Tag Archives: Tips And Tricks

Use Microsoft Office Picture Manager for Quick Photo Edits

There are a lot of great photo editors on the market. Some are very robust and expensive, while others are free. To be honest, there are about as many photo editors out there as there are camera models. Today I would like to tell you about one that is probably sitting right under your nose and you’ve never used it. It is called “Microsoft Office Picture Manager” and it comes bundled with Microsoft Office.

I would like to show you an example of the photo editing power of Picture Manager. Let’s begin by opening a picture on our computer. Below you will see a lighthouse picture I took in Portland, Maine.


Let’s say, for example, that I wanted to turn this photo black and white. This is very simple to do using Picture Manager. First, let’s open the picture in Picture Manager. Below, you will see where I right clicked the photo, then chose the “Open With” option, and then clicked “Microsoft Office Picture Manager”.

Open With Menu

Now we’ll need to click the button at the top of the window that says “Edit Pictures…” See the picture below to see what the button looks like.

Edit Button

Now, you will get a toolbar on the right side of the screen. You will notice a very large “Auto Correct” button. If you have a photo that may be a little too dark and grainy, sometimes clicking this button will help correct common color and lighting errors. In the picture below, you will notice an area highlighted under the heading “Edit using these tools”. Here are some commonly used photo editing tools. The one I would like to deal with in this tutorial is under the heading “Color”.

Toolbar Options

When you click the heading that says “Color”, you will get the menu options pictured below.

Color Menu

Using this menu, you can do some really cool things to your photo. You can also royally screw up the color balance so make sure you keep the “Undo” button handy. You will notice that there are three sliders that will allow you to use your mouse to click and drag to change the value in each box. Remember the goal of this particular tutorial is to make this photo black and white. To accomplish this we’ll need to desaturate the photo. Saturation basically is a term for how much color is in the photo. If we drag the “Saturation” slider all the way to the left, we are essentially saying we want to take all of the color out of the photo.  Now, our picture is black and white.  See the picture below.

Lighthouse Black and White

There are many other useful tools in Microsoft Office Picture Manager. You can easily fix red eye, flip and rotate pictures, and more. It may not be the most robust tool out there, but for the novice user, it is easy to use. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

Get Quick Answers Using Excel’s Status Bar

There is hardly any debate to the fact that Excel is an extremely powerful tool. It can do complex formulas and calculations at mind-numbing speed. All this being said, however, in all the years I have worked in IT, I have observed that most people use it for a basic set of functions. I believe that Microsoft recognized this as well. They made it very easy for us to get answers to our common questions. The problem is, they put this tool in an uncommonly used place. Today, I would like to introduce you to Excel’s “Status Bar” and to show you how it can make your life a little easier.

What is a status bar you ask? Well, it is way down at the bottom of the screen. You know, the place that no one hardly ever looks. In the picture below, you can see Excel’s main window with the status bar highlighted.

Main Window

Several things happen in the status bar that often go unnoticed. For instance, when you hit the “Caps Lock” key on your keyboard, an indicator shows up in the status bar. It is also home to some pretty helpful tools that can help you get quick answers from your spreadsheet.

Let’s begin by selecting a column of numbers like the ones pictured below. One of the most common tasks in a spreadsheet is to sum up a column of numbers. Notice that Excel makes this very easy. Below, you will see what the status bar shows when you have a column of numbers highlighted. By default, Excel shows you the average, sum, and count of the selected numbers.

Status Bar

If you right-click the status bar, you will get a context menu which will allow you to customize which fields you need displayed.  In the picture below, you can see the different options that you have. Notice the red circled area. Here, you can add other popular functions to the status bar.


Let’s add minimum and maximum to the status bar and see what we get. If you highlight your data as pictured below, you now will notice that the status bar gives some additional information. Highlighted below, you can see the “Min” and “Max” functions. Sometimes it is nice just to be able to glean out what the smallest and largest numbers in a spreadsheet are. The status bar makes this very simple to find.

Min Max

I hope this tutorial helps to simplify some of the common tasks you perform in Excel. Of course, if you enjoy typing “=Sum(H1:K8)” every time you want to get a Sum in a column, then this tip probably isn’t for you. ;)

Let me know what you think about this tip. I love questions and comments.

