Tip o’ the Week #263 – Starter for 10: Windows 10 Tips

Starter for 10” – a phrase that evokes thoughts of  Paxo berating some poor swot, or Bambi and the Scumbags. But what we have now is a few tips to get started with on Windows 10, and a promise of more to follow in due course (and maybe a picture round). If you have a favourite tweak or trick, please send it across and you’ll be covered in glory in some future missive.

Anyway, hot on the heels of the unveiling of Windows 10 last week came the availability of the Technical Preview (or Technical Preview 2 as it’s being known unofficially by some). It’s available publicly & free to everyone who signs up as a Windows Insider on here.

Most obvious changes

There are a few biggies with Windows 10 – the Start Screen has gone, and been replaced with a new Start Menu that includes Live Tiles as well as the Apps List beloved of Windows 7 users. Some Windows 8 users aren’t too pleased with what feels like a step back to the old way of doing things, but do bear in mind that this is still a preview and things will change. And there’s a lot more besides the Start menu too…

 Modern apps – can now run in a window as well as full screen.
Charms – gone (though there is a context menu at the top of Modern app windows, that gives access to the charms, but the old swipe-from-the-right is gone).
Settings menu – fairly different (and quite a bit nicer – more like a Modern app take on the old Win7 control panel).

 If you put your Taskbar on the  side of the screen instead of the bottom (an approach which is arguably better use of screen real estate if you have a widescreen monitor or laptop display), then pressing the Windows Key to get the Start menu up won’t let you type the names of apps or other things to search. Windows 7 allowed this with a Search box on the start menu, and Windows 8 allowed you to just start typing on the Start Screen to do the same thing. If the task bar in Windows 10 TP2 is on the bottom of the screen, pressing the Windows Key shows a text box on the taskbar and you can start typing right away.

There is an icon under or to the left of the Start button which invokes a Search box, so if you like to  have a vertical taskbar then just get used to clicking that, or pressing WindowsKey+S to invoke the search. If you’re outside of the US, you’ll probably end up seeing that the Blue One isn’t yet available.

If you’re particularly keen to have Cortana on your desktop, you can set your Region &  language to United States and English (US) by going into the Time & language section of the new Settings app, change the region, add English (United States) as a language, then make it primary.

This does mean you’ll be forever fighting the keyboard layout (or press WindowsKey+Space to quickly switch between US English and your normal one), or the alternative might be to just wait until some future update rolls out Cortana to non-US English speakers and maybe even other languages too.

Windows Insiders can set how aggressively they want to receive subsequent updates to the preview – known as flighting – which should be regular in their appearance, and will be distributed via Windows Update for the first time. Just go into the Update & recovery section of the Settings app, and look under Advanced Settings.

 Is this the final monolithic release of Windows? According to Ed Bott, at least, it will be. We’ve already announced that it’ll be free for the first year after release, to Windows 7 and 8.x users. This means that for the first year, the upgrade will be freely available, not that there’s some plot to start billing people after the first year or usage…

With Windows 10 being made available via Windows Update to Win7 and Win8.x users, it’s quite possible it could achieve a high %age of users within the first year after release, and after that, who knows what the arrangements would be for laggards to upgrade.

It’s been already confirmed, though, that the updates will be free for the life of the machine it’s being installed on.

Tip o’ the Week #262 – Windows Phone 8.1 Update

clip_image002Well, it’s been an exciting week. We might not have laser beams but we will get “HoloLens(though we’re not quite at the “Help me, Obi-Wan…” level of holo-projection). Augmented Reality may be about to get really powerful and mainstream, though one departed great was adding to reality at the height of Reaganomics, almost 30 years ago

Windows Phone as a name is reportedly going away, to be replaced with just “Windows 10”, but there’s still some innovation to come before the availability of the new phone version, later this year (preview here, maybe?).

The upgrade known as “Windows Phone 8.1 Update” is making its way in the world; some new phones already have it installed, while others are getting it as we speak. Lumia users will see a new package of updates that includes Windows Phone 8.1 Update, known as “Lumia Denim”: see here for an overview or look here for detailed rollout information.

Some highlights

clip_image006There are a few particularly cool additions; like the ability to group icons on your home screen into folders, where a tap on the group will expand it out into a sclip_image004ection with larger tiles so you can start the apps quickly. It’s one extra tap on the home screen but it means you can get quicker access to key apps without needing to scroll around on the usual list of apps.

There’s also a nice feature called Apps Corner, which lets you pick a few (like Maps, or a good Stopwatch) and allow them to be launched by anyone, without needing you to unlock the phone. It’s a bit like Kids Corner but for everyone else, and you do need to specifically activate it (either by navigating through the settings menu to enable it, or pinning a shortcut to the start screen) before handing the phone over.

clip_image008action center

Everyone who’s on Windows Phone 8.1 will no doubt like the action center, with its quick glance at battery life remaining, the easy jump straight to the phone’s settings or the 4 big tiles that take you to common settings like WiFi and Bluetooth… but did you know you can customise it? Go into settings > notifications + actions and you can replace the 4 default tiles with choices of your own.

Windows Phone 8.1 Update adds the ability to show mobile data on this list – so if you’re travelling and want quick access to be able to switch roaming data on and off, there’s no easier way.

Finally, internet sharing on the Update gets a tweak – you can set your phone as before to be a WiFi hotspot and share out its own data connection to other devices, but you can also now do internet sharing over Bluetooth.

For a full list of what’s new in the update, and for the OS version numbers, see here.

Tip o’ the Week #260 – Scan cards to OneNote


Business cards are still a big part of business culture – even if many of us primarily communicate via email, the ceremony of handing over a little card with your name on it, at the start of a face-to-face meeting, is still quite important. Some countries, such as Japan, have very particular etiquette rules surrounding business cards, so it could take a long time for them to become obsolete.

What better time to institute a resolution to digitise the pile of business cards you may have lying on your desk, than the new year? And to routinely add new business cards to your Outlook contacts folder when you get them, without waiting ages? Well, an update to the amazing Windows Phone app, Office Lens, can help out.


clip_image006The Lens app (install from here) now has an ability to scan business cards as well as photos, whiteboards & documents. Just tap the option on the top right of the app to choose the mode, then select business card. Now, point the phone at the business card you want to scan in, tap the screen to focus and press the on-screen camera icon or the phone’s camera button, to “scan” the card.

It helps if there’s a contrast between the card and the surface it’s on, so if you have a light desk then try getting a piece of coloured paper, and you don’t necessarily have to angle straight down – try to avoid casting a shadow over the card. The software will try to identify the edges of the card and will scale it as if it was flat, and fills the image.

clip_image008Once you’ve photographed the card, you can choose if you want to select & use it, delete it and try again, or possibly add another image – so if your card has info on both sides or you want to batch people from the same company up in one go, then you can have multiple images per contact page.

After tapping the save icon, you can choose which section in OneNote you want to save the resulting info – it may be worth setting up a new section in your notebook on OneDrive, just to catch all the contacts while you decide what to do with them. It works best if you have a pile of cards to just scan them all in as one production line, then go through them and edit/tidy up as appropriate.

Each card will produce a single page in OneNote, with the image(s) of the card embedded, and OneNote will try to identify the text off the card and also figure out the key fields (such as name, address, telephone, email etc). The title of each page might not be all that helpful (by default, it’ll be something like “05/01/2015 13:01 Office Lens”) , but it will be possible to search across the whole notebook, so you can find the contact details from each scanned card without necessarily having to do any more. You can always rename the OneNote page later, if you like.

If you want to add the resultant scan to Outlook’s contacts, then each OneNote page that can successfully identify enough key information from the scan will show a “BizCard” attachment, which opens a vCard of the contact information. Simply open, make any final tweaks, hit Save and it’ll be added to your Outlook contacts folder.

Finally, you’ll probably want to delete all the scanned images from your phone – they’ll be cluttering up your SkyDrive/OneDrive Camera Roll folder if you have automatic upload still enabled, so the quickest way would be to use your PC to delete all the card scans from that folder and let it sync back to OneDrive.

Tip o’ the Week #259 – Manage your Christmas Cards in Outlook

Happy New Year! For many of us, time to chuck out trees, and pack away any and all decorations, never to be seen again until December ‘15. Before you recycle the cards you may have received over the holiday season, here’s a quick way of using Outlook to make the job of sending your cards that bit easier.

It involves creating a new view and a couple of custom fields within the Contacts function in Outlook – as has been mentioned before on ToW, when Outlook views any item (an appointment, a contact, a task etc), all it’s doing is using a particular form to display a bunch of fields. It’s possible to easily extend those items with your own fields and there are form editing capabilities too, but we’re not going to use them today. This tip might look a bit daunting but it’s really quite simple, and it’s something you’ll only have to do once – it persists in your Contacts folder so is available on all PCs.

If you have multiple monitors, then it might help to put this email on the 2nd monitor as you may not be able to easily switch to read the instructions whilst you’re setting things up. Or maybe just print it out.

Create a new view

Firstly, go into the Contacts folder then select the Views tab, and select Change View, then Manage Views to see a list of views that apply to your Contacts folders. Click the New… on the top right.

Select Table as the type of view and give it a name like Christmas Cards, then click on OK to create and start editing the new view.

Click the Columns button and remove everything from the “Show these columns” list on the right hand side, except for Full Name.

Now, it’s time to create a couple of new columns which will be visible in the view and can be used to track interesting bits of info – like whether you sent a card to this contact, and if you got one in return. Click on the New Column button and for the name enter Got Card, then choose Type Yes/No and leave Format as Icon. Press OK to create, and repeat the process for the Sent Card field.

Now, select other relevant fields from the chooser on the left – try selecting All Contact fields from the “select available columns… drop-down box, then pick some of the more esoteric contact fields that already exist – Spouse/Partner and Children fields will let you remember who to make the cards out to, and Home Address and Notes are pretty self-explanatory.

Once you’ve created the view, resize the columns as appropriate (elongating address, for example). Now, you’re probably looking at a contacts list that’s got 1,000 entries of people you principally do business with, and a handful of friends you might send cards to. The next trick is to filter out people you want to be in the list.


The nice thing about using the Table type view is that you can edit in-line, ie. you don’t need to open up the contacts forms to change the details. Since you’ve just created the Got… and Sent… fields, none of your existing contacts will have a value for any of these fields.

If you click on the Got or Sent fields, you’ll set it to be either yes or no. Try locating a few of your friends in the list and tick these fields, maybe fill in Spouse and Children while you’re at it (and now’s a good time to do that, as you’ll probably have all their names on the cards you received).

OK, now we have a quorum of contacts tagged with Got & Sent attributes, go into View Settings and click the Filter button, then switch to the Advanced pane. From the Field drop-down box, choose User-defined fields in folder and add Got Card.

Change the condition to exists and press Add to List.

Repeat the same process with the Sent Card field, then press OK. Finally, before saving the view, you might want to change the Sort order to Full Name.

Now if you press OK to save the view, you should see your contacts list filtered to show you only the entries that you have tagged as having some value for both Got Card and Sent Card.

If you want to continue adding contacts to the list, simply open your existing contact (maybe from the main Outlook contacts view), then click on All Fields, and select the fields from the user-defined fields in folder – you can then set Yes or No for each of the custom fields, and that contact will now show up in your Christmas Cards view.


If you want to ditch someone from the list, open their contact, look under All Fields, select from user-defined fields in this item (not user-defined fields in this folder!), select the field and Delete it.

So what’s the point of all this faffing about? Well, in 11 months’ time when you come to do your next round of cards, just select the view in Outlook and if you select File / Print and select Table Style, you’ll get a nice sheet or two of all the details and addresses you’ll need to write all your cards.