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May 27th, 2016

2016May27_iPad_AThe iPad Pro has been out for several months now. Over the course of this time, millions of users across the globe have had the opportunity to spend quality time with Apple’s new tablet. But for those of us who aren’t quite certain they should purchase one yet, we’re still wondering, “how has it worked out for those early adopters?” A new survey released by CIO, a website that delivers the latest news and tips for IT professionals, questioned 11 users about their experience thus far. Here are their thoughts on the good and bad of the iPad Pro.

The good

  • Great for short, focused bursts of work - The iPad Pro is lightweight, turns on quickly and features some exceptional iOS multitasking features. These qualities make it a perfect alternative to a laptop for short, focused bursts of work. One user surveyed noted that taking out his laptop for thirty minutes or less of work is tiresome and is also unfeasible at times. The iPad Pro solves this problem, allowing him to even get work done in taxis.
  • Speed - When compared to iPad Air 2, the iPad Pro has made huge improvements when it comes to speed. The iPad Air 2 is slow when opening a large file or program and when switching between apps. However, the iPad Pro performs these same tasks lightning fast thanks to Apple’s A9X 64-bit processor and 4GB of RAM.
  • Split View enhances productivity - Let’s face it, we all multi-task to some extent, and Split View has really made it easier than ever. If you’re in a meeting and need to toggle between your email and a note application or web page, Split View eliminates the now unnecessary step of hitting the home button first and then opening the other app. All you have to do is slide your finger across the display to bring up different apps you may want to use.
  • Works wonders for note taking - With the iPad Pro, taking notes is now like the good ol’ days when you sat in class and scratched down on a pad what the teacher said. While back then that pad was made of paper, today’s pad is digital. How is this possible? It’s all because of the Pencil stylus, which acts like a real pencil. Essentially, this turns your iPad Pro into a virtual notepad with the ability to keep all your notes in digital format in one easy and convenient place. What’s more, your notes are automatically accessible from all your devices.

The bad

  • Subpar keyboard - According to one user, there is still much to be desired from Apple’s smart keyboard. It lacks buttons such as the home key and keys to adjust brightness and volume. Also it doesn’t have backlit keys, which can make it difficult to type if you’re in a dark place.
  • Browser too often displays mobile website - The tablet tends to use mobile websites when browsing the web (which could be because the iPad Pro uses iOS 9 instead of a full blown desktop operating system). Obviously, this can be annoying as mobile websites are generally not as functional as the desktop version. With that said, iPad Pro can handle the desktop version perfectly fine, you just have to manually switch over to the desktop version on many occasions.
  • Limited storage - While the Microsoft Surface Pro allows users to add storage via micro SD memory cards, the iPad Pro has no option to increase storage. Of course, you can alternatively store overflow files and data on the cloud; however, keeping sensitive data there is not ideal for many business owners.
  • Fragile screen - The iPad Pro’s retina display is capable of producing beautiful images, but the screen is also incredibly fragile. One user noted that even if you drop it from less than a foot off the ground, you are still likely to break the screen, which is not an inexpensive fix.
We hope this feedback provided by early iPad Pro adapters can help you make an informed decision as to whether or not Apple’s latest tablet is suitable for your business. If you’d like to learn more about Apple products or need to service some of your own, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
May 26th, 2016

2016May26_Office365_AProductivity, collaboration, freedom. These words are often touted when the benefits cloud technology are mentioned. But do all businesses that make the cloud switch achieve these? Unfortunately the answer is no. Some businesses flounder in the new technology, and some even become less productive because of it. So how can you avoid such a fate? Well, attitude plays a big role. Here are three mental shifts to make before your cloud migration.

Consider cloud value over costs

When considering the cloud, too many business owners get hung up on costs. Instead, it makes more sense to think about how the cloud impacts their business and saves them money. The old saying, “you have to spend money to make money” is ever so true here. And as a business owner, the cloud is no different than any other investment you took to grow your organization. That’s why you should remember the cloud provides you value, such as the ability to work anytime, anywhere, and easier collaboration.

