Category Archives: In The Office

Can’t Install Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11 is Microsoft’s latest internet browser. You don’t necessarily need to install it, but if you don’t you will find that many features on certain websites are unavailable to you. If you don’t know how to find what version of Internet Explorer you are using, click Help > About Internet Explorer.

Install INternet Explorer 11

Many people have experienced the frustration of trying to install Internet Explorer 11. They think they have installed it successfully, because they have run the download and no errors have been displayed, yet when they run internet explorer, it is the old version that opens. So they download and run the IE11 installer again (and then maybe a third time) with no success.

Installing the old version of Internet explorer does not work! So don’t waste your time on that trick. If you fail to install IE11 the first time, save yourself the time, effort and heartache and assume that you don’t have the prerequisite updates for Internet Explorer 11.

Visit that page and work down the list to make sure that you have all the prerequisite updates. When you previously ran the IE11 download, it should have ensured that these updates were installed, but it can fail and not tell you so. In this case, plan B is to install these updates manually.

Having been a long time member of the “Internet Explorer 11 Won’t Install” club, I can tell you that following the above steps worked for me!

Stop Messenger At Startup

This is a question that gets asked many, many times: how do I stop Messenger at startup? The first few times that Messenger starts up automatically and you have to close down the window might not annoy you but after the hundredth time, most people start to get a little shirty.

Automatic startup of Messenger is supposed to be a convenience for you, so that it’s already running when you need it and so that you don’t need to waste time searching for it to start it manually. But if you find that after most reboots you just close it down anyway, it may be time to remove Messenger from startup. Even if you are not using it, it is still using up some of your computer’s resources.

 

Remove Messenger From Startup

There are two ways of removing Messenger from startup.

From Within Messenger

  1. Log in to MSN Messenger.
  2. Click Options.
  3. Click on Sign In and uncheck “Automatically run Windows live messenger when I’m logged on to Windows”.
  4. Click Apply.
  5. Click OK.

Using msonfig

  1. Click on Start.
  2. Click on run.
  3. Type msconfig.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Click on Startup Tab.
  6. Look for msnmsgr.
  7. Uncheck the msnmsgr.
  8. Click on Apply.
  9. Click OK.

You are then prompted to restart your computer for the changes to take effect, Go on, do it, and then you can see whether it worked.

The msconfig method is useful for removing other annoying programs that start automatically when you turn your computer on.

Improving Working Relationships

Developing and maintaining good working relationships can be difficult and sometimes frustrating. Often, we find ourselves wishing the other person was dead. Or is that just me?!

A lot of friction we feel at work is caused by the fact that we have to work with people we somehow… just don’t like. Well, we can’t change the “work with” bit, as this is our job, but we might be able to improve the “just don’t like” situation. If you find that you don’t get along with people at work and it makes being at work an unpleasant experience, imagine how different you would feel if your colleagues were replaced with people you really like and get on with spectacularly. Does that seem a more fun prospect?

If it does, it just may be that the answer to your troubles isn’t to look for another job. Perhaps a better solution is to improve your working relationships. If you can trick yourself into liking your workmates, and fool them into thinking you’re a good egg, then you might accidentally discover yourself enjoying your work.

Be warned though. Performing the following exercises will feel decidedly uncomfortable. But what the hell? If a goal is worth achieving, you’ll work hard for it.

See The Good In People, Develop Empathy

Developing empathy is a whole different ball game! There are other skills related to developing empathy that I’ve listed here just for convenience. Make no mistake, feeling real empathy can be difficult, especially if you have a real problem with the other person. Don’t worry about whether you can or can’t be empathetic, the important thing is to always try. Empathy is the ability to imagine how it must feel to be the other person. If your colleague is telling you about how they ran into someone else’s car, but you hate their guts, you might be tempted to let what they say drift in one ear and out the other. Don’t! You must try to imagine how that incident affected that person emotionally. Imagine how you would feel if it was you. Then, more importantly, imagine how the other person must have felt. If you can’t imagine, then ask more questions. Asking these questions will make you seem more interested in them (because you are) and that will help too.

The ability to empathise can help a great deal in “conflict situations”. Imagine a bossy colleague stomping over to your desk and having a rant at you because you messed up an order. Aside: if you don’t create orders that get sent out to customers, just go with me on this and imagine that you do. Ordinarily, you might immediately get your back up and give as much as you get to your colleague.

