Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

The 3 Quickest Ways to Make an Environmental Impact on your Office

1. It’s going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day!


Artificial lighting accounts for 44% of the electrical use in office buildings.

Here are some tips to bring your internal lighting usage down:

  • Reduce the amount of artificial light you use.
  • Use natural light whenever possible.
  • Turn off the lights if you are going to leave the room for more than 15 minutes
  • Create an office-wide policy of using only Energy-Star rated bulbs and fixtures
  • Use timers and motion sensors to turn off lights when not in use.

2. Maximize your computer efficiency

Business sector computers waste nearly $1 billion dollars a year in electricity!

  • Turn off your computer at the end of each day
  • During the day setting your computer to “Sleep Mode” can reduce electricity consumption by up to 70%. Note: Screen Savers do not save energy
  • Make it a point to purchase hardware with an Energy-Star rating.
  • Extend the life of your computers by adding a new hard-drive or upgrading the RAM
  • When you simply must replace a PC, do so by donating  it to a local charitable organization for reuse.

3. Print Smarter

Overusing printing wastes paper, ink, printer life and increases manufacturing output. Some simple ways to print smarter include:

  • Print double-sided
  • Only print the things that need to be on paper
  • Make it a policy to buy chlorine-free paper with a higher percentage of post-consumer recycled content
  • Consider switching to a lighter stock of paper or alternatives made from bamboo, hemp, organic cotton, or kenaf.
  • Recycle toner and ink cartridges and buy re-manufactured ones. According to Office Depot, each re-manufactured toner cartridge “keeps approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills…and conserves about a half gallon of oil.”

Five Quick Internet Tips

We are all quite familiar with the internet by now.  However, there are always things to be aware of when surfing the web.  By knowing a few simple things, you can vastly improve your web-browsing experience.  From being aware of safety issues, to refining your search results, to using a few simple shortcuts, here are five things you can do to enhance your internet experience.

1.  Use Different Search Engines

Google is by far the most popular search engine.  However, the algorithms Google uses to predict what you want may actually prevent you from finding what you need.  Diversify your search by using different sites, such as Yahoo, Ask, and Bing.  Each search engine comes with its own benefits, and you may get better results just by trying your query on a different website.

2.  Be Aware of Your Browser

Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, and Mozilla Firefox are four examples of popular web browsers.  Just like search engines, each browser has its advantages.  If you use Microsoft Office to manage your email and calendar, there are definite advantages to using Internet Explorer.  Same goes with Google Chrome, if you use Gmail and Google calendar.  Each browser can offer you different things as far as add-ons, speed, and privacy.

3.  Know Your Shortcuts

Here is a quick breakdown of different keyboard shortcuts that will make your browsing go more smoothly:

  • Ctrl-T: Open a new tab in your browser
  • Ctrl-N: Open a new window
  • Ctrl-W: Close the current tab
  • F5: Refresh the current page
  • Ctrl-L: Highlight the URL bar
  • Ctrl and +: Zoom in
  • Ctrl and -: Zoom out
  • Ctrl-0: Return to the default zoom level

4.   Know How To Clear Your Browser History

Clearing your web browser’s cache will save space and time in the long run, and help prevent against viruses and other nasty things nesting in your computer.  How to do this differs for each browser, but typically you can go to the “Tools” menu and click “internet options,” “delete browser history,” “delete cookies,” or “clear cache.”  If you see any of these, you are on the right track.  Automatic settings will usually prevent you from deleting anything you might need, such as downloads, settings, and bookmarks.

5.  Be Aware of Safety Issues

This is really a whole topic in and of itself.    You can protect your personal information by installing anti-virus software, anti-spyware, having a personal firewall,  updating your operating system regularly, and by securing your WiFi.  When it comes to internet browsing, don’t click on pop-ups, never send personal information to a website you don’t fully trust or that doesn’t have authentication, and don’t open any questionable emails.  Use strong passwords with eight to ten characters consisting of numbers and letters, and do not keep those passwords stored on your computer.  If in doubt, don’t check it out!!! Leave any links, pop-ups, or websites alone if they seem fishy.

