Tip o’ the Week 396 – Handling dates in Office apps

clip_image002There are many times when you may need to deal with dates in ordinary applications – and there are a few shortcuts that you can make it easier.

In Outlook, any time there’s a date field (like when you’re setting a reminder, or clip_image004entering the start date/time for an appointment) you can choose or enter a regular date, or put in an expression – like “2 days” or “next Tuesday” – and Outlook will figure out the offset from today, and will set the appropriate date.

In some date fields (like an appointment start time), if you say “4 days” then press enter or TAB, it will evaluate the new date; if you return and put “4 days” again, it may add those extra days to the last date. Try a few other things like “next Christmas”, “3rd Sunday in November”, “2mo” , “7d” or some special days – there are some surprising ones there, like “Lincoln’s birthday”, and other events with static dates … though nothing that might change the actual date from year to year (like Easter, or Thanksgiving).

clip_image006In Excel, press CTRL+; to insert the current date into any cell – add a SHIFT key to insert the time instead. Excel are many date-oriented functions, but you don’t always need to write functions – simple maths can work on date fields – calculating the number of days’ difference between two dates, for example, or adding a number of days to a start date.

clip_image008In the desktop OneNote app, if you want to edit the date and time at the top of a page, click on the field and you’ll see a clock or calendar icon appear next to it – click on that  is set to, click on that to change the value; handy if you’re updating some reference material and want to make it clear that it’s recent.

Another way might be to insert the current date or time into the text: to do so, press SHIFT-ALT-D, or SHIFT-ALT-T for the current time, or SHIFT-ALT-F for the current date and time. The last one is really handy if you’re taking notes about a phone call, and want to quickly note the time that your insurance company said that everything was all fine, or when you started the indefinite call to the airline. The same shortcuts apply to the desktop OneNote 2016 application and also the OneNote store app.

clip_image010Word also supports SHIFT-ALT-D and SHIFT-ALT-T like OneNote, though inserts a date or time field rather than a simple bit of text, and is slightly different to the Date & Time command on the Insert tab, which gives a bit more control over the formatting at the point of insertion, rather than requiring the user to insert the field then go back in to edit the format.

Since Outlook uses Word as its text editor behind the scenes, the same shortcut keys will also insert date fields into the text of an Outlook email.

Tip o’ the Week 395 – Resizing pictures in Windows 10

clip_image002As smartphone cameras get better, it’s very common to have snaps with dimensions of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels, sized in multi-megabytes – great for capturing a bit more detail, but potentially tricky when handling the photos given the file size as well as their width & height.

This is especially the case if you’re sharing pictures with others – though it does rather depend on how. Email programs usually have ways to reduce the size of images, varying in method but increasingly very integrated to the sending process, and often with little real control of what’s going on. clip_image004Outlook, for example, lets you drag images around by resizing handles, or if you right-click on an inserted image, choose Size and Position then look on the Size tab, you can alter the scale of an image for display purposes.

This doesn’t make the image smaller in the number of bytes it takes up, however – so you might think you’ve made your massive picture a nice thumbnail, only to find it’s still actually 7MB in size. In order to make the image data size get smaller in Outlook, select it by left-clicking, then from the Picture Tools | Format menu, you’ll find a Compress Pictures com  mand that lets you make this image (or every other one in the mail), smaller.

clip_image006If you look on the File menu before doing so, you’ll see the size of the email before, and presuming you’ve hit “Save” after the compression, you can compare the size afterwards too.

The same thing happens in PowerPoints as well – tiny little watermarks on the background of a presentation making the file too big to ever email to anyone. A similar process can radically reduce the size of your presentations by compressing the size of images before saving.

Files

If you have pictures in the file system, there used to be a variety of ways for Windows to offer resize capabilities – one of which was to install the now-defunct Windows Live Photo Gallery, which had a nice wizard to resize images to standard sizes. Now, in Windows 10, there’s no easy, out-of-the-box way of doing it, as the Photos app doesn’t offer resizing and nothing shows up in the desktop / file system mode.

If you have a habit of uploading photos you’ve taken to online forums and the like, some of them will deal with resizing for you (as does Facebook, Yammer etc too), but if they don’t, you may find you’ll need to radically reduce the dimensions of your pic before you can share it.

clip_image008One of the joys of writing Tip o’ the Week is that readers often send their tips just after the mail has gone out – welcome but not always practical to share on, as the same topic might not return for a while. In this example, there will no doubt be a plethora of fave image resizing methods, but a simple one for mortals with less time on their hands is to just go to @Brice Lambson’s site on http://www.bricelam.net/ImageResizer/ and install the quick & simple resizer tool.

