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Ronald Auerbach
Software Training and Consulting

702 Fifth Avenue South, # 8
Kent, WA   98032-6026
Phone: 206-355-8304     Fax: 253-813-2452
Previous Software Tips

Date Topic
5/21/2001 Outlook e-mail tips and tricks
5/7/2001 How to Improve your Internet Searches
4/30/2001 Customize your Menus in Microsoft Office
4/16/2001 Increase Control over your PowerPoint Presentations
4/9/2001 Clean-up your Hard Drive and Gain Valuable Space
4/2/2001 Reduce Errors in your Database
3/26/2001 Making Office 2000 look like previous versions
3/12/2001 Have some fun with your programs
3/5/2001 "Tweeking" spacing in Microsoft Word
2/19/2001 Page vs. Section Break in Microsoft Word
2/5/2001 Give Excel that "database" look and feel
1/22/2001 What's that wheel for in the middle of my mouse?
1/9/2001 Let People Know You're Out of the Office

May 21, 2001

Outlook e-mail tips and tricks

There are many many features available within Microsoft Outlook for handling your various e-mail needs.   Some of them you may already know about, but others you may not.

What we are going to discuss this week are some of the "hidden" options available to you.

For example, lets assume you're trying to get a "head start" on answering some messages, but you don't want them actually sent until later; something people do all the time with written letters.

Well, in Outlook, while you're writing the message, click on Options, then select Do Not Deliver Before, and use the down arrow to specify the exact date and time in which you want that message sent.

This means you could write the message today, but not have it actually sent until Tuesday at 1:30 PM.

Another handy feature is available to those who support others.   For example, suppose you're writing a message from your computer on behalf of your boss, but you want the reply to go directly to your boss.   Rather than your getting the response and then having to forward it on to your boss, try this handy little trick:

As you're writing your message, click on Options, then click the box Have Replies Sent To, and click Select Names.   You'll be taken to your address book at which point you can choose exactly to whom you would like the reply sent.

Why use this trick?   Because, when the actual receipent of your message clicks Reply, it will automatically be redirected to your boss!

And how many times have you wondered if the receipent has actually received and/or read your message?   Well, Outlook can tell you!

Again, as you're writing your message, click Options, then click one or both of the following boxes: Request a delivery receipt for this message and/or Request a read receipt for this message.

The delivery receipt tells you the date and time your message was actually delivered, and is similar to the confirmation obtained from a certified or registered letter.

However, just because it was received doesn't mean it actually got read!   Well, that's where the read receipt comes in, because it tells you the exact date and time when your message was read!

Our last little trick is perfect for any sales and time-sensitive info!   Lets assume that you're e-mailing a price for something, which is only good until June 30.

You can use Outlook to code the message to actually expire on July 1!   How?

By clicking Options as you're writing your message, then clicking the box Expires after, and using the down arrow to select the exact date and time it expires.

We sincerely hope you've enjoyed these little tricks!   Give them a try and let us know exactly what you think!


May 7, 2001

How to Improve your Internet Searches

Most of us know how to "surf the net."   But are you surfing the right and best way?

For example, suppose you want to find local news websites.   When you go to a particular search engine like Yahoo or Lycos, what would you type in the search box?   Most likely, you'd simply type in local news.

And you'll get the sites you want, BUT you'll also get ones you don't want because typing local news will give you any website with the word LOCAL or NEWS in it!   This means that you'll get sites such as: local shopping centers, local people, local events, news highlights, national news, etc.

To narrow down your search to just local news, type in local+news and notice the "plus sign."

This tells the search engine to only display sites with BOTH local AND news in it!--NOT local OR news.   Also notice how there are NO spaces before and after the plus sign.   If you put a space before or after, the search engine will look for a space before or after that word and you won't get what you want.

Give it a try and we're sure you'll be much happier with the results!


April 30, 2001

Customize your Menus in Microsoft Office

There are lots of "hidden" commands that come with Microsoft Office which you may want to use.

For example, there is one that closes all active documents and another which saves all open documents.

And not only are there additional commands available, but you could rearrange the menus as you see fit, placing frequently used commands first, or even removing ones you don't use or like.