Ten Tips For Writing an Effective Email

We’re all busy, and we’ve all received long, ambiguous and rambling emails. Most of us have also been guilty of writing such emails while requesting someone else’s time.  Whether personal or business, the ability to compose efficient and effective email is very useful – both in terms of productivity and responsiveness.  Here are some tips for writing more effective emails.

1. Keep It Short

This benefits you and the person on the receiving end of your email, particularly if that person is busy like you.  Cut out any unnecessary words, address the most essential parts of your inquiry, and use paragraphing liberally to break the email up into short, sweet, easily read parts.

2. Keep It Sweet

Greet your recipient by name, and sign off with your name.  Always use greetings, introductions, and sign-offs.  Opening and closing your correspondence appropriately reflects respect and consideration for the recipient of your email.

3. Re-read Once

You can go back and edit typos in a blog post or article, but you only get one chance with emails. It’s important that your meaning and expression is clear, especially when making pitches or networking with other people.  Also, remember that spell checking is not enough. Typos and mistakes that form other valid words (e.g., lose and loose) will not be corrected by the spell checker. Proofreading is key.

4. Use The Subject Line To Your Advantage

The subject line is the advertisement for your email.  It often determines whether we even open a message or not.  Make your subject succinct and to the point without being vague.  Be short, sweet, and specific.  For example, a subject line that says “Meeting” may not clearly outline what your email is about.  Try something slightly more to the point, such as “Follow Up to Friday’s Meeting,” or “Agenda For This Friday’s Meeting.”  The recipient will know what to expect when they open your message.

5.  Avoid attachments

Unless you are sending a document that the recipient has requested or needs, don’t attach too many things to your email.  Almost all images and documents can be copied and pasted directly into the email itself, saving the time of downloading, saving, and opening an attachment.

6. Identify Yourself Clearly

Don’t assume the recipient knows who you are.  When contacting someone new or unfamiliar, always include your name, occupation, and any other important identification information in the first few sentences.  Usually a work email address will include your name, but if not, make sure you sign your email.  If you are sending an email to a new or casual acquaintance, it always helps to jog the memory with something like “it was nice meeting you in the elevator yesterday,” so that they have an idea of who you are.

7.  Make It Easy To Be Found

In your signature, include appropriate URLs for your website, blog, portfolio or product. Make sure the links are functional so they can read more about you in one-click.

8.  Use Simple English

When the writing is too formal or uses irrelevant technical lingo, it is difficult for laymen to understand. Plus, you come off sounding like a legal document or spammer. Neither is good.  Write like you talk, using conversational English.  Be authentic and realistic.  Trying to sound too professional will come across as just that—too professional. Use your real voice – it’s more endearing and approachable.

9. Respond Promptly

If you want to appear professional and courteous, make yourself available to your online correspondents. Even if your reply is, “Sorry, I’m too busy to help you now,” at least your correspondent won’t be waiting in vain for your reply.

10. Minimize Questions

Ask questions that matter, and limit the number of questions and favors you ask in an email (one or two max). The more questions you ask, the less likely you are to get a response, and the less likely all your questions will be answered. Also, ask specific questions instead of open-ended ones.  You can send additional questions in separate emails; the key is to keep your message from overwhelming the recipient so you get the response you need.

Ten Tips for Managing your Email Inbox

It is amazing how quickly your inbox can become glutted with emails.  Staying on top of your inbox can be a very daunting task, but with a few tools and an effective system, you can stay organized and in charge of your inbox.  Here are a few things you can do to keep your emails under control.

1.       Save Attachments to Your Emails

To save space in your inbox, you can save email attachments to a folder or to your desktop.  This will help clear out space in your inbox, and help you organize and store the documents you need.

2.        Regularly Empty Your Sent Items and Deleted Items Folders

This will also help you in saving storage space if you only have a limited amount of room in your mail server.

3.        Unsubscribe from Newsletters and Notifications

If you do not read the newsletter or notifications that you are subscribed to, there is usually an unsubscribe button in the email that you can click on to discontinue the service.   If it is not useful to you, remove yourself from the mailing list.  It will save you having to sort through your inbox for the messages you really want to read.

