POWER USER

Users on the road can take shortcuts for Office 2000 apps

John McCormick

Whether you're sitting at a desk or clutching your notebook PC in an airport, handy shortcuts can make you more productive in Microsoft Office 2000 applications.

In fact, mobile users are the ones who need shortcuts most, because their touch pads and other pointing devices are less convenient than a mouse.

Here are some quick shortcuts for Outlook, Access and PowerPoint.

I mostly use PowerPoint to design graphics for Web pages and other online publishing. PowerPoint's simple, bold symbols and presentation paradigm can make graphics of other sorts that load fast and are easily understood.

The Ctrl-F shortcut for finding something is the same in PowerPoint as in Word and some other Office applications. But because the program is so specialized, PowerPoint has many special shortcuts. The most useful is Ctrl-M, which causes the New Slide window to pop up for choosing a new slide format.

To stick with one of the template styles you've already used, select the icon in the left window next to a vertical line. Press Enter to insert a copy of the same template, but without copying the text or graphics. To use the same template without making it appear next in the slide sequence, you can Copy or Cut a slide and paste it in any order in the left window.

Set design

To copy an entire slide complete with your working design, press Ctrl-D. This is the fastest way to build a consistent set of designs ready for minor editing or the addition of new text.

The left window icons don't indicate the slide designs. You can key in some descriptive text beside them if you have a lot of slides. The labeling shows up on the slides.

To view the contents of multiple slides simultaneously as you rearrange them, the Slide Sorter view is best. It shows thumbnail images of the text and graphics.

Navigating through the slide design panels is another common task. F6 and Shift-F6 move you forward and backward through the Slide, Slide Notes and Outline windows.

If you've tried earlier versions of Outlook and wondered why Microsoft bothered with this program, don't pass up Outlook 2000 without giving it a chance. It's improved enough to compete with full-featured contact managers. One of my favorite features is dragging an e-mail message from the Inbox to the Calendar icon and instantly getting a new appointment.

But I still have complaints about Outlook. Foremost is the fact that common tasks such as opening an e-mail (Ctrl-Shift-M), opening the address book (Ctrl-Shift-B), opening an appointment (Ctrl-Shift-A) and opening a contact (Ctrl-Shift-C) all require three-finger keyboard action.

It's too tough for mobility-impaired users and far more complicated than the rest of us should have to deal with. Even the Find function is a three-key operation, Ctrl-
Shift-F.

Some Outlook users have reported that attachments they send arrive as Outlook Rich Text Format files rather than in the intended format.

To remedy this, go to Tools, Options, Mail Format, Send in this Message Format. Select Plain Text, HTML or RTF as the default to make a universal change. If you select Plain Text, the RTF format problem should end. But making RTF the default format isn't such a bad idea, although only if all your correspondents use Office. The format precludes spreading macro viruses.

If you only occasionally send a message in a different format, create it using Actions, New Mail Message.

I don't use Access 2000 much, but I've discovered that inserting the current date or time is as easy as pressing Ctrl plus the semicolon or Ctrl plus the colon.

Find is also Ctrl-F in Access. But why didn't Microsoft Corp. give Find the same shortcut across all Office 2000 apps? How difficult could it be to make this function consistent?

Look out

Although Ctrl-F works in Access, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, it doesn't in Outlook. Instead, Outlook has a Find function for the Inbox'but no shortcut for it. Advanced Find is what I use most in Outlook's Calendar, Inbox, Notes, Tasks and Contacts. The shortcut, maddeningly, is Ctrl-Shift-F, not Ctrl-F.

There is a different Find when you're editing a message in Outlook, but that shortcut is F4. In fact, there are several different Find functions in various parts of Outlook, none of them activated by Ctrl-F.

It might be in there somewhere, but I can't find a way to customize the shortcut keys in Outlook.

In Word, you can customize shortcuts using Tools, Customize, Keyboard. Not all Office applications have the Keyboard option, however, and that makes it more difficult to learn skills that work with all the components.

John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working with computers since the early 1960s.

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