Tag Archives: Office

Adding Multiple Icons in Office

There are hundreds of icons in Office. Many new ones were added recently (May 2019). Adding icons is easy – Insert – Icons – search for an icon or see it and choose it. Multiple icons can be added. It is easy enough. Why do I need to write how to add icons?

Because there is a very nice feature available which makes adding multiple icons really easy – but it is not obvious. Why is it not obvious? Because we usually don’t think of our convenience. We are used to inefficiency!

Adding multiple Icons in Office

Suppose I want to add three icons – one for laptop, one for idea and one for mobile. What will you do? One of the two things…

  1. Add one icon at a time by going to the Insert Icon three times.
    This is obviously inefficient.
  2. Go to Insert Icon – when you find the mobile icon by scrolling, you see the Laptop icon next to it – so you add two of them together. But for the Idea icon, you have to do more scrolling or go to the dialog once more. Again – inefficient.

Add multiple unrelated icons in one stroke

Go to the Insert – Icons dialog. Use the search text box to find what you want. Select the icon. DO NOT insert it yet. Search for another one, find it, select it. Repeat it till all icons are found. Even if the search results do not show it, your selections are remembered.

The Insert button shows how many it has remembered in brackets. So, don’t worry about inserting icons. Just find the set of icons you want and then insert all of them once and for all.

We usually don’t notice this level of sophistication and end up going to the dialog repeatedly to add multiple Icons.

Here is the video of how to insert multiple Icons in Office

Icons in Office - how to insert GIF animation

Now that you know, use it to your advantage. Cheers!

Rainbow

Incremental Search in QAT customization list

Probably nobody noticed it. But this is an example of how Microsoft is looking at even the smallest inconveniences and resolving them to improve efficiency. In order to understand this topic, you have to know how to perform the QAT customization – Quick Access Toolbar. You can read this article for details.

While customizing QAT, you see two lists. The list on the left side has thousands of items – all available features in the product. The list on the right side contains items which are already there in your QAT.

The idea is to find the desired item from the main list and add it to the right side list. Now, in the longer list, if you wanted to find, let us say the item “Split”, you could not type the characters s p l. Basically, incremental search did not work at all. If you typed s p l it will show you the first entry of l rather than the entry starting with spl.

This required lot of scrolling and manual searching because it is a very long list. It is not a major issue but a small irritant. However, recently, Microsoft solved this and now, the long list supports incremental search. In short, you type spl together and it will go to Split item (in Word).

Incremental Search in QAT customization works.

We usually miss incremental improvements

The reason I am writing this article is that, most probably, I would have missed this improvement altogether. Why? Because for many years the list did not support incremental search. Once we know that something is not going to work, we just don’t try it.

Luckily, I tried it recently, hoping that true to its continuous improvement thought process, Microsoft may provide incremental search some day. And it did work.

A classic example of missing incremental improvements is associated with Excel. In older versions, if you click inside a cell and type CTRL A the entire sheet would get selected. What we wanted is to select the block of data around the selection. People just gave up on CTRL A.

But somewhere down the line (I don’t remember the exact version), Microsoft did enhance Ctrl A to select the current region of contiguous data. Unfortunately, most users who were earlier disillusioned with CTRL A never tried it again and they still don’t know that CTRL A works.

Such if life!

Which Office version do I have?

Most people do not need to know the exact version (nor do they care). But in case you are troubleshooting a problem with Office, you will need to know the version.

Finding the exact version is a funny story. Why? Because the version is shown somewhere in some menu. Over time, that menu itself has been changed and moved around. Therefore, the answer to the question “Which version do I have?” is “You have to go to place x, depending upon the version you have”. Angry smile

That does not make any sense. Therefore, it is a visual answer. You have to literally look at the way Office looks (Word, Excel , etc. ) and then figure out where the version is mentioned.

Microsoft has written a detailed article with screen shots to answer this question. Here is the link  Which Office version do I have?. This shows various screen shots. You open a file in Word and compare the screenshots to find the version.
Funny but true.

Drop-down Gamification

Office has so many features that there is no place to show all of them on screen. That is why, Microsoft has to use drop-downs and More… buttons. Unfortunately, most of us never even notice these buttons, leave alone clicking on them to find out what more is available. Due to this, thousands of brilliant features are never noticed. Here is the solution: Drop-down Gamification. This concept applies to More buttons and sub-menus as well. The objective is to make this self-discovery of feature gems as much fun as possible.

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Continue reading Drop-down Gamification

MRU Remove From List

MRU is a list of Most Recently Used files. We see that list in File – Open –Recent documents. As you know, this list shows the latest documents opened by you. Documents opened earlier move down in the list and eventually get removed when more files are opened. However, Office allows you to explicitly remove a particular item from the MRU list. Right click on any item and choose Remove from List.

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The question is, why would you want to do that? Anyway the file will get flushed from the list soon. The answer is not so obvious. There are  many practical scenarios where this is very useful.  I am not going to explain each scenario. Just a list.

  1. You opened a local file and stored it on OneDrive. Now to files are seen in MRU. I want to remove the local file to avoid editing it accidentally.
  2. I am presenting to customer X. I also presented to the competitor Y just yesterday. I want to remove files related to customer Y.
  3. I opened XLS file, saved it as XLSX. This way Compatibility Mode is removed and I can use all the new features. Now, I do not want to accidentally open the XLS file and confuse myself.
  4. I am editing a complex file. I keep saving versions. When I save the latest version, I want to remove the entry of the older version from MRU to avoid confusion

If you can think of more usage scenarios, do post it as comments.

How to Create Time using Office

Here is another way to look at using Office. We want to do so many things. But time is always in short supply. There are thousands of methods of saving time – ranging from behavioral changes, getting up early to sophisticated methodologies. But all of them suffer from one problem… the solution itself requires more time!  Now consider this. You can Create Time using Office – because you are already spending three to four hours on it on every working day.

The time you spend on Microsoft Office is considered as the part of the game, part of life, mandatory and non-negotiable. Why? Because you have work to do and it requires you to use Office. So you just use it. In the process, you spend half of your work-life using Office. We have never looked at those 4 hours as a source of extra time.

If you know how to use Microsoft Office efficiently, you will save lots of time. It is like CREATING time because it just did not exist for you earlier. It is a reward you get by being more efficient.

One you have extra time, you are smart enough to invest it in whatever you think is important: Work, Family, Sports, Health…

Once you know the approach towards working efficiently, you should invest part of the time CREATED into learning a little more. That way you will continue to create time throughout your life.

Empowering! is it not?

Read the Efficiency Knowledge Pack on more ideas and concepts related to
Inefficiency Management.

How to work on Excel when it is busy

This is a common requirement. We have started some time consuming operation like adding a field to a large pivot table, or fetching data from a database, or refreshing some complex calculations. In such cases Excel seems to be unresponsive. Not only the current file is unusable, other files opened are also not editable. Things just freeze till the time and resource consuming activity finishes.

Of course, that is a total waste of time. You want to do something else on another Excel file during this time. The solution is to create another instance of Excel.

  • When you are about to start a time consuming operation, make sure no other Excel files are open. Start the operation on the file and leave it alone.
  • Now right click on the Excel icon in the Taskbar and choose Excel (whichever version) again. This way you open an independent copy of Excel. This copy is not busy at all.Open an independent copy of Excel when it is busy processing another copy
  • Now you open other Excel files here and continue working while the other copy is executing the time consuming job. That’s it.

This concept is not applicable just to Excel. The same logic applies to any application which can get busy and block you from working on other files.