4.        Do Not Reply to Spam

Most email servers have automatic Spam filters in place already.  If spam makes it to your inbox, delete it right away.  Most of the time, there will even be an option to “mark this message as spam.”  By doing so, you can prevent your inbox from being glutted with unwanted messages.  If you opened spam without realizing what it would be, do not respond to it.  Simply delete it or mark it as such.

5.        Save Old Emails to a CD or Thumb Drive

Hesistant to delete old emails in case you need them again?  Move them to a folder and save it on an external device, or simply to your desktop or hard drive.  This will allow you to keep what you need without having to visually sort through them while checking for new email.

6.        Set Priorities

Want to make sure you don’t miss an email from your boss or your best friend?  You can create rules to set certain email addresses as high priority, so that they are highlighted in your inbox as they come in.

7.        Keep it Simple

Many times people over complicate their e-mail by creating dozens of different folders to help organize their e-mails. Find a simple folder system that works for you deepending on your needs.  If there is no way of getting around your need for folders in e-mail, use the rules to automatically filter your messages into the folders. This saves hundreds of hours you may be spending thinking about and organizing each of the e-mails you receive.

8.       Answer Emails As You Read Them

Many people make the mistake of reading all of their emails at once, and then going back and replying to them, or flagging them to be replied to later.  By addressing each email as you read it, you can prevent yourself from forgetting to reply to important messages.  If you do not have time to respond, flag or star the email so that it stands out from the rest.   Once you’ve responded, you can delete or archive the message as appropriate.

9.      Don’t Use Your Email As a To-Do List

Often times, a person’s inbox is full because they are using it as a calendar or to-do list. Do not use your e-mail for this as it will needlessly cause things to pile up. Have a separate program or text document that keeps a list of things you need to do or that keep track of your calendar of events.

10.   Set a Schedule for Managing Your Inbox, and Delete Away

Depending on your workload and what your inbox looks like, decide how often you should prune your email.  This might be once a week or once a day, but staying on top of your email will prevent you from getting bogged down.  Once you have a system of folders and filters in place, email maintenance should only take a matter of minutes.

Ten Things To Know About Your Mouse

Your computer mouse is pretty much standard equipment.  We often overlook it, and don’t realize there are many things we can do to optimize our computer experience by giving it a little attention.  Here are a few tips to utilize and care for your mouse.

1.  Understand Right Click vs. Left Click

  • Left clicking allows you to select an item, double-clicking will allow you to open files and folders.
  • Right clicking usually causes a menu of options related to the selection to pop up.  If you right click an image,  a web page, a document, or your desktop, you can epect to find a quick menu of actions for what you are working with.

2.  Take Advantage of Your Scroll Wheel

  • The scroll wheel allows you to move up and down your computer screen without having to constantly click the down arrow button.
  • The mouse wheel can also be used as a button. Pressing down on the wheel will act like a third mouse button. This can be used to open a web page in a tab by clicking the wheel on any link and can also be used to close a tab by clicking the wheel on any open tab.
  • Quickly Zoom in and Out on a web page, word document, excel spreadsheet, etc. by holding down the Ctrl key and scrolling up to zoom in and down to zoom out.
  • Move forward and backwards while browsing the Internet by holding down the Shift key and scrolling up and down. Scrolling down goes back and scrolling up goes forward.

3.  The Click-And-Drag is your Friend!

  • Often times, if you are trying to move a file, or several files from one folder to another, a menu window will pop up, and you will be prompted to go to a file folder and select the documents or images you wish to move.  It can take a long time to navigate the folder system this way.  Luckily, you can also move files by clicking them, holding down the button, and simply dragging them into the folder of your choice.  It’s a huge time saver for moving documents, as well as downloading images to the web, if you are a blogger or if you share things via social media.

4.  Remember Ctrl+Click

  • Holding the Ctrl key down when you are clicking allows you to choose several files at once.  If you are trying to move multiple files, this allows you to do a bulk move instead of moving each file individually.  You can also click and drag to highlight many files at once to move them from one folder to the next.

