Productivity Tip: Remembering Passwords

Getting yourself organized electronically also means that you will need a system to manage your passwords. And by that I don’t mean writing down your passwords on paper or in a book (sorry).

Do your research and find a password management program that suits your needs. There are many password management programs available, so think about the type of data you want to keep track of and where you feel comfortable storing it (on your computer vs on the cloud).

For the last 3 yrs I’ve used 1Password produced by AgileBits, available on all platforms (disclaimer: I have no affiliation with AgileBits other than I am a very satisfied customer to date).  It’s a Canadian product, reliable, and easy to use. At the time of this posting, 1Password is available on a trial basis for 30 days. The full version costs $49.99 Cdn.

I decided to buy a password management program that installed on my computer and one that allowed me to synchronize the encrypted data file via the cloud. That way I don’t need to be online to access my account information AND I can have my various devices plugged into the same information. I needed to store usernames, passwords, and general notes about a respective account.

Here’s how 1Password works for me. 1Password stores my account information in an encrypted vault. All I have to remember is literally one password to open the vault and then voila, all of my usernames and passwords are alphabetically accessible. The account information is stored in a data file, known as a keychain. I asked 1Password to store the keychain in my Dropbox folder so that only one version of the encrypted keychain is maintained.

1Password does not fill in the login information for you when you visit a site. Rather you have to click on a toolbar from your browser to log in. I love that. 1Password also creates super strong passwords for me on the go. I love that too.

Here’s a video to explain what I mean (6:29).

Let me know what you use to manage your passwords and other account information.

Cheers, Susan

Productivity Tip: Sharing files from your iPad using Dropbox

When you have organized your files in a way that makes sense to you and you’ve figured the best way to synchronize your files across devices so that you only work from one version of each file, you will find that feeling of being organized so addictive in a good way! Now you’ll find that your contacts will start to ask you – can you please share that file with me?

The steps to share a file from your iPad are slightly different from the way you would share a document from your Mac or PC. My preference is to email a file link to the recipient directly. Dropbox will generate the file link for you. Here’s a video (4:54 min) to explain.

Or here’s the information written out for you.

Before you can follow the steps, I’m assuming the following items are in place:

  • You have your own Dropbox account – remember, it’s free and when you sign up you first receive 2GB (at the time of writing this post) of cloud-based storage in your own secure account.
  • You are connected to the Internet on your iPad.
  • You have downloaded, installed, and set up the Dropbox app on your iPad. If not, go to the App Store and do this before proceeding.
  • You have placed your source documents within the Dropbox folder that you want to synchronize across devices.

Steps to share a file using Dropbox from your iPad via email:

1)   On your iPad, open the Dropbox application (enter in a passcode if you have configured a passcode to access your files).

2)   Open the file you want to share

3)   Tap the “Share” icon

Dropbox - Sharing Icon on iPad

4)   Select the option called “Email”.

5)   Compose a new email to your contact and send off the email.

Your recipient will have a choice to download the file directly to the machine that they are using when they receive your email or to save the file to their Dropbox account.

Thanks for stopping by! Yours in technology, Susan

Keeping search results at hand while evaluating promising leads

Have you run into this situation before? You search Google to find an answer to something. A few promising leads catch your eye from the many results that you are presented with.

You click on one lead to read more about it and you find yourself clicking deeper into a new web site. Then you decide – nope, this information is not what I need or want at this time. So you hit the back button, thinking it will take you back to that original list of search results.

Hitting the back button takes you back one step only. Oh. You may have gotten sidetracked in that second web site and clicked on a number of links from that site. Either you have to click the back button many times or you give up. Or you redo the search, thinking that would be faster. Your second searching attempt may yield slightly different results and now you have to remember which leads you had already evaluated from your first search. You may not even see the few promising leads that had originally caught your eye. Ugh! Don’t give up, there is an easier way –take advantage of “tabbed browsing” when you do a search.

