Tip o’ the Week #115 – Windows 8 keyboard tips

The next couple of posts on this blog are out of sequence, since they concern Windows 8. I’m bringing them forward by about a month… so ToWs #115 and #116 will come soon, then we’ll revert back to ToW #111 thereafter…

Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been out for a little while so it’s worth taking a look at some tips on getting the best out of the Consumer Preview.

Despite all the focus that is (rightly) being given to the touch experience of Windows 8, it’s still very important to offer a good keyboard/mouse experience too, since most existing PC users don’t (yet) have a touch screen.

When the mouse first came on the scene, some existing PC users complained that they’d never use the new UI mechanism since the keyboard was so much more efficient. The way the PC has evolved, it’s a blend of keyboard, mouse, touch, voice… some people prefer one over the others, and many of us will use a combination that’s appropriate at the time and on the device. In short: if you don’t see the point of touch initially, you’ll look back in a few years’ time and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Shut down and sleepclip_image002

One design aspect that’s had online forums grumbling about, is the way you shut down Windows 8. Some users even complained that they even had to use Google (hmmm) to find out how to sleep or shut down their new Windows 8 install.

The answer is, there are several ways. One, is to try Bing rather than Google – http://letmebingthatforyou.com/?q=how%20to%20shut%20down%20windows%208 – whilst another would be to activate the Charms (swipe from the right it you have a touch screen, or push your mouse to the bottom right then up to hover over the charms that appear), then select Settings, then Power, then Sleep / Shut down / Restart. All very well, but a few more keystrokes or mouse clicks than under Windows 7…

A quick alternative is to press CRL-ALT-DEL to display the Lock / switch user / change password etc dialog, then press ALT-S to activate the Shutdown option in corner, and then press the underline letter for Sleep, Shut down or Restart – so to sleep a PC quickly, just press CTRL-ALT-DEL, ALT –S, S.

The Windows Key revisited

There are some new shortcut keys to help navigate Windows 8 CP. Try these out… (Wnd is the WindowsKey, ie key with the old Windows logo, normally to the left of the spacebar). When you press Wnd on its own, you’ll see that it displays the new Start screen – aka the Metro UI.

Wnd+PgUp & Wnd+PgDn – moves the Metro UI from one monitor to another, if you have multiples.
Eg. If you have a laptop plugged into an external monitor or projector and set up Extended display (Wnd+P), then you can quickly make it appear on that screen. Now you can have the Start menu show up either on the screen in front of your, or (if you have one), on the touch screen of your laptop to the side.

Wnd+”.” & Wnd+SHIFT+”.” – if you have a high resolution screen, you can snap the current application or move the existing snapped application to the left or right.

Wnd+c – opens the Charms bar on the right of the screen

Wnd+I – opens the Settings page for the current app

Wnd+k – opens the “Devices” charm, used to print from a Metro app that supports it (thanks to David Overton for that one)

Wnd+q, Wnd-w, Wnd-f – goes straight to Search for Apps, Settings and Files respectively.

Tip o’ the Week #110 – Tracking Outlook responses

clip_image001Most of us regular Outlook users are well-versed in the Request/Response model of doing things other than email. Take an appointment in your own calendar: add an invited attendee or two, and you’ve created a meeting. What’s different? The meeting invitations were sent out and the list of attendees is listed and tracked.

If you’re invited to someone else’s meeting, you’ll see options on how to respond, and clip_image002 you’ll be able to look at the scheduling view to see who else is on the list, but you won’t be able to see how they’re responded to the invite (well not entirely). You may be able to see the details in the scheduling view (depending on whether the invited attendees have given you the permission to see their calendars).

clip_image003But if you organised the meeting, you’ll see further options, including the ability to check the tracking status – so you can see who has accepted, declined or just not responded to your meeting request.

If you didn’t organise the meeting, you may be able to open the calendar of the organiser and still be able to see who responded and how. Useful when you’re sitting in a meeting that someone organised, and you want to see who’s still planning to attend.