Google Toolbar Works in Firefox 5 and Firefox 6 – Here Is How To Enable It

A few weeks ago, Google said that they would be discontinuing Google Toolbar for Firefox 5 and will only continue supporting . However, in spite of that, the Google Toolbar continues to work in Firefox 5 and .

Google Toolbar for Firefox 5 and Firefox 6

I have been using the Google Toolbar in 5 and Firefox 6 for a few months now without issues, however, it does come with a caveat. Since Google has officially said that support for Google Toolbar is only available through Firefox 4, Firefox automatically disables the on Firefox 5 and Firefox 5.

Also Read: Firefox 5 Review | Firefox 6 Review

In order to enable the Google Toolbar in Firefox 5 and Firefox 6 you will first have to install the Add-on compatibility reporter extension in Firefox and restart the browser.

Change Google Toolbar Compatibility Firefox 5 & Firefox 6

Once you have done that head over to the “Add-ons” and you will be able to run Google Toolbar in Firefox 5 and Firefox 6. Firefox will still report that the add-on is incompatible with the newer versions, however, you can continue using it without issues. If you need more help with this read our earlier guide on How To Run Older Add-ons in Firefox.

How To Delete Phonebook Contacts From Facebook

recently came under a lot of fire for storing contacts and phone numbers from your phone contacts directly on their servers. This feature was part of the mobile sync they have in their apps. This feature formerly known as Phonebook has been available for a long time, however some recent Facebook mass updates caused it to come to the fore.

Facebook has said that the Phone Numbers "Published" to Everyone is Fake, however, they still have the data they have synched from the phone with them.

If you are not comfortable having your business or personal contacts phone numbers, emails and other information stored on Facebook, here is how you can delete them.

Step 1: Head over to Facebook.com on a desktop PC and log in. Once you have done that, click on the "Account" menu in the right hand side corner and then click on the "Edit Friends" link.

Step 2: On the Edit Friends page, click on the "Contacts" option in the left hand side sidebar of the page.

Delete Facebook Phonebook Contacts

Step 3: If you have used Facebook on your mobile device, you will see a list of all the contacts here. To delete these contacts from Facebook, click on the link that says "this page" or visit this link directly (requires login).

Remove Imported Phone Contacts from Facebook

Step 4: On the next page, Facebook will give you the usual yada yada about why you should not delete your Facebook contacts and how it will help you. If you are very sure about deleting the message you should just ignore it and click on the "Remove" button.

You will have to also stop syncing your phone contacts with Facebook. We will show you how to do it for and in future posts.

Editing the Slide Master in PowerPoint 2010

Slide MasterHave you ever wanted to create a visual presentation that utilizes your company logo and color scheme? PowerPoint has great built in themes, but sometimes you just want something a little more customized. You could customize each slide with colors and logo placement, however, there is a much easier way to do this. PowerPoint has a feature called the “Slide Master” which allows you to format once, but affect every slide in the presentation.

The process of editing the “Slide Master” is pretty simple. In PowerPoint 2010, click the “View” tab above the ribbon toolbar. On the “View” tab, you will find a button that says “Slide Master”, as illustrated below.

Slide Master Button

When you are in the “Slide Master” view you, will see a blank slide with several miniature slide layouts running down the left side of the screen. Clicking on these miniatures will show you a preview of how that particular layout will appear with the edits you make here. See the picture below.

Slide Master

Let’s say you wanted to make the slide title a particular font and size. Click inside the title placeholder and highlight the text. You should see a font toolbar pop up like the one pictured below. Here, you can customize the font. You will also notice that you can edit the different levels in a bulleted list. Note, any change you make here affects every slide in the presentation. You are basically setting the defaults for this presentation.

Font Change

Let’s say that you wanted to edit the background color of the bulleted list. It is pretty easy to do. Right click in the shape area, and you will notice a little toolbar pop up, like the one pictured below. You will notice a little paint bucket icon on there with a small downward pointing arrow to the right. Click this arrow, and you will get a color selector that will allow you to choose a background color for the shape. Note, you can also do pictures, gradients, and textures.

Fill Shape Color

You might also decide that you would like to customize a different color for the main slide area. To do this, right click on the outer edge of the slide, away from any shape, and choose “Format Background” from the menu. In the picture below, you will see what the “Format Background” dialog box looks like. Like shapes, you can fill backgrounds with solid colors, gradients, pictures, or patterns.

