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Windows / Microsoft Office Tips and Tricks

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Microsoft Office Tips and Tricks

Changing the Places Bar

Although Windows applications have a Places Bar in their Open File dialog (see Customizing Your Open Files Places Bar if you want to change the standard Places Bar), the one in Microsoft Office applications is special. Don’t ask me why, but the Places Bar in Microsoft Office XP and Microsoft Office 2003 is more robust and customizable. Moreover, the changes you make here have no bearing on the common Windows dialog. Microsoft treats these areas as two separate entities.

To add an item to the Places Bar in a Microsoft Office 2003 or XP application,

  1. From the File menu, selection Open.
  2. Highlight the folder you would like to add.
  3. From the Tools menu at the top right, select Add to My Places (see Figure 1).
Screenshot 1
Figure 1. Adding a folder to the Office Places Bar

Microsoft also made the Places Bar more customizable for Office applications. Simply right-click on any item in your Office Places Bar and you can remove, rename, or move around that item. The Office Places Bar can hold 256 entries.

Screenshot 2
Figure 2. Adjusting items in the Office Places Bar

Sending Email to Contacts

For some inexplicable reason, Microsoft Outlook (at least for 2003, I do not have 2007 yet) does not defaultly use the addresses stored in your Contacts when you click on the “To…” button when composing an email. Even though using “Global Address List” by default is annoying (especially if you are using Outlook at work and you work at a large corporation), not even having the ability to select your Contacts from the “Show Names from the…” pop down list on the “Select Names” window is just plain STUPID!

Fortunately, you just have to adjust an obscure setting, restart Outlook, and then adjust another obscure setting to get Outlook to do what it should have done in the first place. And with a little more effort, you can get Outlook to use your Contact list as the default one in your “Select Names” window.

In Outlook, start by selecting ToolsOptions…. In the “Options” window that comes up, select the Mail Setup tab, and click on the E-mail Accounts… button.

In the first screen of the “E-mail Accounts” wizard that appears, select Add a new directory or address book and click on the Next > button. On the next screen, select Additional Address Books and click Next >. On the final screen, Outlook Address Book should be selected by default. If not, select it. Click on the Next > button. Outlook will inform you that you need to restart Outlook for the changes to take effect.

So, exit Outlook and start it up again. Now, if you have a Contacts folder displayed in the left pane, skip the next sentence. Click on the Contacts bar in the left pane to display the Contacts folder at the top of the left pane (just below the label “My Contacts”). In Outlook’s left pane, right-click on the Contacts folder (where the little address card icon is) and select Properties. Click on the Outlook Address Book and make sure Show this folder as an e-mail address book is checked and click on the OK button.

Now, “Contacts” will show up in the “Show Names from the…” pop down list. You are not quite done if you want to use it by default.

From Outlook’s main menu, select ToolsAddress Book…. In the “Address Book” window that pops up, select ToolsOptions… to bring up the “Addressing” window. Change the Show this address list first selection to be “Contacts” (under the heading “Outlook Address Book” in the drop down list). You may also want to highlight “Contact” in the ordered list at the bottom of the ”Addressing” window and then use the up arrow button to move it to the top of the list.

I found most of this information at experts-exchange.com. The rest I came up with on my own.

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