And of course, you shouldn’t just think of how the cloud benefits yourself, but also your IT managers and staff. In fact, before migrating to the cloud, why not go ahead and ask your IT leaders just how the cloud will benefit your business? They’ll likely mention how it can boost the productivity levels of all your employees, while making everyone’s job easier.

Think “strategy” before migration

Once you’ve considered the value the cloud provides, you’ll likely have some ideas of what goals you’ll want it to accomplish at your business. If you haven’t, now is the time to do so - before signing up for the service. Let’s say for example, you want to gain the productivity benefits of your staff being able to work from anywhere at anytime. How can you do this? When you roll out the cloud in your company, have the specific goal of increasing mobile use or adoption among employees. Talk with your IT leaders to devise a plan they can implement.

When it comes to your other cloud goals, clearly define them beforehand and then talk with your IT staff to come up with the nuts and bolts plan to accomplish that goal. By doing this, you’ll achieve much better results with your cloud service.

Learn to love the quickly evolving nature of the cloud

As the cloud is still a new technology, it is rapidly changing. New updates, features and enhancements are rolled out regularly, and if you want to get the most out of your cloud it’s best to keep up. Of course, this is a scary idea for many business owners and IT managers alike as the old way of doing things is rolling out new features and apps over long periods of time.

Some cloud services make it easier than ever to keep up with changes. Let’s take Office 365 for example. Adding users and implementing new changes can take mere minutes. Yes, it may be scary to do so, but remember, Microsoft and your IT managers are in your corner - they are there to support you. Of course, you may still have some bad memories from updating your legacy technology. Let us assure you, updates to Office 365 are nothing like this and require a small learning curve. Most new features are intuitive by nature, making adjustment to these changes painless and problem-free.

One of the best ways to assure your cloud updates go as smoothly as possible is to have an IT leader who’s enthusiastic about the technology be responsible for managing it. A cloud enthusiast is much more likely to be up-to-date on the newest features and enhancements and can quickly share with you whether or not an update will benefit your business.

When it comes to cloud migration for your business, it’s pretty much an all or nothing decision (unless of course you go with virtualization, which is a different topic altogether). The cloud will become an integral part of your business, and you and all of your staff will interact with it on a daily basis. So be prepared for a big transition and a big payoff of higher productivity and connectivity for you and your staff.

Are you ready to embrace the cloud with a solution like Office 365? Give us a call, and talk with us about a cloud migration today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
May 20th, 2016

2016May20_BusinessContinuity_AJust because your IT provider has a plethora of awards and certifications under its belt doesn't mean that you can blindly hand over your business’s future to them. Often times, there are some aspects in your business continuity plan that tend to be overlooked by your provider. We have rounded up some of these issues that could appear when you enact your business continuity plans.

Over-optimistic testing

The initial testing attempt is usually the most important as it’s when IT service providers can pinpoint possible weak points in the recovery plan. However, what usually happens is a full transfer of system and accompanying operations to the backup site. This makes it difficult to look at specific points of backup with too many factors flowing in all at the same time.

Insufficient remote user licenses

A remote user license is given by service providers to businesses so that when a disaster strikes, employees can log in to a remote desktop software. However, the number of licenses a provider has may be limited. In some cases, more employees will need to have access to the remote desktop software than a provider’s license can allow.

Lost digital IDs

When a disaster strikes, employees will usually need their digital IDs so they can log in to the provider’s remote system while their own system at the office is being restored. However, digital IDs are tied to an employee’s desktop and when a desktop is being backed up, they are not automatically saved. So when an employee goes back to using their ‘ready and restored’ desktop, they are unable to access the system with their previous digital ID.

Absence of communications strategy

IT service providers will use email to notify and communicate with business owners and their employees when a disaster happens. However, this form of communication may not always be reliable in certain cases such as the Internet being cut off or with spam intrusions. There are third-party notification systems available, but they are quite expensive and some providers sell them as a pricey add-on service.

Backups that require labored validation

After a system has been restored, IT technicians and business owners need to check whether the restoration is thorough and complete. This validation becomes a waste of time and effort when the log reports come in a manner that is not easy to compare. This usually happens when IT service providers utilize backup applications that do not come with their own log modules, and have to be acquired separately.