Either way, follow these steps to customize your menus:

  1. In the program of your choosing (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), click on the Tools menu and select Customize
  2. You'll see 3 tabs at the top: Toolbars, Commands, and Options.   Click on Commands
  3. On the left you'll see the names of the various menus.   Click on any of these and you'll see a listing on the right of all available commands for that menu
  4. Say, for example you want to add the command to close all active documents simultaneously.   Click you mouse on File on the left.   Then, on the right, click and hold the Close All command and drag it to the File menu at the top of your screen
  5. The File menu will open (drop down), at which point you drag it to the location where you want to be.   Once it's where you want, let go, and it will be added permanently
  6. You continue this process until you've added what you want
  7. You could also just click you mouse on a menu at the top of the screen.   When it opens up, click and hold your mouse on a command, then drag it to where you want in order to reposition it.   To remove it completely, just drag it onto the page and let go
This can be extremely useful because you could put commands that are several levels deep right there in front of you, add things you use often, or remove the ones you don't use.

The nice thing about doing any of these customizations is that it becomes permanent!   The next time you go into the program, your choices will be there just the way you left it, so you only have to do this once!

One little trick I used to do was add the command to make my text all caps to my format menu.

To do this, you follow the same steps listed above, but click the choices for the format menu, scroll down until you see the command All Caps, then click and drag it under your Format menu, place it where you wish, and release.

There's even a command to make your line spacing 1.5 or double, and one to e-mail your document, so if used properly, this can be extremely useful and a good time-saver.


April 16, 2001

Increase Control over your PowerPoint Presentations

We sincerely hope you enjoyed your Easter weekend or Passover celebrations and will be devoting this week's tip to a way you can control what happens during a presentation, and exactly when it happens.

For example, suppose you're making a sales presentation and have convinced the person to actually make a purchase.   Many of you would inform the customer/client that you will be happy to send them a contract.   However, there is an alternative; it's called Action Buttons.

Action Buttons allow the presenter to insert whatever he or she wants, and control when and if that feature is activated.   In other words, you could have a button linked to the sales contract, fill it in right then and there, and greatly impress your prospect!

Or say you're making a budget or forecast presentation complete with charts and graphs, and during the presentation, you discover some of the numbers have been updated.   How would you be able to readjust the presentation right then and there?   By inserting an Action Button linked to your spreadsheet containing the outdated figures, and updating it.

The beauty of Action Buttons is:

To place an Action Button on a slide, follow these steps:
  1. Go to the slide where you want to place a button and click on the Slide Show menu,
  2. Click on Action Buttons to reveal a listing of the various types (movie, back & next, or just blank),
  3. Which button you select is a personal choice and if you hover your mouse over a button picture, you'll get a pop-up description of what the button does,
  4. Your mouse will turn to crosshairs at which point you draw a box where you want the button,
  5. PowerPoint may ask you to save the presentation first, which is not absolutely necessary, then give you a dialog box asking what to do next,
  6. At this point, you can tell PowerPoint to hyperlink to particular slide, another presentation, the previous, next, or last slide viewed, a file from another program such as Word or Excel, or even a website,
  7. Or you could tell PowerPoint to run a particular program, like Word so you can take notes,
  8. After you select whatever action you would like PowerPoint to do, click OK and then resize and/or move the button to whever you want.   Most people place them in the corners so they are pretty much out of view and don't detract from the presentation.
After you've placed your button(s) on the appropriate slide(s), they're available for use when you see fit.

When you're ready to activate the button, put your mouse over it (cursor will turn to a hand) and click.


April 9, 2001

Clean-up your Hard Drive and Gain Valuable Space

Windows comes with a "handy-dandy" utility that many people haven't used or don't fully understand.   It's called Disk Cleanup, and it's purpose is to delete unnecessary and temporary files from your computer.

