Find the Mouse Pointer

When working on my laptop, especially with a second monitor plugged in, it's sometimes hard to find the mouse pointer. Too often, this happens in the middle of a meeting, while I'm trying to demonstrate something to a client.
To make the pointer easier to find, you can use one of the built in features:

  1. Click the Start button on the Windows taskbar, and click on Control Panel
  2. Double-click on the Mousecontrol, to open the Mouse Properties dialog box
  3. Click on the Pointer Options tab
  4. Add a check mark to Show Location of Pointer When I Press the CTRL Key
  5. Click OK
  6. Close the Control Panel window.

The next time you lose the pointer, press the Ctrl key, and circles will flash on the screen, showing its location.

Email Response Templates

If you frequently type the same responses to email questions, you can use an email response template to make things easier.

  1. In Outlook, create a new email, with the Subject "Standard Paragraphs"
  2. Leave the To and From boxes blank
  3. Paste in your most frequently used paragraphs.
  4. Save the message, and close it.

Next time you need one of the standard responses, open the Standard Paragraphs draft message, copy a paragraph from there, and paste it into your current email.

Make Meetings Productive

Some great advice is found in Getting Real, by 37signals. For example, they advise against holding meetings, whenever possible, but...
"For those times when you absolutely must have a meeting (this should be a rare event), stick to these simple rules:

  • Set a 30 minute timer. When it rings, meeting's over. Period.
  • Invite as few people as possible.
  • Never have a meeting without a clear agenda. "

Show Full Menus

On my own computer, I like to see the full menus, so I selected that setting:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Customize
  2. On the Options tab, add a check mark to Always Show Full Menus

However, when visiting a client, I sometimes have to use someone else's machine, and don't like to change their settings. If the full menus option is not selected, when you click on a menu, a double chevron may appear at the bottom of the menu. To see the full menu, you can click on that chevron, or wait a few seconds, and the full menu will appear.
To avoid those steps, and quickly view the full menus, double-click on the menu name.

Add a Border Line

While typing a document in Microsoft Word, you usually have your hands on the keyboard. To add a line border, you can reach for the mouse, click on the border tool drop-down, then click on a border.
A quicker way to add the line is to type three hyphens (---), then press Enter. To add a thick border, use three underscores (___) and to add a double border tpe three equal signs (===).
 
If this technique doesn't work, choose Tools ► AutoCorrect Options. On the AutoFormat As You Type tab, add a check mark to Border Lines, in the Apply As You Type section.

Change a Comment's Shape

Add some punch to a worksheet by changing a comment's shape from its default rectangle.

  1. Right-click the cell which contains the comment.
  2. Click on Edit Comment
  3. Click on the border of the comment, to select it.
  4. On the Drawing toolbar, click the Draw button
  5. Click on Change AutoShape, and click on a category.
  6. Click on a shape to select it.
  7. When finished, click outside the comment.

In this example, the Cube shape was selected from Basic Shapes.

Clean Up Your Dictionaries

While rushing through a spell check in Excel, you accidentally added an incorrect word to your custom dictionary. Now that it's in there, how do you get it out?
If you're adventurous, you can use a text editor, such as NotePad, to modify the dictionaries, which are found in:
 C:\Documents and Settings\YOUR_NAME\Application Data\Microsoft\Proof
Or, you can modify the list in Microsoft Word, which I find easier:

  1. In Word, choose Tools ► Options
  2. On the Spelling & Grammar tab, click Custom Dictionaries
  3. Select a dictionary in the list, and click Modify
  4. Scroll through the list, and click on the word you want to remove
    (to select multiple words, press Ctrl and click)
  5. Click the Delete button
  6. When finished, click OK
  7. Close the dialog boxes

Free Consumer Publications

The Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) web site offers a wide variety of consumer and business publications that you can order for a nominal fee, or view many of the publications online. You can find tips on everything from computers to tree pruning to international travel. The web site also lists scams and recalls, and has links to other consumer and business resources.
It's a good place to start if you're researching a new topic. For example, here's the page on small business publications.