These are just some of the many reasons why business continuity plans fail. It is important for business owners to be involved with any process that pertains to their IT infrastructure. Just because you believe something works doesn’t necessarily mean that it works correctly or effectively. If you have questions regarding your business continuity plan, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
May 19th, 2016

2016May19_AndroidTablet_AAndroid Marshmallow has been one of the most anticipated software updates for Android users. Dubbed by Google as “the sweetest, smartest Android version yet”, it was first unveiled at the company’s I/O conference under the codename Android M. So what features do you look forward to when your tablet finally updates to Android 6.0 version? Read on.

Now on Tap

Google’s digital personal assistant is being made more efficient in giving you quick answers and in figuring out what you may want to do next. Now On Tap can be activated by pressing on your tab’s home button, which works for both onscreen and the physical button. A short animation or a card will appear that will give you quick information based on the context of what is currently on your screen. For example, you are chatting with a client regarding a new restaurant, Now on Tap can give you directions to the restaurant, its contact information or Yelp review. This deep-linking technology also includes shortcuts to apps on your tablet and is also applicable to voice searches. It’s designed in a way that it appears when you need it and disappears so you can resume what you were previously doing.

Android Pay

With the increasing popularity of mobile payment, Google is trying again after the dismal performance of the Google Wallet. The latter is being changed for peer-to-peer payments only, while Google Pay allows you to pay for both in-store and in-app purchases. Google’s newest mobile payment system lets you purchase goods from 700,000 participating stores by using your tab’s NFC technology. Also, checking out in mobile shopping apps is a walk in the park using Android Pay.

Doze

Don’t you just hate it when after a few hours of taking the tablet off the charger, you’re left with just 2% battery life? With the Doze mode in Android 6.0, it promises to make your tablet last even longer. This new power-saving feature even uses a lot less power than the current Standby mode. In Doze mode, your tablet hibernates when you put it down for a lengthy period. That means your tab will not be disturbed by power hogging apps, but will still be receiving incoming messages, phone calls and important alarms.

Redesigned App Drawer

Marshmallow comes with a new design for the app drawer - that part in your tablet where all your installed apps are located. A search bar at the top makes it even easier to find an app. Google also remembers your app-opening frequency or periods and can make suggestions on what apps you might want to use. Instead of scrolling left and right, the app drawer now scrolls up or down which is reminiscent of older Android versions.

Android for Work

This may not be a very appealing addition to many but for those who bring their tablet as a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) device at work, this is definitely sexy. Android Marshmallow improves the way it handles security, notifications, VPNs, access and storage. So much so that one device can be used for both home and work purposes.

Fingerprint API

This update may not be all that apparent, but now your Android tab comes with support for a fingerprint reader. This allows you to unlock your tab and its apps, and also to easily verify payments.

App Permissions

Now you can have greater control over the security and privacy of your tablet by approving permission requests on a need-to-use basis. Previously, these apps required carte blanche permission to look at parts of your tablet you actually didn’t want them to. With Android Marshmallow, WhatsApp may not ask for permission to access your photos until you try to take and send one.

However, keep in mind that some apps may not function optimally if you restrict it to resources that it actually needs. Not sure how to proceed when it comes to app permissions? Having problems in updating your tablet’s software? Or are you finding it difficult to integrate your BYOD device with technology at work? Get in touch with one of our experts to assist with any of your technology issues.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
May 18th, 2016

2016May18_HealthcareArticles_AA recent initiative to give healthcare patients access to the notes their doctor or clinician writes about their visit is continuing its meteoric rise across the country. OpenNotes began a few years ago by researching the benefits of allowing patients to have access to their doctor’s notes. Since that initial study, the number of healthcare providers who have agreed to sign on has steadily risen. What is this service and how does it work? Let’s find out.

What is OpenNotes?

OpenNotes allows patients to view their nurse’s and doctor’s notes via online portals that can be accessed from home computers, tablets, or smart phones. Patients receive notifications whenever their doctor adds or modifies a note, a prescription refill is needed, or a follow up appointment is requested. Under the initial study performed by OpenNotes, 99 percent of patients opted to continue using the service, and 100 percent of doctors agreed to continue providing their notes to the patients.

