Save time using Format Painter

A feature that I use so often I almost take it for granted, is the Format Painter, which allows me to quickly copy formatting from one thing in a document to another.

The Format Painter tool appears under the HOME tab in most of the Microsoft Office programs. In Outlook it appears in the MESSAGE tab. It looks like a little paint brush.

Sometimes all you want to do is make the formatting of one thing match another. I have several practical applications for this. Most notably, any time you copy something from one program to another.

As much as Microsoft likes to think that formatting is the same across the board, it’s mistaken. Copying information from Word to OneNote or from OneNote to Outlook, I always end up having to update the formatting. Using Format Painter lets me do that very quickly.

To use the Format Painter tool, select a part of the document (the in case of Excel, the cells) that contain the formatting you want.

Click the Format Painter tool, and then select the part of the document (or cells) that need this formatting. Voilà!

BONUS TIP: If you double-click on the Format Painter icon, it will maintain the formatting copy function which allows you to paste the formatting to multiple locations within the document.


Quick Access Toolbar

In older versions of the Microsoft Office suite of products all the commands lived within menus, not in the ribbon as they do now. There was a section of the user interface where you could “dock” various often-used functions, such as font manipulation, open/close/print, etc.

When they went to the ribbon look, Microsoft thankfully didn’t forget us folks who had gotten used to these quick-click functions, and left the Quick Access Toolbar in-tact, which above the tabs.

Each application has slightly different default options, and also offers slightly different commands specific to the application.

Quick Access Toolbar - Word Quick Access Toolbar - Excel
Quick Access Toolbar - Outlook Quick Access Toolbar - OneNote

If you haven’t played with the Quick Access Toolbar, you could miss out on placing some of your most commonly used featured in an accessible spot.

In Outlook, I added the Edit Message feature to the Quick Access Toolbar because I couldn’t find it in the ribbon. I also created new buttons to play my macros that create email templates and clean up my inbox, etc.

I tend to use this toolbar more when I am doing repetitive work. In my current position I have such variety that I haven’t had a need for adding features to the Quick Access Toolbar.

Ribbon Toggle Button – hide and show your ribbon easily

How many of you know about the Ribbon Toggle Button that appears in all of the Microsoft Office suite of products? The little button appears in the top right hand corner of Microsoft products, next to the minimize, maximize/restore, and X to close buttons. It’s a little up-arrow in a window. I don’t know if I ever noticed it was there, and even if I had, I might never have thought to click on it.

This little button lets you toggle the ribbon and choose between Auto-hide Ribbon, Show Tabs and Show Tabs and Commands.

Microsoft Office: Ribbon Toggle

Auto-hide hides pretty much everything including the main window controls, replacing them with the ellipses, which will temporarily show the ribbon and other window controls so you can minimize, maximizer/restore buttons so you can use them before the ribbon hides again. While a nice feature to reduce clutter, I doubt I will use the Auto-hide function very often.

Microsoft Office: Ribbon Collapse

The Show Tabs option returns the Quick Access Menu as well as the tabs (or menu bar). At the very least I like to have this view turned on, so I can use the menu and access the commands.

Microsoft Office: Ribbon Tabs Only

In most cases, however, I tend to PIN the ribbon using the little push pin that appears underneath my name, or, using this newly discovered feature, choosing the Show Tabs and Commands.

Microsoft Office: Ribbon Expanded

If you’re looking for this feature, it shows up in OneNote, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

Comparing two documents in MS Word

Today I was sent two documents by two people in the same department. One was a revised version of the other. Neither file had tracked changes turned on, and so I had no way of knowing the differences without using the handy dandy Compare feature inside Microsoft Word.

As much as we like to complain sometimes about Microsoft and some of the thinking behind some features, sometimes you really have to take a moment to thank them for building all this neat functionality that makes our lives easier.

Comparing two documents

Under the Review Tab in Microsoft Word, click the Compare dropdown in the Compare section of the ribbon.

Then choose “Compare”


You then pick the original file, and the revised file. The only thing I wish it would let us do at this point of the process is pick from currently open documents instead of making us browse to the files, but that was just a minor inconvenience.

Clicking on the “more” button gives you more features to choose from as to what you actually want to compare. You may not care about white space or case changes, or perhaps you want to ignore headers and footers. By toggling these expanded features you’ll be able to customize the level of detail you get upon comparing.

This screen shows a blurred version of the results. The main portion shows the changes marked in blue, and then on the right hand side you see both the original (on top), and the revised copy (on bottom). Scrolling and moving the cursor in the main document also changes the view on the side panels, which is nice. Comparing also turns on the Revisions pane where you can see all the changes that were made by the individual.

OneNote – the Connected Learner

Here is another SWAY showing us how OneNote can be used for collaboration and in the classroom.

Just note that this teacher is using the CLASS NOTEBOOK app that exists within Office 365, and thus there are a few features that don’t exist in the standard OneNote app, such as read only content areas, and private student sections, which exist in the CLASS and STAFF notebook versions.

You’re welcome to work with the CLASS Notebook or STAFF Notebook apps within Office 365 but there’s just a small (ok, not so small) glitch with those: you are unable to transfer the ownership of a CLASS or STAFF NOTEBOOK to another person. This is a big deal to me: I’d like Microsoft to realize people do switch jobs occasionally and that these notebooks need to be transferred in a secure and seamless way. Hopefully they will work on that soon.

In the meantime, if you like what this presentation is about, and you want to use CLASS or STAFF NOTEBOOK apps, just know that while you can back up the Notebook, it loses its connections with the online setup.

How to Turn a Teacher into a OneNote Ninja

As much as I try to explain how OneNote can be used, sometimes you just need examples, and so here is another Pinterest find for me. I thought that it was too good to keep a secret. This is a great use of SWAY to show you how to use OneNote in the classroom.

I have attended a few “Tweet Meets” surrounding use of OneNote in education and it’s amazing how much this tool is being used in the classroom at all levels. Check out this neat SWAY on How to Turn a Teacher into a OneNote Ninja.

Take screen clippings using OneNote

OneNote has a quick shortcut to allow you to take screen clippings from your screen. It works similarly to the snippet tool that comes with windows, and it gives you an option to clip directly to the current page, or you can save your clipping to the clipboard and paste it in your favorite program.

In Windows 7, you can use the WINDOWS key plus the letter S to generate the screen clipping tool.

In Windows 10, the WINDOWS key plus S pulls up Cortana, the Windows search tool: Windows’ version of Siri, so in Windows 10 you need to use the SHIFT key, the WINDOWS key and the letter S to activate the screen clipping tool in OneNote.

Thankfully, this combination also works in Windows 7, so you don’t need to worry about remembering the difference.

I used to use the print-screen function that comes with Windows but that tended to generate a full screen shot of my two monitors, and then I have to go through the process of cropping the image, so I now prefer to use WINDOWS + S to take care of my screen clipping needs, and I love how OneNote just places those screen clippings directly into the current page.

If I later want to save out that image to my desktop, I can right-click on the image and choose SAVE AS… to do so.

Such a simple tool, but so incredibly versatile, I suspect the screen clipping tool will become a much-used function in your arsenal.