Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How to Add Images and Color to Your Holiday Letters

Word Tricks Makes Letters Merrier (updated for ‘the Ribbon’)

It is the Holiday time of year. (Is it just me, or did 2013 pass-by rather quickly?) Each year at this time, I post this article which demonstrates a few tricks to make your Season’s Greetings letters more joyous, and your documents more visually interesting. Many of you already know the A-B-C basics of manipulating fonts and formatting, and so this will be review.. and loyal readers may remember this one..

Tip of the day: Add some festivity to your documents with fonts and color. MS Word has a lot of features and options built into it that allows for some very creative elements to be added to your correspondence, and is not at all limited to cold, “professional” documents. I’ll use Word for this demo, but you can do this in most text editors, and e-mail programs. Today I’m going to use a hypothetical holiday greeting letter to show how to add some fun. By default, Word sets the font to Calibri at 11 “points” in height. I have typed in my text, to get things started, and will demonstrate using this letter’s “opener”. As it is a header, I have “centered” the text. WD1 As you can see, this font and text does not quite convey the joy and cheer and “best wishes” I am hoping to express. In fact, this may as well say, “Memo from Giganti Corp.” Yawn! So first thing I’m going to do is ‘tweak’ the font style, and make some word bigger (louder), to express a less formal tone. WD2 I “highlighted” Season’s Greetings, and used the Font drop-down arrow and selected a cursive font– Lucida Handwriting (explore Word’s various fonts, and find the one you like best). I set the point size to 36. I repeated the process on the second sentence, but set the type smaller.. only 18. I think you’ll agree, this is much more “friendly” than the default’s look. But this is just not Festive enough! Let’s use some color and improve things some more. WD3 I have again “highlighted” season’s greetings to select this font, and then clicked the Font Color button on the Home tab. I then clicked on the little red box in the color-picker. Now season’s greetings is red. I want to alternate letters in green, so I hold down the Ctrl key and use my mouse to “select” every other letter. WD4 I didn’t really like the greens available on the color-picker, so I clicked on “More Colors”…. 5.jpg … and selected a green that contrasted nicely with the red– as the box in the lower right corner shows. This is the result of these steps. wd5a Much more jolly! But, something’s missing… WD5 Let’s add one more thing– a picture of a candy cane. I went on the Internet and found a Royalty-free graphic (though a piece of Clip Art would do just as nicely) and… wd6 Voila! I could ‘go crazy’, and get carried away with adding things here… but I hope you will be able to see by this little demonstration — using only two of Word’s functions — that you are limited only by your own creativity, and that it’s easy to personalize and ’spice up’ your documents. (I should have matched the greens… but ran out of time.. sorry.)

*     *     *

Today’s quote: How ’bout some more Longfellow? “The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


All we really have, in the end, are our stories. Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

December 15, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, MS Office, MS Word, tech, word processors | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friendly, Festive Documents (A How To)

Font Trick Makes Letters Merrier

It is the Holiday time of year. Each year at this time, I post this article which demonstrates some tricks to make your Season’s Greetings letters more joyous, and your documents more visually interesting. Many of you already know the A-B-C basics of manipulating fonts and formatting, and so this will be review.. and loyal readers may remember this one..

Tip of the day: Add some festivity to your documents with fonts and color. MS Word (as do most text editors) has a lot of features and options built into it that allows for some very creative elements to be added to your correspondence, and is not at all limited to cold, “professional” documents. I’ll use Word for this demo, but you can do this in most text editors, and e-mail programs.

Today I’m going to use a hypothetical holiday greeting letter to show how to add some fun. By default, Word sets the font to Times New Roman at 12 “points” in height. I have typed in my text, to get things started, and will demonstrate using this letter’s “opener”. As it is a header, I have “centered” the text.

1.jpg

As you can see, this font and text does not quite convey the joy and cheer and “best wishes” I am hoping to express. In fact, this may as well say, “Memo from Giganti Corp.” Yawn! So first thing I’m going to do is ‘tweak’ the font style, and make some word bigger (louder), to express a less formal tone.

