The UsefulTechnology Blog

Tips and Tactics for a Better Digital Life

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  • Blog Post: Mouseless email reading

    There are numerous keyboard shortcuts you can use in Outlook to navigate through the interface and read your email in double-quick time. The space bar is one of my favourites. Make sure your reading pane is visible then try it by clicking on an email in your Inbox then pressing the space bar. If the...
  • Blog Post: 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)?" Saving emails without their attachments is not something...
  • Blog Post: Unblocking Blocked Attachments in Outlook

    Ever wondered why Outlook 2003 makes it so difficult to send and receive certain attachments? It's all for your own protection (especially you Dad!) but I've enclosed some handy tips here to help you get round Outlook's draconian settings! Which files get blocked? There's a long list of file types...
  • Blog Post: Task auto-formatting on steroids

    Outlook contains some automatic formatting rules to help you manage your Task list. For example, when a task is overdue it turns red. When you mark it as completed it gets crossed through. But you can do so much more to make your Task list so much easier to view. In my Outlook view, when a task...
  • Blog Post: Add some hyperlink action to your emails

    Bloggers know how important it is to include relevant hyperlinks in their posts ;-) They can come in pretty handy in emails too. Instead of pasting a lengthy and ugly URL into an email you can add a hyperlink to any part of your email text. So, instead of this: The UsefulTechnology blog ( http...
  • Blog Post: Figuring out what you've done and who you did it to in Outlook

    So here I am at last. My very own Technet blog. Crumbs, what a responsibility. My regular reader (thanks dad) will know that this is my new blog landing site. After exactly 444 thoroughly enjoyable days residing on TheSpoke , my chum Eileen Brown has finally managed to convince me to relocate to a...
  • Blog Post: Prevent people from hitting Reply to All

    Windows Rights Management Services provide some great features that control and restrict the way that information moves around and between organisations. But if you haven't got this cool technology you can still disable the most abused feature in Outlook: the dreaded Reply to All button! Next time...
  • Blog Post: You Need to Get Out More

    It's Friday. And Steve Clayton writes today about how his Out of Office message has taken on a personality all of its own. Mine has too. We all get so many "OOFs" that the very least you can do is inject a little life into your own message. In the spirit of sharing, my most recent OOF is below. I received...
  • Blog Post: Quick magnify your email

    There are some shortcuts that you simply discover by accident! Like the dreaded CTRL+ENTER shortcut which many people unwittingly discover sends your email before you've finished typing it! I've blogged about a fix to that little problem here . But here's a shortcut that I only just discovered, completely...
  • Blog Post: Hallelujah! At last: an intelligent spell checker

    Great news for fast-fingered slow-brained writers everywhere: the 2007 Microsoft Office System features a new contextual spelling feature that detects many of the glaring errors that traditional spell checkers miss. This could be the cure I've been looking for to keep my blood pressure below danger point...
  • Blog Post: Opening Outlook in the folder you want

    By default, Microsoft Outlook opens to the folder view you specify in the top setting in the Tools > Options > Other tab > Advanced Options... window. But you can also open Outlook to whichever folder you like by adding shortcuts to places like your desktop or web browser links. If you've...
  • Blog Post: See your Calendar in a different light

    Calendar out of control? Frustrated that the 28 hour day still hasn't been introduced? Wondering where all the time went? Well join the club and stop whingeing! I don't know how to put more time into every day, but I do know a handy way to make your calendar look a little less daunting. Download...
  • Blog Post: 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 where you can change the default days that show...
  • Blog Post: Remember to contact a contact

    Here's another great use for follow-up flags in Outlook: If you need to remember to get in touch with a contact (maybe to find out if that cheque is still in the post!) you can set a follow-up flag to appear at a designated time. To do this just right click on a contact in Outlook and select Follow-Up...
  • Blog Post: Happy Birthday Drinking Buddies!

    It's my brother's birthday today! Happy birthday Ian. Which, conveniently, reminds me of a handy Outlook tip. If you enter a contact's birthday date in the 'Birthday' field under the Detail tab , Outlook will automatically add a recurring calendar all day appointment for you whenever it's their birthday...
  • Blog Post: Changing the folder where Outlook saves attachments

    I've lost track of the number of times I have saved an attachment in an email then forgotten where I put it. But help is at hand. You can change the default folder where Outlook saves attachments by editing the registry*. Fire up the registry editor (Start > Run > regedit) then navigate to HKEY_CURRENT...
  • Blog Post: 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 HR professionals. I've shared it here in the simple...
  • Blog Post: Office 2007 - new look icons

    While I sit waiting for the 2007 Office system Beta 2 Technical Refresh to finish installing, I thought I'd share this blog posting of some of the new icon sets included in Build 4228 of the Beta. Of course, there's no guarantee that these icons will make it into the final build ;-) but it's nice to...
  • Blog Post: Slip into Slipstick

    Any power Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Exchange Server users who haven't yet discovered www.slipstick.com are missing out, big time! Slipstick offers a world of advice and tips about how to get the most out of these applications. The coolest, and often weirdest, bit of the site has to be the Utilities...
  • Blog Post: Good blog entry: Working in Outlook 2007

    I enjoyed reading this post on Melissa Macbeth's blog . It's always interesting to learn how others cope with emails and Melissa, a program manager in the Microsoft Office team, has some useful tips on her blog that we can all learn from. While my adventures with Outlook 2007 are still in their infancy...
  • Blog Post: The Mysterious World of Extend Mode in Word and Outlook

    The Extend Mode in Microsoft Word is an artefact of the early computing era before the mouse was invented (and the natural evolution of that gunky stuff that builds up on your mouse's bottom ). Few computer users make use of this feature today because they've learned how to scoot around their documents...
  • Blog Post: Outlook Mail Profiles solve Toilet Troubles

    My brother-in-law, Ric, popped round this evening to help me figure out how to move my toilet 4 inches to the right. Don't ask, it's a long story. While here he asked me a question about Outlook and I figured some others might be interested in the answer. Ric wants to find a way to keep his and...
  • Blog Post: 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 you simply hit Reply (or Reply to All, as appropriate...
  • Blog Post: 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 give the most important section of your email real...
  • Blog Post: Black Belt Custom Views in Outlook 2003

    My last blog entry showed how you can use the Copy Folder Design feature to clone one folder view to another in Microsoft Outlook 2003. This is great if you only need to customise a couple of folders but this next black belt technique requires getting to grips with a well-hidden feature in Outlook called...