Unfortunately, when you look at the View Tracking Status tab, you’ll see the responses shown as a table, but unfortunately it’s not possible to sort or filter that list – so quickly picking out everyone who hasn’t responded from a long list of invited people isn’t so easy.

clip_image004Redmond resident Texan Steve Winfield pointed out a simple solution, however – click on Copy Status to Clipboard, and the entire list gets copied to the clipboard – fire up Excel and hit paste, and you’ll be able to quickly sort and filter so you can chase up the non-responders or the folk who declined.

When you’re checking the tracking status of a meeting request, you will go to your calendar, but it’s not the only kind of clip_image006tracking you might need to do.

If you send an email with a read or delivery receipt requested, or are looking for a voting buttons response, you’ll see your original email sitting in Sent Items but with a different icon on the clip_image008message . open the message and you’ll be able to see some tracking capabilities, which differ a little depending on whether you’re looking at delivery or read receipts, or responses to the voting request. Either way, this time, you can only see a static list, with no clipboard shortcut. If you’d like to copy the responses:

· Click on the top one, 

· Press SHIFT-END to select the whole lot

· Press CTRL-C to copy to clipboard

Now, it’s a snap to go into Excel, paste the responses and you’re free to sort & filter as before.

Tip o’ the Week #109 – SkyDrive on the move

clip_image001Everyone should know about SkyDrive – the free Microsoft service that gives users with a Live ID (including MSN, Hotmail etc) a 25Gb storage space online, accessible ostensibly from anywhere?

Well, it’s just been made more convenient to access SkyDrive files from mobile devices, thanks to SkyDrive Mobile. In the case of Windows Phone and iPhone (and iPod Touch, and iPad too), there are apps specifically built to make the interface to SkyDrive more smooth – otherwise, it’s still possible to get there via a browser from other devices, albeit maybe a little more clunky.

We’re increasingly stepping up efforts to support non-Microsoft devices in accessing our services – as well as SkyDrive and Tag, there is a growing number of Microsoft apps for iOS and Android.
An example is the newly-released MSN App for the iPad – link via iTunes here.

One of the more useful tricks with SkyDrive is to use OneNote for home-based note taking (making sure you don’t fall foul of MS security policy and use it for work related, potentially confidential stuff) – with a OneNote stored in SkyDrive, it’s accessible from your phone, from multiple clip_image002PCs using OneNote just as  normal, and from any browser you care to point in the right direction. It’s a huge boon for taking notes like holiday booking reference numbers, insurance claim notes, shopping lists etc. We’ve covered this a while before in ToW #52 here, and there’s also an article in the online help.

We’ve also looked in the past at an unsanctioned but still potentially useful 3rd party PC app called SDExplorer, which lets you access SkyDrive folders directly from within Windows Explorer, and therefore within any application. There’s a free version that’s limited in some functions, and a trialware pay-$20-for variant that’s a bit more capable. Have a look but do remember that it’s subject to break any time the SkyDrive team make major changes – the SDExplorer authors seem to have done a reasonable job keeping up, but as they say, YMMV.

Tip o’ the Week #108 – Using Accelerators

Internet Explorer 8 added a concept known as IE “Accelerators” – the principle being that you could select some text on a page, and using an accelerator, quickly search the web for that piece of text, or maybe do something clip_image001more specific. The other day, I was talking to someone about a particular piece of kit, and we were looking at a website commenting on it. Looking for more info, I used one of the IE Accelerators to quickly Search with Bing, and he said, “wow – I didn’t know you could do that..?!”

There are a bunch of Accelerators built in with IE9 – the most obvious ones letting you select something on the page and immediately search Bing for the text you’ve selected. Even handier, select a post code or place name and Map with Bing to view the map straight away, all without need to re-key everything.

There are other accelerators available – if you’ve got more than one Search provider (other search engines, apparently, are available) then they’ll show up in the “All Accelerators->” flyout menu, and under the Manage  Accelerators option on the same menu, you can find more or deal with the ones you currently have.

Check out the IE Gallery for more accelerators and other addons.