2.jpg

I “highlighted” Season’s Greetings, and used the Font drop-down arrow and selected a cursive font– Lucida Handwriting (explore Words various fonts, and find the one you like best). I set the point size to 36. I repeated the process on the second sentence, but set the type smaller.. only 18. I think you’ll agree, this is much more “friendly” than the default’s look. But this is just not Festive enough! Let’s use some color and improve things some more.

3.jpg

I have again “highlighted” season’s greetings to select this font, and then clicked the Font Color button on the Formatting toolbar (If this is not showing, click here to read how to customize your toolbars). I then clicked on the little red box in the color-picker. Now season’s greetings is red. I want to alternate letters in green, so I hold down the Ctrl key and use my mouse to “select” every other letter.

4.jpg I didn’t really like the greens available on the color-picker, so I clicked on “More Colors”….

5.jpg

… and selected a green that contrasted nicely with the red– as the box in the lower right corner shows. This is the result of these steps.

6.jpg

Much more jolly! But, something’s missing…

9.jpg

Let’s add one more thing– a picture of a candy cane. I went on the Internet and found a Royalty-free graphic (though a piece of Clip Art would do just as nicely) and…

10.jpg

Voila!I could ‘go crazy’, and get carried away with adding things here… but I hope you will be able to see by this little demonstration — using only two of Word’s functions — that you are limited only by your own creativity, and that it’s easy to personalize and ’spice up’ your documents.

Like free software? Click here to see my article telling of three giveaways (not contests – giveaways!)

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


November 26, 2011 Posted by | advice, how to, MS Office, MS Word | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Methods For Making Text Larger

A How To for Windows 7, Vista, and XP

Sometimes I find the size of the print on certain websites a bit too small for comfortable reading. When that happens, I simply hold down the Ctrl key, and use the mouse scroll wheel to increase (or decrease) the text size. This “zoom” (or shrink) only affects the current window.

[The “keyboard shortcut” Ctrl + “+” (bigger font size) and Ctrl + “-” (smaller) works the same way.]

If this is a constant problem for you, there are a couple of quick settings adjustments you can make that will make the items on your computer screen bigger, without pushing everything off of the edges.

Microsoft calls these adjustments “Accessibility” settings.. which makes a certain amount of sense, if you think of reading your screen as “accessing” the information.

Tip of the day: Enlarge your fonts and icons for easier reading. The first and easiest way is to change the screen settings to a larger dpi (dots per inch), which, strange as it sounds, is not the same thing as changing your screen’s resolution. Your screen resolution is determined (usually) by your monitor’s size, and should be set to the highest setting your monitor allows. This is the number of ‘lines’ drawn to create your screen image, and the more lines you have the crisper (sharper) your image will be, reducing the blocky effect called “pixilation.
However, increasing you resolution has the consequence of making the items on your screen smaller. But, that is what you want to do anyway; the higher the resolution the better.

To offset the shrinking effects of high resolution, (or simply to aid those with less than terrific vision) you may want to increase the dpi number.

Step 1: Right-click on any blank (non-icon) area of your Desktop. Then, click on the bottom menu choice — “Personalize” in Vista/Win7, and “Properties” in older versions.

I will demonstrate Windows 7 first. For older versions, scroll down:

Windows 7
On the bottom left, click on “Ease of Access Center“. Then click on “Make the computer easier to see“.
EoA

Then click “Change the size of text and icons“.
Win7opts

And, finally, you can use one of three presets, or set a ‘custom’ dpi size.
Win7_1

Click Apply, and you’re done.

Vista
dpi.jpg

Click on the menu link (on the left) “Adjust font size (DPI)”, and then click on the lower radio button and change the number from 96 to 120.
scale.jpg

Click Apply, and you’re done.

