Your options for placing Excel data in Word

Whenever you move data from Microsoft Excel to its Office mate Word, it seems there's always a compromise involved: If the formatting makes the transition intact, then changing the data either causes problems or simply can't be done. If you can alter the data, either the formatting is a mess, or the resulting Word document is huge. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the various ways to add Excel data to a Word document, starting with the simplest.

Copy the cells and paste them as a Word table: If your Excel worksheet is formatted simply, and you … Read more

Change your default Save As folder in Office

When you save a file in an Office application, the program opens the Save As dialog box with My Documents (in Office 2003) or Documents (in Office 2007) as the default folder to store it in. If you're saving an image, Windows wants to put it in My Pictures, and it wants to put audio files in My Music and videos in My Videos. (Vista uses the same folder nomenclature, minus the "My".)

You can stick with these if you wish, but I prefer to store my personal files on a USB thumb drive with folders organized … Read more

Find cell values easily using Excel's Lookup Wizard

Microsoft Excel can handle data tables with hundreds or even thousands of rows and columns. That's great, unless you're trying to find a specific cell's value, which could have you scrolling up and down, left and right looking for that needle of data in a haystack of cells. If your table is formatted correctly, you can use Excel's Lookup Wizard to display the data in a cell automatically.

To see if you have the Lookup Wizard installed in Excel 2003, click Tools and look for a Lookup option, probably at the bottom of the menu. In … Read more

Five great freebies improve your Office experience

Microsoft Office is so jam-packed with features that an entire industry has been created to help people find the ones they need. (An example is Addintools' $30 Classic Menu for Office 2007.) Why would anyone suggest that you add even more functions to Office apps? Because the best free Office add-ins can save you considerable time and trouble, without costing you a red cent. Here are five of my favorite Office helpers.

Poll attendees to find the best time for a meeting Everybody's busy, as anyone who has ever tried to schedule a meeting with more than two attendees … Read more

Attackers targeting Microsoft Office Excel

Microsoft issued a security advisory late Tuesday that malicious attackers are targeting versions of its Office Excel with vulnerabilities.

Microsoft Office Excel 2003 with Service Pack 2; Excel Viewer 2003; Excel 2002; Excel 2000; and Microsoft Excel 2004 for the Mac are affected by the security vulnerabilities, according to the advisory.

People who open a malicious e-mail attachment or visit a malicious Web site may find that their systems are compromised and that arbitrary remote code is executed. Computers configured to allow the user to have administrative user rights are at greater risk that those with few user rights on … Read more

Five easy Excel formatting tricks

I've never trained an elephant, but I imagine the process is similar to that of getting your Microsoft Excel worksheet to look just right. Here are five of my favorite Excel formatting tricks.

Double-click to fit columns and rows When you enter or paste text and numbers into Excel, the cells don't expand to fit their contents. The fast way to autofit columns and rows is to hover your mouse over the header border between the column and its neighbor to the right, or between two rows at the far left of the worksheet. When the resize icon … Read more

Create a keyboard shortcut to paste plain text

Last week I described the PureText utility that lets you paste plain text in Word and other applications via a keyboard shortcut. You can create a macro to get the same functionality in Word and Excel, without having to download anything.

(Note that the original post of this tip reported that PureText required that you click its icon in your system tray before you press the shortcut keys to paste plain text. This is true only if you open the destination app after the material you want to paste has been added to the clipboard. If both the source and … Read more

Office Live Workspace (almost) brings Office 2007 online

Microsoft is stepping closer to providing anywhere access to Office files. The free Office Live Workspace (more here), which lets people share work in Word, Excel and PowerPoint online, is expanding today to invite more beta testers.

You can sign up to try the work in progress at OfficeLive.com, although access may not be immediate. A final version is set for next spring.

When Office 2007 debuted nearly a year ago, it seemed curious that Microsoft offered no easy, one-click option for accessing work from the Web. Meanwhile, Zoho built an add-in for Office 2007, as Google Docs & Spreadsheets and other tools allowed people to share as well as compose work within a browser.

The free, ad-supported Office Live Workspace is a bridge to Office software, not a browser-based replica. Workspace synchronizes changes made to files stored both on a desktop and at Office Live's servers, including Outlook contacts and events. It works with Windows XP SP2, 2003 Server, or Vista with Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox 2 or higher (required for users of Mac OS 10.2 and up).

The online tools preview Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files as well as PDFs, PNGs, and JPGs. Workspace is meant to work in tandem with Word, Excel and PowerPoint XP, 2003, or 2007 running locally on a PC. You can preview, not edit, documents from a browser. Web Notes, on the other hand, do enable the creation and formatting of small text documents online.

Office Live Workspace emphasizes collaboration rather than composition. To share documents with other people, you can send them a secure URL without requiring them to sign in with a Windows Live ID. Everyone with access to the workspace can make and view each others' comments.

Those invited for editing can make changes to the work, as long as they have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on their hard drive. Office Live Workspace handily preserves the Track Changes feature from Office apps while also keeping five histories of a file. And the Share View screen allows control of another user's PC.

Another desktop component of this service is the Office Live Add-In for Microsoft Office. This is a quick download, although you'll have to restart the system afterward. Once it's installed, a Save to Office Live option will appear under the Office button within Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, with the subsequent dialog box showing your available workspaces.

Workspaces are collections of documents. Ten templates are built to manage a classroom, sports team, travels, job search, household, and so forth. For example, a travel workspace will include an expense report spreadsheet with Word files for an itinerary, packing list, and personal data. You can store a maximum of 500 workspaces containing 500 documents each for a total of 500 MB per account and 25 MB per file.

Office users who learn about these tools are likely to come to depend upon them to stash their work online with a few, quick clicks. Workplaces that use Microsoft's staple software will probably find Workspace a fine collaboration tool that makes it easy to take work away from the office.

This is a well-designed service, but I'd still like something not only to store work, but to let me make edits without opening local applications. What if you only want to correct a misspelled byline in a 20 MB report? You'll have to open Word, since Office Live Workspace doesn't even allow light, text only edits within a browser. I'll continue to lean on Google Docs for that.

Office Live Workspace, by the way, is not to be confused with Office Live Small Business, which offers a free domain name and Web design templates.

Please see more images after the jump.… Read more

Microsoft upgrades its Office for Mac upgrade offer

Correction 2:10 p.m. PDT: This blog initially misstated the savings for buyers of Office 2004 for Mac Student and Teacher edition if they choose to upgrade to the 2008 Special Media Edition. The savings would be $350.

Microsoft has improved on an earlier offer to those who buy Office 2004 for Mac before the new version of Office is released in January.

In September, the company said it would offer buyers of Office 2004 an upgrade to the comparable version of Office 2008 for the cost of shipping and handling.

Now, those who purchase Office 2004 for Mac … Read more

Mac Office 2008 adds Excel templates, supports Exchange

Microsoft is revealing more details about new features in its Office for Mac 2008 suite, due for a release early next year.

Excel 2008 for Mac will offer worksheet templates with baked-in calculations designed to make it easier to balance household finances, manage inventory and other common tasks. The new Ledger Sheets features will include a gallery of elements, shifting formulas to the background.

In addition, the Entourage e-mail client will offer more support for Microsoft Exchange, which traditionally has enabled non-Mac PC users to make appointments and share notes and files with each other.

Each version of Office for … Read more