5.  Are you a Lefty?

  • If you are left handed and want to change your mouse settings, you can switch the left click button to right click, and so on… To change what your mouse buttons do go to the control panel, open the mouse icon, and here you can change all the settings for the mouse.

6.  Use the Snap To Feature in Windows

  • Take full advantage of the Windows mouse Snap To feature, which will automatically move your mouse to buttons that appear in a dialog box. For example, if you delete a file or close a window you may get a prompt asking you if you are sure you want to perform the task. With the Snap To feature enabled, the mouse cursor automatically moves to the Ok button, so all you will have to do is click the mouse button if you agree. This saves you the time of having to move the mouse cursor over to the Ok button and then click Ok. To enable this feature open the Mouse properties under the Windows Control Panel and check the Snap To check box under the Pointer Options tab.

7.  Customize your Mouse

  • If you have a mouse with more than two buttons, installing the included mouse software will allow you to customize the mouse even more. For example, if you don’t use the side buttons to move back and forth in a web page change it to something you do more often, such as switching between open windows or opening the calculator.

8.  Move your Mouse with your Keyboard

  • If for some reason you find yourself without a mouse, you can enable Windows to use  the arrows on the number pad as a mouse.  Go to the Control Panel and open up Accessibiity Options, then click the Mouse tab. Check the Use MouseKeys box, then click Settings to edit the speed of the cursor, etc.

9. Select With Double and Triple Click

  • Any word can be easily selected by double-clicking the word. If you want to highlight the whole paragraph, click the mouse button three times on any text in the paragraph.

10.  Know How to Care for Your Mouse

  • Older mechanical mouses (the kind with the rollerballs) need to be disassembles and cleaned regularly, as the trackball can pick up quite a bit of dirt.  A dirty trackball leads to jumpy, frustrating navigation.  You can clean lint, dirt, etc from the inside of the mouse and the trackball using a piece of scotch tape or tweezers.  Refrain from using alcohol.  If you have an optical mouse, gently rub it with a lint-free cloth, and use a cotton swab to clean the optical lens.

10 Keyboard Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

We are always looking for ways to optimize our level of efficiency.  Whether you are a novice or experienced in the ways of PC use, here a ten keyboard shortcuts that are sure to make your life and work, easier.

1. Ctrl+C copies text from your screen onto your keyboard.

2. Ctrl+X cuts text from any document you are working on and places it on your keyboard.

3. Ctrl+V pastes text from the clipboard into whatever document you are building.

4. Ctrl+A allows you to select all the items in your current window.

5. Ctrl+Z is your shortcut to the UNDO button!!!

6. Alt+Print Scrn allows you to save and print whatever you are currently viewing on your computer screen.

7. Ctrl+Esc takes you to the start window.

8. Alt+Tab allows you to shift between tabs on your taskbar.

9. Ctrl+Alt+Del will bring up a list of all the programs your computer is currently running.

10. F1 automatically brings up the help/troubleshooting pane.

Once these shortcuts are memorized and learned, they will save you a ton of time while you’re working at your PC.  Happy computing!

Six Quick Tips for Windows 7

Hopefully you love your Windows 7 Operating System already.  It’s user-friendly and easy to navigate.  However, there are several hidden tips and tricks that can make your experience of Windows 7 out of this world.  Here are six things you can implement right now to make Windows 7 work even better for you.

1.  Know Your Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Win+Left Arrow and Win+Right Arrow dock the window to the left and right side of the screen
  • Win+Up Arrow and Win+Down Arrow maximize and restore/minimize
  • Win+M minimizes everything
  • Alt+UpAlt+Left ArrowAlt+Right Arrow navigate to parent folder, or browse Back and Forward through folders in Explorer
  • Win+Home minimizes/restores all open windows except the active window
  • Alt+Win+# accesses the Jump List of program number ‘#’ on the taskbar
  • Alt+P activates an additional file preview pane

2. Create Favorite Lists for Folders

You can add any library or folder to the Favorites section in Windows Explorer. To add a folder, navigate to it in Explorer, right-click Favorites in the left navigation pane, and select Add current location to Favorites. Now you get quick access to your favorite folders in all File->Save As dialogs, instead of having to navigate to the folder over and over again.  You can also drap and drop your favorite folders to the taskbar for easy access.

