Friday, June 15, 2018

MS Office / Word / Excel / PowerPoint: Customize Your Quick Access Toolbar

When you first open any document in MS Word, MS Excel, or MS PowerPoint, you should notice there are little icons in the very top left, called the Quick Access Toolbar.  Microsoft puts some shortcuts here, like Save and Print, but they don’t really know what you need or use the most, do they?

Open MS Word.  Your Quick Access Toolbar may already look different than mine depending on when you installed MS Office.  Give yourself a quick tour by hovering your mouse over each item to see what it does. 

The standard Word default is four icons.

“Save” is the small diskette
“Undo” is the back-facing arrow
“Redo” is the circular arrow
“Customize” is the drop-down arrow with the small bar over it – I like to call this icon “more choices.”

Those are great choices… for a beginner.  Let’s click that Customize button and see what happens.  When we click Customize, “more choices” pop up below.  You can quickly click on these items to add choices to your Quick Access Toolbar.  Click on “Open” to add the File tab>Open command to yours. 

Look at your Quick Access Toolbar now.  You will see a file folder icon has been added to your Quick Access Toolbar.  

I like to keep my File tab icons together, so while that is a good shortcut, it doesn’t really let you determine the location of the icons.  

Let’s use “More Commands” instead of selecting them from this list.  Click “Customize>More Commands…” from the drop-down menu.  This brings up the Options window and goes right to “Quick Action Toolbar” menu.

Let’s take a little tour of the Customize the Quick Access Toolbar window.  Circled red, you will see that Word defaults to the “Popular Commands” choices.  These are the items commonly added to the menu.  You’ll see that “Redo,” “Save,” and “Undo” are already shown.

In the center circled green are the “Add>>” and “<<Remove” buttons.  We added “Open” earlier, as shown on the right.  If I click “<<Remove” it will disappear from my custom toolbar.

On the right circled blue are the up and down arrows.  Since I clicked on “Open,” I can move it higher up or down the list by clicking the up and down arrows.  This is confusing since the actual toolbar goes left to right, but you get the idea.  

I would like my “Open” icon to be before “Save.”  I will click the up arrow three times.  Try it at home.  This does not make any changes to the actual Quick Access Toolbar until you click OK.  Do it. 

Got it?  Let’s make some more changes.  Go back to Customize>More Commands. 

I never hung out with the “popular” crowd, so I don’t really want only the “Popular Commands.” Click the drop-down arrow next to “Popular Commands.”  A new menu appears with choices such as “All Commands” and then by tab, such as “File Tab” or “Home Tab.”  Choose “All Commands” so we can see everything!

A list in alphabetical order appears, sort of like a genie giving you multiple choices for your wish.  The first tab is called “<Separator>.  Let’s add that.  A <Separator> will turn into a small vertical line once we press OK.  Move the word <Separator> up two clicks so that it in between our file commands and our undo-redo commands.  Here’s what it will look like:  

Scroll down to the “Qs” and find “Quick Print.”  Add it to your Quick Access Toolbar.  “Quick Print” does just what it sounds like.  It takes your document with your current print settings and sends it to the last printer you used.  

Sometimes you want to see what it will look like first, though, right?  Let’s add a Preview button.  “Preview and Print” is a command that takes us to the Preview screen.  If we like what we see, we can print from that screen.  Choose “Preview and Print.”

Add another <Separator> above Quick Print so that your print commands are separated from Undo and Redo.  Does yours look like this now?

There are a few more “File tab” commands I like, so let’s find change “All Commands” to “File Tab.”  

From the File tab choices, select “Close File,” “New from Template,” and one of my favorites:  “Publish as PDF or XPS.”  (Don’t worry about “XPS” – no one uses that Microsoft format.)

Use the up and down arrows to put them in this order:

New from Template
Publish as PDF or XPS
Close File
Quick Print
Preview and Print

Once it is all set up, click OK, and your Quick Access Toolbar will look like this:

Now when you are working in Word, you have all your (or my) most used commands available with a quick click.  Give it a month or so, then come back to the Customize button and make any changes that you want.  This is your Quick Access Toolbar, so make it just the way you want it.

Friday, June 8, 2018

MS Word: Insert Date and Automatically Update

Your computer knows what day (or date) it is, right?  Instead of typing the date in Word, why not let the computer put the current date in for you?

Insert Date

In MS Word, the Insert tab has lots of handy quick shortcuts to insert pictures, tables, links to the internet, and symbols.  It also can quickly insert today’s date in the format you choose.  Look to the left of the Insert tab in the Text section and you will see a small calendar/clock icon.  That’s what you use to insert the date.


Pick the spot on your Word document where you want the date, then click Insert tab>Text section>Date & Time. 

This brings up the Date & Time window with more than a dozen choices for date and time format. 

For most word processing uses, let’s spell out the month, then show the date and year, like this: 

January 1, 2018

Set As Default

Select that format from your menu by clicking it, but don’t click OK yet!  Notice the bottom of the Date & Time window.  Since this format is the one we will use the most often, click the “Set As Default” button.  This date format will now be MS Word’s favorite.  Next time you use the Insert tab>Text section>Date & Time button, this format will be highlighted in the Date and Time window.

