Mar 25

If you spend a lot of time in Word like I do then quick access to commands is important. You can waste a lot of time moving around the ribbon. If you want to speed things up, rather than going through the ribbon to access commands which usually requires at least two clicks to get to your destination, you should look closely at the Quick Access Toolbar usually positioned at the top left of the screen next to the Office button. You can customise this toolbar and add all your frequently used commands. Using the drop-down bar at the end of the Quick Access Toolbar, navigate to More Commands. In the top drop-down box there you’ll probably see Popular Commands by default, but don’t be fooled here. You can change this to show All Commands and pick the ones you find most useful. Then click Add in the centre and they will be added to your customised bar layout on the right. You can rearrange them there using the arrows on the right.

Word Quick Access Toolbar

Another tip is to use separators if you find the buttons on the final bar are too closely spaced. You’ll find Separators at the top of the menu of commands. You can also move the final toolbar above or below the ribbon again using the drop-down menu at the end of the toolbar.

Finally you can get quick keyboard access to this toolbar using the key combinations Alt-1, Alt-2, etc. for items from left to right on the toolbar.


Mar 10

Windows key

Is the Windows key a forgotten key on your keyboard? Is your hand glued to your mouse or do you try and use any keyboard shortcuts? I must admit, I’ve never been one to use the Windows key much and I’ve been missing out on some cool shortcuts.

Apart from the obvious function of opening the Start menu, the Windows key can be used in combination with others for some great shortcuts. I’ve tried them out and this is how they work in Windows 7. Many of these shortcuts will also work in Vista and some work in Windows XP.

Win + Tab: displays the apps open on your superbar (really cool 3D effect in Windows 7); keep pressing Tab to cycle through them and release keys to open that window  (Alt + Tab is nice too; keep your finger on Alt and move your mouse over the windows; click to select one)

Win + E: opens My Computer

Win + D: shows the desktop; pressing the same key combination again takes you back where you were

Win + F: opens Windows search; or if you have Coperic Desktop Search installed, that opens instead

Win + R: displays the Run command box

Win + Pause/Break: displays system information in Windows 7

Win + U: displays the Ease of Access Center (try the Magnifier tool)

Win + G: shows your gadgets if you have any installed

Win + L: locks your desktop

Win + S: select and save a screenshot to Microsoft OneNote (if it’s installed)

Win + T: cycle through the apps on your superbar

Win + N: opens Microsoft OneNote

Win + P: opens the display control dialogue box

Win + F1: displays Windows help

Win + 1: Maximises or opens the leftmost application on your superbar in Windows 7. If Word is the first application on your superbar, and say you have three documents open in Word, you can cycle through them by repeatedly pressing Win + 1.

Win + 2 maximizes or opens the second application and so on. Works right through to Win + 0 for the 10th app along your superbar.

Hope all this helps you to be more productive.

Image credit: Jeremy Brooks


Mar 8
A generation of change in PCs
icon1 techandlife | icon2 Hardware | icon4 March 8, 2010| icon32 Comments »

Opus PCV0001

I was clearing out some old computer magazines and files the other day when I came across a flyer which brought back memories…from 1988! I had saved up enough to buy my first computer and decided on the Opus PC V AT-compatible. Had to drive up to the city to a small supplier – no computer stores in those days, just the occasional small tech shop. Needless to say, the machine was state-of-the-art at that time.

In those days PCs weren’t for everyone. Pre-Windows and no internet so why would you want one. Apart from us geeks, PCs then were the preserve of business and were mainly used for word processing, spreadsheets, databases and DTP. But what really shocked me were the specs… and the price I paid for 1988 state-of-the-art tech. This is the flip side of the flyer:

Opus PCV0002

I’ll pick out the ‘best’ points:

30MB hard drive – that’s 0.03GB in modern money! And that was big enough.

5.25” floppy drive – Disks had a capacity of 1.2MB.

1MB memory – no, not 1GB but 1MB. And that was just about enough.

6MHz clock speed with Turbo button taking it to …10MHz. Modern PCs are a gazzilion times faster with the latest Core i7 processors running at 3.33GHz clock speed.

14” display – amber on black ( I subsequently paid out even more for the optional colour display).

And the price – yes, only £1295 – that’s currently equivalent to US$1960.

And remember, there was no GUI in those days, just a command line – I think it was running Microsoft MS DOS 3.2. But it got the job done. And just for good measure, here’s a selection of 5.25” floppy disks with some of the programs I used in the early 1990s:

Floppy disks

Tech has come a long way in a generation – in specs and price!

What was your first computer?


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