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 – slick ways to add slides

14 Apr

When you open PowerPoint, a slide appears with two “placeholders” – one for a title and one for a subtitle. There are various ways to add additional slides and they might be faster than your current method.

Here’s how:

  • Click on the New Slide button in the Slides group on the Home tab.

OR

  • In the slide pane on the left, click where you want to add a slide and press ENTER.

OR

  • Press CTRL + M.

The new slide in your presentation contains “placeholders” that you can use to build your layout, such as a bulleted list, table, charts, SmartArt graphics, pictures, movies and sound. You can select a different layout that might better accommodate the content that you plan to add to the slide by clicking on the Layout button in the Slides group on the Home tab. If you use the first option described above you can also do this “on the fly”, making sure you click on the drop-down arrow, not the New Slide button itself. Any subsequent slides will automatically get the layout from the previous slide.

There are obviously other ways that you can add slides to your presentation, such as copy (CTRL + C) and paste (CTRL + V) or duplicate selected slides (CTRL + D). And you can also quickly import slides from other presentations, but let’s make that the content for a future tip.

Related tips:
Tip 228: Convert your Word documents to PowerPoint presentations

Tip 268: Convert an existing bulleted list to a SmartArt graphic

Tame your computer – jump to it

21 Mar

Back in 2009 I wrote a tip on how to close a window without clicking in the upper-right corner … simply press CTRL + W.

Ever since then,  it’s been one of my favourite shortcuts, but I’ve noticed I’m sometimes a bit trigger-happy and end up closing browser tabs I didn’t mean to close.

So today’s tip is another great shortcut to reopen the last closed tab – and jump to it.

Here’s how:

1.       Press CTRL + SHIFT + T

If you don’t like keyboard shortcuts or prefer to use your mouse, simply right-click one of the remaining tabs and select Reopen closed tab (Chrome) or Reopen closed window (Internet Explorer) or Undo Close Tab (Firefox).

Related tips:

Tip # 264: Find websites you visited in the past

Tip # 265: Switching between multiple browser tabs

Tip # 272: Close a window without clicking in the upper-right corner

Tip # 339: Different ways to close your browser tabs

Tame your computer – deal with dates

14 Mar

When you enter a date such as 4/3 in Excel,  the default date format is 04-Mar. You can quickly reformat it using the drop-down button in the Number group on the Home tab and select Short Date or Long Date, but what if you also want to display the day? For example, Tuesday 14 March 2017? Some people use the Text Function to in a separate column (=TEXT(A1,”ddd”) but there is a way to format dates to include the day of the week.

Here’s how:

  1. Right-click the cell containing the date(s) or the whole column.
  2. Select Format Cells from the menu.
  3. If necessary (probably not) display the Number tab.
  4. Select the Custom option in the Category box.
  5. In the Type box, double-click on the word General and type the custom format of your choice. (Mine is ddd dd mmmm yyyy.)
  6. Press ENTER or click OK

Herewith some other options you might like to try out in step 5  … to get Tuesday 12 December 2017 when you type 12/12, set the Custom format as dddd dd mmmm yyyy. Or if you prefer to see it as Tue 12/12/17 try out ddd dd/mm/yy. The underlying date you typed won’t change and can be checked by looking in the Formula Bar.

Related tips:
Display your numbers with leading zeros : http://roem.co.uk/tip_193.html
Convince Excel you want to type July 2010 : http://roem.co.uk/tip_313.php
Save time entering dates : http://roem.co.uk/tip_442.php

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