Advocates believe that increasing communication, in this case electronically, results in patients who are “active partners in their care”. Over the years, reaching outside of the doctor’s office and into a patient’s smartphone or computer has resulted in improved medication adherence and reduced the number of note errors. Currently the service claims 7 million patients are in their network.

Is it secure?

All of that sounds great, but how safe is the information that’s being sent back and forth? A recent study by Carestream about patient perceptions of online portals found that, of the respondents who reported an aversion to using the service, the biggest concern (by a very large margin) was security and privacy. The OpenNotes website and press releases try to assuage these concerns by pledging their support during onboarding, but unfortunately threats come in all shapes and sizes nowadays. Often software that requires a lot of security is only as good as the hardware and the protocols you assign to it, and those may be outside of the scope of OpenNotes support staff. Additionally, there is a push for multiple providers to share a single online portal so patients only need one login. With all of this in mind, and the recent string of ransomware attacks on healthcare data, the possibility of an attack is greater than ever before.

Should your practice adopt OpenNotes?

Currently, that decision still depends on the dynamics specific to your practice. However, with more and more providers signing on to OpenNotes, and the government inching toward mandating healthcare information sharing, your network needs to be ready for integration. The healthcare sector has been at the forefront of data collection, and implementing online patient portals of any kind, OpenNotes or otherwise, means a massive increase in online exposure.

OpenNotes has stated that their goal is for 50 million patients to be a part of their network within the next three years. Regardless of whether your practice decides to help them reach that goal, or not, protecting your data needs to be a top priority. For questions and concerns about data security and implementing online patient portals, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Healthcare
May 17th, 2016

2016May17_Security_AImageMagick, one of the internet’s most widely used image processing services, is susceptible to attacks that may put your site at a huge risk of exploitation, according to recent reports. The discovery of this vulnerability means attackers could potentially steal your site’s data, or corrupt it entirely. Let’s take a look at what your SMB should be doing to protect itself from this security flaw.

What is ImageMagick?

ImageMagick is a tool that allows sites to easily crop, resize, and store images uploaded by third parties. Vendors continue to improve user interfaces and experiences by consolidating functions into all-in-one packages, which means administrators are becoming increasingly unaware of what specific services they are actually utilizing. ImageMagick is deeply integrated into countless web services and many webmasters may not even be aware they are using this unsafe software.

How can an image make my site vulnerable?

Recently, it was discovered that images can be uploaded that force ImageMagick into executing commands and permitting attackers to remotely insert harmful code into vulnerable sites. Images are actually made up of complex code that is translated into photos, icons, etc. Different file extensions use what are called “Magic Numbers” to define their file types. Manipulating these numbers allows attackers to exploit a flaw in ImageMagick. The service scans the uploaded file, and attempts to decode the source information whenever it detects the file is not what it claims to be. Scanning that code and attempting to rectify the file misappropriation can then trigger whatever was hidden inside the image and result in remote command of your site.

How should I protect my site?

ImageMagick has admitted knowledge of the security flaw and promised to release a patch very soon. Until then, experts advise implementing multiple workarounds to keep your systems safe. However, if you're not well acquainted with your web server and its code, then it's wise to consult an expert instead of attempting these changes on your own.

For those who are familiar, follow these steps. The first is to temporarily incorporate lines of code that preemptively block attackers from exploiting these holes. Those lines of code, and where to insert them, can be found here.

The next step is double checking that any image files utilizing the ImageMagick service aren’t hiding any harmful information. This can be accomplished by opening an image file with a text editor, and checking for a specific set of letters and numbers at the beginning of the text that define what type it is. The list of these “Magic Numbers” can be found here, and will reveal if an image is hiding its true purpose.

Ideally, administrators will halt all image processing via ImageMagick until a patch is released from the developers.

Data security is one of the most crucial aspects of any SMB, however, keeping up with the constant flow of security exploits and patches can be overwhelming for administrators of any ability level. Why not contact us to learn more about keeping your network secure and protected from exploits like this one?

