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Action Items in Outlook

In the Office 365 Exchange Admin Centre there are several default apps that can be turned on in Outlook by your administrator such as Action Items, Bing Maps, Suggested Meetings or Unsubscribe. These apps can help to streamline your daily workflow and save you time.

All emails received into your inbox will be scanned. If Outlook notices anything that needs to be ‘actioned’ it will flag these items to you in the form of buttons above the reading pane.

In the following example, Outlook has picked up and flagged an address and an item that needs to be actioned.

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Click on Bing Maps to see the exact location of the address.

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Click on Action Items to see what items need to be actioned. In this example, Outlook has picked up that the sender has asked me to download a form from the files library. It has flagged this with a suggested action of adding it into my tasks lists for follow-up.

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So next time you receive an email, take a glance at the bar above the reading pane for Bing Maps, Action Items, Suggested Meetings etc. These can be really helpful and time saving little apps!


Quiet people have the loudest minds

How do good trainers run great training sessions that are inspiring for different types of attendee?

As far back as I can remember I have been made to feel somewhat guilty about my introverted personality. I was that child that preferred spending the summer holidays inside reading a book, drawing or making a fabulous princess palace out of old cardboard boxes and toilet rolls. Most of my friends would be outside on their bikes or up the hills playing games but for me, it was never as appealing. I think my parents found this somewhat unusual and I was always gently encouraged to go outside and play. Sometimes I did, but all the time longing to get back inside doing something creative on my own.

As an only child I grew up enjoying solitude and seeking out activities that I could do on my own or with one other trusted person. I always felt different to others. I didn’t really understand when I was younger why I didn’t enjoy being around lots of people or partaking in social activities. I felt weird. I felt that there was something wrong with me. If this rings true for you, then you are not weird, you are an introvert.

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So what is the difference between an introvert and an extrovert? It relates to where you gain your energy. It was the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung that popularised this definition. Extroverts feel energised and most alive being around people and feeding off others whereas introverts get their energy from within themselves. An introvert needs solitude like most people need oxygen.

As an introvert I can tell you that if I have to spend a number of hours in a social situation, particularly with people I do not know I feel totally drained at the end of the day. My batteries are flat. I find that people tend to drain the energy out of me and I usually cannot wait to get back home and recharge. Now that makes me sound completely anti-social and a bit of a people hater. I am not. I do enjoy the company of others but it does tire me out. And this is the problem that introverts encounter on a daily basis.

All of our institutions, be it schools or the workplace are setup to cater to extroverts. The gregarious qualities of an extrovert are prized more highly than the contemplative qualities of an introvert in today’s society. It’s easy to understand why this is but let’s look at a scenario.

Richard and Daisy are both going for a job interview. They both have excellent skills and qualifications on paper. Richard walks into the interview and confidently speaks about his achievements. He oozes charisma. He has fabulous anecdotes. He’s social, gregarious, a go-getter and real man of action! Daisy follows him. She has a quiet confidence, she pauses in deep thought before each answer. She has amazing, well thought out and creative ideas but seems shy and reserved. She indicates that she works best on solo projects as this is how her creativity flourishes. As an employer, who would you hire? I am guessing probably Richard. Why? He fits the mould of the modern office environment. However, sometimes the quiet people have the loudest minds.

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Introverts make up 1/3 of the population and in general this personality type is misunderstood. Introverts are not shy. Introverts do not lack confidence. This is the most common misconception. Type Introverts into a Word document and hit Shift+F7 to see what I mean.

I am an introvert and I do a very extroverted job. I am a trainer, which means I stand in front of large groups of people and speak. If I lacked confidence or was shy, I would find it very difficult to do the job I do. That’s not to say that I do not find my job challenging. Being in the spotlight is not something that comes naturally to me. I’ve had to work at it. A lot of trainers I know are extroverts. They are comfortable running a training session with very little preparation and to a certain extent ‘winging it’. I’m not accusing them of running bad sessions or not caring as much, they are just more able to absorb the unexpected and run with it.

