Microsoft Office tips

Free Outlook add-on simplifies data export

Microsoft has done little to improve the import and export features in recent versions of Outlook. In fact, the program's Import and Export Wizard appears unchanged since at least Outlook 2003.

One change for the worse is that it takes several more clicks to reach the import/export function in Outlook 2010 than it does in earlier releases of the program. In older Outlook versions you simply clicked File > Import and Export to open the wizard, but in Outlook 2010, you must click File > Options > Advanced > Export.

You can save yourself a few clicks and … Read more

Free PC diagnostics and repair from Microsoft

Microsoft has made it easier to browse for help when one of its products acts up. The revamped Fix It Solution Center boils troubleshooting down to three steps: pick a product (optional), choose a fix in one of eight categories (and handful of optional subcategories), and then view or run one of Microsoft's many proposed solutions.

Of course, the real test is whether these auto-repair tools actually do any good. I haven't done enough testing to form an opinion one way or the other. However, the online Fix It tools differ from the troubleshooting utilities built into Windows … Read more

Combine and organize your e-mail accounts

I'll wager you've got mail waiting for you right now--probably in several different inboxes.

Gone are the days of having only two e-mail accounts: one from your boss for work and another from your ISP for everything else. Now you're likely to have a Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or other free Webmail account--and maybe two, three, or more such addresses--in addition to or in place of your work and ISP accounts.

You can avoid having to open multiple programs or browser windows to view all your messages by forwarding mail between your active accounts. That way you've … Read more

MS Word Building Blocks outshine AutoText

Microsoft Word's AutoText feature got a serious face-lift with the debut of Building Blocks in Word 2007 and 2010. (The Microsoft Office Support site offers a basic primer on creating and using Word 2003's AutoText feature.)

In a nutshell, you create AutoText entries by selecting the material you want to reuse and clicking Insert > AutoText > New (or simply press Alt-F3). You then enter a name for the entry that's between 4 and 32 characters long and press Enter. This adds the entry to the template and makes it available to all documents. To … Read more

The fast, free way to clean up text in MS Word

There's nothing easy about reformatting text in a Microsoft Word document. You can use the Format Painter to apply the formatting of one paragraph to others with a single click, and Word's Find and Replace features let you remove unwanted characters (or strings of characters), but these tools make their changes one at a time and often require additional cleanup.

I wish I had discovered Greg Maxey's free Clean Up Text add-on for Word years ago. The retired U.S. Navy submarine ordnance officer and former Microsoft Word MVP has created a Word DOT template that removes … Read more

Transferring MS Word AutoCorrect entries

Back in May 2008, I described a macro that made it easy to copy custom AutoCorrect entries from a version of Microsoft Word on one PC to a Word installation on another machine. Unfortunately, the macro, written by Microsoft MVP Dave Rado, is no longer available.

I take no pleasure in criticizing Microsoft's inability to meet the needs of its customers, but some of us have been using Word for close to 20 years. Shouldn't we be able to transfer our handcrafted AutoCorrect entries and other customizations between PCs without having to drag system files between folders that … Read more

Return 'print on one page' to Word 2010

A reader named Teresa C. contacted me yesterday to ask what happened to the "shrink to fit on one page" option in Microsoft Word 2010's Print Preview window. This useful feature is one of several that Microsoft chose to hide in an attempt to "simplify" the Word 2010 interface.

You can get fast access to Word 2010's option to fit a document on a single printed page (or at least attempt to) by adding this function to the Quick Access Toolbar. Click File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar to open the Customize the … Read more

Repeat text entered in Microsoft Word

The company I work for relies on Microsoft Word templates to create all sorts of documents, from one-page letters to reports several hundred pages long. The templates allow us to ensure all the documents we send to clients and partners share a similar look and feel.

One of the most-used templates in our collection is a multipage letter that shows the date on the top of the first page, just under the company logo, as well as in the header of subsequent pages. Unfortunately, the letters are usually composed several days before they're sent, and the send date often … Read more

Blend portrait, landscape pages in Word docs

The company I work for creates very technical reports. Many of the Microsoft Word documents I edit are loaded with complicated tables, charts, and other figures. The pages frequently switch between portrait and landscape orientation, so I have to relocate the page number and remove the other header and footer information on the landscape page and then add it back to subsequent portrait pages.

You might think a sophisticated program like Word would make it easy to reformat a single landscape page and revert to the original formatting afterward, but it isn't.

In Word 2003, the steps required to … Read more

Google Docs delivers presentation basics

In last Wednesday's post pitting Microsoft's Office Web Apps against Google Docs, I said Google Docs doesn't support PowerPoint presentations. Wrong.

Google Docs wouldn't open my test PPTX file, but the service lets you create and edit presentations in the older PowerPoint PPT format, albeit without most of the desktop app's formatting options. You won't find much in the way of transitions, effects, and other advanced features in Google Docs, either. The best feature of Google's online presentation tool is its clean interface, which isn't a surprise considering the company behind the … Read more