The UsefulTechnology Blog

Tips and Tactics for a Better Digital Life

The UsefulTechnology Blog

  • Importing stuff into your Outlook Calendar (or Tasks) from Excel

    Another handy way to add appointments to your calendar is by importing from Excel. To do this you first need to create an Excel file containing the appointment information Outlook needs. Your first row should contain columns titles which match Outlook...
  • 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...
  • Disabling the pesky CTRL-ENTER shortcut

    Ever hit CTRL-ENTER by mistake while composing an email in Outlook and wondered what the heck happened? Well, here's the answer. CTRL-ENTER is the not-so-helpful shortcut key for 'Send my email immediately even though I've not yet finished typing it'...
  • 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)?" ...
  • Send a Calendar via Email in Outlook 2007

    I'm busy testing the latest dogfood version of the new 2007 Microsoft Office system. As I journey ever deeper into the new applications in the system I'm uncovering some really neat features. One of my favourites is Outlook 2007's new Send a Calendar...
  • Outlook Signatures - tips for the perfect sign-off

    Since the days of yore (whenever that was) Outlook has allowed you to add a signature at the end of each email message you compose. This saves you having to repeatedly type in your name, telephone number, vital statistics etc. But you may not have realised...
  • Multi-monitor keyboard shortcuts

    If you use more than one monitor then you'll already appreciate the massive productivity gains you get from having more screen estate to play with. But not many people take advantage of the amazing functionality provided by their graphics card software...
  • Changing the Due Date for Outlook Tasks 'en masse'

    If you're a heavy user of Tasks in Outlook you'll no doubt find the occasional time when you don't complete a task by the planned due date. OK, I'll be honest. This happens to me all the time. But seeing a bunch of tasks which are 3 months overdue can...
  • Expand All Groups keyboard shortcut

    Ha! I knew there had to be a keyboard shortcut. My boss (God bless 'er) just asked me if there was a way to expand all grouped items in a list in Outlook to save having to click on the little down arrow inside each group. And there is: right-clicking...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Stop sending incomplete emails

    One of my favourite rules in Outlook is the one I created to defer the sending of every email I create by two minutes. You can find a variant of this in my [email] blogcast linked to from http://blogs.technet.com/usefultechnology/archive/2005/04/22/404061...
  • Windows Vista installation rant

    I wonder if I'm the only person who finds this annoying. Whenever I install Windows Vista (or XP or any previous version for that matter) I have to set the date and time. And the default time zone is always USA Pacific (GMT-8hrs). It's easy to change...
  • 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,...
  • How to backup up everything in Outlook

    As anyone who's ever lost a file knows, it's a good idea to back up your stuff every so often. And while I don't have the answer to the world's most common backup problems ("I never seem to get round to it" and "I just don't have time to back up my files...
  • The Joy of Finding Big Things (in Outlook 2007)

    My former boss, Bruce Lynn , asked me this weekend how he could locate all the large (>200kb) entries in his Outlook calendar so he could delete them to free up some space in his mailstore. He couldn't figure out how to do this but knew it must be...
  • Undoing your Outlook

    We all make mistakes while using Outlook. My most common one is deleting emails before I've read them properly. When working in Outlook I'm usually in such a hurry that something weird occasionally happens in my brain soon after I press the delete button...
  • The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid

    A friend sent me the following text recently. It highlights a few things for me. Firstly, it's definitely a good idea to have spell check turned on at all times and secondly, I can now see why it's so easy for spammers to side-step unsophisticated anti...
  • An end to Outlook's Ctrl-Enter nuisance

    I've previously posted about Outlook's annoying Ctrl-Enter shortcut which instantly sends your email, even if you accidentally type Ctrl-Enter midway through composing your email. There are a number of workaround options including disabling the shortcut...
  • Windows Vista and 2007 Office system packaging unveiled

    Oooh, it's shiny and new. Announcing the new packaging for Windows Vista and the 2007 Office system. I quite like it. Do you?
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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 Message Hygiene is a Hygiene Factor

    I was interviewed recently by an IT Industry Analyst who wanted to know how our new Exchange Hosted Services work. While preparing for the interview I realised how important it has become to protect yourself and others from email spam, viruses, phishing...
  • The brainless way to win a £4,000 digital makeover

    What is a Personal Computer? (a) A microcomputer whose price, size and capabilities make it suitable for personal usage (b) An elongated yellow fruit that grows on trees (c) The Queen of England At least the questions aren't quite as simple...