That’s not me. I plan, I research, I think about all the things that could go wrong in advance and try to counter them, I prepare, I practice, all so that my time ‘in the spotlight’ runs smoothly. It is this that enables me as an introvert to do an extroverts job. It’s my process that enables me to feel comfortable. It is very frustrating for an introvert when someone tries to change your process or doesn’t understand your need for meticulous planning.

This leads us into talking a little bit about training sessions and how, as a trainer, you can execute an interactive training session that is conducive for both introverts and extroverts.

Let’s briefly go back to talking about schools. Schools these days are setup in a way that caters to extroverts. Students sit on large round tables, facing each other and are encouraged to partake in countless group activities. The idea being to encourage interaction, learn how to work in a team and share ideas. I am not saying this is a bad thing. Young people do need to learn these skills. But what about the introverted child in that classroom? The child that is uncomfortable working in large groups. The child who prefers to reflect on a subject quietly before sharing his or her idea. The child that is often labelled as anti-social or difficult. Forcing introverts to work like extroverts is counter-productive and only serves to alienate that child from the group.

This is similar in an adult learning environment. Most trainers use a technique at the start of training sessions to ascertain the different learning styles and personality types of their students. It’s called an ‘Ice Breaker’ and usually involves some kind of activity or exercise. I use Ice Breakers to sort out the introverts from the extroverts. Many trainers I have met are very focused on the interactive element of training sessions. Group activities, high energy exercises, getting the students to voice their opinions, ask questions etc. I agree that these are important parts of training in order to keep participants engaged and interested. However, I would encourage all trainers to think about the introverted participants who are sitting there dreading the next group exercise or next question that puts them on the spot. Often, the fear of what is coming distracts them from their learning.

Susan Cain did an amazing Ted Talk on the ‘Power of introverts’ and I think this quote is very true. ‘Stop the madness for constant group work!!’ Think about alternative methods that will allow extroverts and introverts to flourish equally. Instead of large, boisterous group activities, pepper your sessions with solo exercises or brain training activities. Instead of large group work, stick to partner work. If you need to do an exercise in a large group, make it a more relaxed ‘Café style’ workshop where you start a discussion with the group during a coffee break. This is immediately more relaxed and informal. Students can participate as much or as little as they like with no pressure. Try not to fire questions at a student that appears to be quiet and not interacting as much. They are probably listening intently and processing.

Introverts hold so much power that is overlooked. They tend to be more effective than their extroverted counterparts, statistically more intelligent and oddly better leaders as they don’t dominate others and are more inclined to let individual ideas flourish. Introverts are creative. They are imaginative. They are deep thinkers. They are invaluable to this world. Where would we be without the likes of Einstein, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parkes or Bill Gates? All introverts who changed the world.

Employers are slowly starting to understand this concept. Our workplaces are changing and becoming more flexible. Employers are introducing different ways of working and home working is on the rise. There is a mini revolution going on at the moment confirmed by the amount of blogs and articles popping up all over the web on this subject. Let’s embrace everyone, introverts, extroverts and all those that are in between and recognise the supreme benefit of letting individuals work within their natural personality type.

And whatever personality type you are, you’re more than welcome on our courses.

 

 


Living on the Edge

Microsoft Edge, that is.

As it’s Guy Fawkes Night this week and everyone is getting excited at the prospect of sparklers, amazing fireworks and toasting marshmallows on an open fire, we thought we would dedicate this week’s blog post to something new and exciting in the world of Microsoft!

If you are one of the many millions of people that have upgraded to Windows 10, you will probably be aware of Microsoft Edge already. If not then carry on reading and start living on the edge!

What is Microsoft Edge?

Microsoft Edge is your new browser for Windows 10. It’s a new way to surf the web! Microsoft Edge gives you new ways to find stuff, read and write. It’s the browser for doing stuff!

Click the Screenshot of logo tile icon to open Edge.

Searching from the address bar

No need to go to a website to search for pictures of cute kittens or funny memes, just type what you are searching for into the address bar and Edge will give you search suggestions, your browsing history and instant results right on the spot.

