About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

April 29, 2014

Online Docs May Be the Answer

Last week we looked at the confusion regarding the many choices with Microsoft Office.  I said I would have another solution for Lindsey and you this week.   

imageHere are two more good options.  Office Live or OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive) depending on where you read about it or Google Drive ( or just get there from any Google product you are logged into.)  Either of these are very good online solutions.  There are many ways to get Office Live.  I suggest using  There you can sign up for a free email account which gives you access to everything you need.  You can also sign up with Yahoo! or Gmail accounts; although I have not experimented with those.  If you already signed in to other MS devices like a Windows PC, tablet, phone, Xbox Live,, or OneDrive, use that account to sign in.  Once there you can view and use your email, address book, calendar, online drive Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. To get to these click the labeled down arrow in the upper-left corner of the window.  Any of the files created can be stored in OneDrive so that you can retrieve them from any online computer.  They are all saved in the default MS Office formats so you can easily share them via email, etc.

imageVery similar products are available with a Google/Gmail account.  Setup a free account or you can use one you already have. Once logged in click the "Apps" button in the upper-right corner that looks like a small tic-tac-toe pattern, and then select "Drive."  You have a create button on this screen where you may choose from Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form and several others depending on what you normally use with Google.  The files you create here are saved on your Google Drive for later retrieval just as in

Even though I am a Google fan boy, Google is not quite friendly to Microsoft Office file types.  That being said they work with MS products; they just take an extra step or two.  There are several ways to do this but they all require you to download the file to your local computer.  I suggest finding your file in the file list, right click on it and choose download.  You will be presented with a choice of what file type you want to use, so choose "Microsoft Word. (.docx) You will then have it in your downloaded files to share as a standard Word doc.

Another note regarding Google docs.  When right clicked you may also choose to "Share" the file.  If you choose email as an attachment you once again can choose the file format and MS Word is one of the choices.

Now the final note.  OneNote is a terrific app available only with the Microsoft suite.  If you are interested let me know via email and I will share that with you in the future.

There are many other options and features in both Microsoft and Google online offerings.  Lindsey chose to try both and make a final decision later.  How about you?

April 22, 2014

2013 or 365 That is the Question

As time goes by I realize that many companies, unfortunately Microsoft included, strive to keep the customer confused.  I received a question last week from Lindsey saying she had just gotten a new computer and wanted to know which MS Office to get.  She had Office 97 on her previous computer and yes, Windows XP.  Now she has Windows 8.1 and no Office Suite yet.

She wanted to make sure the old documents would still work with the rest of the world.  She does some occasional consulting work and needs to make sure her work is MS Office compatible.  First off, congratulations to her for switching to a new computer with 8.1.  Secondly, congrats on wanting to upgrade the office suite.

My first suggestion was Libre Office ( since that is free and fully compatible with all MS Office modules.  Libre Office is quite compatible with Office 97 as far as the mechanics of how it works.  However, she, as many, is more comfortable spending the money and staying in the Microsoft world.image Now comes the confusion.  As she read online she found out there are basically three versions of MS Office now available in the world.  All of which will present her with a learning curve since her old version and the new ones are not similar.  I am going to be very general from here on out since I do not want to write about the versioning for the next year.  Visit for all the details.

image First there is the standard of the line, MS Office 2013 which is installed locally on a computer.  This is essentially the original Office that has evolved over the e-years.  There are also a couple of versions there from around $140 to $450.  The price depends on what you get with it.  The base model for Students has Word, Excel PowerPoint and OneNote.  The high end one, 2013 Professional Plus is mainly for larger businesses.  It has all of the above plus Outlook, Publisher, Access, Infopath, Lync and Office Web Apps.  Most of these the normal home and office user will never need.  These are onetime prices and included upgrades within the 2013 version.  Then you need to buy the next version if you want to stay on top.  You will be licensed to install 2013 on one computer.

image Next is MS Office 365, a cloud version.  Wow!  Let more confusion roll.  Two versions are available, Personal and Home.  These both have monthly fees (yes, you can also pay annually).  Personal is currently $6.99/month and can be used on one PC or Mac, plus one iPad or Windows tablet.  Home is $9.99/month and can be run on up to five PCs or Macs plus five iPads or Windows tablets.  They both include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Publisher, 20 GB of OneDrive storage (formerly SkyDrive) and 60 minutes per month of Skype calls.  There are a few other items that are not that significant.  The Home version is basically for your home if you have multiple computers or a small office.

Stay tuned for next week when I come up with a better answer…the one Lindsey decided on…which includes none of the above.

April 2, 2013

Office 2013–Word, Part 2

Thanks for the emails showing your interest in the new Microsoft Office.  We will look into it some more today.  Last week we looked at the “Read Mode” and PDF conversion as well as editing options in Word 2013.  Today we will look at some other features which are new to Word.

Another new feature I would not have thought of is collapsing headings.  Think about this, you are reading a rather long document and you have finished a section.  Now, with the new feature you can collapse or expand that section in the Word document.  You create a section heading just as in the past by clicking a “Style” such as “Heading 1”, etc.  However, now when you hover over that created section a small triangle appears to the left of the text.  When you click the triangle the text under that header will “fold” up under it and show the next header.  If it is already “folded up” or collapsed, click it again and it will expand to full size.

You could create a document with short summary lines for each area, collapse them, save the document and email it to someone else.  When they receive it they could just click the section they are interested in and read that section.  This is a very efficient tool.

Spelling or GrammarAt the bottom left corner of the window where earlier versions of Word indicated the page numbers and word count of the document you now have an additional icon which looks like a book.  The book has either a check mark or an “x” on it depending on whether there are any grammar or spelling errors. If you click the icon a column opens up on the right side of the page.  It has spelling or grammar errors listed with possible corrections.  In the case of spelling it also lists synonyms, pronunciation and a speaker icon you can use to listen to the pronunciation.  You can also find a link to download various dictionaries.

Where you wereAnother first-rate addition to Word 2013 is a bookmark like feature.  If you are reading a multi-page document, close it down to reopen it.   Later you will have another surprise.  When you reopen the document a small box shows up on the right side of the document.  It says, “Welcome back!  Pick up where you left off,” and it shows you where you stopped reading.  If you click on any of those words it jumps you to that location in the document and you can start reading where you left off.  Word remembers where you were, even when you reopen an online document from a different computer.

Microsoft has built teamwork and sharing features into Office 2013 which includes Word and most of the other applications in Office 2013.  It is similar to the cloud storage and sharing options found with Google Docs.  The cloud storage area is called SkyDrive and has been available for a while.  Although it has had several identity crises it has also been known as “Microsoft SkyDrive”, “Windows Live” and “Windows Live Folders”.

When you create a document in Word and go to save it you get the old “Save As” screen. It is indistinguishable from the previous version but instead of defaulting to your “Documents” folders, it defaults to the online/cloud SkyDrive folder.  You can change this in Word’s options very easily but this is the new location for files.  It is very convenient if you are using a different computer since you can pull the files from SkyDrive from anywhere you have an internet connection.image

Next time we will take a look at a couple of Excel’s new 2013 features.

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