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
May 16th, 2016

2016May16_MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_AEarlier this month, Microsoft made a huge announcement regarding Office that hasn’t received much attention. While there is a lot of interest in web-based versions of Microsoft Office, many organizations avoided the Office Online services for fear of compromising their privacy and security. However, they’ve announced a new version that allows businesses to host an Office Online Server locally. Keep reading to find out if this new service could be useful in your SMB.

Released in 2013, Office Web Apps offered access to powerhouse software packages like Word, Excel and PowerPoint without cumbersome installation procedures and storage requirements. Earlier this month however, Microsoft updated and renamed Office Web Apps to Office Online Server (OOS), and allowed delivery of these services via local SharePoint servers.

The update to OOS will include a number of collaborative features, like allowing multiple users to view and edit documents simultaneously. This will allow everyone’s changes to be visible the moment they make them -- thereby eliminating the necessity for drawn-out workflows. In addition to editing, OOS can also be used to easily facilitate meetings and presentations by utilizing real-time co-authoring in programs like PowerPoint, OneNote and Word.

The announcement elaborated that, “By integrating OOS with Exchange Server, you can view and edit Office file attachments in Outlook on the web and send back a reply without ever leaving your browser.”

But most importantly, we understand that many small and medium-sized business owners still have security concerns about the public cloud -- no matter what assurances they get from software providers. Many SMBs didn’t feel safe sending their company documents outside of their network and Microsoft’s OOS update aims at addressing those concerns by allowing OOS to be hosted locally. Contact us about how to move your Microsoft Office suite to the cloud without compromising your privacy.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic windows
May 13th, 2016

2016May13_SocialMedia_AAre your tweets not getting enough exposure? With so many other social media campaigns out there, it can be tricky to get the attention of followers in Twitter. While posting regularly and writing bold headlines are important in grabbing the audience’s attention, there are other Twitter tactics that you should be employing in order to get the most retweets. Listed below are just a few ways to maximize your company’s reach over Twitter.

Schedule your tweets

There is absolutely no point in tweeting out any content if your audience isn’t even awake for it. That’s why it’s important for you to tweet at the right time to get the most retweets. Usually people won’t be retweeting in the morning and are more likely to retweet around 2pm to 6pm EST. However, if your followers live in different time zones and countries, the time you should be tweeting may vary. Twitter tools like Tweriod track down the geographical distribution of your audience and pinpoints the optimal time you should be tweeting to get the most retweets.

Use links

The next time you tweet out something, try embedding a link in your post. Whether it’s news, sports or celebrity updates, people will put some effort in keeping up-to-date with their interests. Studies have also shown that links to instructional posts get the most amount of retweets as well. The problem is, 140 characters is not enough content for your followers. So by satisfying your audience’s curiosity, you motivate them to pay you back by sharing your tweet out to their friends.

Ask for retweets

This is perhaps the most obvious tactic to get some retweets. Using call to action phrases such as “please retweet” significantly increases your chances of a retweet. Of course, you probably aren’t the only one asking for retweets. Adding something to sweeten deal, like a prize for one lucky person who retweets you, gives people incentive to do so.

Use visuals

Intriguing images can inspire retweets. Images are a great way to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time, and social media users love that. Some have found that, using colorful images and infographics in their tweets significantly increased their engagement rates and found that more followers were retweeting their content. It’s probably because there’s just more content to engage with other than a witty 140 character thought.

Use retweetable words

Research has shown that some words are more retweetable than others. Words like you, twitter, please, retweet, post, blog, social, free, media, help are the top 10 most retweetable words. However common-use words in any conversation such as “lol, haha, work, sleep or watching” are less likely to get retweeted. Unless you’re someone incredibly famous, it’s best to avoid using conversation filler words and stick to the buzz words that encourage people to share your tweets out to everyone they know.

Use quotes

Quotes express a lot in one simple line, making it perfect for any Twitter posts. Depending on your audience, a thoughtful quote can really move their fingers to click that retweet button. The next time you’re running out of ideas for tweets, dig up some good quotes relevant to your topic to get those retweets going. However, don’t continuously plug in quotes into your tweets. The trick is to do it occasionally, so you don’t risk people tuning out of your tweets.

#Hashtag

You’ll notice that the more popular tweets tend to have at least one hashtag. Using hashtags on keywords helps categorize your tweets with similar ones, giving your posts a bit more reach and, hopefully, more retweets. Just make sure you don’t overdo it as #thiscanbequiteannoying.

We get that small business may find it tough getting their name discovered among so many social media accounts. But if you consider some or all of these Twitter tactics, you have a better chance of getting more eyes on your tweets. If you want to learn more about useful Twitter tactics to increase your exposure and engagement, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 12th, 2016

2016May12_Web&Cloud_AIt’s an amazing time to start a business and take your ideas to the market more quickly, and at lower costs without the traditional barriers in hiring skilled workers. A world of talented contractors is now available in the “Human Cloud”, ready to help you do the heavy lifting of building your company. In this article, we’ll take a look at how this technology is paving new ways for outsourcing white-collar jobs and what benefits SMBs can gain from using it.

Foundr Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Nathan Chan was sick and tired of hearing about how entrepreneurs were killing it in life and business. He set out with ‘a passion project’ that led him to interview some of the most influential entrepreneurs around the world, and shared his findings through a cool monthly digital publication known as Foundr Magazine. For Nathan, the launch of this successful project would not have been possible if it wasn’t for a human cloud service like Elance, which allowed him to leverage overseas talent and build a solid team of graphic designers, audio/video editors and writers. All tasks and projects for each issue of his magazine is run via the platform, which conveniently auto direct debits and pays for his contractors.

Just like Nathan Chan, business owners are beginning to shift their labor demands from local to global. According to an online survey by Wrike, a social project management platform provider, close to 44% of business owners are already predicting a rapid shift to distributed teams in their companies. For them, technology can make their virtual workers just as efficient as if they were collaborating in one office. Remote collaboration via the the human cloud is indeed a game changer that benefits companies such as startups who are inclined to spend fewer resources to build their business infrastructure. Before we get into these advantages, let’s acquaint ourselves briefly with the human cloud paradigm.

What is the “Human Cloud”?

For those who are already familiar with cloud technology and services, you may know that the modern workforce no longer has to be tied to a physical office. Gone are the days of commuting and trudging along with the herds to get to cube farms or bullpens which some employees may regard as productivity- and soul-killing places.

In the new world of the human cloud, work is a digital cloud space where staff perform white-collar tasks from any location and on any device. Collaboration, file sharing or discussions on projects are done effortlessly and efficiently in a flexible and productive manner, rewarding team members solely for their output -- regardless of their location, education, gender, or race. For employers, it’s not hard to see the promise of the human cloud as a greater and more visible assurance of on-demand worker supply. Although having a virtual workforce has a few challenges, knowing how to overcome them can yield great benefits for SMBs and particularly, startups.

Benefits of hiring on the human cloud

Low cost. The human cloud eliminates time and money wasted on traditional employment processes. Hiring is fast and easy; you pay for the skills you need on a transactional basis -- as opposed to paying a high monthly wage on physically hired talent who may have too much idle time. No overhead. Hiring on the human cloud requires no overhead for office space, thereby enabling firms to stay lean and profit-focused. By becoming “virtual”, teams can work independently from their homes or coffee shops. Get skills on-demand. Employers can contract for micro tasks such as copying text from business cards to larger tasks like selling products for a fee. Others may benefit from human cloud talent sourcing for more complex project work such as software design and programming. Global talent pool. Today, every organization or startup can be ‘multinational’, i.e., they are no longer limited by geography in finding key talent with specialized skills. A good idea can come from just about anywhere and can be performed and delivered from anywhere. Easy collaboration. Using an online platform gives SMBs the ability to manage projects through virtual workrooms. Wrike’s survey revealed that to a significant extent, collaboration software is important and even mission-critical for remote teams to work efficiently.