Afterwards, right-click within Windows Explorer on your chosen image – or select several and do the same – and resize the image(s) to a given set of dimensions in a trice. Then you’re ready to upload the resulting new pics to your online forum of choice.

clip_image009Remember another  handy tip (as covered in ToW #373 and others) is the Copy as path command – hold SHIFT as you right-click on any file and you’ll see it appear in the drop down list. What this does is copy the exact file and pathname to the thing you’ve just right-clicked on (remember, kids, it works with any file, so uploading docs to a SharePoint is just as relevant) into the clipboard, so you can instantly point the File -> Open dialog on your other app or browser straight to the thing you want.

Tip o’ the Week 394 – Change your lock screen

As any fule kno, good corporate typclip_image002es should lock their PC every time they walk away from the machine. The Dynamic Lock function in Windows might help, and further tips were covered back in ToW #372. The simplest way to lock your machine when you get up and go to walk away, is to hit WindowsKey+L.

clip_image004When you return to the computer, assuming you’re not showing a screen saver or the screen hasn’t gone completely blank due to power settings switching it off, you’ll likely have some kind of lock screen be shown – customisable under Settings -> Personalisation -> Lock Screen (or clip_image006just press Start and type lock to jump straight into the lock screen settings).

The default Windows spotlight option shows some lovely images downloaded from Bing – if you like seeing those, then by all means leave it as it is, and if you want to grab those image files for other purposes (setting your desktop image, maybe), there’s a handy tutorial here.

If you have your own photo or folder(s) of photos you’d like to show instead, then just choose the appropriate option under the background drop-down, and point Windows to where your files are.

You need to ensure your photos fit on the screen properly, though, as they might be a different size or orientation, and you won’t want to cut key features of your picture out. Fortunately, there’s a quick & simple way of doing so using the Photos app.

Start by copying all the images you’d like to use for your lockscreen into a new folder (to make it easy to point the at them if you’d like a slideshow), and then open each one in Photos.

clip_image008clip_image010Click or tap on Edit, and select the Crop and rotate option. You can then quickly adjust the aspect ratio of your photo, and if the source image is portrait format (whereas your screen will almost certainly be 16:9 widescreen landscape), you could first set the image to be Widescreen then tweak “Make landscape”.

These options will show you a window over your photo, you then drag the picture around underneath so as to line up the features you want and when you’re happy with clip_image012the layout, hit Done. After you’ve played around with other filters or enhancements, just save the picture, and you’ll be dropped back into the main Photo app to view your results.

If you’re just doing one picture, click or tap Set as >, and you can quickly make the pic your lock screen or background.

Tip o’ the Week 393 – Searching in OneNote

clip_image002Tip o’ the Week OneNote. Both the full-fat trad Windows app version (OneNote 2016), and the Store (just “OneNote”) clip_image004application that has a portion of the functionality and a simpler UI. One side effect of using OneNote a lot, though, is that you might have a huge  amount of old pages in your set of Notebooks, especially if you share notebooks with your team, and end up with a Notebook for each project you’re working on.

If you’re using the regular OneNote 2016 application, and go to search content (by entering the search term into the box on the top right, clip_image006maybe by just pressing clip_image008CTRL+E to jump straight to it), you may find that the results you get include a lot of old content which isn’t all that easy to parse – the name of the notebook occupies much of the column showing the location of the matching page or section, there’s no date of last update or any means of sorting – so it’s hard to know what’s recent and what might be years old.

clip_image010clip_image012If you click on “Pin Search Results” at the very bottom of the results list, or press ALT-O, then you’ll see the results appearing in a pane to the right of the OneNote window, where you can change sorting and filtering options, and see the date the pages were last modified.

Referring to this option as “Pin” may make you think it’s a bit more permanent (such as pinning to taskbar or Start, or pinning to a menu somewhere), but it’s as easy to dismiss the results pane as it is to invoke clip_image014it in the first place – just click the X in the top right of the window pane, or the close option on the drop down arrow which also lets you resize the pane or even move/undock it from the main Outlook window altogether.

There’s no obvious equivalent of this search granularity in the OneNote store app.