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The Hub: Everything in one place

Think of the Hub as the place where Microsoft Edge keeps the things you collect on the web. Select Hub to view your favourites, reading list, browsing history, and current downloads.

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Looking for your favourites? In the Hub, choose Favourites and then select Import favourites.

Read without distractions

Turn on reading view to bring articles front and centre

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NOTE: If the reading view icon is greyed out it means that the web page is not available in read mode.

Save articles to read later by adding them to your reading list. Click the star icon and select Reading List and Add.

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Write on the web

Add your own personal touch to web pages with Web Note.

Use the Pen, Highlighter or Type Tools to add your own ideas.

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Save your notes to share with a friend or co-worker.

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Get answers from Cortana

When you stumble across a topic on the web you’d like to know more about, Cortana is your ready and able, all-knowing guru. Highlight a word or phrase, press and hold (or right-click) it, then Ask Cortana to find out all about it.

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Happy browsing and have a safe and enjoyable Guy Fawkes Night!

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Conditional Formatting in Outlook

Conditional Formatting in Outlook is a really useful tool that allows you to customise how different messages appear in your inbox message list based on criteria that you set.

By default, conditional formatting makes unread messages appear in bold but you can add your own customisations also. For example, you may want messages that are just sent to you and no one else appear larger in your message list, or you may want message that are sent to you from your manager to appear in a different colour so they stand out. Both of these things can be done by applying conditional formatting.

Setting up Conditional Formatting

From your inbox:

  • Click on the View tab
  • In the Current View group, click View Settings
  • Click Conditional Formatting
  • Click Add to create a conditional formatting rule

Let’s look at an example. I want to create a formatting rule for mail that is sent only to me. I have named by rule ‘Only Me’.

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  • Click Condition
  • Put a tick in the ‘When I Am’ box and specify ‘the only person on to To line’
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  • Click OK
  • Click Font

Select how you wish these messages to appear. As these are important I have changed the font style, made it purple and bigger so they really stand out.

  • Click OK
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When I switch back to my inbox, I can now see the conditional formatting has been applied to my message list.

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Another example would be setting conditional formatting for mails that come in from a specific person.

To do this, repeat the above steps but when you click Condition, enter the name of the person in the From field. Click OK and then set the formatting options through Font.

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There are lots of options within conditional formatting so its worth taking a look at trying out different options to make your important mails really stand out from the others.

 


Using VLOOKUP to extract data

Vlookup

As its Halloween this weekend we thought we would dedicate this week’s blog post to something that people find particularly scary! Something that sends chills down your spine! OK, I am being a little dramatic but it is fair to say that when it comes to Excel, Formulas are the thing that tend to strike fear into the heart of most.

Fortunately, formulas have never been easier or more human in Excel which means you don’t have to be a mathematical genius to understand them. Today we are going to take a look at ‘Using VLOOKUP to extract data’, a really common and useful formula which will help you cross-reference spreadsheets and save a lot of time.

Using VLOOKUP to extract data

VLOOKUP is a great time saving formula.

Let’s set the scene…

In this spreadsheet, I have a table (Table 1) that lists Items in column C and their associated unique Item Number or ID in column A. When a customer orders an item, I log the Item Number and the Customer Name in a separate spreadsheet (Table 2). However, the Item Name is not listed. I am going to use VLOOKUP to quickly and easily reference the Item ID and pull back the Item Name.

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STEP ONE: Name your lookup range

This step is optional. You do not have to name your lookup range but I find that this is the best way of ensuring that your data pulls through correctly and it means that you don’t have to mess around making cell references absolute (fixed).

  • Highlight the lookup table (the table that contains the data you are pulling through, in this case Table 1)
  • Click in the Name box and type a name for your table i.e. PRODUCTS.
  • Press Enter
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NOTE: It is worth noting that table name cannot have spaces. If I wanted to name it ‘PRODUCT KEY’ I would need to use the format ‘PRODUCTKEY’ or ‘PRODUCT_KEY’.