To access this feature, follow these simple steps:

  1. Click on the Start menu and choose Accessories,
  2. Click on System Tools, then Disk Cleanup,
  3. You'll be prompted for the drive to clean, most likely the "C drive,"
  4. Click OK and you'll see a dialog box with several options asking you the kind of files you want to delete,
  5. Select all 4 options for maximum cleanup and deletion.   3 of these remove strictly temporary files your computer downloaded while surfing the internet, while the 4th empties the Recycle Bin,
  6. Click OK to begin the deletion process.
Many people create a shortcut to this utility so they can have easy and quick access to it.   To do this:
  1. Open the Windows Explorer,
  2. Click on the Windows folder,
  3. If necessary, click the option to Show all Windows files,
  4. Right-click on the file Cleanmgr.exe and select Send To,
  5. Click on the option to Send to Desktop (Create shortcut) to place an icon on your desktop.
Doing this on a regular basis, especially after surfing the internet, can uncover a great deal of wasted space.   Surfing the internet for just a short time can place anywhere between 1 and 10 megs of files on your computer.   So just imagine how much you may have!   We have even seen machines with over 200 megs of wasted space occupied solely by these temporary files, so using Disk Cleanup can really recover quite a bit of space.

April 2, 2001

Reduce Errors in your Database

There is a "neat" feature in Symantec ACT, which does not exist in Microsoft Outlook and can be of tremendous help in certain situations.

Both ACT and Outlook allow you to create drop-down lists, set limits on how information is entered, control the "look and feel, and check e-mail".

But ACT takes it one step further!   You can actually "trigger" another program or file to start upon entering and/or leaving a particular field.

This is handy when, for example, you have to enter information into ACT and also update a Word or Excel file.   It may also be used for reminders or updates to proceedures which must be followed.

To place a "trigger" on a field, follow these simple steps:

  1. Open the database where you would like to place the trigger(s),
  2. Go to the Edit menu, and select Define Fields,
  3. Highlight the field for which you would like to add the trigger and click the Triggers tab on the right,
  4. In the "launch when entering" section, click the elipse icon and browse for the program you would like to start whenever someone goes into this field--Note: To select a specific file, go to the location and actually type the file name and it's extension,
  5. Do the same thing in the "launch when exiting" section if you would like a specific program or file start upon leaving a field--and YES they can be different,
  6. Repeat this process for any additional fields where you would like triggers,
Your changes will be in effect immediately.   If your database is a networked one, it may be necessary for your administrator to set-up this feature because many companies want to maintain consistency.

March 26, 2001

Making Office 2000 look like previous versions

This week, we would like to address some issues which have some people complaining about Office 2000.

In previous Office products, when you clicked on a menu item, you got the entire listing of options.   However, in Office 2000, that doesn't happen by default.   But you can change that!

It is important to note that you will have to repeat this same process for each program you want to affect.

  1. Go to the Tools Menu and click on Customize,
  2. Click on the Options tab at the top,
  3. Uncheck the 2nd and 3rd boxes at the top, which will turn off having the most recently used command come first and to display full menus.
While you're here, you might also want to make one more adjustment.   In previous Office versions, you had separate toolbars to perform functions such as saving and changing fonts.   But Office 2000 by default combines these into 1, making some of the options hidden until later on when you add them manually.

To make these toolbars separate and have all options visible all the time, simply uncheck the 1st box saying to combine the standard and formatting toolbars.

And finally, if you are having trouble viewing the toolbar icons because of a small screen or poor eyesight, simply check the box stating to make the icons larger and they'll appear bigger.


March 12, 2001

Have some fun with your programs

This week's tip is something "off-beat."

Many of the most popular software programs actually contain hidden games which the programmer(s) secretly place.   For example, Excel has a flight simulator and Access has a Magic Eightball.

Click here to visit a site which shows you which games are included with which programs.   Simply click on any of the programs listed on that site and you'll be provided with the steps necessary to view the games.

We hope you enjoy them!


March 5, 2001

"Tweeking" spacing in Microsoft Word

Perhaps you've created a list and wish you could "spread-out" the various lines without hitting the Enter key.   Or maybe you'd like to set a customized spacing between paragraphs.   How would you do these?

Well, some people would hit the Enter key and then format that blank line with a size font they would like to use making the line larger or smaller.   But that's a nuisance and not very practical because you'd have to do each line separately, and making changes wouldn't be very easy.

But Word has an easy fix for this!

  1. Hightlight the lines you'd like to adjust,
  2. Click on the Format menu and select Paragraph,
  3. In the Spacing section, you'll be able to set the amount of space you'd like before and/or after each paragraph.   The higher the number, the more space and vice-verse.
The hard part is knowing exactly the amount of space to use because it's expressed in point sizes.   Many people start with 3-5 pt and work their way up or down.