Windows XP
In XP (and older), there are a few more steps to get to the right menu. From the Display Properties window, click on the Settings tab. In the lower right is an “Advanced” button, click on it. This opens a new Properties window.
scrnprop.jpg
Here you will use the drop-down arrow under “DPI setting:” which allows you to choose 120, or “Custom”. The Custom offers a sliding scale to set the dpi, and you can fine tune your setting here.. perhaps you prefer 112 dots-per-inch. Make sure the “Apply the new settings without restarting” radio button is selected to avoid a un-needed reboot.

These steps will change the over-all appearance of items on your screen, and everything will be larger and easier to read. And things will not get pushed off the edges, which a magnification, or “zoom” tool can sometimes do. If you try this, and do not like the effect, or look, of 120 dpi, simply repeat these steps and set it back to 96.

• For more vision-related settings adjustments, read this article as well.

[addenda: If you have tried these options, you may want to consider the purchase of a 22 (or larger) inch LCD monitor. Sure they’re more expensive, but It really does make a tremendous difference. I recently did this for my mother, and she can’t stop commenting on the “wonderful” improvement.]

Today’s free link(s):
• Authors, researchers, and teachers know the wonderful depository of information that is the Library of Congress. It is THE place for reference materials, digitized films, and everything ever published in the US. Much of it (if not all) is available online. Check it out, and be amazed.

Five tips for becoming a superstar blogger (humor)

Want to increase traffic to your blog by five thousand percent? These simple tips are guaranteed to work!

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


July 20, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How To Rip Your CD’s To MP3

MP3 is the “universal” digital music format. By using this format, your music collection will likely play on any music player device, for many years yet to come.

wmp_icon The newer versions of Windows Media Player (v’s 11 and 12) come with the ability to rip (copy from CD) music to mp3 files. Many music players, including Apple’s iPod, will not play the default .wma format,  but by switching to the mp3 format, you ensure that you can listen to your music on any music-playing device.

With these easy steps, you can set Windows Media Player to always “rip” your music CD’s to mp3 files.

1) Open the Windows Media Player (WMP): Click the Start button, then All programs, and scroll down the list (Or, type WMP in the Search pane).

2) Click the downward arrow under the Rip button

3) Select More options. (It should open to the Rip Music tab.)

wmp_opts

4) In the Format section, use the drop-down arrow to select mp3.

4a) * Optional: you can also user the “slider” to set the music Audio quality “bit rate” from lower quality+smaller file size to highest quality+larger file size.
(I have chosen “Best Quality”, as I do not have an extensive music collection, and the size of my library is not an issue for me.)

5) Now click the Apply button, and then the OK button to close out the Settings window.

That’s it. You’re done. Until you go back in and undo your changes, Windows Media Player will always copy your music CD’s to the more portable, and universal, mp3 file type.

Today’s free download: If you are on an older Windows computer, and have not yet “upgraded” your version of WMP to Windows Media Player 12, you can download it here.

Today’s quotable quote: Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


May 20, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, digital music, file system, how to, Microsoft, PC, Portable Computing, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Enlarge your text and icons for easier reading

A How To for Windows 7, Vista, and XP

For those of you who find themselves squinting at your screen, or having to lean in real close, just to be able to read that darn small text, there are a couple of quick settings adjustments you can make that will make the items on your screen bigger, without pushing everything off of the edges.

Microsoft calls these adjustments “Accessibility” settings.. which makes a certain amount of sense, if you think of reading your screen as “accessing” the information.

Tip of the day: Enlarge your fonts and icons for easier reading. The first and easiest way is to change the screen settings to a larger dpi (dots per inch), which is not the same thing as changing your screen’s resolution. Your screen resolution is determined (usually) by your monitor’s size, and should be set to the highest setting your monitor allows. This is the number of ‘lines’ drawn to create your screen image, and the more lines you have the crisper (sharper) your image will be, reducing the blocky effect called “pixilation.
However, increasing you resolution has the consequence of making the items on your screen smaller. But, that is what you want to do anyway; the higher the resolution the better.

