Tuesday, November 17, 2009


So you're working along in Word 2007 and you get stuck trying to do something. You look hopefully toward a menu bar that no longer exists because it has been replaced by ribbons - Microsoft likes to fix things that aren't broken - and Help is nowhere to be found. You can still get help. The secret is in the F-keys on the top row of the keyboard. F1 does the trick nicely. It will bring up a help menu with topics to solve your problem. And, like all good Help functions, it still provides a search box so you can narrow down your search. Of course, F1 works with all Office Suite 2007 products, so help is just a click away.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Microsoft Word 2007 - Undo and Redo

We all know (and love) that in MS Word 2003 and prior, you could go to the Edit menu on the Tool Bar - tool bars are no more - they are called Ribbons now - and click on Undo if you made a boo-boo on your page. Usually the mistake was big enough to approximate a disaster, like deleting an entire page without meaning to, but you could FIX it with Undo. In 2007, this miracle of modern computing appears to be missing, however, I assure you that it is not - it just looks different.

There are 2 ways to Undo a mistake: 1 is to use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-z; the other is to go above the top Ribbon and find the arrows which indicate Undo and Redo. See the picture below and try out the arrows in the black oval - take them for a test drive and see what they can do for you.

The other nice thing in the new version is that you do not have to catch a mistake immediately after making it. Just keep hitting the arrow until you get back to where you need to be. Or alternatively, keep using the keyboard shortcut. Both work equally well.
Another Microsoft Word 2007 mystery solved!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Microsoft Word 2007

Microsoft Word 2007 is a little confusing. It looks and feels different than the older versions, but once you get used to it, you'll find that it does everything you need it to do. You might just have to search around a bit more. The tool bars are now called ribbons - don't ask - and they are heavily visual. The idea is to use more intuitive icons and fewer words I guess. Take your time, click on the tabs to see what is offered there, and you'll find that it really isn't so bad. For 90% of your work, you'll use the Home tab and the Review tab. The Home tab gives you all the formatting tools you need to make your margins, change your font styles and sizes, decide on page alignment, etc. It still allows you make bullet points or numbered lists or even outlines. The Review tab will check your spelling and track changes - but you'll probably be mostly checking your spelling and grammar.

The general rule here that you simply have to look at each tab on the ribbon to get a feel for where an action might be. After a few times, it will feel almost as natural as earlier versions.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Taking Out the Trash

Deleting items - old letters, projects, pictures, etc. - from your computer is good for your machine and good for your computer housekeeping. But even if you send old files and folders to the trash (recycle bin icon on your desktop), they are not gone until you actually empty the trash bin. All that extra stuff just clogs your hard drive and slows down your computer. So every once in awhile, check the trash and empty it to improve computer performance.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Google Math

Don't have a calculator handy and can't find yours on your computer? Google will do your math for you.

Just type in the search box the equation you need to solve, like 23*7+15/3= and then press the Enter key.

On the computer, * means multiply and / means divided by.

You can also get weights and measures conversions, like pounds to metric, and currency conversions, but you will have to choose from a list of possible websites to find the answer.

Filling in Forms Online

Creating accounts and filling in forms online are easier when you know this tip:

Rather than using your mouse to point and click in every text box, use the Tab key to jump from one box to another.

To back a box, press the Shift key, hold it down and then press the Tab key.

Learning keyboard shortcuts reduces time and hand fatigue.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

General Tech Tips for the Basic Computer Use

Many users find that they have been doing things the hard way for a very long time. As we discover things we think everyone already knows, we'll post them here. You might just find a tip that you haven't used before.

TIP 1: Want to highlight a single word and have trouble getting the cursor in the right place to slowly drag it across? Well, if you simply place your cursor on the word and double-click, it will highlight for you. This works in any document, e-mail or Web page.

Triple click to highlight the entire paragraph.

TIP 2: Enlarge/reduce text on any Web page fast by pressing the Ctrl key and the + [plus] or - [minus] keys.

TIP 3: Enlarge/reduce an entire Web page or document by pressing the Ctrl key as you turn the wheel on the top of your mouse.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tips for Faster Computing - Keyboard Shortcuts

The mouse is still an important component for the computer, but there are ways to accomplish many routine tasks more quickly than point and click. Of course, to use keyboard shortcuts you must first be comfortable with the keyboard. Again, that simply takes practice. Listed below are some of the most frequently used shortcuts for quick editing.

The trick is to press the Ctrl button first, hold it down and press the next key, and then release both keys. Try these out for a start:

Ctrl z = Undo: This will undo the last command you have made - great for when you have accidentally erased some typing you have just finished and you want it back. You can use Ctrl z more than once if your error was further back than the last action you performed, but the closer to it the better.

Ctrl a = Select All: in order to change something in a document, the first step is to highlight whatever it is you want to change. But suppose you want to change and entire page or more? The fastest way to do that is to press Ctrl a, which will highlight everything at once. This saves you from having to click and drag across your text or pictures.

Ctrl s = Save: to save your work as go, Ctrl s will keep you from losing your work in case of power failure or some other catastrophe. This does not work as a Save As command however.

Ctrl p = Print: If you don't need to preview your work before you print it, choose Ctrl p to print your document. If you're not sure what it will look like though, do go to Print Preview in the Windows menu to make sure you aren't printing out pages you don't want or don't need (like blank pages at the end of documents).

Ctrl c = Copy: If you must type the same thing over and over again, or need to make a copy of a picture, and the right click button does not show a copy option, you can use Ctrl c after you selct whatever it is you wish to copy. Then you can paste the item where you want to in the same document or in another document.

Ctrl x = Cut: To cut text or graphics from one area and place them in another area of a document use Ctrl x and then the Paste command.

Ctrl v = Paste: Paste is used immediately after either Copy or Cut. You can Paste repeatedly without having to go back to Copy or Cut every time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Classes aren't enough

Taking a class is a great first step in getting to know your way around unfamiliar technology. But the real key to learning anything is practice, practice and more practice. Repeating what you've learned in class, stumbling around the Internet or clicking on every menu in Microsoft Word - just to see what they can do - is the real key to success. A teacher can only take you so far...ultimately you need to just keep trying things until you establish your own pace and rhythm and way of doing things.

Though the classes at Monrovia Library are intended to get students to the point where they are comfortable moving on to more extensive learning through schools in the area, homework is assigned. That homework is essential to make sure the lessons learned in class are kept fresh in the mind. Homework also adds to your skill base, making you more confident handling the mouse, the keyboard and keyboard shortcuts. Homework enhances the experience for the second of our paired classes - allowing you to experience the demonstrations and exercises more fully.

So, students, you are back in school and you do need to approach our computer classes with the same dedication you use for learning anything new. Practice, practice, practice.