send someone a text via email.

Did you know you can send text messages from any email program to a cell phone? For example, to email a text message to someone who uses AT&T, you would address the email like this:

However, when sending text messages via email, follow a few best practices:

1. Keep the message to just text (no images or attachments).
2. Keep the text plain (no text formatting).
3. Keep these messages short. If you send a large message, it will be broken up into multiple smaller 140 or 160 character messages. #annoying
Continue reading “send someone a text via email.”

“Where’s the Ribbon in Word 2013?”

Some people love the clean look of Word 2013, but if you’re like me, it feels cold. and bleh.

and empty.

The ribbon only displayed when I clicked on a menu item. As soon as I began typing, it would disappear. This was not helpful. I didn’t want to go get the ribbon every time I needed something on it. That ribbon needed to sit and stay.

Word 2013 Ribbon Hidden

Here’s how to get your ribbon back: Continue reading ““Where’s the Ribbon in Word 2013?””

cure your possessed keyboard: dvorak to QWERTY

I thought I was crazy. My keyboard was typing stuff I did NOT type. Backslashes when I pressed the spacebar. Numbers when I pressed letters and the other way around. Adding characters when I pressed the backspace button. Weirdness. Nothing short of a reboot would solve the problem and even then, it was only temporary. I searched Google and stumbled upon the possibility that my keyboard was no longer set to “QWERTY.”

To find out if your keyboard settings may have changed:
Continue reading “cure your possessed keyboard: dvorak to QWERTY”

css margins.

Need a code snippet for your style sheet?

Below are four options for setting the top, bottom, left and right margins:

margin:10px 40px 25px 90px;

top margin is 10px
right margin is 40px
bottom margin is 25px
left margin is 90px

Continue reading “css margins.”

“Print” Button Grayed out in WordPerfect Print Dialog Box?

The first and most obvious reason the “Print” button would be grayed out is if you are trying to print a blank document. It happens. We get busy, we speed up, a Ctrl+F6 or a Ctrl+N sneaks in just before a Ctrl+P and the next thing we know, we have a gray Print button.

So…Question #1: Is there anything in your document? Text? a Text Box? an Image? Bueller?

I realize that’s the equivalent of asking you if your computer is plugged in and I apologize if you’re giving your monitor the stink eye right now, but we needed to eliminate that possibility right up front.

Moving along.

If your document isn’t empty, then follow these steps:
Continue reading ““Print” Button Grayed out in WordPerfect Print Dialog Box?”

autotext/quick parts/building blocks.

If you used Autotext in MS Word 2003 or earlier, it’s one of the first questions you’ll have:

“Does Word still have Autotext?”

The answer? YES.

What’s the next question?

“WHERE is it? I can’t find it anywhere!”

I know.

Autotext has been renamed. reorganized. buried. Some refer to it as QuickParts. or Building Blocks. or both. But forget names. Let’s cut to the chase:

Alt+F3 and F3.

“Keystrokes?” the die hard mouse people whine ask?

(To you mouse people, go ahead, use the mouse. Click the “Insert” Ribbon, then click the Quick Parts dropdown, then . . . who am I kidding? I’m not typing up mouse instructions for this. sorry)

For you long time Autotext users, the good news is that Microsoft left in the legacy keystrokes for this feature.

Quick and Easy.
To CREATE an Entry:
1. Select the text you never want to type again, whether you open a document which contains that text or whether you type it from scratch – select it.

2. Press “Alt+F3” and the following dialog box will appear showing the first few words of the selected text in the “Name” line: mswordbuildingblockautofill
3. Type the “nickname” for this snippet of text – a short word you would RATHER type. (since it’s already selected/highlighted, you don’t have to erase what’s already there, just type your nickname (in this case “blcn”) and the original text will be replaced.)

4. Press Enter. Done.

To PLAY an Entry – Option 1, Legacy F3 Method:
1. Begin typing the nickname for the text snippet you want to insert.
2. After 2 or 3 letters, press “F3” and the nickname you typed will be replaced by the text snippet you saved, formatting, spacing and all. Just like always.

To PLAY an Entry – Option 2, Visual Prompt:
1. Begin typing the nickname for the text snippet you want to insert.
2. After you’ve typed 4 letters of your nickname, MS Word will prompt you (see below).
If you press “Enter” your nickname will be replaced with the corresponding building block text. If you press enter, tab or keep typing, MS Word will assume you mean to type those letters and it won’t replace them with the building block text.

If you want Word to visually prompt you to press the ENTER key to PLAY your entry as soon as it recognizes the nickname, make sure you (a) give it a name that is at least 4 characters long and (2) make it a unique name – NOT a real word you might really want to type. If it’s a real word, it WILL be replaced with your saved Autotext text snippet if you press enter, whether you want it replaced or not.

automatic text generation. a variation for the easily distracted.

In the previous #pragmaticcomputingtip, entitled “automatic random text generation. improved?” I shared a nifty little feature in Word 2007 and 2010 which automated the generation of random text.