Update Automatically (or Not)

Now look at the little checkmark next to “Update Automatically.”  When that box is checked, Word will insert a date “field” into your document.  This date field is more than a group of letters showing today’s date.  The field will update every time you open or print your document.  That means your paper will always have the most current date.

Do you want it to update automatically?  Usually, you do so you can tell when you printed a document or keep the date of a letter current.  If this is a legal document, you may wish to keep the original date only and never update it.  That’s up to you, but don’t always use “update automatically” automatically.  Think about it first.

For today’s exercise, be sure “Update Automatically” is checked, then click OK.  Word places today’s date into your document as a date field.  Click on the date, and the entire date field will be highlighted with the word “Update” above it.  You can’t change the date without deleting the date field and starting over.  click anywhere off the date, and it looks like normal text, right?

Save and Check Back Tomorrow

Save the document and open it tomorrow, and tomorrow’s date will show up.  Open it next year, and the current date will always show up.  (If you save your document as a PDF, the date on your PDF will be frozen on that date forever.)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Excel Basics

I am a guest blogger on  They asked me to create some new-to-Excel posts for beginners.  Just click the links below to go right to those lessons:

Excel Spreadsheet Basics Everyone Should Know:  a tour of Excel, discussion of the cursors, and how to move around

Formatting Cells in Excel For a Better Understanding of Information:  basic formatting

Excel Dates | How to Format Dates in Excel:  use Excel's formatting shortcuts and more advanced formatting features to make your dates just the way you want them.

Excel Formulas and Dollar Format:  create a simple spreadsheet multiplying quantity and price to get the cost, plus adding up the sales

Excel Tables | How To Format Excel Tables with Total Sort and Filter:  format information as a table so you can sort and filter

How To Create Charts and Graphs in Excelmake your numbers visual with a chart or graph

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Voice Mail for the Small Business Owner

Do you have one phone for business and one phone for personal calls?  If not, your voice mail for your phone should be professional.

What are the parts of an excellent voice mail message?
Call a few similar businesses after hours and listen to their messages.  What do you like and what don’t you like?  What makes you feel like your call really is important?
Does it answer the basic questions:
  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • How?

Before recording any message, practice in front of mirror and smile the entire time!  This practice will also help in your daily interactions with clients.
Who?  State your name and/or the name of your business.
What?  Think of your missions statement or elevator pitch.  State what you do in one sentence.
When?  State your hours.  If you do not have regular hours, such as “Monday through Friday, 8 to 5,” think of the simplest way to state your hours so someone can understand.  Practice this with a friend or ask for help.
Where?  State your address and cross-streets if applicable… or say “We come to you!”
How?  What is the best way for the customer to reach you for an appointment or questions?  Email, website, leave a message.  You may wish to state how quickly they may expect to hear from you:  24 hours, the next business day, etc.
Many cell phone companies allow a caller to press a key, like “*” to skip the message.  Please check with your provider, and ask if this is possible.  If so, add the instructions to the end of your message, such as “To skip this message in the future, please press ‘star’.”
Clear and concise is the key!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Automatically Playing an Embedded YouTube Video in PowerPoint

I'm getting ready to teach another PowerPoint class, so I got out my previous class notes.  I teach this class about once a year, and with every new update from Microsoft or Google's YouTube, I know my instructions will be out of date.  Sure enough...

First, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Microsoft has added a “Online Video” option for adding video.  It even has an option to search for a video on YouTube. Great, right?

It’s only great if you want that big red YouTube play icon right in the middle of your PowerPoint show.  You also have to click on the big red YouTube play icon to play your video.  This is not always the easiest thing to do if you are in a presentation hall and using a laser pointer.

My class is beginning PowerPoint, so of course I will show them how to do it with the big red YouTube play icon, but I was sure I could still use the old instructions.  Right?

Wrong again.  The old version used the “Old Embed Code” which is no longer available from YouTube.  I googled and googled for a workaround and found several, but none that were recognized by PowerPoint.

If finally decided to try my limited HTML skills and combine the old with the new, right?  IT WORKED!

These instructions have been updated and work as of August 2, 2016. Tomorrow, you’re on your own.
  1. Using the internet, find your YouTube video
  2. Pause the video (because it’s annoying when it’s running and you’re trying to think)
  3. Click on the word Share below the video
  4. Click on the word Embed below Share
  5. Select “SHOW MORE” below the Embed Code
  6. Select your Video size.
  7. I always deselect “Show suggested videos when the video finishes”
  8. Click the HTML code in the box so it is highlighted
  9. Right click and copy (or Ctrl C)
  10. In PowerPoint, click on the Insert tab>Online Video.
  11. Instead of using the built in YouTube search, click on the Video Embed Code box, and paste the embed code by right clicking and paste (or Ctrl P).  (You can also paste into MS Word or other text editing software to make the change below – then simply copy and paste the new code into PowerPoint.)
  12. Here is the tricky part.  After the video name which is a bunch of gobbledygook like “Oe6lBGO6OSk” you’ll see a question mark (?).  Place your cursor to the right of the question mark and type this:

(that is a semicolon, not a colon)  

That's it.  Now hit enter, and a black video box should show up on your slide.   If you get an error message, try again.  As always, preview the current slide in Slide Show tab and to see if it worked.