My Writers Circle

Writing => Authors' Resource Centre => Topic started by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:46:26 PM

Title: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:46:26 PM
I have copied and pasted Sp Chicks original thread (, plus some of the questions and answers already posed by members.

I have taught Microsoft products at the grade school, high school, and adult education levels. I know stuff about the suite of Office products that I think everyone else knows, too. I say things that end up sounding brilliant when they really are simply pedantic.

However, in a different place here I mentioned how to use AutoCorrect to make one's life much easier. It was mentioned that I could write a tips thing. I'm not sure how much more I know than other casual users. But I thought I might mention things here as I notice myself using shortcuts.

What I found myself doing this morning was starting a new section or chapter. I hate when I enter, enter, enter down to a fresh page and then go back and edit and my page break moves and it become all jumbled up. In order to make that not happen, you can make a forced page break by holding the Ctrl key while hitting enter. Then if you go back and edit your work, the page break remains static so that your chapters will start on fresh pages.

I don't know if this is helpful. I don't know how many other tips I know that casual users don't know. I would happily answer questions about working with Microsoft Office. If you ask something I don't know, I am also fairly good at finding out, or if I can't find out within a reasonable amount of time, perhaps others here would know or maybe it is just something none of us know or something Bill needs to add to make the program even more bloated.

Anyway, if you like keyboard tips (I hate reaching over for the mouse when I'm already typing) I might be able to help. I know that there are times you must simply use the mouse and menus, but I even know how to do that from the keyboard.   

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:47:01 PM
Always nice to see tips.

I use manual page breaks, but had forgotten the ctrl key is the short cut - yes I do mean forgotten, it isn't a euphormism for didn't know.

I have seperate dictionaries for specific projects - particularly useful in scifi and fantasy situations, but can be good for when stories have more unusual 'foreign' names and dialect.

I also use 'notes' which I make - ermm - notes in, they usually link to a specific paragraph so as it moves the note follows. Can be anything in the note, a reminder to check something, anything. Only thing is the words are included in the wordcount.

Incidentally I use
- similar to word - can open word docs and its free - and very good.
(I hate Microsoft so tend to avoid their products, but prefer windows due to compatability issues and software available. Maybe will switch to linux one day.)     

(Writers Block)
Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:47:44 PM
In Open Office, the find and replace dialog box is opened with Ctrl + f.     

I have that on my computer too, but MS Office has a few more of the fancy things I use frequently.

The Auto Correct is in both and can be used to make your computer work for you, but the double spacing doesn't seem to have a keyboard hot key combination in Open Office. The Ctrl+5 does do 1.5 spacing but single and double spacing doesn't seem to have one of those shortcuts.

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:48:15 PM
Hi Spchick,

First, I think your idea of posting tips is a good one. Many of us know different things, and I suppose we all assume that everyone else knows them. But that's not the case, I didn't know about Ctrl+F5, for instance. Thanks! I've got Open Office as well. I've just had a nose at View>Toolbars>Customise, and found that there are several 'spare' keys and combinations that you can program yourself. So my keyboard shortcut for double spacing is now F4...  There seemed to be quite a few 'spares', so scope for quite a bit of customisation, methinks.

Keep the tips coming, when ever you think of them. Maybe one of the mods might think this worth stickying, so we'd all know where to find it when we need a tip..?


Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:48:43 PM
There is no way that I know of to make inside quotes begin with a capital letter. Perhaps this is good or after a break in the conversation, you would have to undo the thing. But Word sees the Quote Mark itself as the first letter of the next sentence.

There are times when the auto cap doesn't work even when it should. It will not recognize a new sentence if the last thing was a number or certain words. I don't know why it doesn't like it or world or a few others. Perhaps we should write to Bill.

Now, if your computer helps you too much, you can simply undo it by hitting Ctrl+z and it will undo the last thing it automatically corrected for you when you didn't want it corrected. This is useful sometimes.

Ctrl+z is the shortcut key for "undo" and if you can't remember that, simply clicking on the undo button with fix it as well.

Sorry I can't fix everything. LOL   There are some things only Bill can fix.

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:49:16 PM
Hi SpChick, maybe you, or someone you know, can help me out.