But that was before you learnt about empathy!

With your new found skills, you can listen and understand why your colleague is upset. She had promised something to the customer that never got delivered (for whatever reason), and because she cares about how your company looks, she now feels like she let the company down. She is letting out her frustration on you because she doesn’t know how else to articulate herself.

She hasn’t read this article.

Armed with this knowledge, you are able to see the quivering human inside that rigid, aggressive shell that seems to be attacking you, and you can make soothing, understanding noises. If you feel that this is going well, you might even make some apologetic sounding murmurs. The important thing is to try and understand where your colleague is coming from. Try and see things from their frame of reference. If you can perfect this skill, I guarantee that all your relations will become much easier.

Unlearning Bad Habits

One of the obstacles that stops us achieving a state of permanent empathy is the fact that we have been trained to do the opposite. We like to see fault, and even search for it. . Throughout childhood, we were given lots of critical input.

See The Good In People

Being able to see the good in people will help you to connect with them and see them as real, feeling human beings. Believe it or not, there are actually exercises that you can do to improve your ability to do this. Remember, it’s just practice.

The first exercise is simple, yet difficult at the same time. One by one, think about everyone in your office. When you think of someone, try and identify one good thing about them. Obviously, this is going to be hard! Don’t worry about how superficial the “one good thing” might if you are struggling. It could be “he’s got a nice bum” or anything else seemingly inconsequential. As long as you at least find something good to say about this person, you’re on the right track. After a few goes, you can stretch to compliments that run a bit deeper.

If you want to get good results quickly, practise this exercise every morning and go through as many people in your office as you can.

Active Listening

Active listening is so important, and yet most people don’t know what it is or how to do it. Let’s illustrate the difference between active listening and … not, with an example. Imagine that you are talking to a friend and telling them about a traumatic experience you had earlier that day. Imagine how you’d feel if you caught them looking at their watch, or they seemed disinterested, or just plain not listening. Imagine how you’d feel if, after you’d poured your heart out about how your crisis would affect your whole life, they completely ignored your distress and asked when they could get something to eat.

You’d probably think they didn’t care about you at all, and maybe you’d feel small too. Maybe you’d get angry.

Alternatively, imagine how you’d feel if they maintained eye contact with you while you related your traumatic incident to them. If they hung on your every word, that would be good! If they showed they understood what you felt, and even felt exactly what you did, that would be fantastic! What it is to be understood! They might even ask questions that you could use to think about the situations you hadn’t thought of before. But the main thing that makes you feel good is the fact that they are interested enough to listen, they understand and they care.

Let’s break down the things that make you feel like they are interested, they are listening, they understand and they care:

  • they’re interested – they maintain eye contact with you.
  • they’re listening – their responses match what you’re saying. If you tell them about how scared you were as that out of control snowplough sliced through your car – missing you by millimetres – ideally they will sport a shocked expression of disbelief. Maybe eyebrows will be raised if you told the story well.
  • they understand – if what they say is aligned with how you felt, then you know they understand. “F*ck me, you m*st have sh*t yourself! I would have cr*pped my knickers!” Something like that.
  • they care – for example, they could say “I am so glad that grizzly bear got distracted by that tin of tuna and you were able to escape” and that is good.  “I don’t know what I’d do without you Susan. I feel like I’d die if I didn’t have you…” – hug – is also good.

All these things that make you feel like people are interested in you and care for you, they can be turned around and pointed at someone else to make them feel good too. You don’t have to go overboard and start hugging your work collegues, but if you bear in mind the following, it will definitely help your relationships at work:

  • maintain eye contact. I don’t mean intense staring! Just maintain an easy holding of the gaze, relaxed every now and then by an effortless glance elsewhere.
  • keep quiet while they talk. Don’t interrupt. Don’t interrupt. Don’t interrupt. There are times when you can interrupt when you have rapport and it doesn’t matter. Until you feel that rapport, don’t interrupt them!
  • ask questions. Asking questions demonstrates that you’re interested. “That John has a reputation for being aggressive in meetings. How was he in yours?”
  • show a willingness to help. “I’m really busy with the Peanut Butter Toothpaste project, but if you can think of any way I can help you, let me know”.