Background Color

Once you have all of your fonts and colors the way you like it, you can move on to adding a custom logo. You can insert the logo from a picture file, or simply copy it from a website. if you like. Below, you can see what the logo file looks like when pasted into PowerPoint. Notice the “Paste Options” toolbar. There is an icon with an image attached to a clipboard. If you click this button, it will paste the picture that you have copied from a website.

Pasted Logo

Now, you have your logo in the presentation. The next step will be to find a good location for it in the presentation. In the example below, the image was positioned in the bottom right corner of the slide. This looked great on the bulleted list layout, but notice that the subtitle placeholder on the title page is covering the image up. There are a couple of things that you could do here. The easiest thing would be to resize the subtitle slide to make it small enough not to cover the logo. You may want to check the other slide layouts, as well. For example, the content layout slides completely cover the logo up in the instance pictured below. You may want to resize them, as well.

Logo Covered Up

Now, you have come to the final stretch. To get out of the “Slide Master” view, click the “View” tab and select “Normal” on the ribbon toolbar.

Normal Button

Now, each new slide you insert into the presentation will be formatted in the same way as your “Slide Master”. Below, you will see a picture showing a slide that is formatted with the edits that were done in the “Slide Master” view. Hopefully, the creative wheels are turning in your head now. How might you use this nifty feature? As always, I would love to hear your comments below.

Slide Preview

How To Get Back Old Facebook Chat

Recently, rolled out a new video calling feature in collaboration with Skype. The new feature allowed for one-to-one video chatting with your friends. However, they also rolled out a new  chat sidebar which has been annoying people to no end.

Facebook Video Chat

Facebook has been known to annoy users with newer design changes, and it is no surprise that people are upset with such an attitude. Last time Facebook annoyed users with a new rollout for the image viewer, however, you can easily disable the Facebook Theater mode too.

Earlier last month, Google also annoyed users by changing their homepage design and adding a black bar at the top. You can easily remove the black bar in Google and similarly also revert back to the old Facebook chat.

Also Read: Group Video Chat on Facebook with Social Hangouts

In order to get rid of the new Facebook sidebar chat that has been included, you will need to install a script. Just head over to this link and click on the install button. This will install the script and revert Facebook chat to the older version.

The script should work out of the box in and with the Greasemonkey add-on installed. If you are using a browser like , Internet Explorer or Safari you might want to read our earlier guide about a workaround to run Greasemonkey scripts in Opera, Internet Explorer or Safari.

Don’t forget to read our earlier article on how you can make Facebook better in Google Chrome.

Update: You can also use a called Facebook Cool to restore the old Facebook chat. Download the extension from here.

Merge Word Documents to Outlook Email Recipients

Merge to Email in WordSummer’s here!  The birds are chirping.  The butterflies flutter by.  All this just screams, “COMPANY PICNIC SEASON“!  So let’s make some plans and get those invites out!  Microsoft Word is a great way to make pretty invitations.  But what is the easiest way to distribute them?  You could attach your invitation to an e-mail, but then you would have to go through and select all of the recipients.  You also have to consider the fact that putting all the recipients names in the “To:” field lets everyone who gets the e-mail see the e-mail addresses of all the other recipients.  This is a real problem if you want to protect the identity of certain people.  You could resolve this by placing all the recipients in the “BCC:” field, however, then you have to put something in the “To:” field or it just looks weird when the recipient gets it.  Confused yet?  This whole process can be simplified using the “Merge to Email” feature in Word.

Let’s begin by creating a custom contact folder Microsoft Outlook.  In Outlook, right click your mailbox folder and choose “New Folder” from the menu.  You will see the following window pictured below.  Give your folder a name and make sure that the “Folder contains:” field has “Contact Items” selected.  This will assure that we have a contact folder.

Create New Contact Folder in Microsoft Outlook

Next, add some contacts to your new contact folder.  Pictured below, you will see the contact window with a couple of contacts shown.

Contacts Window

Once you have all of your contacts entered in you new contact folder, you are ready to proceed to your invitation.  Open Microsoft Word and type up your invitation.  When you have it all typed up the way you want it, click the “Mailings” tab on the ribbon toolbar.  See the picture below.