I use a laptop with a touchpad mouse. My problem is that when I'm negotiating a Word document, sometimes on using the touchpad,the damn page suddenly shifts horizontally, and I have to go throuh the annoying process of clicking the horizontal page shift to get it back. I've been plagued by it for years, and thought it was my old Windows 98 giving problems, but now I have a new laptop with XP and it still does the same trick.

All suggestions gratefully received - Anthony
Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:49:44 PM
Hi Anthony,

Not sure how much help this will be, but...

It's some time since I stopped using MS word, in favour of Open Office. But I seem to recall that, at the bottom left of the Word window, you have a selection of three or four 'buttons', that alter the 'view' of your document. I don't have these in OO, but I always used the, I think, 'print view' option. this keeps the page in W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G. format. 'Normal' view gives you one huge page, on which, though your text wraps normally, you can move a seemingly infinite distance to the right of your text, requiring,as you say, clicking on the page shift to get back. Maybe try hitting these buttons, see what happens?

Of course, there's always a good chance I'm talking gibberish... :-)

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:50:15 PM
I've had this annoying horizontal shift problem as well. The other solution I'd suggest is to zoom the screen out a little so there's no side for the screen to scroll to. Personally, I set the zoom to a little less than the width of the text - usually about 105% / 117% - which gives a readable font size and no reason to shift from side to side.

Re-reading this thread, I have to add, I believe this only works if you're viewing in Print Layout...

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:50:46 PM
A thread on computer tips is always a popular one on forums, I've found. Good call. 

My favourite time saver is autocorrect. If you find you've a word or phrase you're using a lot - I used to write technical documents with lots of acronyms and repetitions - Word can automatically drop the phrase in when you type a code.

For example, if I was using the phrase 'MyWritersCircle' a lot, it'd be a pain to type those letters all the time. If I set up autocorrect to recognise the code 'mwc' and change it to MyWritersCircle every time I type mwc, I wouldn't have to type the phrase each time.

If you want to have a play with autocorrect, you'll find it in Word on the Tools menu under AutoCorrect Options. Click the Autocorrect tab to pull up a screen where you can enter your phrase and code. You have to have the checkbox 'Replace text as you type' ticked, and then Word will correct various common typing errors (it works differently to the spellchecker and I've never found this a problem) as well as replacing your codes with your chosen phrases as you type.

You can even use it as it was intended, and add any common typing errors you make and they'll be corrected as you type - my favourite is beleive / believe. But who wants to use something for its intended purpose?   

Hope that's of use, but drop me a line if I can help.


Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:51:24 PM
step by step process for adding to auto correct as copied from a different place here

Two ways:

1. Type out what you want it to actually look like, my case African-American
2. Highlight that text
3. Go to Tools; then select AutoCorrect Options ... (Older versions I believe just say AutoCorrect)
4. Type in what you want to type, my case afam
5. Click on Add
6. Click OK

Other way
1. Go to tools and open the AutoCorrect dialog box by clicking on the AutoCorrect options. ...
2. Type in abbreviated form and the way you want it to look
3. Hit add
4. Either add more autocorrect things, or click ok to close dialog box

Either way you will now get the machine to correct  your type.

afam comes up African-American, but if I want plural, I have to backspace once to add the S, I could put in afams and have it come up as the plural.

This section will hold a HUGE amount of data. I used to have whole forms stored in there so that they automatically popped up.

I never type my name because I just enter my initials and my name displays. My sister's initials are CAN and she does not want to have her name appear each time she writes the word "can" so she has to use something else. Be sure that whatever you enter is not a real word, and be sure it is spelled correctly!

You can go back and modify your entries. They can be deleted, too.

Best of luck. This makes typing so much easier for me and I hate to type. I love to write, tho. <<< In Word that would have come out though.
How do you use the hyperlink here so that the URL isn't posted like you did in the first post of this thread?

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:52:19 PM
Tim aka Red_Barren taught me that. I was trying to do it like html and it sort of works that way.

the link can be placed inside the url coding {url=link goes here with the equal sign in place and no spaces around the = sign}and then text goes here{/url}

then the whole thing is rather pale, so highlight from bracket to bracket and hit bold and the thing stands out more.

I had to change the [ signs to { so that it wouldn't turn into code.

Make sure you hit preview the first few times cuz you are more than likely not going to get it right on the first try. Or maybe that was just me   LOL   but practice makes perfect.

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:53:02 PM
Now I need to figure out how to do images.

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:53:39 PM
Okay.  First of all you need the picture on your computer.  There's a size limit of 250K,

I suggest you copy the picture to your desk top so you know exactly where it it, and give it a sensible descriptive name if has something like 'DSF1364235'.

Now write whatever message you want with your pic.

Down at the bottom left below the posting window you will 'additional options' .

Click on it.

A box will open inviting you to [Choose...]  Do so.

There is a short list of allowed file types.

Double left click and the box should tell you its been selected.

Click on [Post]

(If memory serves correctly you cant [Preview] the pics, unlike the text)

If you've got a slow connection - like mine - it will take several seconds to complete posting.  Be patient.

It should be that simple, once you know how.

My normal consultation fee is 500, as shown, but for you two lovely ladies I will waive the fee this time.

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:54:14 PM
I believe the train has fallen off the tracks. Or Elvis has left the building.

However, I would like to take the time to point out about clicking.

A single click moves the cursor to where you are clicking - as everyone knows.
Double click will select the word.
Triple click will select an entire paragraph.

handy if you want to move the whole thing, cut it out completely, or format it in some way.

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:54:42 PM
If you happen to find yourself faced with a pop-up willing to scan your computer, press Alt-F4.

If you want to select individual items in a list, hold down the CTRL key and click away.

If you want to select a range of contiguous objects, hold down the shift key, click the first object, click the last object, and have your way with them.

If you want to delete a directory in UNIX, type rm -r * while signed in as root.

Oh, make a backup first.

That's all I have for tonight, folks. ;-)

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:55:08 PM
Since I use Internet Explorer 7.0, each of these threads opens from my email into a new tab. At times I will have too many tabs open and it will begin to wear thin on my patience.

I can chase down all the little Xes to close the tabs, or much easier, I can Ctrl+W and keep closing them one after another.

If you want to stop a whole program, that is close IE down completely, Alt+F4 does that. Any program, including IE or Word or Excel or pop up windows that are annoying you.

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:55:37 PM
I may have missed these in the earlier posts, so apologies if this is a double.

I've had horizontal shifting problems with touchpads too. I think it happens because in certain areas of the touchpad, it allows you to scroll like you would with a mouse. On my touchpad, the right side scrolls up and down and the very bottom scrolls left to right. I have to be careful and always make sure I look at the touchpad when I'm using it so I don't accidentally use the scroll stuff. It can be a bit of a pain in the neck once in a while but it really doesn't bother me that much; when you don't have a mouse it's actually very helpful.

This next one is part computer tip, part manuscript tip. Has anyone ever tried to use master documents to organize their manuscripts? It's not fun, and a lot of times, the information gets corrupted. I have a system I use for editing that seems to work really well. I put each of my chapters in a separate file, so I can get to each of them with one click. In those individual files, I highlight and colorize and note whatever I want, so I remember important things later. In my main manuscript file, I have a macro that "cleans up" all that extra stuff and formats the manuscript the way I want. I use fields to include every chapter in the file, and separate them with static page breaks, so even if one chapter ends up shrinking by a page or growing by however many pages, new chapters always stay on a new page, and they appear in their updated versions when you update the fields. The only drawback is that in order to prevent accidental modification of your original files, you have to lock the field result, and that makes it so every time the field is updated, if you want to see it in "manuscript format" you have to run your macro again. It's a pretty good system overall though; there are some good places online where you can learn how to write macro code.

Hope that helps,
Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 23, 2008, 01:56:28 PM
That is just awesome, thanks! I missed the memo.

(that was for your previous post)

I did okay on the second one 'til I reached: UNIX... but it does sound cool.   


PS, do you mind if I add this link to my January 08 newsletter? (Sorry, December is put to bed.)

Unix isn't hard, it just turns everything backwards from DOS and uses a few different directs.  LOL   only geeks need to know that stuff. Tim was showing off his stuff there.

However Nadine, I would truly like to visit your blog. The above link goes to Folding @ Home, which is something else Tim got me into. I've followed the You Tube link, too. Do you have a link for your blog?

Tip for the day:

If you are a horrible person and use Wikipedia for any research and need to cite your source, Wiki makes it abundantly easy for you. Along the left side there are boxes of links: Navigation, Interaction, Search, and Toolbox. Finally there are a list of languages. In the Toolbox, at the bottom of the section, there is a handy-dandy link called "Cite this article" (although it isn't on the main page as it is unneeded there). You are offered nine different types of citation formats to copy and paste. I cannot tell you how much time it saves.

Patti, just a baby geek
Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 25, 2008, 02:03:10 PM
Something really strange happened yesterday, and it's carried over to today. When I start a new page on Word there aren't top and bottom margins, if that's the right way to say this. It's stating right at the top of the page until the very bottom. Does anyone know how this happens? And how to get it back to normal?

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 25, 2008, 02:03:49 PM
Perhaps you've gone into the so-called 'Normal' view? Generally I prefer to use 'Print Layout' myself, as this looks more like a printed page (as you would expect from the name, of course).

Try clicking on View in the main menu, then click on Print Layout. If that's what has happened, the view of the page you are more accustomed to should be restored.

If that's not it, of course, my apologies!

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 25, 2008, 02:04:18 PM
Nope that isn't it, thanks for trying Nick.

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 25, 2008, 02:04:55 PM
I went into MS WORD HELP and searched for "missing margins".
I clicked on the "Restore headers, footers, and margins" result, and this is what it said:

When you open a document, is the insertion point at the top left corner of the page, as if there were no top margin or header (header and footer: A header, which can consist of text or graphics, appears at the top of every page in a section. A footer appears at the bottom of every page. Headers and footers often contain page numbers, chapter titles, dates, and author names.)? Or is the header or footer missing from the first page of your document?

Missing white space

The setting for showing white space between pages may have been turned off. To show white space between pages, do the following:

On the View menu, click Print Layout.
On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the View tab.
Under Print and Web Layout options, select the White space between pages (Print view only) check box.

good luck

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 25, 2008, 02:05:20 PM
Cheers Russ. I have no idea how that happened but you've come up trumps.

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 28, 2008, 02:40:26 PM
Question for Tim. What is the best tip on stopping spam you can share with us?

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on January 28, 2008, 02:41:01 PM
I've decided to answer this with my KISS method (Keep it Simple, Stupid).  Trust me, I could write a book on this subject.  The problem is, it would be out of date before it ever got to print.

I think the best tip I could give anyone right now is to realize spam is not just an annoyance anymore, it has transformed into a threat.  Just clicking on a link in a Google search could infect your computer and make it part of a criminal botnet.

I know what you're thinking, "But Tim, Google is safe!"

Go to and look for the download button.  Click it, and you'll be prompted to install a plug-in that will tell you if Google's search results are really safe.  Do that, then go to Google and search for "music downloads". 

See the yellow ! next to target's result?  Target will send you spam by default if you sign up.  Now scroll down a bit (5th in the list I got) to the kazza site.  See that red x?  Put your mouse over that and you'd see their one download is bad news for your computer.

It's not a perfect system as not every site has been or ever could be rated, but it's a reasonable start at protecting ourselves from those that will wish to do us harm for their own gain.

Red_Barren (Tim)
Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on July 12, 2008, 04:46:31 PM
How to remove the McAfee Software from your PC. - by rewh2oman.

Go to Start -> Control Panel
double-click on "Add/Remove Programs"
Find "McAfee" from the list, select it with your mouse and click the "remove" button on that line.
There may be more than one "McAfee" program listed, remove all of them.
Reboot your PC
Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on July 12, 2008, 04:48:03 PM
Anti-virus software:

I've used AVG free for several years now, with complete satisfaction, but it is currently in the throes of changing to a new version.  I have seen no reports on the new version yet, so know nothing about it.  But I am getting a message every time I start up.  This tells me the old version will not be updated for much longer.

AVG used to be a very 'lean and mean' product but I can't help getting the feeling it has become much more complicated.

My youngest daughter and her geeky little friends swear by Avast, so I may be tempted to change my allegiance.

Both AVG8 (the free version) and Avast are available by download from


Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on July 12, 2008, 04:49:59 PM
Computer Security:

Hi Cathy,

I've got Vista, so here goes...

The built in firewall seems to work OK, and it's activated by default, so it should be working on yours unless you've been in to the 'security centre' and switched it off. I bet you haven't! 

A firewall isn't anti-virus, it's to stop unwanted nasty little geeks (hackers) getting in to your computer from the internet and using it to do all sorts of things with without you knowing.

Anti virus. What I'd do is get one of the freebies, AVG is popular, I use Avira, it's good, and updates itself every day when I switch on. I'd download it to your desktop, but don't install it yet.

Once it's downloaded, disconnect from the web. Then get rid of MacAfee; probably going to Start/all programs is best, if you find MacAfee on that list, right click on it and you should find the 'uninstall' option.

Once you've uninstalled it (you will probably have to re-boot, make sure your comp doesn't connect to the net when you do), then you can install the new anti virus you've just down loaded. Then reconnect to the net.

I'd also get 'Spybot-Search and Destroy'. That checks for unwanted nasties, and some not-so-nasty-but-still-unecessary stuff on your comp. If you don't schedule it to run, then run it manually once week.

One word about this. The latest version also keeps a real-time check on your registry (it doesn't matter what your registry is, but it is important to your comp). As a result, occasionally when you download new stuff, or you get an automatic update, or even remove stuff, Spybot will pop up a window to warn you something is trying to alter the registry. If you're doing something intentional, or you know it's an automatic update, just click 'Accept'

I've had Avira and Spybot for several years now, and not had any problems. And both run on Vista.



Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on July 12, 2008, 04:53:12 PM
More on Avast:


I work in the IT industry. I didn't see this thread as I rarely go to the coffee shop. So I do not know if this is still an issue for you. What "DC" advised is pretty much how you should go about it for the Antivirus.

McAfee is installed i a lot of new machines, but has a limited subscription. An Antivirus needs to update on a regular basis for new definition files, kind of like a dictionary looking for new words every day.

I personally would recommend AVAST for a beginner. Once installed it will pretty much do everything for you and you will never have to worry about it. go to his link and reguister for a years free subscription they will email you a license key. Then go back to  that page and download the program to your computer. If it's not on your desktop check your documents where there is a download folder. Or else do a search for it.

Install the program and copy paste the registration key when it asks for it. If you forgot it, or can't do this then just click demo. We can enter in the key later.

Once the program is installed have a play with it. Get used to the terminology, it might save you from a virus one day. Spend 15 minutes reading over the icons and clicking on a few buttons. Do the same later in the day or tomorrow. It might be boring and make no sense but it will standby you in the future. I am sure I made a video on this somewhere for a class. I also should have a very old lecture paper I used to give on the subject.

Once you are comfortable with all that, let me know and I can give you a run down on firewalls and spybot type stuff. And we can see if your Vista machine is updated.


Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on July 12, 2008, 04:55:29 PM
(Quote from Nick.)

Returning to Cathy's original question, my partner, Jayne, had exactly this happen on her laptop as well. It came with a six-month free trial of McAfee, and at the end of this time she decided to uninstall it and get the free AVG instead. Even though McAfee was no longer on her computer, however, for months after she got irritating pop-up 'nag' messages trying to get her to buy the full version of McAfee. She never did work out how to get rid of them (and she's an IT lecturer) but eventually they did stop. So possibly it's just something you're going to have to live with for a while.

That's actually pretty easy to get rid of, but I don't know if Vista comes with msconfig.  You can find out by clicking Start -> Run, typing "msconfig" in the box (without the quotes), and clicking OK.  There should be a line of tabs across the top, click the one that says "Startup".  Uncheck anything that says "McAfee", "Dell", or "Roxio", then click OK.  Reboot, and msconfig will start again.  Uncheck the box that says run on startup and click OK, and you should be all set. 

Title: Re: Computer Help & Tips:
Post by: Cathy C on July 12, 2008, 04:56:15 PM
Quick tip from Red_Barren :

If you just bought a new PC, you can just use the disable all button, then uninstall all the trial software they load on it.  There is nothing in there that Windows needs.  Even if you've had your computer for a while but it's running slow, you can still disable all and then re-enable what you need.  As you can see from the attached, I only have 3 things in my startup.  If I need to burn a CD (which is rare), I can open Roxio from the start menu and wait the extra couple of seconds it takes to start.  I don't want Roxio wasting CPU time and memory if I'm not going to use it.