STEP TWO – Create the VLOOKUP Formula (the scary part)

  • Click in the cell where you want the value to appear (C12)
  • Click on the Formulas ribbon
  • Click Insert Function
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  • Enter the criteria into the fields

Lookup_value – The lookup value is the information that you want to reference. It is normally a piece of information that is in both tables. Excel needs a reference point and in this example we are using the Item ID.

  • Click the cell that contains the first Item ID (A12)

Table_array – The table array is the table Excel is referencing. Excel needs to know which table to find the Item ID. This is where naming your table in Step 1 comes in useful.

  • Press F3

Any named tables will appear in a list. Select the table ‘PRODUCT’. If you did not name your table, you would need to highlight the cells instead.

Col_index_num – This is the column in the lookup table that contains the data you want to pull through. In our example, we need the ITEM NAME. This information is contained in Column 3.

  • Enter ‘3’

Range_lookup – This field can be left blank or will contain the value ‘TRUE’ or ‘FALSE’. Which one you use depends on how your table is sorted and the data you want to pull through. If you have your tables sorted in Ascending order, you can leave this field blank or use TRUE. TRUE also searches for an exact match.  In our example, my data is not sorted and so I need to enter FALSE. In my experience, most data that you are dealing with is not sorted nice and neatly and so FALSE is the more common value to go in here.

  • Enter FALSE
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  • Click OK

If the formula has been added correctly, you should now see the item name in cell C12. Excel has essentially looked in the lookup table for the Item ID and then pulled through the corresponding Item Name.

Once you have used the helpful dialogue box a few times and you are comfortable with the format, you can just type the formula into the cell. E.g. =VLOOKUP(C12,PRODUCTS,3,FALSE)

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You could repeat the above steps to complete the rest of the table but that can be quite tedious especially if you are dealing with a lot of data. To quickly copy the formula down, you can use the AutoFill handle in the bottom right-hand corner.

  • Drag the handle down OR double-click on the handle
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TIP: If you get an unexpected result when using the auto-fill handle, such as the wrong data being pulled through or the same Item Name repeated, it is worth checking that you do not have your Auto-fill settings set to manual.

  • Click the Formulas ribbon
  • Click Calculation Options
  • Set to Automatic

So as you can see, Excel formulas do not have to be a scary prospect.

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Outlook Search Folders

Do you forever find yourself running the same search over and over again in Outlook? Maybe you frequently have to search for emails from your manager that contain attachments?

Outlook has a really useful search feature that you can use to find your emails but wouldn’t you rather be able to find what you are looking for in one click? Creating Outlook Search Folders for your frequently searched for email items is a great way to cut down on the amount of time you spend searching for emails.

  • Click the Folder tab
  • Click New Search Folder
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You can choose to select the items you would like to search for from the default list presented, i.e. if I want to create a search for all emails from my manager, I would select ‘Mail from and to specific people’ and then select my managers name by clicking ‘Choose‘.

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However, if you would like to create a folder that searches using multiple criteria you will need to create a Custom Search.

  • Scroll down in the list and select Create a Custom Search Folder
  • Click Choose
  • Add a name for your search folder
  • Click Criteria
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You can select criteria for your search from any of the three tabs. In this example, I want a search folder that quickly searches for all emails from David that contain attachments.

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  • Click OK

A new folder will be created under Search Folders in your folder list. Click on the folder to run the search.

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I think you will agree it is worth taking the time to setup some search folders in your Outlook as it will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend searching for emails.


Cut and paste with Microsoft Spike

Did you know you can cut and paste with Microsoft Spike? Probably not! Word has a hidden feature that most people do not know about to collect text on the clipboard from multiple locations and then paste it in to your document all in one go! Most Word users are familiar with using the clipboard to copy and paste text, but Spike works in a slightly different way.

  • Highlight the paragraph of text you would like to cut
  • Press CTRL+F3
  • Select the next paragraph of text you would like to cut
  • Press CTRL+F3
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Continue cutting text from your document in this way. The paragraphs do not need to be next to each other, you can cut from anywhere in the document to move them to the clipboard.