Rectangular Annotations Using The Snippet Tool

Although the snipping tool that comes with Windows 7 provides the option to capture a rectangular screenshot, it doesn’t allow you to create rectangular annotations on the screenshot. Boo! In fact, the miserly annotation tools that the snippet tool provides are pretty poor. They amount to the provision of merely the pen tool and the highlighter tool. We’ll skip those because they don’t offer any precise way of annotating with rectangles.

What you can do, and this isn’t ideal (come on Microsoft!), is take the screenshot using the snipping tool and then open the screenshot in Microsoft Paint, where you can add the annotations.

Snipping Tool Save

 

To do this you will have to save your snipping tool screenshot somewhere and then open it up in Paint. With the image open in Paint, select the rectangle shape, select a colour and then drag the rectangle over the area you want to annotate.

Select a Colour In Paint

Click to enlarge

To recap:

  • snipping tool – to take the screenshot
  • Microsoft Paint – to draw a rectangle with a colour of your own choosing

In an ideal world, the snipping tool would come with more useful annotating capabilities, but at least if you have Windows 7 you should have access to Paint in addition to the snipping tool.

Don’t forget, when you have finished annotating in Paint, you must save the image again.

Office 2013 Nearly Here

Microsoft Office 2013 (codenamed Office 15, but not much of a codename!) is on its way, and the customer preview can be downloaded here. Just when you’d got used to Office 2010…  If you are a techno-junkie, the interface is based on Metro. The things that hit us here at Office Tutorials are the following:

  • there don’t seem to be too many “must have” new features, at least not for us, anyway.
  • the ribbon is here to stay, but it, and the rest of the user interface, are very “flat”. In the 2007 and 2010 versions of Office the ribbon had a more 3D feel. In the next version, it’s very 2 dimensional.
  • you have to log on using your Windows Live account, so Office know who you are. Your Windows Live profile even appaers in the top right of the workspace. Is this some attempt to control software piracy? You decide.
  • Annoying: after installing the preview, every double click on an Office document (Microsoft Word document, PowerPoint presentation, Excel spreadsheet, etc) triggers the new version of the Office program to open, not your existing version. Furthermore, uninstalling Office 2013 is a nightmare; you have to download a “special tool” to do so! This article gives you an overview of how to uninstall Office 2012, but that didn’t work for us. We had to download the uninstall Office 2013 Tool.

Office 2013 Preview

Our independent and unbiased opinion is don’t bother with Office 2013 until (not “unless” – you will eventually need to upgrade) you absolutely have to. Office 2010 does everything that Office 2013 does that you probably need.

Maybe we’re missing something though. So, what must have features have you found in the new (albeit beta) version that you now can’t live without?

Office 2013 Preview

With the 3 year milestone since Office 2010 was released being just around the corner, Microsoft have made available the customer preview of Office 2013. It is free for you to download on up to five different computers.

With Office 2013, Microsoft are focusing on the cloud, mobile devices and touchscreens.

The ribbon is still with us, although it looks flatter, but there is now the option to hide it, thereby maximising the workspace for smaller display screens. The familiar swiping and pinch-to-zoom commands of touchscreens are also there as well.

To use Office 2013, you need to sign in with your Windows Live account. This enables Office to use the cloud to synchronise and  keep your documents up to date, regardless of which computer you use (providing there is internet access).

Office 2013 First Glance

The new ribbon seems the same as far as functionality goes. However, the whole user interface looks much flatter.

Here is a sample screenshot from PowerPoint 2013:

PowerPoint 2013 Screenshot

Click to enlarge

.. and here’s a similar image for Word 2013:

Word 2013 Screenshot

Click to enlarge

The removal of the 3D look to the ribbon and the commands therein moves the interface’s appearance closer to that of a web application, and further away from that of a desktop application. With the emphasis being on the cloud, maybe that’s a deliberate move.

Because you sign in using your Windows Live account, you get to see your profile picture in the top right corner of the workspce. I haven’t yet found a way of using Office 2013 without signing in this way, and find it a pain that they force me to sign in! It makes you wonder whether Microsoft are targeting software pirates with this new signing in requirement.

I haven’t seen much new functionality either. If most of the new features are related to Office use on touchscreen devices, and the use of the cloud behind the scenes, must users will not be aware of any new functionality.