3.   Create Your Own Shortcuts For Your Favorite Programs

By right-clicking the program icon and selecting Properties, then the Shortcut tab, and clicking in Shortcut key, you can set the keyboard shortcut for any program.  You can customize your own shortcut for any program in Windows 7.

4. Customize the Power Button

If you restart your computer more often than you shut it down, change the default Shutdown power button to Restart. Right-click on Start, select Properties, and choose the Power button action that you use the most.

5.  Automatically Switch Your Default Printer

Windows 7’s location-aware printing allows the operating system to automatically switch your default printer as you move from one network to another.  To set this up, first click Start, type Devices, and click the Devices and Printers link.  Select a printer and click Manage Default Printers (this is only visible on a mobile device, like a laptop – you won’t see it on a PC).  Choose the “Change my default printer when I change networks” option, select a network, the default printer you’d like to use, and click Add.  Windows 7 will check this list and set the default printer to the one that you’ve defined.

6. Auto Arrange Your Desktop

If your Windows 7 desktop has icons scattered everywhere then you could right-click it and select View > Auto Arrange, just as in Vista. But a simpler solution is just to press and hold down F5, and Windows will automatically arrange its icons for you.  It’s a quick way to keep your desktop neat!

Good luck using these tips, there are plenty more to make your Windows experience as optimal as possible!

The Wonderful World of Windows 8

The newest version of Windows is now available to the public as a free download, bringing many changes to the Windows world.  The newest version can be installed directly from the website, which can be accessed by clicking here.  Complete with a new design called Metro, Windows is revamping its OS to become friendly with not only laptops and PCs, but hand-held devices such as smart phones and tablets.  Microsoft is working hard to prove that you can have one single operating system on every machine you own, from your smart phone to your PC.

The new design for Windows 8 is sleek, intelligent, and easy to use.  It is quite different from Windows 7, but once it is learned, it is very user-friendly.  It represents the future of Windows on hand-held electronics, and allows for the same device-synching opportunities of Mac and Android.  The user interface is extremely well-thought out, and fun to use.  It comes equipped with a Start screen as opposed to the traditional Start menu common to previous versions of Windows.  It is customizable, efficient, and well-integrated.

Aside from the design itself, there aren’t a ton of new features to Windows 8.  One of the highlights is Windows To Go, which allows you to carry Windows 8, along with your programs and files, on a flash drive or external hard-drive.  It’s is a much more secure and cheaper arrangement for businesses especially, as it bypasses issues of file misappropriation and eliminates the need to buy employees personal laptops.

Windows 8 is mobile and touch-friendly, and represents a level of future integration that could take cloud computing to a whole new level.  It is incredibly responsive and fast, and as more Microsoft products become available it may represent a shift in favored operating systems.  Data from address books, photos, calendars, music—even user preferences—are synched to the cloud and accessible via your Microsoft Live account, which means it can be accessed by any Widows 8-powered device, potentially even your Xbox 360 (pending dashboard upgrades).  It also allows for synching settings from one PC to another, which could make PC purchases much less painless in the future.

Windows 8 is a very promising start to Microsoft’s future in the touch-device world.  It offers other benefits as well, for people longing to integrating their hand-held devices with their PCs and laptops using one operating system.  On top of that, it has the added bonus of letting you transfer your personal settings, such as apps and screen layout, between devices, giving you stewardship of your own interface wherever you go.  It is a completely new and very exciting way for you to interact with technology.

62 Windows 7 tips, tricks and secrets

By Mike Williams Techradar, October 2009

Windows 7 is out and if you’ve either just installed it or bought a new PC running Windows 7, then we’re here to help you get the most from it.

Look beyond the headlines about interface tweaks and you’ll find Windows 7 is crammed with lesser known, but still important, new and enhanced features, which taken together deliver improved performance and productivity, better troubleshooting, stronger security and a whole lot more.

To celebrate the launch of Windows 7, we’ve updated our Windows 7 tips with a bunch of new ones. Read on for 62 ways in which Windows 7 will make a real difference to your PC.

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