Once you have finished cutting, you can paste all of the paragraphs in the order that you cut them into another part of the document,

  • Press CTRL+SHIFT+F3, OR
  • Type spike and press F3

This clever piece of functionality utilises the Quick Parts feature in the background and is a useful trick to remember next time you are formatting a long document.


The Dynamic Duo – Cortana and Microsoft Edge

Using Cortana within Microsoft Edge

There are many great partnerships in life; Bert and Ernie, Batman and Robin, Yin and Yang and of course the humble Cheese and Pickle sandwich.

Dynamic Duos

Introducing the Dynamic Duo –  Cortana and Microsoft Edge. These two separate applications seamlessly interact to provide you the consumer with a much more fluid and full browsing experience.

Lets back track a little. If you are reading and this and thinking ‘What in the world is Cortana?‘, then you are not alone.

Cortana is your clever new personal assistant! Cortana will help you find things on your PC, manage your calendar, track packages, find files, chat with you, and tell jokes. Yes, I said tell jokes. That was not a typo. The more you use Cortana, the more personalized your experience will be.

Now if you are anything like me, the words ‘Microsoft’ and ‘Assistant’ may conjure up this image in your mind…

Remember this guy?

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Ah, Mr Clippy. Everyone’s favourite letter writing obsessed friend. The good news is, Cortana is very different to previous Microsoft Assistant tools and it can be utilised very effectively from within Microsoft Edge.

Turn on Cortana

  • Before you can use Cortana in Microsoft Edge you need to turn it on in System Settings.
  • Click the Windows button in the bottom left-hand corner OR press the Windows logo key on your keyboard
  • Start typing ‘Cortana’ to search
  • Select ‘Cortana & Search settings’
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  • Use the slider to turn Cortana on
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Once Cortana has been turned in, you can now ‘Ask Cortana’ questions directly from your we pages as you are browsing.

Ask Cortana when browsing the web

For example, I was looking at the BBC News website this morning and I was reading an article on the Falkland Islands. I was curious as to where the Falkland Islands were located so I utilised Cortana within my Edge browser.

  • Highlight the word you would like to search
  • Right-click and select ‘Ask Cortana’
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Cortana will load information related to your search in a pane on the left-hand side of the screen.

NOTE: You must ensure you turn Cortana on within settings in order for ‘Ask Cortana’ to show in the menu when you right-click.

 

 

 

 

 


8 Useful Tips in Microsoft Word 2013

8 Useful Tips in Word 2013

Tip 1: Recover Unsaved Documents

Hands up if this applies to you. You’ve spent hours working on an awesome document, typing and formatting like a mad thing, switching from one window to the next when suddenly….ahh! You’ve accidently closed the document you were working on without saving. *Cue lots of colourful language and crying*. Fortunately, Word 2013 allows you to recover your unsaved documents.

  • Click File to go to the backstage area
  • Click Info
  • Click the Manage Versions drop-down arrow
  • Click Recover Unsaved Documents
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  • Select your document and click Open

A yellow warning message will display across the top of the document.

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  • Click Save As
  • Save your document as normal

Tip 2: Edit a PDF in Word 2013

If there is one thing sure to infuriate me, it’s receiving a form or document that I need to complete in PDF format! For years, PDF was the ‘go to’ file format if you wanted to prevent others from editing your document. Well not anymore! In Word 2013, you can easily edit and make changes to a PDF document. You can almost hear the sound of Microsoft users everywhere rejoicing!

  • Click the File menu to go to the backstage area
  • Click the Open tab
  • Navigate to the correct folder and select the PDF file
  • Click Open

A dialogue box will appear informing you that your PDF file will be converted to an editable Word Document. It is worth noting that if your document contains a lot of images or graphics it might not look exactly like the original PDF and may need some ‘tweaking’.

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  • Click OK

Tip 3: Preserve your eyeballs and switch to Read Mode

Read Mode is a great option to use if you find yourself spending time reading or checking long documents. Also, if you are like me and find it easier to read text on a darker background, you can switch the background colour and give your eyeballs a well needed break from black on stark white. All of the document review options you know, love and need are still available in Read Mode.