Tabbed browsing lets you view multiple web pages in one browser window. You can have as many tabs open as you want or as many that can easily fit across the width of your screen (although too many open tabs may mean that you cannot easily read the tab titles). Then you can close one or more tabs as you choose without losing the original information that you had found.

Here’s a demonstration on how to use tabbed browsing on either a laptop or iPad3 (steps are outlined below):

1) 3:32 min video, on my laptop using Chrome as my browser 

2) 3:20 min video, on my iPad3 using Safari as my browser

Steps:

1. Open a browser and do a Google search on a topic that you need an answer to.

2. Determine which lead you want to read more about.

3. On a laptop, right-click the link to that search result. On an iPad, tap and hold the link.

4. A small menu of options will pop up. On a laptop, left-click on “Open Link in New Tab”. On an iPad, tap the “Open in New Tab” option.

5. Now look near the top of your browser window and you’ll see that a new tab has opened up behind the tab that you are currently viewing. The title of that tab will be the name of the search result that you clicked on. Left-click or tap on the tab title to read more about the search result.

6. When you are done reviewing this new information, close the tab by left-clicking or tapping the small “x” in one of the top corners and you are back to your Google search results.

Happy tabbed browsing! Until next time, Susan

Read new online content without losing the information currently on your screen

Scenario: you’ve found an excellent web page containing links to other web sites that you now want to check out yet you’ve only read part of the content on this web page so far. How can you look at the new links without losing the original content on your screen?

The easiest way to do this is to open a new browsing area when you click on a link which involves two steps.

These two steps work in most web browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, and Chrome, on both PC and Mac platforms.

STEP 1: Choose how you want to view the new content and open a new viewing area

  1. To see the new content in a new browser window:
    a) Right-click on the link you want to open and left-click on Open in New Window.
    OR
    b) Open a new browser window by pressing CTRL+N (on a PC) and COMMAND+N (on a Mac).
  2. To see the new content in a tabbed window (the new content will open within a new tab within the current window):
    a) Right-click on the link you want to open and left-click on Open in New Tab.
    OR
    b) Open a new browser window by pressing CTRL+T (on a PC) and COMMAND+T (on a Mac)

STEP 2: Close the new viewing area once you have finished reading the new content

Press CTRL+W on PC or COMMAND+W on a Mac.

Now you’re back to reading the content that you started from.

Choose how much web content to print (Internet Explorer)

Sometimes you only need a printout of some of the content on a web page or you just want to be environmentally sensitive because you don’t need all of the content in hard copy.

Here are the steps:

  1. To print only part of a web page, select (highlight) the content you want to print. Make sure the content that you have highlighted contains mostly text. For example, highlighting a list of email messages in your inbox will not work with this tip.
  2. Go to the File Menu, select Print (do not click on the printer button on the toolbar).
  3. In the new window that opens, called the Print Dialog Box, look for the heading called Page Range (it should be located near the bottom left corner). Choose the option called “Selection”. Tip: if your printer permits double-sided printing and you know the selected content to print will be more than one-page, select that option now.
  4. Then click Print.

Make Professional Looking Documents in Word (Part 1)

Here’s the scenario: You are working on a document that needs to be formatted nicely so that it’s both easy to read and easy to see the inherent logic, or document structure, in the document. You want: text evenly spaced, headings to introduce new sections, and maybe even a table of contents. So you start writing and you format as you go using Word’s basic formatting features such as bold, italic, underline, etc.

For headings, you may want the font size to be larger and you may want the text underlined. As your document grows, you notice you start spending more and more time fiddling with the formatting of text because no matter what you do, text isn’t flowing nicely across the pages. There may be huge gaps between some of the paragraphs. One heading may look different than another.  And you can’t quickly make up a table of contents that can be updated if you move sections around or make other changes. Before you know it, you’re spending more time fixing and re-fixing formatting issues and pulling your hair out than you are on writing the document. There must be a better way.

There is! Use Styles in Microsoft Word.

Let’s first review what a style is. A style contains formatting properties – i.e. font type, font size, font colour, alignment, indentation, numbering, etc. The default style in Word is a style called “Normal”.

