About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

August 8, 2017

Read to Me

Over several of the past weeks we have talked about talking to your devices.  Whether asking for them to give you directions, the temperature, local movies playing, the time, etc.  We also spoke about dictating to some of your devices and word processors.  For some it could, and does, make it much easier to type documents.  Those articles generated many emails, which I appreciate so keep them coming.  So today we move on to something similar but different.  

Today we look at the other side of the spectrum…getting them to "start" and complete the conversation, sort of.

Microsoft Office online and Office 365 (online) have both come out with a recent addition, "Immersive Reader."  It is also available for the local office clients if you have joined the Office Insider program and have the Windows 10 operating system.  Personally, I have not joined because you get software that is not ready for primetime and may have some issues.  Since I use my computer for day-to-day work I do not want to take any chances.  Although, thinking about it does sound interesting!?

Immersive Reader is part of Microsoft’s Learning Tools for Education.  They are looking for ways to help students who need help in particular areas to get it.  So far it is all free too, thanks MS!  

Immersive Reader has several fascinating features built in. 

You must first get into your Office online account, which is also free.  If you have not created an account it is quite easy.  You can get there via several different URLs but to keep it simple I would use ""  You can use a new or existing MS free email account ( or or create one with any email address you already have.  I use an account to keep things straight between MS and my Google accounts. 

Once there open an existing Word (or OneNote so far at this time) and click the "View" button in the ribbon.  A new ribbon will open and one of the first few on the left is the "Immersive Reader" button, so click it.  It will open the file in a different view.  The letters will be larger, to assist people who are vision impaired and they are spaced farther apart than you may be used to which is for those who are dyslexic. 

Immersive Reader button

At the bottom of the screen you will have a Play/Pause button with very short instructions and three icons in the upper right corner, see below.  They are letters, books and a face.  Once you click the play button a pleasant slightly computerized sounding lady will start reading the document and highlighting the words read as it proceeds.  This can help significantly improve many peoples’ reading skills in various areas. 

View of Immersive Reader screen

The icon with letters allows you to increase or decrease the size of fonts and spacing between letters or lines.  The icon of books will let you look at syllables and highlight different parts of speech as it reads…I need this one.  The last icon, the face allows the reader to control the speed of the voice reading back the words.

If you wish to start reading at a different location in the document click the word with your mouse and start it playing again.  The reader will start there and continue. 

Neat addition to office and they will be improving it as time goes by.

May 7, 2013

Office 2013-Final Thoughts

Today is the wrap-up of Office 2013.  Thanks for all of the positive emails you sent about this series of articles.  Also, thanks for the ideas for future columns…keep reading, there is a good chance you will see them here eventually.

First, two tips I received from readers need mentioning.  Jennifer reminded me I should tell all of the Excel users the multiple workbooks in the same window feature is now gone.  YAY! 

Excel, side-by-sideFor years I have been the MS Office go to guy.  I cannot number the times I have gotten the question.  You know the one, "How can I open two workbooks and see them in separate instances of Excel, say one on my right screen and one on my left, at the same time?" 

There is a workaround for it in pre-2013 Offices.  Write if you want to know how.  But with Excel 2013, the default setting is to open a new workbook in separate instances of Excel.  This means that you have two detached versions of Excel running at the same time so you can look at both or copy data from one book to the other.

Next Matt at JMU said, "You know you wrote about Outlook not opening the reply, reply to all and forwards in a separate window?  There should be a setting in Outlook somewhere to fix that because it is a pain."  Well, Matt was correct.  This feature is called, "Reading Pane Compose" and it can be thwarted.  On an individual basis click Reply (or Reply to all or Forward) and you will see a small link in the upper-left corner of the compose area which says, "Pop Out."  When clicked to reply, email pops into its own separate window just as in the past.  If you want that to happen every time with every email go to File tab, click Options, then the Mail link in the navigation bar on the left.  Scroll about half way down that page until you see, "Replies and forwards" and uncheck, "Open replies and forwards in a new window."  You are done, easy.

Open replies and forwards in a new window.

Office 2013 is the desktop only version to be installed on one computer.  Office 365 is a cloud version that pairs up with the Office application. The previous versions of Office 365 had a much smaller feature list than the desktop version.  This means you just could not do as many things with the cloud version and if you were not online you could not use it; but now you can.

Let’s look at the pricing for Office 2013 and Office 365.

Office 2013 is more expensive than Office 365 and 2013’s license is only good for one computer.  Office 2013 Pro which includes the entire Office suite retails for $400.

Office 365 comes two ways.  1) Home Premium for $100 per year.  2) Small Business Premium for $150 per year. Both have the full Office 2013 Pro suite for your computer but up to five people can use Office 365 Home Premium on up to five systems. 

Small Business Premium also has five licenses; however, it is billed per user per year. Each user can install and use Office on up to five PCs, but the licenses can’t be shared with other users. This version also includes Exchange (for email management), SharePoint (for making an internal web space), and Lync (a messaging platform for the office).

To me, the pricing is a mess but if you need Office for business the Small Business version may be the way to go.

Office Pro

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