  • Click the View tab
  • Click Read Mode
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The document layout will change to an easy-to-read, two page per screen format.

  • Click the grey arrow to move to the next two pages
  • To maximise the ‘real estate’ on the page, you can hide the toolbar by clicking the ‘Auto-hide reading toolbar’ button in the top-right corner
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To change the background colour of the page

  • Click View
  • Select Page Colour from the menu
  • Select Sepia or Inverse
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Tip 4: Replying to comments

Collaborate smarter on documents by utilising Word’s reply to comment feature. This is an inline option that enables you to directly reply to any comments added by colleagues ensuring a smoother workflow.

  • Ensure that you have comments showing
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  • Right-click on the comment icon within the comment
  • Select Reply to Comment from the menu
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  • Add your reply comments. These will appear slightly indented underneath the original comment and will display under your name.
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  • Click on any colleagues name in the comments section to directly IM, Call, Video Chat or Email without leaving Word.
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Tip 5: Permanently delete cropped areas of a picture 

This was something that I didn’t discover until recently. Did you know that if you crop a picture in Word and then send that document to a colleague, they can see the full, uncropped picture and restore it to the original? Imagine the embarrassment of cropping out a company logo or sensitive information only for it to re-appear again with a simple click of the Crop button by a ‘Word savvy’ colleague. Don’t be an amateur, ensure you permanently delete all cropped areas before sending.

  • Select a picture in your document
  • Click the Picture Tools contextual ribbon
  • Click the Format tab
  • Click Crop
  • Select Crop from the drop-down menu
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  • Drag the handles to select only the part of the picture you would like to retain
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  • Click Crop again

Once the picture has been cropped ensure that you permanently remove the cropped section so that it cannot be restored by a colleague.

  • Select the picture
  • Click Compress Pictures
  • Place a tick in the ‘Delete cropped areas of picture’ tickbox
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  • Click OK

Tip 6: Touch/Mouse Mode

In an increasingly mobile world it is becoming extremely important to be able to access and work on documents and files ‘on the go’. Mobile devices play a huge role in this with more and more people working from Smartphones and tablets. The new Touch/Mouse Mode in Word (available across all Office applications) optimises the spacing between commands for use with a mouse or a touchscreen. Yes, Microsoft have developed a solution to ‘fat finger’ syndrome. Hoorah!

  • Select the Touch/Mouse Mode icon on the Quick Access Toolbar
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  • Select Touch
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Tip 7: Border Painter Tool

This new feature in Word 2013 enables you to fully control your border style and placement in a table. Go crazy with your painting and decorating and really make those tables stand out!

First, setup the colour, weight and line style for the border

  • Select the table
  • Click the Design tab under the Table Tools contextual ribbon
  • Set the desired Border Style, Pen Colour, Line Weight
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  • Click Border Painter. The curser will change to a paintbrush
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  • Paint over a border of the table to apply the new style
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Tip 8: Adding online video

Have you found a really awesome video on YouTube or Bing that you would love to be able to insert into your Word document to really make it come alive? Utilise Word 2013’s Online Video feature to search and add any video into your document.

  • Click the Insert tab
  • Click Online Video
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  • Select Bing Video Search, YouTube video search or paste the video embed code directly.
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  • Select a video
  • Click Insert
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The video will be inserted into your document.

  • Click the Play button

You can also share the link to the video on social media from within the Word document.

  • Click the Share icon
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  • Select a social media service to share the link on.
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Miss the Full Start Screen?

Are you on Windows 10 and finding that you miss the full start screen?  Yes, the one that almost everyone said they hated when Windows 8 was launched.

Windows 10 defaults to the live tiles just in the lower left corner, as shown below.

Small Windows 10 Start
By going to the Settings app, Personalization, Start and enabling the Use Start full screen option, you can have the tiles across the full screen and reminisce about the good old days.

Windows 10 Start screen full size