6 Tips To Speed Up Your Office Tasks

There are a few simple ways of speeding up your workflow in the office. The following tips were not devised by rocket scientists, so you won’t need any advanced technical skills to follow them yourself.

1. Pin To Taskbar

If you find yourself using a particular program frequently, you should consider pinning it to your taskbar. This will enable you to start it much more quickly than having to click the Start button and then hunt for it. To pin it to the taskbar, first of all find it by clicking Start (you may have to search in “All Programs”). When you see it in the list, right click on it and select Pin to Taskbar). The icon representing the program will appear immediately in the taskbar.

If you change your mind, you can always right click on the icon in the taskbar and select unpin this program from taskbar.

2. Recent Items

Whether you are in Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint, when you click the File tab you’ll see the Recent tab on the left. Click on that to see listed all the documents, spreadsheets and presentations you’ve been working on recently.

Opening up the last document you worked on using this method can save you much more time than having to navigate Windows Explorer to find it. This is especially true when you work with complicated folder structures.

3. The Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick Access Toolbar is seen in all Microsoft Office programs in the top left of the workspace, above the File tab (by default). Initially, you will see the commands for Save, Undo and Redo displayed there, because these commands are used the most frequently. The Quick Access Toolbar is displayed whatever tab you’re working in, so you don’t need to jump between tabs to use these common commands.

So, if you find that you use a particular command frequently, you can save yourself time by adding it to the QAT. Find the command in the ribbon, right click on it and select Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

4. Keyboard Shortcuts

Most of your work in Office will probably involve typing content in via your keyboard. If you can find and memorise a keyboard shortcut for a particular command, then your hands can remain at the keyboard. Removing your hands from the keyboard, locating the mouse, moving the cursor around the screen, navigating to the desired tab in the ribbon to find the required command, and then returning the hands to thye keyboard all take time.

Often, the shortcut for a command is displayed in a tooltip that appears when you hover over the command. To get you started, here are some of the more commonly used shortcuts:

Command Keyboard Shortcut Command Keyboard Shortcut
bold ctrl+b italic ctrl+i
underline ctrl+u open ctrl+o
save ctrl+s select all ctrl+a
grow font ctrl+> shrink font ctrl+<
apply heading ctrl+alt+1 (the number refers to the level of the heading) insert hyperlink ctrl+k
track changes ctrl+shift+e zoom in/out ctrl+middle mouse wheel

5. Macros

If you find yourself repeating the same sequence of steps over and over again, it may be appropriate to create a macro to perform them.

On the View tab (in all Office programs) you’ll see the View tab and over on the right there is the Macros group. Click on the down arrow beneath the Macros button and select Record Macro.

Record Macro

The Record Macro window allows you to name the macro, and assign it to a button in the QAT, or to a keyboard shortcut. Once you’ve entered those details, click OK and the cursor will change to a cassette icon. Perform each step of your task and when finished, click Macros > Stop Recording. You can then run the macro any time you need that sequence of steps performing.

6. Favorites In Windows 7

If you find yourself navigating to the same locations time after time in Windows 7, and especially if your folder structure involves many levels, those locations may be good candidates for adding to the Favorites folder.

Navigate to one such location, so that its path displays in the Windows Explorer address bar. Right click on the Favorites folder (not the current folder!) and select Add current location to Favorites.

Add Current Location To FavoritesThe Favorited location will now appear underneath Favorites, so that it always appears. Now all you need to navigate there is to click on it in Favorites.

Speed Up Windows 7

Windows 7 performs much better than Vista (but then so does a cabbage), but you need to have reasonable hardware specs. Nobody likes to be hanging around too long whilst their computer struggles to complete a seemingly easy task. This article will give you basic tips on improving Windows 7 performance and generally speeding your PC up.

Whilst it’s convenient to buy a PC with Windows 7 already installed, retailers often add “extras” to your PC that you just don’t need. And these extras are usually useless and more often than not impede your computer’s performance. A useful utility for getting rid of these useless gifts from PC makers can be found at The PC Decrapifier. Tip: always create a restore point on your computer before you start removing things you think you don’t need!