To offset the shrinking effects of high resolution, (or simply to aid those with less than terrific vision) you may want to increase the dpi number.

Step 1: Right-click on any blank (non-icon) area of your Desktop. Then, click on the bottom menu choice — “Personalize” in Vista/Win7, and “Properties” in older versions.

I will demonstrate Windows 7 first. For older versions, scroll down:

Windows 7
On the bottom left, click on “Ease of Access Center“. Then click on “Make the computer easier to see“.
EoA

Then click “Change the size of text and icons“.
Win7opts

And, finally, you can use one of three presets, or set a ‘custom’ dpi size.
Win7_1

Click Apply, and you’re done.

Vista
dpi.jpg

Click on the menu link (on the left) “Adjust font size (DPI)”, and then click on the lower radio button and change the number from 96 to 120.
scale.jpg

Click Apply, and you’re done.

Windows XP
In XP (and older), there are a few more steps to get to the right menu. From the Display Properties window, click on the Settings tab. In the lower right is an “Advanced” button, click on it. This opens a new Properties window.
scrnprop.jpg
Here you will use the drop-down arrow under “DPI setting:” which allows you to choose 120, or “Custom”. The Custom offers a sliding scale to set the dpi, and you can fine tune your setting here.. perhaps you prefer 112 dots-per-inch. Make sure the “Apply the new settings without restarting” radio button is selected to avoid a un-needed reboot.

These steps will change the over-all appearance of items on your screen, and everything will be larger and easier to read. And things will not get pushed off the edges, which a magnification, or “zoom” tool can sometimes do. If you try this, and do not like the effect, or look, of 120 dpi, simply repeat these steps and set it back to 96.

For more vision-related settings adjustments, read this article as well.

[update: a reader comment has prompted me to make it clear that these Options have been a part of Windows all the way back to Windows 95]

[addenda: If you have tried these options, you may want to consider the purchase of a 22 (or larger) inch LCD monitor. Sure they’re more expensive, but It really does make a tremendous difference. I recently did this for my mother, and she can’t stop commenting on the “wonderful” improvement.]

Today’s free link: Authors, researchers, and teachers know the wonderful depository of information that is the Library of Congress. It is THE place for reference materials, digitized films, and everything ever published in the US. Much of it (if not all) is available online. Check it out, and be amazed.

Orig post: 10/22/07

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


Share this post :

October 9, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sleepy Laptop*

My mail is telling me it is time to repost an article..

Reader Asks How To Adjust Sleep Mode

Q: My laptop goes to sleep too soon. How do I give myself more time?

A: You can quite easily adjust the length of the “inactivity” time allowed before your computer goes into a power savings mode, such as “sleep”. For those of you really concerned with power savings, you can make it kick in after 5 minutes of idle time – and power users can turn it off completely (It will still be available from the Start >Shut Down menu).

Vista and Windows 7 users will find the settings by clicking Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options

In XP it is Control Panel > Power Options.

powrplan

Here you can quickly choose from one of three power policies, (aka “power plan”) to fit your current usage — Balanced, Power Saver, and High Performance. In the picture above, I am plugged into the wall and I want every ounce of performance. When it is time to go mobile and I will be running on my battery, I want to sacrifice some of the bells and whistles, conserve battery, and stretch my time between recharging’s to the maximum, so I will click on middle radio button.
(Vista/Win7: A quick way to do this to launch the Mobility Center by pressing the Windows key + X)

To set my own times, I click on the “Change plan settings” link under the “Power plan” (Or, “Change when the computer sleeps” link in the left column).

powrplan2

Use the drop down arrows to select the length of time your machine is idle before the power is cut to your monitor, and when it general goes into the power-saving sleep mode. I have set a fairly typical policy here, but my advice for the reader who asked the question was leave the setting for the monitor (screen) to a short time, but extend the sleep time to an hour.. or longer.

