The UsefulTechnology Blog

Tips and Tactics for a Better Digital Life

June, 2006

  • Why Skype is Bad (part 2)

    I received a lot of communication since my last blog posting in which I explained how the Skype client can start behaving as a supernode and using your bandwidth to facilitate communications between other Skype users. Several people thanked me for bringing...
  • Why Skype is Bad

    I've used Skype. And I like it. It has a really simple user interface and does what it promises very well. The call quality is generally great, but I've now uninstalled it from all my PCs preferring instead to use the new Windows Live Messenger client...
  • The Best Microsoft Outlook Tip in the World... ever!

    In this, my final posting as Exchange/Outlook Product Manager for the UK, I would like to share with you the most powerful productivity tool in Outlook: the delete key . I'll also share a simple workflow you can use right away to help maintain an empty...
  • New job? Start afresh!

    I'm moving to a new role at Microsoft on Monday. Which, of course, means new things to learn, new tasks to work on and new people to get to know. Because I'll no longer need to email many of my existing contacts, now is a great time to spring clean...
  • Do you often send the same emails?

    If you routinely send similar emails to the same people (like a sales report every morning) you can speed up the process by adding a button to one of your toolbars that creates a new email message and pre-populates the address field and subject line....
  • Creative Commons Licensing comes to Microsoft Office

    Useful Technology news for Microsoft Office users who create documents that they share with others. Microsoft and Creative Commons have just released a new feature for Microsoft Office that makes it really easy to add a Creative Commons copyright notice...
  • Windows Live Messenger - just launched!

    Windows Live Messenger, the brilliant successor to MSN Messenger, is now available for download. This great new product came out of Beta just yesterday and we've already notched up more than 2 million downloads in just 36 hours! There are loads of unique...
  • Crabby on the Rampage

    My Outlook 2007 RSS Feed brings me news today that the Crabby Office Lady is on her soapbox again with some more email etiquette techniques. And quite right too. As my regular reader knows, I too am a big fan of being nice to people, whether that's face...
  • Getting Outlook help from Newsgroups

    While Outlook 2007 will provide some fantastic new features that enable you to view RSS feeds directly inside Outlook, Outlook 2003 provides no such capability without an additional add-on like the free RSS Popper . Another source of great information...
  • Sample Add-Ins for Outlook 2007 Beta 2

    There are some nice new sample add-ins for Outlook 2007 Beta 2 from MSDN at http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/ms778811(office.12).aspx which demonstrate the additional power available to developers in the new product. If you're running the Beta 2 version...
  • Send a letter from Outlook

    Yes, it's true! Even though email now rules the communication world Outlook provides some speedy shortcuts to allow you to send a letter to your contacts (you remember; a letter is one of those things you put in an envelope with an overpriced stamp and...
  • Adding contact pictures to Outlook

    Anyone with a Windows Mobile 5 device (SmartPhone or PDA) will have seen how incredibly useful Contact pictures become. Each time you receive an email from someone on your contact list for whom you have a contact picture, a thumbnail of their photo will...
  • Coping with Email Overload: 20 ideas

    I was recently asked to share some thoughts on how organisations can help their employees cope with their email overload and become better email citizens. In response I compiled the '20 ideas' below as food for thought for messaging administrators and...
  • Still using paper and pen and Outlook??

    I come across this so often when meeting with customers and friends. Some people continue to use both a paper-based personal information manager (or a 'little black book' as some like to call it) and Outlook even though this is clearly highly inefficient...
  • It's Friday...

    ...and Frost is all over the news . So now you know what to do on Monday. Stay at home and get some work done! Have a nice weekend.
  • Replying to an email with modified attachments

    On a related subject to my previous post ( Saving emails without Attachments ) one other Microsoft Outlook attachment challenge I frequently come across is how best to respond to an email which asks me to review and make changes to an enclosed file. If...
  • Saving emails without attachments

    Jeanie D asks: "Do you know of any method for saving an email without its attachment? Something simpler than my current work-around of Reply, address the reply to myself, send it, and save that "copy" (which loses the benefit of the "from" field)?" ...
  • Move or copy - you decide!

    As my regular reader knows (if he's still conscious), I'm a big fan of Microsoft Outlook's CTRL+SHIFT+V shortcut which calls up the 'Move to Folder' dialog box. I use this a gazillion times each day to convert emails to tasks and calendar items using...
  • Stylish Printing from Outlook

    Are you one of those people who like to print out emails? Nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as you only print them out for good reasons and not because you're too bone-idle to read them from the screen! Here's how to get more out of printing...
  • How to reduce the size of your Outlook Personal Folders

    If you use Personal Folders (.pst files) in Outlook, most of the time you simply add more stuff making them bigger. But if you delete items from a Personal Folder file to save storage space, you may not realise there are 2 very important things to do...
  • Bringing websites into Outlook

    Did you know that you can change any folder in Outlook to display a web home page by default instead of its normal contents? For example you could change a mail folder to show a web page relating to a work project. The big downside of doing this is that...
  • Useful Technology for Sport Spectators

    I had the privilege of watching the British Grand Prix at Silverstone as a guest of Vodafone/Ferrari yesterday. It was a great day with excellent hospitality, some star appearances, oh, and a bit of racing thrown in as well. The race itself was a bit...
  • How to never miss a weekend party

    Eileen recently posted about the ALT+1, ALT+2 etc shortcuts you can use to change the number of days that your Outlook calendar shows. That's a neat shortcut. One of my favourite related tips is to head into Tools > Options and click Calendar Options...
  • Print, Don't Forget

    You can customise a bucketful of things in Microsoft Word, like shortcut keys and autotext entries. Trouble is, while it's easy to create shortcut keys, it's much harder to remember them. Thankfully, help is at hand. Word makes it really easy to make...
  • Give impact to the important bits in your email

    Careful formatting of your email messages can make a world of difference to the impact they have on their recipients. THING TO DO: One simple but underused technique is to centre align your main call to action on the page This simple technique can...