Mailings Tab in Word

On the “Mailings” tab, you will see a button that says “Select Recipients”.  When you click this button you will see a drop down menu where you can choose the source of your recipients.  In this tutorial you will choose “Select from Outlook Contacts” from the menu shown in the picture below.

Select Recipients

You will now see the window, pictured below, asking you to select the Outlook contacts folder.  Choose the appropriate folder and click OK.  Choosing the contacts folder will set that folder as the source for the merge in Word.

Select Contacts

You now have the opportunity to pick and choose which contacts from that folder you want to receive the invitation.  Note that all contacts in the folder are selected by default.  In the picture below, you will see little check boxes beside each contact name.  Simply click the check box to select or deselect the contacts you wish to send to.  When you are finished, click OK.

Recipient List

Now the magic really starts to happen.  Let’s personalize the invitation to show the recipients first and last names at the top.  To do this, make sure your cursor is at the top of the page, then, from the “Mailings” tab choose “Insert Merge Field”.  This will give you a drop down menu with all of the fields in the contact folder you chose.  See the picture below.

Insert Merge Field

Now, choose the “First” field.  Notice you get a little merge field at the top of your document with the word “<<First>>” listed, as pictured below.  What this means is when you finish the merge, and your contact receives the e-mail, they will see their first name in this spot on the document.  Go ahead and hit the space bar, and  insert the “Last” merge field too, so that the recipients last name will appear there as well.

Edit Merge Field Font

Double click the “First” field to see formatting options, as pictured above.  Here you can change the font style and size.  Go ahead and set the font to look the way you would like for the recipient to see it.

The last step in the process is to click the “Finish & Merge” button on the “Mailings” tab.  You will see the drop down menu pictured below.  Click the “Send E-mail Messages” option to start the merge.  Now all of the recipients you picked from the contacts folder will receive an email with the invitation in the body of the message.  WARNING! Once you click “Send E-mail Messages”, the message is immediately sent!  There will be no dialog boxes asking you to click OK or anything.  So don’t click this button until you are ready for it to go.

Start the Merge

You can verify that the mailing went out by checking your “Sent Items” in Outlook.  You will notice that every contact received a single message.  This means there is no more worry about hiding people’s email in the “BCC:” field.   Problem solved!

Hopefully you will find this feature useful for your next big mailing.  Oh, by the way, don’t forget to save me a little dessert at the picnic!  ;)

Add Some Spark to Your Excel Spreadsheets

Creating SparklinesHave you and your spreadsheet lost the old fire?  Do you find your eyes wandering?  Rekindle that flame!  Add some “spark” to your spreadsheet using one of Microsoft Excel 2010’s coolest new features, “Sparklines”!

“Sparklines” are kind of like miniature charts that you can fit into a small area, such as a cell.  They are great for showing trends in a data series.  In the spreadsheet below, you see a series of numbers representing recordable safety violations by month.  Some people can extract what they want by looking through long rows of data like those below.  Others, however, prefer something more visual.

Insert Excel Sparklines

Notice the column labeled “Trends” in the picture above.  This is the ideal place for a “Sparkline”.  To insert a “Sparkline” here, click the cell in which you wish to place the “Sparkline”, then click the “Insert” tab on the ribbon toolbar, and click on the type of “Sparkline” you want from the “Sparkline” group.  See the picture below.

Inserting Sparklines

When you choose a “Sparkline”, you will see a dialog box like the one pictured below.  The first field asks you to input the range of cells that contain the data.  You can manually type this in, for example, A1:A12, or you can click the little square at the end of the box.  This little square will minimize the box and allow you to highlight the data range with your mouse.  It really is just a matter of preference.  The second field asks you where you want your “Sparkline” to reside in the sheet.  Note this can be a range and not just a single cell.

Creating Sparklines Window

Once you have inserted the “Sparkline”, you will see options to format it under the “Design” tab, highlighted in green below.  You can choose from a number of styles.  You can even set different colors for markers, such as high points and low points.

Customize the Sparkline

The next time you have to present a report in a spreadsheet, take a moment to insert one of these neat little “Sparklines”.

