Free Images from Microsoft's Web Site

Did you know that you have access to an absolute ton of images that you can incorporate into your documents, presentations, and other materials you've created using Microsoft Office? Go to the images area of Microsoft's Web site to browse through and download any content you desire.

I've found this especially helpful when I'm looking for a certain kind of image, but I'm having trouble entering the correct keyword while searching for clipart within Microsoft Office. This site allows you to browse through entire categories or perform more specific searches, making it easy to locate the image you need.

If you have any questions about the legality of using any of this media, please consult section 17 of the Microsoft Service Agreement found on Microsoft's Web site.
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Access: Unhide the Menus

A couple of years ago, while trying to learn as much as I could about Microsoft Access for the Canadian Skills Competition, I managed to find a setting that turned off access to the full menus. I thought to myself, "Oh, this is brilliant! I can stop users from messing around with my database by turning off all of their menus!".

It seemed like a fantastic plan, until I closed and re-opened my database and realized that I wanted to go in and make some changes, but couldn't. How could I make changes without the menus? How could I turn the menus back on without accessing the menus?

I experienced quite a lot of frustration attempting to restore the menus, and so today I'm going to tell you the simple secret to getting them back:

Just hold down the Shift key on your keyboard while you open the database! It's that simple.

If you've already got the database open, you'll need to close it and then re-open it while holding down the Shift key.

Once you're in, you can change the Access Options to show the menus again. If you don't change the settings, the menus will still be hidden the next time you open it (without holding down the Shift key, of course).

The next question I've gotten from a few people is: "Where are these options found in Microsoft Access 2010"? Go to the 'File' tab, and choose 'Options'. From the menu on the left, choose 'Current Database'. Scroll down a bit until you get to the 'Navigation' and 'Ribbon and Toolbar Options'. It's in there that you can turn on and off items such as the navigation pane, the full menus, and the shortcut menus.

Hope that helped you "access" your menus! (I know, bad joke...)
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PowerPoint: Delete All Presentation Notes

Someone recently asked me about removing presentation notes from a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. He'd put speaker notes into each and every slide, but needed to get rid of them all before sending the file off to a client.

Rather than wasting your time going into each and every slide and deleting the notes individually, get rid of all of them at once.

Go to the 'File' tab. You should be in the 'Info' area now. Click on the 'Check for Issues' button, and choose 'Inspect Document'. Uncheck all of the boxes, but make sure the last one is checked - 'Presentation Notes'. Press the 'Inspect' button. If there are any presentation notes in the document, the Document Inspector will point this out to you by listing 'Presentation notes were found'. Click the 'Remove All' button just next to it. The message will change to say 'All presentation notes were removed'. Press the 'Close' button, and you're all done!
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Outlook: Change the Reminder Sound

Did you know that you can change the sound that plays when a reminder comes up in Outlook? It's just like choosing a custom ring tone for your cell phone.

First, you need to have a sound file in .wav format somewhere on your computer. Next, go to the 'File' tab and choose 'Options'. Click 'Advanced' from the options on the left, then go to the fourth set of items that appear to the right - 'Reminders' (look for the icon of a bell). Next to where it says 'Play reminder sound:', click the 'Browse...' button. Locate the .wav file that you want to use as a reminder sound, then press 'Open'. Press the 'OK' button to exit the Outlook Options window.

Keep in mind that you're going to hear this sound every time a reminder comes up, so I recommend choosing something subtle and short in length.
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Excel: Find the Number of Years, Months, and Days Between Two Dates

Today is my birthday! Woohoo!

Have you ever wondered exactly how old you are in years, months, and days? Here's a little-known formula in Microsoft Excel that can tell you the number of years, months, and days between two dates.

This is the main function that I'm going to be using. It's called DATEDIF:


Here are some important things you'll need to know about using this function:

  1. For some reason, this function doesn't show up in the list of functions in Excel. It won't appear in "Help", and it's going to look like you're entering a function that doesn't exist. This might have the positive effect of making you feel like a pro when you're using it!
  2. Make sure you enter the earlier date as date1 and the later date as date2, or you'll get an error.
  3. Remember to put the quotation marks around the interval. The intervals you can use are as follows: "m" (number of months), "d" (number of days), "y" (number of years), "ym" (number of months excluding the number of years), "yd" (number of days excluding the years), and "md" (number of days excluding the number of years and months).

