Tip o’ the Week #143 – Share your calendar externally

Organising our home lives is increasingly done digitally, from keeping in touch with friends and making arrangements over social networking, to just the basics of communicating intra-family – how many readers have multiple laptops or <cough>tablet type devices(soon to be Surfaces for Microsofties at least, thanks Steve!) at home? Have you ever IM’ed your significant other even if you’re both in the house at the same time?

Well, as an adjunct to the merry-go-round of keeping your home life under control, Tim Hall suggested this week’s tip, and although it concerns something that’s actually been possible in Outlook for several versions, it’s a hugely useful feature which is perhaps easily forgotten.

We’re all used to having other people in the company being able to see our calendar, so they don’t make arrangements with or for us that conflict with other appointments. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to share the calendar clip_image001with your nearest and dearest?

Well, you can. Go into Calendar in Outlook, and in Outlook 2013 (other versions are available, though the UI may vary), look at the Ribbon on the Share part of the main Home tab. You’ll see the ability to Publish Online – with a few clicks, you can have Outlook push some or all details of your calendar to an external service on Office.com (after prompting you to login with your Office.com/Hotmail account ID), and which can in turn be consumed by invited Outlook.com/Hotmail etc users if they too are running Outlook. You choose who to invite, and they get emailed a link to add your calendar straight into their Outlook client. Simple as that.

There are a few other options which could prove more useful if not quite so straightforward to set up. What if your other half isn’t using Outlook? How about being able to sync a copy of their calendar onto your Windows Phone…? We’ll look into these in a future Tip o’ the Week, but if you’re keen to press on, you could look into a free third party addin that replicates content between two calendars, meaning you could keep a copy of your work Calendar in a household Outlook.com account, and sync that to the Windows Phones of everyone in the house…

Tip o’ the Week #142 – Touch and Outlook 2013

clip_image001Here’s a super-quick Outlook 2013 tip for anyone with a Touch-enabled PC running Windows 8…

Incidentally, If you have a multi-touch laptop like the Lenovo x201 Tablet or X220 Tablet, you may find that after Windows 8 is installed, it won’t see that the screen can see multiple touch points … so pinch/zoom etc won’t work.

To resolve, go into the System Control Panel applet by either pressing WindowsKey + Pause/Break, or just type Computer into the Start Screen, then right-click on the icon, and choose Properties from the menu at the bottom). Once there, click on the Windows Experience Index link and then run or re-run the assessment then run Windows Update.
That should sort it out.

clip_image002Now, Outlook 2013 will allow you to do a number of things with touch, most notably navigating around an email (swiping up & down to scroll) or smoothly zooming in and out on text (pinch/stretch forefinger and thumb or use any other two fingers for added panache) to increase the text size – something that’s highlighted to you slap in the middle of the screen.

clip_image003Navigating around an application designed for mouse interaction isn’t always easy, though, and although it has shied away from large-scale touchification, there is one cute addition to Outlook 2013 that is worth switching on if you ever let your finger do the pointing, rather than the mouse.

If you click on the little down arrow to the side of the Quick Access Toolbar that’s visible in Outlook, and clip_image005select Touch Mode, then it will add a new icon to the toolbar which literally just spaces things out a bit more – meaning it’s easier to tap folder names from a list, or icons on the Ribbon, using a fat finger rather than a skinny mouse pointer.

Definitely worth having a look if you’re a touch friendly user.

PLUG: A group of Microsoft staff, friends and Microsoft partners (collectively called “Project 100”) cycled from Edinburgh Castle to Buckingham Palace a few weeks ago, to raise funds for 5 different and worthy charities. We’d love it if you could support us – thanks!

Tip o’ the Week #141 – more Outlook 2013 tweaks


A couple more tweaks for those of you who are enjoying Outlook 2013 (or Outlook “15”). The first comes from ToW stalwart Stuart Handley, who is driven to near distraction by the Reading pane in Outlook. In his own words…

How can I disable in-line reply in the Reading Pane?

To provide a more streamlined experience without the need of popping up extra message windows and dialogs anymore, Outlook 2013 introduces in-line reply which allows you to press reply and directly start writing your reply in the Reading Pane (which means that it is not really a Reading Pane anymore and they should have changed the name).

You can press POP OUT to open your message in a regular Message editor window which provides access to additional formatting options and features.

To always use the regular Message editor window instead of in-line reply, disable the option:

File-> Options-> Mail-> Replies and Forwards-> Use inline replies when replying or forwarding

Maybe the new Reading/composing pane thing is a mixed blessing, although a lot of the time, progress means having to adopt an at-first uncomfortable change. Maybe try it out and if it causes you to want to cast a spell on its designers, just switch it off.

On a more benevolent level, there’s one nice design feature which is highlighted by Phil Hand

I just typed out an email in Outlook 2013 which contained “attached” in the body. As usual, I forgot to attach the attachment but wow!, I got the following popup J


Wonderful! – now if only it was Clippy that was telling me 😉

If, like Phil, you have a wistful thought when Clippy is mentioned, you could always sign the Bring Back Clippy petition. Only 51 signatories at the time of writing, so don’t hold your breath for People Power bringing the Clip back from the great wastepaper basket in the sky.

If you’d rather not be warned about missing attachments, you can always switch it off by going into …

File-> Options-> Mail-> Send Messages and clear the “Warn me…” checkbox.


clip_image005It’s also worth noting that now and again, clearing the Auto-Complete List could be a good idea – as people leave the company, you might find their names & old addresses are still being listed. Of course, you can always ditch individual addresses from the cache by clicking the X that appears at the end of the errant address.

Tip o’ the Week #140 – PDFs in Windows 8 – reprise


Hot on the heels of ToW #138 which looked at handling PDFs in Windows 8, lots of feedback from avid ToW readers with their own tuppence to contribute.

clip_image001Mike Mundy pointed out a simple way to print from within the built-in Win8 Reader app – good ol’ fashioned CTRL-P. Actually, this combo works for any Modern UI Windows 8 App, as long as the app itself supports printing. Try it out – Internet Explorer lets you print, for example, but the News and Weather apps don’t.

One of the features of the Modern UI App is that they declare to the Operating System what they’re capable of doing – maybe they support sharing their content with other apps, or they could support interaction with different devices… like sending their content to a printer, for example. These capabilities and “contracts” are typically exposed through the Charms.

Woody also suggested that Tracker Software’s PDF-Xchange is an even better reader than FoxIt. If you haven’t tried out an alternative to the Adobe monolith, then you might want to give it a whirl.

John Owen and Jason Carter both pointed out that Office 2013 (well, Word 2013) has the capability to edit PDF files too. Well, it does rather want to save the edited version back as a Word document type, but you can always over-ride it and save as PDF.

You can also save documents as XPS format, or just print a doc out (as per the screen shot above) to the XPS Document Writer. XPS – or XML Paper Specification to give it the full moniker (or ECMA-388 for its standard name) – is a freely available spec that Microsoft developed as a way of taking stuff that’s onscreen and representing it exactly as it will appear on paper. Kind of like a PDF or PostScript file, but without requiring the license from Adobe.

XPS has never really taken off, much; even Microsoft internally makes pretty heavy use of PDFs, still, maybe for things that aren’t supposed to be edited (job offers letters, annual review docs, that sort of thing).

Or things that weren’t easy to edit before Word 2013 came along… d’oh!