Styles live in a template. Templates are documents that have formatting properties already set for you. Word stores templates in a separate location from our working documents folder and locks them so we don’t accidentally overwrite them. In older versions of Word, templates have “.dot” extensions, meaning DOcument Template. In newer versions of Word, templates have either “.dotx” or “.dotm” as their extension.

The default template in Word is called “Normal”.  When you start up Word, and that blank sheet of paper appears on your screen, Word has opened a copy of the template called Normal (which opens up to give you the blank page to start writing on). And when you start typing, the font characteristics of what appears on your screen are determined by the default style, called Normal.

There are a couple of style types but the most common one that you will use is called a paragraph style. For paragraph styles, Word uses the paragraph marker as the style delineator.  The accurate term in Word for the paragraph marker is “pilcrow”. [I know, who knew and who cares, and who comes up with these obscure terms!]

When you turn on the behind-the-scenes codes in Word, you’ll see what looks like a backward facing “p”, the pilcrow. That means every time you press enter, Word inserts the pilcrow. Each paragraph marker (pilcrow) stores style information for preceding text.

You decide when to apply a style to your content. You can write first and then apply a style or apply a style and then write.The choice of when to apply a style largely depends on your preference and possibly how much you know about your document structure before starting out. If you prefer to build the document structure after you have written out the content, then apply the styles afterwards. If you are creating a document that has specific headings and is standardized, like a judgment, then create the document structure first.

Word comes with a few styles already built in, such as Normal (the default style), Heading 1, Heading 2, and Heading 3. The last 3 styles are examples of styles that will help you build the hierarchy in your document structure. Heading 1 means it’s the first level below a title. Heading 2 means it’s the first subheading under Heading 1. And Heading 3 means it’s a sub-subheading. You can have multiple Heading 1s, multiple Heading 2s, and multiple Heading 3s in your document. Word will allow you to have up to 9 levels of hierarchy if you want. Most documents don’t have a need to go beyond 3 levels.

So if you want to create a quick heading, and it’s your first heading in your document (not the document title), apply the style called Heading 1. You’ll notice the formatting properties have changed.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to apply a style for PC users, written by Shauna Kelly at www.shaunakelly.com. Thank you Shauna!  Just a quick aside: Shauna is one of Microsoft’s MVPs, or Most Valuable Professionals. MVPs are experts awarded Microsoft recognition on an annual basis for their outstanding contributions to the larger community. I have had the pleasure of working with a few of them now (Dian Chapman, John Marshall) and participating in some of their Word email discussion lists over the years. I hope to return the favour by paying it forward.

One quick tip to help you apply a style– you don’t have to highlight all the text in a text string to apply a style. The text string might be a couple of words (as in a heading) or it might be as long as a paragraph. You only need to make sure that you have placed your insertion point, the blinking I-beam on your screen, within the text where you want to apply the style. When you apply the style, the formatting properties will change for all the text up until the paragraph marker (yup, the pilcrow again).

For Mac users using Word 2008, a quick way to access styles is the following. After you select text or position your insertion point in a paragraph, click on the Toolbox (it’s located on your toolbar). The Toolbox will open a separate window on your screen. The title of this window will be Formatting Palette. Expand the Styles section by clicking on the triangle beside the word Styles. Then click on a name of the style you want to apply. You can choose to leave the Toolbox open on your screen or not.

And if you don’t like how a style looks in your document, modify the style.  The beauty of modifying the style is that by making one change, all the text that had been marked with that style will be automatically updated! I’ve tried this in large documents that easily had 400+ pages and the changes were immediately implemented. It’s really cool!

Here are some tutorials on how to modify a style:

On PC, Word 2007 and Word 2010, again thanks to Shauna Kelly from Australia.

On Mac, Word 2008, thanks to Xander Tan in Indonesia.

Okay, that’s enough about styles for now.

Stay tuned for Part 2 because now we can talk about advanced reasons for using styles that will make your documents look even more professional!