Monday, 31 March 2008

Keyboard shortcut of the week: The Case of MS Word

When using a word processor it is quite common to forget that that the CapsLock key has been left on, or you might decide that a piece of text looks better in capital letters (also known as upper case: small letters are known as lower case).

Thankfully MS Word has a keyboard shortcut that lets you cycle between different cases and formats. All you need to do is highlight a piece of text, hold down the Shift key and press F3.

Each time you press F3 the case of the letters will change (don't release the Shift key!). So, 'testing' will be replaced with 'Testing' on the first press, and 'TESTING' if you press it a second time. Press F3 again and the text will return to 'testing'.

If you type 'tESTING' by mistake, you can change it to 'testing', then 'Testing', and 'TESTING'; however, it will not return to 'tESTING', probably because it is highly unlikely you'd ever want text to be in that format.


As one commentator has pointed out, a particular word does not need to be highlighted to have its case changed by this method, all you need to do is have the cursor somewhere within the word. If you wish to change the case of several words then you have to highlight them all. Thanks to A. for this clarification.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Announcement: The Third Carnival of Computer Help and Advice

I am pleased to announce that the Third Carnival of Computer Help and Advice has been published at

Many thanks to this months host Prashanth and all our contributors and readers.

p.s. If you would like to submit an article for the next carnival or host a future carnival on your blog use the contact forms over at the Carnival of Computer Help and Advice page.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

3rd Carnival of Computer Help and Advice

The 3rd Carnival of Computer Help and Advice will probably be a couple of days late this month (it is due to be published on the 27th March). This is due to me having been ill for the last few days, and so I haven't had chance to pass the Carnival on to this month's host Prashanth.

Apologies for the delay.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

How to install new fonts

There are many web sites from which you can download extra fonts for free, such as 1001 Free Fonts, Urban Fonts and many more. The downloaded fonts will be in a zip file, so the first step is to unzip them to your 'Desktop' by simply dragging the font file there. There is no need to copy the text documents that are in the zip file to the 'Desktop'.

Once you have copied all the new fonts you wish to install onto your 'Desktop' you can install them. To do this open up the 'Control Panel'. Your control panel will either be set to the new 'Category views' on XP or Vista or the old 'Classic view'. I will deal with each method of opening the font installation program separately. Vista users can simply right-click on each font file and click on 'Install'; users of other versions of Windows have a few more hoops to jump through.

XP Category View
Click on 'Appearance and Themes' to open that category.
Click on 'Fonts' in the 'See also..' list on the left of the window. This will open the 'Fonts' folder.

Classic View

In the 'Classic View' double click on the 'Fonts' icon to open the 'Fonts' folder.

In spite of the varied ways of opening it, the font installation program has remained unchanged for ages and is the same in all current version of Windows.

To open the font installer pull down the 'File' menu and select 'Install New Font...' to open the 'Add Fonts' tool.

To browse to your 'Desktop' double click on 'c:\', then double-click on 'Documents and Settings', then double click on your user-name (if you don't know it, try all of them), and finally double-click on 'Desktop'. This should then add all the fonts you unzipped to the list.

Click on the 'Select All' button and then click on the 'OK' button to install the fonts. They should now be available in all your applications.

It is worth keeping copies of the font files you saved on your desktop somewhere, so that you can reinstall them if you ever have to reinstall Windows on your PC. If you are not concerned about this you can delete the font files from your 'Desktop'.

Thanks to vaibhav for pointing out that you can copy the fonts straight to the 'Fonts' folder.

So, the quickest and easiest way to install a new font is to open the 'Fonts' folder as described above, and then drag the font file from the zip file and drop it in the 'Fonts' folder.

Alternatively, unzip a selection of font files to the 'Desktop', then select and copy (Ctrl + C) them all. Open the 'Fonts' folder and pull down the 'Edit' menu and select 'Paste', or right-click the background of the 'Fonts' folder and select 'Paste' from the drop-down menu, or just hold down Ctrl and press V (if there is one way of doing something in Windows then there are probably half a dozen ways of doing it).

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Keyboard shortcut of the week: email name look-up

When using MS Outlook, Outlook Express and Outlook Web Access on Internet Explorer you can quickly look up names in your contacts and address books with a keyboard shortcut.

Let us assume you are looking for a 'Thomas Jones', you can type 'tho jo' in the 'To..' field of a new email and hold down the Alt key and press K. Your email program will then either put the right address into the 'To..' field or it will present you with a list of matches, for example, there may be a 'Thomas Johnson' in your address book too, in which case both will be listed. Highlight the one you want in the list and click 'OK'.

As I mentioned, this shortcut works on Outlook Web Access if you access it using Internet Explorer. In order to see the list of matching names you may have to disable pop-ups for that site. To do so click on the yellow bar at the top of the new email page if it appears and set IE to always allow pop-ups from that page.

If you open Outlook Web Access using Firefox or another web browser you can use the same feature by clicking on the 'Check Names' button (pictured). This will then add the text you typed to the list in red, click on this to see the list of matches. Again, pop-up blocking may have to be disabled for that page.

This technique also works with the other address fields: 'CC' and 'BCC'.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

How to stop Windows asking you to select an operating system

If you have upgraded Windows or, sometimes, when you have reinstalled it, you will be asked to select which version of Windows you want to run when it boots up on a screen like this:

If you only ever use one version of Windows you can switch this off, or you can reduce the countdown time before it continues automatically.

To do this right-click on your 'My Computer' icon and select 'Properties' (alternatively, hold down the Windows key and press the Pause/Break key), select the 'Advanced' page, and press the 'Settings' button in the 'Startup and Recovery' section.

From here you can switch off that selection screen by unticking 'Time to display the list of operating systems'. You can also adjust the time that the screen will be shown before it automatically continues, and you can change the default version of Windows (or indeed any other operating system you have set up on your PC).

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Full screen ads

I noticed today that my blog seems to be hosting full screen ads. At first I thought it was my PC that was infected, but the ads were only showing on my blog, and I know that I didn't set them up. So either the whole of Blogger, my site, or one of the widgets I use has been hacked. I apologise for any inconvenience caused by these ads and I am trying to remedy this problem as quickly as possible.

[Edit] I have removed a number of widgets from the blog, none of which were essential, and as far as I can tell the ads have stopped appearing. If you see any pop-up ads on this page, either full screen transparent ones, or those that open in another window, please leave a comment on this post giving details about the ads and I will continue my investigation.

Thank you

Friday, 7 March 2008

Keyboard shortcut of the week: undo and redo

Just about every windows application has an 'undo' feature and most have a 'redo' feature. These are a lifesaver on those frequent occasions that we make a mistake in what we are doing, and in the case of 'redo', when we realise that we were right the first time.

The undo/redo feature will either be available as toolbar buttons (as shown) or from the 'Edit' menu. Alternatively there are, unsurprisingly, a couple of keyboard shortcuts for them. To undo the last thing you did hold down the Ctrl key and press Z; to redo the last thing you undid, hold down the Ctrl key and press Y.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

How to quickly enter lists of numbers, dates and times in Excel

Excel spreadsheets often have a column or a row of incremental data. That is, information in the form of a list of numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, etc), times (09:00, 10:00, 11:00, etc), the names of months or the days of the week. You could type all this information into the row or column yourself, or you can let Excel handle it for you.

To try this out open Excel and type 1 in any cell, and 2 in the cell below it. For lists of numbers you need to enter a couple of numbers so that Excel knows where to begin and what interval to use.

Select both the cells (by hovering the mouse pointer over the top of one, holding down the left button, moving to the other cell and letting go).

You will notice that there is a small square in the bottom right hand corner of the selection box. If you hover the mouse pointer over this square the pointer will change to a + symbol. If you hold down the left mouse button and drag downwards Excel will fill in the cells continuing the series of numbers.

You can do the same with larger increments too. The images to the left show the same process being used to generate is a list of numbers with an interval of 10.

But that is far from all you can do with this process. You can drag these lists in any direction so that you can create rows as well as columns. Also, you are not limited to numbers; you can produce lists of months, days of the week, and times. I have included a video in this post showing this feature of Excel in action creating a few of these lists.

Monday, 3 March 2008

How to stop error messages closing down a program

A short-and-sweet tip today. Sometimes, a program will throw up an error message that will close the program when you click the 'OK' button. This inevitably happens when you are doing something important in that program and don't have time to sort the problem out. Sometimes, you can continue using the program even though it is throwing up errors. So all you need to do is move the error message to the edge of the screen by clicking on the title bar and holding the mouse button down while you move it to the edge of the screen. You can then return to the cause of the error later, when you are not quite so pressed for time.