[note: by using the “Change plan settings” link, I get a window that allows me to set different times for when I am plugged into an outlet and when I am on battery.]

Today’s free link: a good way to tell if your machine has picked up some malware – or some has slipped by your onboard AV – is a visit to Panda’s Infected or Not website and get a free scan.

* Orig post: October 16, 2007

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


Share this post :

June 22, 2010 Posted by | computers, how to, Microsoft, mobile, PC, Portable Computing, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beginner Customizing – Slideshow Screensavers

Show off your best photos with a screensaver “slideshow”

If you have seen someone’s computer showing a changing display of pretty pictures and thought to yourself, “that’s neat…I wonder how they did that?” then this post is for you. The trick is in using Windows’ built-in slideshow feature, and it is a straight-forward and easy adjustment to make. (And.. it does away with that boring black Microsoft logo screen…)

Tip of the day: To create a custom screensaver slideshow, all you have to do is, basically, turn it on. It will by default show a slideshow of the pictures contained in your “My Pictures” folder (just “Pictures” in Vista), but you can point it to any folder which contains images — and here’s where the customization comes into play.

To get started, let’s assume that all you want to do is display your My Pictures folder. This will allow me to demonstrate the first step: turning on a screensaver slideshow. First, right-click on any blank area of your desktop and select “Properties” (in Vista, “Personalize” >”screensaver”). This will open the Display Properties window.
Next click on the “Screen Saver” tab. Now go down to the drop-down arrow box labeled Screen saver and click on the down arrow to open your list of choices. Select “My Pictures slideshow” (“Photos” in Vista). Now instead of the boring black background with a moving XP logo, the screensaver will be your pictures. In XP, click the Preview button to see what it will look like.
SS_props3

While we’re here, let’s take a look at some of the other settings. Here is where you can set how long a period of idle time elapses before the screensaver kicks in. To redirect the slideshow to a different folder, and to modify your slideshow’s variables (such as how long each picture displays), click the Settings button. You should get a screen like the one pictured below.

ScreenSaverChangePictures

As you can see, you can “tweak” your slideshow quite a bit here, and even add transitions between slides. Again, use the previous screen’s Preview button to see how these adjustments will actually play out. If you’re happy, you can quit here and click the “Apply” button. But if you don’t want to display your whole My Pictures folder — but instead, only a subset — or want to use a different folder of pictures, keep reading.

First, open your My Pictures folder (Start >My Documents >My Pictures) and right-click on any blank area. On the menu that opens, select New, and then folder. Give your new folder a name like “slideshow”. Now fill this folder with copies of the pictures you want to display, by right-click + dragging them into the “slideshow” folder, letting go, and selecting “Copy here”. Repeat this until you have your selections all copied into the “slideshow” folder. (Called “drag and drop”)

Now that you have your slideshow folder all set up, return to the My Screen Saver Properties window (the one pictured above) and click the “…Browse” button. Double-click on the “slideshow” folder (you may have to navigate to it: do so by clicking My Documents >My Pictures >slideshow), and you’re done. Again, you can use the Preview button to see how it will look.

To make your PC more immune to casual browsing while you’re away from your desk, go back to Display Properties’ (right-click any blank area on your Desktop and select Properties) Screen Saver tab and put a check in the checkbox labeled “On resume, display Welcome screen.” If you’ve followed my advice from earlier posts, this will require your user password to log in.

Today’s free link: I don’t have my screensaver displaying my own photo’s, I have it set to display a series of “Demotivators” (free for personal use) — an amusing and ironic play on the “motivational” posters that Executive-types love to hang in work areas. If you haven’t seen the Demotivators (and their often spectacular photography) yet, do yourself a favor and click here. And be sure to browse the different categories.

*Original posting:6/26/07

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

Share this post :

October 20, 2009 Posted by | computers, Digital Images, how to, PC, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments