37 Tech Shortcuts From the Experts

Get More Out of Your Day

Here are a few of my favorite Office tips.

Keep a record of your surfing: It's easy to come across great information when you surf the Web; but remembering it--and finding it again later--can be a lot more difficult. One­Note simplifies these tasks by letting you save screen clippings from your surfing session. To insert a screen clipping in OneNote, open the Insert tab in the tool bar at the top, and click Screen Clipping. When you select any region of the screen, the image will drop into OneNote, complete with a referral URL in case you want to pay a return visit to the site later.

save time with office tips
Jevon Fark, Office Team, Microsoft
The power of Ignore: If you find yourself stuck in an email thread that seems to go on forever or that isn't relevant to you in the first place, take advantage of the Ignore feature in Outlook. Ignore deletes not only the messages you've already received, but any future messages in the same conversation. To ignore an email conversation in Outlook, right-click a conversation in the message list, and ­in the drop-down menu that appears­, click Ignore.

Tell and show: Why take the trouble of traveling to give a presentation when you can handle the whole thing remotely? To share a PowerPoint presentation with a remote audience, click Slide Show in the tool bar at the top, and then click Broadcast Slide Show. When the dialog box appears, click Start Broadcast, and a unique URL will appear. Copy and send that URL to remote attendees, and voilà! Participants listening on the phone can open the link and see your slideshow in their Web browsers.

Visualize your numbers: Figures presented in a row or column in Excel can be useful, but an avalanche of data can easily overwhelm the viewer. To help people see patterns and trends at a glance, I like to use Sparklines in Excel­--embedded word-size graphics. To create Spark­lines in Excel, select an empty cell that you want to insert Sparklines in. Open the Insert tab in the toolbar at the top, and click Sparklines. Then click the type of Sparkline that you want to create. In the Data box, type the range of the cells containing the data that you want to base the Sparklines on, and click OK.

--Jevon Fark, Office Team, Microsoft

Quick Tips

Activate 'Quick Controls' in your Android browser: Save time while browsing the Internet on your Android device by enabling 'Quick Controls' in the stock Android browser. First confirm that you're using Android version 3.1 (Honeycomb) or later; then open your browser settings menu, tap Labs and enable Quick Controls for faster browsing. This will eliminate the address and status bars from the top of your display, giving you more screen space for browsing the Web. To access browser settings, perform a search, or open a new page, simply place your thumb on the left or right edge of the screen, and a circular menu will pop up with full navigation options.

Edit PDFs with Google Docs: You can save time by using Google Docs instead of a more-expensive PDF editor to alter a PDF document. First, upload your document to Google Docs; then check the Convert text from PDF and image files to Google documents box, which converts a PDF document into an editable rich-text document (this works best if the PDF is mostly text). You can then edit it online and redownload the document as a PDF or text file.

Automate an image or piece of text in Outlook: Got a favorite catchphrase? Take advantage of Outlook's Quick Parts feature to save time when you send oft-repeated bits of text. Select the text or image that you wish to save for reuse in your Outlook messages, open the Quick Parts menu and select Save Selection To Quick Part Gallery. Christen your new Quick Part, and thenceforth you'll be able to reuse it whenever you like by selecting 'Insert' from the Quick Parts menu.

Use DropBox to set up an online backup: Create a free (2GB) DropBox account, and link it with your desktop's Photo directory. DropBox will automatically upload everything in that di­rectory to cloud storage--a very useful backup.

Forward calls to yourself via Google Voice: Sign up for a free account with Google Voice and link it with your home, office, and mobile phone numbers so that you can forward calls to whichever phone is appropriate based on your location, thereby reducing the amount of time you spend checking messages. You can also record calls, send them straight to voicemail, or even shut down your phone entirely during certain hours to let you focus on the task at hand.

Create a custom alarm or timer with Timer Tab: Turn your browser into a productivity tool with the free Timer Tab app. Simply open a new tab in your browser of choice and navigate to timer-tab.com, where you can set up a custom alarm or timer to keep you on track while you're working. Set the timer for 25 minutes and focus on work for the full time period; then take 5 minutes to relax and browse the Web.

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