I'm going to use my own birthday and today's date as an example, but you can go ahead and substitute those dates for any two of your choosing. I've combined this formula with CONCATENATE (to add in some text) and TODAY (to return the current date).

=CONCATENATE(DATEDIF(DATE(1987,10,19),TODAY(),"y")," years, ",DATEDIF(DATE(1987,10,19),TODAY(),"ym")," months, ",DATEDIF(DATE(1987,10,19),TODAY(),"md")," days")

That looks crazy, doesn't it? But it's really awesome. If you enter this into a cell today (October 19, 2010), it will give you the following result:

23 years, 0 months, 0 days

To give you a more simple example, here's a formula that will calculate the number of months between March 1, 2007 and October 1, 2010:


You can also reference cells that include dates:


This formula comes in extremely handy for a number of situations. I've most recently used it in a spreadsheet that included a number of peoples' birthdays, and I needed to know their current ages. Using the TODAY function in combination with DATEDIF helps those ages stay up-to-date without having to constantly go in and readjust the numbers manually.

That's all I have for today! Please feel free to send me an e-mail if you can help me figure out an Excel function that will produce a piece of chocolate birthday cake. I'm still trying to figure that problem out...
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Word: Change the Measurement Units

Did you know that you can change the measurement units in Word? You don't actually have to keep measuring everything in inches. You can choose to measure everything in centimetres, millimetres, points, or even in picas.

Go to the 'File' tab, and choose 'Options'. On the left-hand side of the Word Options window which will come up, click on 'Advanced'. Now scroll down about halfway until you see the 'Display' section. The second option is this area is 'Show measurements in units of:'. Choose the unit you would like to use in the drop-down box, then click the 'OK' button.

The nice thing is that this applies to everything in Word. Not only is your ruler affected, but things like the dimensions of an autoshape will be displayed using the the units of measurement of your choosing.
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Outlook: Change the Reading Pane Layout

One thing that has always confused me is why Microsoft continues to have the reading pane in Outlook set to appear on the right side of the screen by default. Almost everyone I know prefers it to be on the bottom. Changing the layout is actually the first thing I do when I'm configuring Outlook on a new computer.

While you're in the Mail area of Outlook, go to the 'View' tab. Click the 'Reading Pane' button in the 'Layout' group. Here, you have three options: Right, Bottom, and Off. I like to choose 'Bottom'. It's up to you, though!
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Reminder: Microsoft Office 2010 Beta Expires October 31

I just wanted to remind all of your Microsoft Office 2010 Beta users that your software is going to be expiring very, very soon!

On October 31, 2010, your applications will only work as read-only viewers. To keep using all of your favourite features, take the time to buy the finished version of Microsoft Office 2010.

And yes, I said 'buy'. That means using actual money to purchase a legal version, not pirating*!

*As the Beta is expiring on Halloween, I would like to clarify that I am only disapproving of the pirating of software. Should you wish to put on an eye patch and go door-to-door saying things like "shiver me timbers!" for candy, please go ahead and do so.
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Excel: Use Operating System Information to Alert Users

I recently received a question from someone who's created a spreadsheet that is intended for use only on systems running Windows. He asked me if it was possible to somehow inform the user of this fact if they weren't using Windows, without using any VBA code.

There is a macro-free solution to this problem, through the use of three functions: IF, SEARCH, and INFO. Choose an empty cell in your spreadsheet that you would like to display the warning (if it applies), and enter this formula:

=IF(ISERROR(SEARCH("Windows",INFO("OSVERSION"))),"This spreadsheet will only function properly on a system running Windows.","")

How does it work?

INFO("OSVERSION") is picking up the name of the operating system. SEARCH is looking for "Windows" somewhere within the OS name. If it doesn't find "Windows", it will display the text "This spreadsheet will only function properly on a system running Windows.". It won't display anything if it does find "Windows" in the OS name.

Happy Excel-ing! I also would like to wish you all a happy October, as this is my favourite month of the year!
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