Speeding Up Boot Time

Typically, the boot time of your PC will increase the more you use it. We know: you just want to turn the damn thing on and start using it. There are a number of steps you can take to combat long boot up times:

  1. Remove unwanted startup items. Installing new software is an unavoidable consequence of being a human with ever increasing needs. The more software you install, the more startup items you accumulate, such as application launchers and other helper utilities. Although they help their applications start more quickly when you open them, they slow down boot time as they are configured to run at startup. To reduce your list of startup programs, download and run Microsoft’s Autoruns for Windows. Many startup items are updater programs that run automatically and tell you when an update for a program is available to download. We don’t need those as the program will tell us in its own time.
  2. Disk Cleanup. This useful utility frees up hard drive space by removing unused temporary files.
  3. Don’t shut down your PC. We are conditioned to turn our machines off, but in actual fact this is usually a redundant task. Windows 7 supports advanced power management states, including Hybrid Sleep and Hibernation, and these states enable your PC to shut down and boot up much more quickly than real shutdowns and boot ups. Alternatively, when you’ve finished with your PC for the day, restart it to free up resources.
  4. Windows 7 performance options. Click the Start button and search for performance info.
  5. Turn off unnecessary visuals. The new Windows 7 user interface may be pleasing to look at, but it hampers system performance. If you want to tweak your PC appearance to improve performance, click Start and search for adjust performance. Choose one of: Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer, Adjust for best appearance, and Adjust for best performance.
  6. Disable animations in the taskbar. This is a new feature for Windows 7. But let’s face it: you don’t need it so turn it off!
  7. Disable the visual styles on windows and buttons. You don’t need fancy schmancy visuals on your buttons. Turn this feature off to return to the days of ugly buttons and windows. Your PC will be imbued with lightning fast performance. But it’ll be ugly.
  8. Use the Reliability Monitor. This genius application charts the reliability of your PC and helps you pinpoint problems.

Useful comments from experienced users on how they decrapified their PCs/improved performance are most welcome.

Speed Up Windows 7

Typically, when you get a brand new computer it seems like it’s lightning fast. Windows 7 is touted as being much faster than Windows Vista, too. A few months down the line, however, your computer may feel like it’s running much slower.

There are some basic steps you can follow to speed up Windows 7, though. Let’s look at some of the things that slow down your operating system and explore the solutions we have at our disposal.

How To Speed Up Windows 7

Disable The Aero Theme

Complex graphical visuals like the aero theme in Windows 7 are resource hungry. To turn off the aero theme, right click on the desktop and select Personalise. Click the Window Color button at the bottom.

Window Color

Click to enlarge

In the Window Color and Appearance window that opens, make sure that Enable Transparency is unchecked. If you are unchecking it now, you’ll notice straight away that window borders solidify.

Disable Transparency

Defragment Your Hard Drive

The more you use your computer’s hard drive to store data, the more fragmented the data on the drive becomes. Although this doesn’t pose a major problem, it does slow down the process of reading the data if some of it is stored over here, another bit is stored ove there and the rest is stored underneath this sandwich. Data is read by your operating system quicker if it’s all in the same place.

To get all the data in the same place, and speed things up, you can defragment the drive.

Disabe Search Indexing In Windows 7

Click Start and then right click on Computer.

Manage Computer

Click to enlarge

Click arrow to expand Services and Applications in the left panel and then click on Services. In the list of services that is displayed in the main panel, find Windows Search. When you’ve found it, right click on it and select Properties. On the General tab, change the Startup type to be Disabled. Click Apply and then click OK to complete the task. The Windows 7 Search Indexing Feature is now disabled.

Note that disabling this feature will cause searches of your file system to become slower. However, most people will find that this disadvantage is outweighed by the otherwise speedier performance of their computer in general.

Add More RAM

RAM (Random Access Memory) is the “working” memory that your computer uses when running programs for you. The other kind of memory is on your hard drive and that is more static, although it does change. Generally speaking, the more RAM your computer has, the faster it will run.

The minimum amount of RAM you should consider if you are using Windows 7 is 1 GB, but if you intend to use lots of programs all at the same time, you really should be using 2 GB or more.

To optimise the way your computer uses its RAM, you can do the following:

  • close programs you no longer need. This will free up some RAM.
  • uninstall programs you just don’t use. Often they have little programs that monitor for updates, or quick launchers that reside in the tray. They all eat up resources and your system may run quicker if they’re gone.