GPSolo Magazine - December 2004
Computer Tips and Tricks for the Solo Lawyer
I have my own collection of tips and tricks that enhance my day-to-day use of the computer—unlike some of the computer tricks I read about that sound really neat, but that I would rarely use. Here are a few of them. Some you may know already, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find at least one gem that you will want to add to your permanent repertoire. All of these techniques work on both Windows XP and Windows 98.
When I moved from WordPerfect to Microsoft Word, one thing I missed was clicking on the toolbar Print icon and getting the Print box, which allowed me to make choices about whether I wanted to print all or just some of the pages in the document and other print selections. Instead, clicking on Word’s toolbar Print icon just prints the entire document. If I want to make any changes to the print selections in Word, I have to click on File and then Print, which brings up the Print box.
Well, you can have the best of both worlds. You can add a second Print icon right next to the first in Word’s toolbar, which will bring up the Print box to allow you to make your selections. This way, when you want to print the entire document, you can click on the original Print icon, but when you want to make print selections, you can click on the second Print icon, which will bring up the Print box.
To add the new icon, first right-click on Word’s toolbar. A selection of toolbar choices will appear, and at the end of the list will be “Customize . . .”, which you should click. Then click on Commands in the Customize box. In the left-hand column, File should be highlighted. Scroll down in the right-hand column until you get to the two Print selections.
If you highlight any selection in the right-hand column and then click on Description, you will get a description of the command that is highlighted. In Microsoft’s typical confusing fashion, the descriptions for both of the print selections are exactly the same, but—surprise, surprise—the selections themselves aren’t.
If you look carefully, you will notice that the print selections actually read “Print . . .” and “Print”. The first one is the command that brings up the Print box. Simply drag it with your mouse to where you want it on the Word toolbar and close the Customize box. I like putting it to the right of the original Print icon so that I go to the same place on the toolbar for my printing and select whichever one I want. However, feel free to put it anywhere else. You can always move it later if you want.
This may seem like a small thing, but I like the convenience of not having to click File and Print when I want the Print box; instead, I can simply click on the second Print icon. I usually need the Print box several times a day. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself using the new button a lot.
From Desktop to Website in Two Clicks
How would you like to get to any of a handful of your most frequently used websites, such as a legal research home page or search engine, with just two clicks from your Windows Desktop? I’ll show you how to do this with the Internet Explorer web browser.
Right-click on your Desktop’s toolbar, select Toolbars and then select Links. This will cause the word “Links” with a double-arrow to appear in light letters on your Desktop toolbar—click on the double-arrow and you will see the links from your Internet Explorer Links toolbar pop up. Select any one of these links and, provided you are connected to the Internet, your Internet Explorer will open up displaying that web page. I find this especially helpful when I want to go to my bank account’s web page, a dictionary website, and other sites that I access on a daily basis.
My guess is that about now a large percentage of my readers are thinking, “Where is the Links toolbar for the Internet Explorer and how do I use it?” So here is the Being Solo mini-course on this very useful feature of Internet Explorer.
The default position of your Links toolbar is to the right of your Internet Explorer address bar. If you click on the Link arrows, your links will drop down for you to select. I find it far more helpful to have the Links toolbar running across the top section of the web browser so that I can always see my links and get to them in one click.
Here’s how to have your links always visible. First, if the Links feature is not displayed, click on View, then Toolbars, and then on Links. Next, right-click on one of the toolbars in Internet Explorer. If the selection “Lock the Toolbars” is selected, click on it to unselect it. Move your cursor to the very bottom of the lowest toolbar, just above the website area. When you see your cursor change to a double-arrow, press down on the left side of your mouse and drag the line down. The Links toolbar will appear across the top portion of the web browser.
The default links on the Links toolbar are those inserted by Microsoft, so you will want to insert new ones and delete some of the others. Two easy ways to add to the Links toolbar are either by dragging the icon from the browser address bar to the Links toolbar when you are at the web page that you want a link to, or by dragging a selection from your browser’s Favorites list to the Links toolbar. Delete any links on the toolbar that you don’t want by right-clicking on the link and selecting Delete. All of these changes will automatically be reflected on your Desktop Links toolbar.
Run, Link, Run!
Here’s a Windows feature that is probably overlooked by many people but can be very useful in bringing up web pages that you will be accessing frequently on a short-term basis, such as on a particular client matter.
The Windows key plus the letter r will bring up the Run box (you can also do this by clicking Start and then Run on your Desktop). Not only will it run commands for certain programs on your computer, but if you type in a web address, such as www.abanet.org, it will open your web browser with the web page you selected (provided your Internet connection is on).
By my count, the Run box will remember at least the last 25 items run, with the most recent coming up first on the list. You can use this to access a handful of websites that you might need for a client project by adding each of these websites to the Run box. When you want to access these sites later, bring up the Run box, click on the down arrow in the Run box, click on the site that you want and then on OK to open your browser to the selected site. An alternative that uses the keyboard more is to bring up the Run box, press on the keyboard down arrow until the site you want appears, and then hit the Enter key.
For those who don’t want to reach for their mouse when moving between programs opened on your computer, use combination Alt-Tab to bring up icons of all of the programs currently running. Hold down the Alt key and click on the Tab key until you get to the program that you want.
Ever want to get to your Windows Desktop quickly and are frustrated by all of the opened programs that you have to minimize first? Click on the Windows key plus the letter m to minimize all of the programs on your computer in one shot to reveal your Desktop.
I use all of these techniques every day, and I find that they make my workday life a lot easier. The one thing for which I haven’t found a shortcut is my subway ride to the office each day. Even our advanced technology has some limitations.
David Leffler is a member of the New York City law firm Leffler Marcus & McCaffrey LLC, which represents clients in business matters and litigation. Prior to that he was a solo attorney for over a dozen years. You can write to him at email@example.com.