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 Windows Tips & Tricks

December, 2002

Bill Beverley is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and intermediate computer enthusiast. Early in his military career he was on the ground floor in the development of the U.S. Army's Field Artillery Tactical Fire Direction System (TACFIRE), a forerunner of subsequent digital computers / communications within the army.

A toolbar is a row of boxes, usually at the top of an application window, that controls various functions of the software.  To determine toolbar button names, you move the mouse pointer over a button and then wait a second but don't click the mouse button. The name will appear in a small box near the mouse pointer.  In most programs, toolbars can be turned on and off and be personalized with controls specific to an individual user’s needs.  This article provides you some of these tips along with others that will enhance your computing skills.

Address Book to the Word Toolbar
With Outlook 2000/2002 you can insert an address from your Outlook Contact list into a Word document by clicking a single button.  Unfortunately, Microsoft didn't put that button on the Word toolbar, so you have to add it.  To add the Address Book button to the Word toolbar, open Word and choose Tools, Customize to open the Customize dialog box.  Now click the Commands tab to view the list of available commands.  Next click Insert in the Categories box to reveal the list of Insert commands on the Commands list located on the right side of the screen.  Scroll down to the words “Address Book” near the end of the Commands list box.  Drag the Address Book icon up to the Word toolbar so it joins the other icons on the toolbar.

Address Toolbar
In WinXP you can open any program on your computer by typing its name in any folder address bar or at the Run dialog box.  By putting an address bar on your taskbar, you can open programs directly from your Desktop without wading through a bunch of menus.  Right-click your taskbar and choose Toolbars, Address to display an address bar on your taskbar.  The Address bar is a toolbar whose main purpose is to call up Internet Explorer (IE) when you type or paste a Universal Resource Locator (URL).  It looks and works just like the IE Address bar.  Despite its name, the Address bar is also a command line processor, which means that you can type a filename into it and the associated application will open and display the file. You have to type the complete pathname as well as the filename because there is no Browse button as there is in the Start, Run dialog box.

Advanced Toolbar
You can keep the Advanced toolbar on your screen in Outlook, by choosing View, Toolbars, Advanced.  Its buttons offer one-click access to many commonly used menu commands along with some functions that aren't on the menus.  For example, in addition to the Undo button and a button for the “Group By” dialog box, you’ll find several folder navigation buttons.  After switching to at least one other folder besides the one you started in, you can use the Back and Forward arrow buttons on the Advanced toolbar to retrace your steps in either direction.  The Back button is a split button so that you see a little downward-pointing arrow on a narrow bar between the Back and Forward arrows.  Clicking on that narrow bar produces a menu of the folders you've previously visited.

AutoShape Toolbars in PowerPoint
By inserting numerous AutoShapes into a slide show, you might find it more convenient to work with floating toolbars.  For this trick, click AutoShapes and then select a toolbar that you want to convert to a floating one.  Once you make your selection, move the mouse to the right and grab the toolbar at the top where there's a bar, then drag it out away from the other toolbars.  To return a toolbar to its original position, double-click its title bar again at the top of the toolbar.

Changing Toolbars
In Win95, the My Computer window and Explorer window only came with one toolbar.  However, Win98 comes with three toolbars, Standard Buttons, Address Bar, and Links.  The Standard Buttons toolbar has a standard version and an IE version referred to as the Internet toolbar. You can decide which toolbars to display, how they should be positioned, their width, and whether text will accompany their icons.  If you are moving from Win95, this plethora of toolbars can be a bit confusing.   With a small screen, they can take up a lot of screen space.  To get back to the Win95 look, you must click the My Computer icon on your Desktop.  In the View, Toolbars menu, mark “Standard Buttons and Address Bar,” and clear “Links and Text Labels.”  Point to the vertical line at the left end of the Address bar and drag it to the left edge of the window directly under the menu bar.  Finally, drag the Standard Buttons toolbar to the right of the Address bar.

Cleaning Out Office 2000 Program Toolbars
To remove buttons from the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint toolbars, hold down the Alt key while you use the mouse to drag an unwanted button away from the toolbar.

Customizing Word Toolbars
In Word 2000, unlike Word 97, the Standard and Formatting toolbars share a single row, and menus show a basic set of commands displaying the most recently used ones first.  If you prefer the old look, you can change things.  However, when you make changes in Word 2000, the other Office 2000 programs will also look more like Office 97.  To make the changes, choose Tools, Customize.  When the Customize dialog box opens click the Options tab.  Deselect the check boxes labeled "Standard and Formatting toolbars share one row" and "Menus show recently used commands first."  Now click OK to close the dialog box and then accept your new selections.

