.)
  2. Click on Change how the mouse pointer looks.
  3. Use your down and up arrows to flick through the various schemes and select the one of your choice. (Mine is Windows Black (extra large).)
  4. Press ENTER.

Your cursor will now be easier to find when “at rest”. You can also change how the mouse pointer looks when it’s moving, but let’s leave that for another tip.

Related tips:
Tip # 287: Hide the arrow pointer during a slide show

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

Tame your computer – take a shortcut

19 Feb

Why use the mouse? Here are a few shortcuts that I find most useful:

Switch to Mail : press CTRL+1
Switch to Calendar : press CTRL+2
Switch to Contacts : press CTRL+3
Switch to Tasks : press CTRL+4
Switch to Notes : press CTRL+5
Switch to your Folder List : press CTRL+6
Switch to Shortcuts : press CTRL+7
Switch to Journal : press CTRL+8

Keyboard shortcuts may sometimes be unintuitive or hard to remember, but I “drip feed” a new shortcut  every week on my home page, to help you to boost productivity without reaching for your mouse. You can download a list of those published so far from http://www.roem.co.uk/inc/shortcut_archive.pdf. Where available, it links to a tip of the week.

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 – fancy filtering

21 Jan

Do you use dates in Excel? If so, you have probably at some point needed to display only those containing relevant information.

For example, you might want to filter out all deliveries you are expecting in February. Or all courses planned for March. You can obviously use Excel’s Find functionality (CTRL + F) to find a specific date. Or perhaps you use the Date Filters and select, say, Next Month. But did you know you can use the table’s Search functionality?

Here’s how:

1.       If necessary, create a table. (CTRL + T or CTRL + L, anyone?)

2.       Click on the drop-down arrow of the date’s column header.

3.       Click in the Search box and type (part of) your search term. For example, Feb.

4.       Press ENTER.

And no, this isn’t relying on you having entered your dates as, say, 16 February 2017. As long as the entries have been formatted as dates, this should work. And remember, there is no need to type the current year if the date you want to enter is part of this year. Simply type, say 16/2.  Perhaps have another look at tip 442.

Related tips:
Tip 358: Enter the current date and/or time into a worksheet  (http://roem.co.uk/tip_358.php)
Tip 426: Fast filtering (http://www.roem.co.uk/tip_426.php)
Tip 429: Quickly format and enable filtering of your data (http://roem.co.uk/tip_429.php)
Tip 442: Save time entering dates (http://roem.co.uk/tip_442.php)
Tip 474: Filter data in a PivotTable and PivotChart using Slicers (http://roem.co.uk/tip_474.php)

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.