Speed Up Formatting in Microsoft Office with Format Painter

Format Painter ButtonLay down the canvas!  Put on your painting clothes!  We’re going to do some painting!  Today I would like to show you an easy way to format multiple objects in Microsoft Office using the “Format Painter” tool.  You may have noticed a little paint brush icon that sits at the top of most Microsoft Office applications.  This button is called the “Format Painter”.  Below you will see a screenshot from Excel highlighting the button.  So what does this button do, exactly?  First you have to understand the word “format”.  When you format something in Microsoft Office applications, you are basically changing the way something looks.  In the picture below, you will notice that the spreadsheet has column headers.  The first column header says “First Name”.  It is different from the other headers because it has been formatted to have a bold font, background color, and font color.  It took a few steps to get that header to look that way.  So what if you wanted  the “Last Name” column to look exactly the same?  This is where “Format Painter” saves the day.  First, Click the cell that has the formatting you want.  Now click the “Format Painter” button.  Notice the highlighted cell below and how the mouse changes to a white cross with a paint brush icon beside.

Format Painter Button in Microsoft Excel

Now you click the cell that you want to change and presto! change-o!, you have duplicated the formatting from the selected cell.  See the picture below to verify this.  Once you click the cell that you want to change, the mouse will go back to normal.  You can click and drag with the “Format Painter” button activated, and it will continue to work until you release the mouse.  Once the mouse has been released, “Format Painter” disables.

Selecting Cells with Format Painter

What if you wanted to do multiple  non-contiguous cells?  This is possible.  In the example below, you will see that I was able to format cells that were not contiguous.  To achieve this, you double click the “Format Painter” button.  Doing this enables you to keep on painting until your heart’s content.  Once you are ready to stop formatting, all you have to do is hit the “ESC” key in the top left corner of your keyboard.

Selecting Multiple Cells Using Format Painter

Below, you will see an example of how the “Format Painter” button appears in Microsoft Word.  Notice that the first paragraph has blue font and 1.5 line spacing.

Using Format Painter in Word
In order to duplicate the formatting of the first paragraph in the second, you must highlight the entire first paragraph, click the “Format Painter”, and then highlight the second paragraph.  Why do you have to highlight the entire first paragraph?  If you highlighted a single word in the first paragraph, and then applied the “Format Painter’ to the second paragraph, it would only duplicate the word formatting.  The paragraph formatting would not be duplicated.  Highlighting the entire first paragraph duplicates both the word and the paragraph formatting.  See the picture below.

Formatting Paragraphs in Word Using Format Painter

Using “Format Painter” can make quick work of formatting in Microsoft Office.  Plus, there’s no drippy mess!  :)

Categorizing Contacts In Outlook

Categorize ButtonIf you’re like me, you have hundreds of contacts.  Sometimes trying to sort through all the clutter can be daunting.  Microsoft Outlook offers a great way to categorize these contacts.  Categorizing your contacts enables you to sort them into logical groups.  For instance, you may want to only view contacts that you work with, or you may want to only see family.  It is very easy to do this in Outlook.  In order to categorize we’ll need to open up a contact in Outlook.  In Outlook 2010 there is a colorful square labeled “Categorize” on the top right corner of the ribbon toolbar.  See the picture below.

Categorize Button In Outlook

You will notice that there are several color coded categories listed in the drop down menu.   Some of these categories have default labels on them such as Businessand Holiday.   The cool thing is you can use these, or you can customize them to make sense to you.   Below you will see a picture of the Categorizemenu.   At the bottom of the menu you will see an option called All Categories.   This is where you click to customize this menu.

Categorize Menu

When you click the All Categoriesoption you will see the box below.   Notice I have selected the generically named “Green Category”.   Over on the right side of the window you have the option to rename.   I chose to rename this Geeksjust for fun.

Renaming Categories Window

Once you have customized the categories the way you want them, you can assign them to your contacts and save them.   Now we can view our contacts in categories.   If we go to the Viewtab in Outlook, there is a button in the top left corner that says Change View.   Below you will see what this looks like.   Notice the envelope with the words By Categorywritten underneath.   Click this option to view your contacts by category.

View Menu By Category

Now you can see a list of categories.   There is a sideways triangle beside each category. When clicked they will expand to show you all of the contacts that are listed in that category.   In the picture below you will see where I have expanded the new Geekscategory I created.   You will also notice that each category heading tells you how many items are listed in that category.   Another thing to note is that a contact can be a member of more than one category if you so choose.   For instance, a personal contact may also be a business associate too.     Hopefully you will find this helpful and maybe think of creative uses for the categories in Outlook.

Outlook Contacts Categorized View