Excel's Toolbar
One of the great timesaving features in Excel is its toolbars.  By default, Excel displays the Standard and Formatting toolbars. The Standard toolbar contains buttons for such common tasks as opening and saving files, cutting and pasting data, and printing.  Depending on the task that you're performing, Excel may automatically display additional toolbars on-screen.  If you're unsure of the function of a particular toolbar button, hover the mouse over the button to display a short description of the button's purpose.  To display additional toolbars, choose the View, Toolbars menu command and select the appropriate toolbar from the list of names that appears.  If you don't like the size of your Excel toolbar buttons, change them.  By default, Excel uses small button icons in the toolbar.  If you'd prefer larger buttons, run Excel and choose Tools, Customize.  When the Customize dialog box opens click the Options tab.  Now select the "Large icons" check box and click Close to apply your new setting.  Any customizations you make to an Excel toolbar, either built-in or custom, are "permanent."  In other words, the changes remain in effect even when you restart Excel. These toolbar changes are not associated with a particular workbook. To restore a toolbar to its original state, you must reset it.

If you frequently use Excel's Map, place a Map button into the toolbar by choosing Tools, Customize.  When the Customize dialog box opens, you click the Commands tab.  Now, under 'Categories,' you click Insert to select it.  Under “Commands,” locate the Map icon and use the mouse to drag it to the toolbar.  Click Close to dismiss the dialog box.

Word macros are useful for automating repetitive tasks. You can assign a macro to a key combination and  then run the macro by pressing those keys.  But Word also lets you use a toolbar button to run a macro. After creating a macro and assigning it to a toolbar button, you can run that macro at any time by just clicking the button.  For instance, you might record your name, address, and phone number in a macro for easy insertion into any document, and assign the macro to a button.   Now just click the button when you need that text.  To assign a macro to a toolbar button, record the macro as usual, choosing Tools, Macro, Record New Macro.  Type your macro's name in the Macro name text box, then click the Toolbars button.   When the Customize dialog box appears, find your new macro, with a “strange” name, in the Commands list and click it.  Drag the macro out of that dialog box and onto one of Word's toolbars.  Drop the macro onto any open toolbar.  If you choose an off-limits location, Word displays an “X” near the mouse pointer. Otherwise, you'll see a plus sign and an I-beam, indicating where the button will go.  Let go of the mouse button to create the toolbar button and click Close to begin recording your macro. 

If you've got an existing macro to assign to a toolbar button, right-click any toolbar, choose Customize to open the Customize dialog box, and click the Commands tab.  In the Categories list, click Macros.  Find your macro in the Commands list, then click and drag it to a toolbar as described above.  You've now got a toolbar button for your macro, but it’s not a pretty one.  To fix it, you right-click a toolbar and then choose Customize from the pop-up menu.  Ignore the dialog box just opened but keep it on screen and right-click the macro button you want to change.  Another pop-up menu appears with several commands.  Click Name on the pop-up menu and type a new, brief, “logical” name right in the menu.  For example, if your macro prints and closes the current document, you might type "Print and Close."  With the menu still on screen, click Change Button Image.  When you do, your new name appears on your button and another menu pops up.  This one has small pictures to use on your macro button.  Choose an image from the menu and your stylish new button is ready for use. Your button now has a picture and a descriptive name.  When you click the button, it runs your macro. To further tweak your button, with the Customize dialog box still open, right-click your new button to display its command menu.  To display the text without the image, you must select "Text Only (Always)" on the command menu. To show the image without the text, choose "Text Only (in Menus)." To display both the text and the image, select "Image and Text" command.  To delete the button altogether, choose Delete.

If you're feeling really creative, try drawing your own picture.  Open the Customize dialog box again by right-clicking a toolbar and clicking Customize.  Then right-click the macro button you want to change, and choose Edit Button Image to open the Button Editor dialog box.  Click the Clear button to start with a fresh canvas. Click to choose a color and then create your own masterpiece. You can use these techniques to modify any toolbar button in Office XP but do so sparingly.  If carried away, you might wreak havoc with your toolbars. Unless you're an artist or find Word's icons exceedingly unclear, go with the default images.  If you trashed your button, just open the Customize dialog box, right-click your wrecked button, and choose Reset Button Image to revert to Word's default image for that button. 

Knowing more about and using toolbars can be a useful feature in enhancing your computing skills and capabilities to quickly and efficiently use programs installed on your computer.

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