June 06, 2011

Technology Tips for Greater Efficiency

Tonya Johnson

This month's column features tips on using Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office applications more effectively. From information on setting up reminders in Microsoft Outlook and keyboard short cuts to guidance on activating automatic save features, these tips have something for everyone.

I. Reminders — Set it and forget it with Microsoft Outlook. After awhile, those yellow sticky date reminders on your computer monitor can become a regular part of the office landscape. Outlook reminder alerts clear the clutter to organize your work life. Here's how to set a recurring appointment:

a. Once in Microsoft Outlook Calendar, right click on the desired date and choose "New Recurring Appointment."

b. Input the appointment time and recurrence pattern. If your event happens quarterly, put in 12 weeks. By default the appointment is set indefinitely. Click "OK."

c. Input the subject of the appointment and location. 

d. Don’t forget to set the reminder. The default reminder is 15 minutes before the appointment, but you can change this by clicking on "Reminder" and choosing how far in advance you'd like to be reminded of the appointment.

II. Autosave the day! — If you are using a Microsoft Office application during a sudden power outage, a devastating loss of data can be avoided. Minimize the damage by activating AutoRecover. This automatic-save feature creates a document-recovery file as often as you specify—from every minute to every two hours. If your computer is unresponsive for some reason or loses power unexpectedly, the application opens the document-recovery file the next time you start the program. This AutoRecover file may contain the unsaved information that you would have otherwise lost. Remember that AutoRecover does not replace the "Save" command. You must save your document when you finish working on it.

For MS Office 2003 Word, Excel or PowerPoint — Click on "Tools," "Options," "Save" tab, find "Save Auto Recover info every __ minutes," then add your desired time. MS Office 2007 users can follow the above instructions, but should click on the Office button instead of “Tools.”

III. Keyboard shortcuts (try these in a Microsoft Word document)

To move around the document:
a. "Ctrl" + "Home/End" key — takes the cursor to the beginning or end of a document

b. "Ctrl" + up/down arrow — moves the cursor up or down one paragraph at a time

c. "Ctrl" + left/right arrow — Moves the cursor left or right one word at a time.

IV. Shortcuts for selecting text

a. Single word — Click once on a word, then double click on it.

b. One word at a time, in succession — Select a single word, hold down the shift key, then click the next word.

c. One word, to the left or right of the cursor — Place the cursor near the word, then click "Ctrl" + "Shift" + the left or right arrow key.

d. Single line — Click to the left of the beginning of the desired line, then holding the shift key + the down arrow key will let you select subsequent lines.

e. Single paragraph — Move cursor to the left of the desired paragraph, then double click on it. 

f. Single paragraph, above or below the cursor — Place the cursor near the paragraph, then click "Ctrl" + "Shift" + the up or down arrow.

g. Entire document — Click "Ctrl" + "A."

V. Multi-tasking? Press "Alt" + "Tab" and "Alt" + "Shift" + "Tab" to switch between programs.

VI. Saving Microsoft Outlook attachments
Double click on the attachment, choose "Save As," then select the desired location for your file. Remember to look before you save--the default location is a temporary file.

VII. Super-size your display
Is the text on your screen too small? Do you have problems seeing Web pages or documents? Then, increase the size of your display. If your mouse has a track wheel, hold down the "Ctrl" key and roll the wheel forward to enlarge the screen. Roll the wheel backwards to restore the page.

VIII. Quick search Web pages and documents
Clicking "Ctrl" + "F" brings up a search box you can use to search for words on a Web page or document.

IX. Green options for Microsoft Office applications
Avoid printing documents. Instead, see tip VI for easier on-screen reading. If you still have to print, print only what you need with these instructions:

a. Microsoft Word — To print only the current page (i.e. the page where the cursor is located), MS Office 2003 users should first click "File" on the toolbar, then click "Print," select the "Current Page" option, then click "OK." To print a range of pages, click the "Pages" option button on the "Print" dialog box and enter the range of pages. MS Office 2007 users should click the Office button instead of "File" but can follow the rest of instructions.

b. Microsoft Excel —
 To print only a range of cells in a spreadsheet, select those cells, then when printing, click the "Selection" option button on the print dialog box. It's a good idea to use "Print Preview" to make sure the printout will be what you expect. If it's not, use the setup option from within the preview frame to tweak the page orientation, the margins or the "Adjust to" percentage to get the printout arranged appropriately.

c. Microsoft PowerPoint —
 To print more than one slide on a page, in the print dialog box, lower left hand side, choose the following:

a. Under "Print what": Choose "Handouts" from the drop down menu

b. Under "Color/grayscale": Choose "Grayscale" to save ink (It's still readable)

c. Under "Handouts": Choose "Slides per page," then use the drop down menu to select "3" 

d. Choose "OK", then you'll get room on your page for notes and three slides on one page.

This article first appeared in YourABA e-newsletter, a monthly publication distributed via email to all ABA members.  Learn more about the benefits of belonging to the American Bar Association.

Tonya Johnson