Check it out and then come on back and I’ll walk you through you a variation.

no. really. check it out. I’ll wait.

okay, welcome back.

While =rand(p,s) is effective and fun, its use has a potential problem. It generates interesting text. Okay, “interesting” is debatable, but it generates English text that makes sense, which means there’s a potential for distraction.

If you don’t want your reader/learner/audience to focus on the content of your text, there’s another, similar feature that generates nonsensical random text that will keep people focused on the form of your document/website without tempting anyone to read for content absorption. Try this:
Continue reading “automatic text generation. a variation for the easily distracted.”

automatic random text generation. improved?

For YEARS DECADES, I have been creating dummy documents for use in computer training. Usually, I ask someone to type a sentence – any sentence – and then I teach them to use keyboard shortcuts to select, copy and paste their sentence, resulting in a multi-paragraph, multi-page document to work with as I train.

It’s always interesting to see what people type:

the distracted or disinterested: “I can’t wait for lunch.”

and the suck-ups: “The computer trainer is really good!” (umm hmm)

and of course, the ever popular: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” frequently makes an appearance.

I’ve written about that third sentence before in a previous post entitled “automatically generate placeholder text in Microsoft Word“. You could automatically generate paragraphs composed of it using Word 2003 and earlier versions using a little known “=rand()” feature in Microsoft Word.

But now, with Word 2007 and 2010, it’s even better.

Check this out. Open either Microsoft Word 2007 or 2010 and, at the top of a new, blank document, type this:


Then press the enter key.

What just happened?

Microsoft Word just reached into it’s help files and copied 8 random paragraphs containing 5 sentences each and pasted them into your blank page.

As a computer trainer, let me just say.


If you’re thinking the “=rand(8,5)” looks like an Excel formula, you would be correct. The first number inside the parenthesis represents how many paragraphs of text you want, the second number indicates how many sentences each paragraph should contain. If you skip the numbers and just type “=rand()” the default result is 3 paragraphs of 5 sentences each.

The formula doesn’t have to be typed at the beginning of a document, but it must be typed at the beginning of a line, with no characters before it.

Again, as someone who frequently needs fake documents to play work with, I LOVE this! I’ve tried to think of other uses and the only other one that comes to mind would be for print samples. If you can think of other ways to take advantage of a random text generator, comment and share!

#outlook shortcuts: replying to messages

Quick and easy shortcut for you today. Regardless of whether you have an email open or if it’s just highlighted within your Inbox or email folder, you can press:

Ctrl+R to “Reply” to the sender, Ctrl+Shift+R to “Reply to All” or Ctrl+F to “Forward” the email.

pragmaticcomputingtips outlookshortcuts reply forward

Windows Snipping Tool: “How do you snip a menu? It disappears!”

Given the frequency of my need to provide screen shots of steps involved in these pragmatic computing tips, I ran into this obstacle pretty quick.

Every time I needed to snip (take a screen shot of) a drop down menu, the menu I needed to snip would disappear as soon as I opened the Snipping Tool. I didn’t want to go back to the legacy screen shot method (Alt+Print Screen). Those screen shots captured entire windows – much more than I needed – and then I would need to crop the images.

I knew there had to be a way to use this new, cool, more efficient tool, and there was. (I actually needed to use this method to get the screen shots I needed for this post.) Here’s how it works:

1. Display the menu you want to snip/screen shot. In this particular case, I wanted to snip something on the Start Menu, so I clicked the Start button to display the menu.

2. Open the Snipping Tool. The menu you just displayed will disappear. In my case, the Start Menu disappeared. (If this is the first time you’ve used the Snipping Tool, you’ll need to search for it – instructions immediately following below.)

To search for the Snipping Tool, click the round Start button at the bottom left corner of your monitor and begin typing “Snipping Tool” in the search box:

Snipping Tool Search

As soon as you begin typing, Windows 7 will find it and list it at the top of the menu:

Snipping Tool Found

Do yourself a favor. Right click the Snipping Tool and “Pin” the Snipping Tool to Your Taskbar and/or your Start Menu so you never have to search for it again:

Snipping Tool Pin to Taskbar and Start Menu

Snipping Tool Pinned to Taskbar

Now the Snipping Tool is easily available any time you needed it.

Back to Step 2.

2. Open the Snipping Tool. Again, a small window will open, the menu you’ve displayed and want to clip will disappear and the screen will fade in color a little bit. That’s normal.

3. Press Esc on the Keyboard. The small Snipping Tool window will stay open and the vibrancy of the screen colors will come back.

4. Re-open the menu that you need to snip.

5. Press Ctrl+PrtScn. (Staayyyy with me…Don’t quit just because you can’t find the PrtScn button. There’s one on every keyboard, just not always in the same location.)
The screen will fade in color again to let you know the Snipping Tool is active.

6. Click and drag the area around the area of the screen you need to snip.

7. When you let go of the mouse button after the click and drag, your screen shot will be displayed in the Snipping Tool window and you can save, copy or email it.

(To learn more about the Snipping Tool, click HERE)