Others use this technique to make a letter "fill the page."   For example, suppose you have a relatively short letter taking up 1/4 of your page.   Some people would hit the enter key or change the line spacing to spread it out.

But now that you've learned how to adjust paragraph spacing, you'd simply highlight the lines you want to spread-out, and adjust the paragraph spacing before and afterwards until you have enough space.

By adjusting the spacing for the current paragraph, you could continue typing and Word will remember your settings until they are changed.   This is how many reports, articles, and books are done. nbsp Basically, you're pre-setting your paragraph spacing.


February 19, 2001

Page vs. Section Break in Microsoft Word

This is perhaps one of the most confusing things for beginners, and even some intermediate Word users because there doesn't seem to be any real difference.   They both appear to create a new page.   However, there is a major difference!
A page break says that every single page must be formatted exactly the same as all others, while a section break allows pages to be formatted differently.
For example, suppose you wish to have a header and footer on all pages except the first.

Adding a page break would not accomplish this, but would rather place that header and footer on every page.   Perhaps some of you have run into this problem!

A simple fix, however, would be to insert a section break after the first page.   In this case, Word would allow you to apply the header and footer to just the 2nd section!

This technique can also be used to vary margin settings for different pages, or to create cover pages for reports.

By employing section breaks throughout your document, you will have the ability to format each section separately from the rest, thus giving you complete control over the "look and feel" of your document.


February 5, 2001

Give Excel that "database" look and feel

This week's tip focuses on a feature of Excel which some people know and like, but others don't even know exists.

Most people enter information into their spreadsheets by clicking on the cell, then typing in the appropriate information.

However, this lends to mistakes because the larger the spreadsheet, the greater the likelihood of entering something into the wrong cell!

Fear not! for Excel has a neat little feature to help minimize this: the data form.

Once you have your headings done, you simply

  1. click your mouse on any piece of info in your spreadsheet,
  2. click on the Data menu, then choose Form,
  3. you'll see a dialog box pop-up displaying the record for whichever info you clicked on and the headings on left-hand side in gray.   What's nice about this, is you can't touch the headings and you can easily add new by:
  4. clicking on the upper-right New option, which will give you a blank, then
  5. start entering your information and use the TAB key to move between the headings,
  6. when done, click New to get another blank then close it out.   Right before your very eyes, the spreadsheet will automatically be updated wherever you last left off!
For example, suppose you have a spreadsheet with 5 headings and 100 records.   Normally, you'd have to click in the 101th and start entering the info.   But now, all you'd have to do is click on any info in the first one, bring up the data form, enter the info, close it out, and Excel will update right below the 100th!

January 22, 2001

What's that wheel for in the middle of my mouse?

Some mice have either a wheel or pointer between the left and right buttons, which can be used when scrolling up and down on the internet or within a particular window.

However, what some of you may not know is that if you press the wheel, something may or may not happen.

When you're not on the internet, pushing in the wheel does absolutely nothing!   However, when surfing the net, pressing the wheel puts an up and down arrow icon on your page at the point where you clicked.

When you see this icon, you can simply move the mouse up and down, and your page will scroll.   Take note that the further away you move the mouse from that icon, the faster it scrolls.   In addition, you might see the icon as 4 arrows, which means that you can also move the mouse left and right resulting in the page scrolling left and right.

Some people find this easier than physically moving the wheel up and down


January 9, 2001

Let People Know You're Out of the Office

Microsoft Outlook has a neat little feature which will automatically respond to incoming e-mails informing the sender that you are out of the office. You have the capability of customizing the message so people will know when you will be back and any additional information you would like to include. However, in order to use this feature, you or your company must have an Exchange Server running and configured properly.

The other nice thing about this feature is that should the same sender send you multiple messages, Outlook will only send 1 "out of office" response.

The trick, which is what most people forget to do, is you have to turn this feature off once you're back, otherwise you won't see incoming messages.

To use this feature, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Click on the Tools menu and select, Out of Office Assistant,
  2. When the assistant dialog box appears, select the I am Currently Out of the Office option, and finally
  3. Click in the Auto Reply Once to Each Sender option and type your automated response message, and Click OK when done.

      When you're back, you follow steps 1 and 2, but choose the option which says I am Currently in the Office, and click ok.

Come back next week for another useful trick.

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