As more startups and SMBs become familiar (and comfortable) with the advantages of human cloud, the future of work means that location is not the most important factor in determining who will contribute to your business’s success. A worldwide network of online contractors is now ready to serve you with the qualifications, skill sets and shared enthusiasm you seek to turn ideas into valuable products or services. For more information on how to leverage cloud technologies or collaboration software, please get in touch with any of our cloud specialists.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
May 11th, 2016

2016May11_Office_AMicrosoft Word is used by over one billion users worldwide, and of those how many are using it to its full potential? Over the years Word has transformed into a complex design tool that allows it to move far beyond simple text editing. Most users know how to change a font or center their text, but how many know how to track changes on a collaborative document or remove formatting from pasted text? Staying up to date on the features listed in this article will drastically increase the efficiency and productivity of your document creation processes.

Writing outside the box

Not all of your documents are simple line-by-line writing, and even the ones that are might require a bit of unique formatting. We’ve all wrestled with textboxes, customized margins and indents, but did you know that you can write anywhere on a Word document simply by double clicking wherever you’d like to insert your text? No more counting how many times you pressed the spacebar, no more spending 10 minutes formatting your textbox, just double click and start typing.

Customize your AutoCorrect

No matter how often or how much we write every day, there are still words, phrases and special characters that we can’t seem to master. Increase your typing speed by personalizing AutoCorrect to fix your commonly misspelled words without prompting you. Most of these are preprogrammed into Word (pretty much any ‘i’ before ‘e’ mixup), but customizing your own settings can solve issues like accented letters that are missing from your keyboard, or replacing short abbreviations with verbose technical terms. Just go to the File menu, click on Options, select the Proofing tab and click on the AutoCorrect options to explore all of your options.

Apply document formatting to pasted text

No matter how original your content is, there will always be reasons to copy from an outside source and paste to your own. You may need a quote, a piece of data or just an outside voice to your writing. When using the copy and paste function, you may need to remove formatting carried over from the original source. Although the icons and interface of this feature have changed throughout different versions of Word, Microsoft has been careful to always leave it as an option for users. Simply adding the Windows key to your copy shortcut (Ctrl+Windows Key+V) will integrate the copied material into your content. Default paste options can be further customized in the Options menu.

Collaborate with Review tab features

After the content has been written, you may want to invite others to edit your document with Microsoft’s Track Changes function. Once selected, anything altered in the content will be timestamped, highlighted and underlined in a color that changes in accordance with each editor. This allows you to see the original text along with suggested edits from colleagues. If an edit seems too drastic or risky, users have the option to leave comments or suggestions attached to the document, like a virtual sticky note. After the collaborative process is over, changes can be accepted or rejected individually, or en masse. All of these features can be found under the Review tab along the top of the screen.

Find and Replace

Most users know about using the Ctrl+F shortcut to find text in their documents, but not as many are aware of the Replace function. There are several hypothetical situations when you may need to replace several uses of an incorrect word or phrase. In a technical document you may realize late in the writing phase that you’ve misused a term, or in a marketing piece you may decide to change the name of a product or service; regardless, there is a simple one-step solution. After opening the Find window, simply click on the Replace tab and type the original word or phrase into the top field and the corrected word or phrase into the bottom field. From there you can choose to automatically replace all instances, or review them one by one. In addition to using this trick to fix errors, you can also use it as a shortcut to typing difficult and complex phrases by initially writing a shortened version and replacing it with the full phrase after you’ve finished writing.

Undo and Redo

Almost everyone knows the shortcut for undoing nearly any action in Microsoft Office - Ctrl+Z. Far fewer people know, and actively employ, the redo shortcut. This is a quick solution for viewing and comparing different formatting and layout options, and with a tracking history of 100 actions you’re pretty safe from changing so much that you can’t return to where you started.

Microsoft Word is one of the most universal document editing programs in the world. Don’t let creative, design and formatting speed bumps slow the development of your content when there are existing solutions tucked just a few menus away. An up-to-date understanding of Word and its functions can drastically alleviate the headaches of editing and formatting your files. If you’d like to know more about Word and other Microsoft Office products, shoot us an email.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office