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Tech Tips

24 Quick Tech Tips to Try in 2024

By Danielle DavisRoe

It’s resolution season. As you transition into the new year, resolve to make your software work for you with these 24 quick tech tips and tricks. Whether you try one or all 24, you’re sure to find something to make working a little easier.

24 quick tech tips

Want more tricks like these? Check out Affinity Consulting Group’s legal-specific software manuals.

1. Customize the Microsoft Office Quick Access Toolbars

Add frequently used commands to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) to get one-click access no matter what ribbon you’re working on. Right-click on a button in the ribbon to add it to the QAT.

2. Show Your Calendar Next to Your Inbox

View your calendar and email side by side with the To-Do Bar in Classic Outlook (View Ribbon > To-Do Bar > Calendar) or My Day in the New Outlook.

3. Open Your Calendar in a New Window

You can have your inbox on one screen and your calendar on another by opening your calendar in a new window. Right-click on the calendar icon and select Open in New Window to open your calendar in a new window.

4. Stay Focused With My Day

If you use Microsoft To Do as your task list, add today’s most important tasks to My Day smart list to keep yourself focused on what matters most each day. My Day starts over with a blank list every day, letting you choose your priorities every morning.

5. Spell-Check Uppercase Words

By default, Microsoft Word and Outlook do not spell check words in all caps. That means your pleading titles aren’t being spell-checked! Under the File menu, click on options. On the left-hand side of the options dialog, click on Proofing. Uncheck the box next to Ignore Words in UPPERCASE.

6. Stop Word From Grabbing Your Mouse

Word wants to help you select entire words and the space after them. Stop Word in its mouse-grabbing tracks: Open Options from the file menu. On the left-hand side, click on Advanced. Uncheck “When selecting, automatically select entire word.”

7. Show the Ruler

The ruler shows your document’s margins, indents, and tab stops at a glance. To turn it on, on the view ribbon, check the box for Ruler.

8. Autofill Text in Excel

If you’re typing predictable text, such as a series of numbers or dates that follow a pattern, you can have Excel do the heavy lifting for you. Type the first two numbers or dates in your list, then pull down on the bottom right-hand corner of the cell to extend the pattern using AutoFill.

9. Select a Column of Data With Ease

To quickly select all of the cells in a column that contains data, click in the top cell. Then hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys while tapping the down arrow on your keyboard. Excel will select everything until it hits a blank cell. (You can also use the other arrow keys to select up a column or across a row.)

10. Created Banded Rows with Tables

If you want banded rows in Excel, tables are the easiest option. Select your data. Then, on the insert ribbon, click on Table to convert your data into a table. Tables also automatically expand and replicate formulas, making it easier to work with your data.

11. Zoom In or Out on Almost Any Window

Hold down the Ctrl key while scrolling up and down and down using the scroll wheel on your mouse.

12. Select Everything

Hold the Ctrl key, then tap the letter A on your keyboard to select all. This keyboard shortcut works in nearly all applications.

13. Search for Text

Hold down the Ctrl key, then tap the letter F on your keyboard to search for text. While this keyboard shortcut works in nearly all applications, beware that in Outlook, it will forward the selected email.

14. Dictate Documents and Emails

Instead of typing, use the Dictate button in Word or Outlook to dictate documents and emails.

15. Use Autotext as a Clause Library

For text that you type all of the time, create an AutoText entry to save yourself time. Select the text you want to be able to easily reuse. Then, on the Insert ribbon, click on the Quick Parts button. Under AutoText, select Save Selection to AutoText gallery. Once added, you can go back to the AutoText gallery to insert that text in any document.

16. Type “(C)” Without Getting ©

Stop Word from replacing a “(c)” with a copyright symbol by changing your AutoCorrect settings.

17. Drag and Drop Emails to Appointments and Tasks

In Classic Outlook, you can drag and drop emails onto the calendar or task icons to create appointments and tasks based on the email. In the New Outlook, you can drag and drop emails onto the My Day panel to create appointments and tasks.

18. Redact With Confidence

If you have professional PDF editing software, ensure you are properly redacting information. If the tool you’re using to redact isn’t called redact or redaction, it’s not going to burn the digital hole in your document like you need. Use the redact/redaction tool to ensure that nobody can find the redacted content, no matter what software they have.

19. Export Documents to PDF

To create a high-quality PDF, use Word’s Export feature to convert your document to a PDF. You’ll find the Export button in the File menu.

20. Make PDFs Text Searchable

Convert scanned files into text-searchable PDFs with optical character recognition (“OCR”). In your PDF editing software, look for a button that says OCR or Recognize Text.

21. Quickly Create Fillable Forms

Most PDF editing software can automatically create fillable form fields for you. Look for the Prepare Form or Form Field Recognition button to let your PDF editing software do the work for you.

22. Share Your Whole Screen in Video Calls

When sharing your screen on a video call, you can typically choose between sharing a single window/document or everything on one screen. Choose a monitor or screen to share everything and eliminate the need to stop and restart sharing every time you need to share something else.

23. Process Email Faster with Quick Steps

Create custom quick steps to cut down on the amount of time it takes you to process email. Quick Steps let you combine multiple actions (such as replying, forwarding, and filing email) into a single click.

24. Automatically Process Emails With Rules

Set up custom rules to let Outlook automatically process your email for you.

Want to work faster? For in-depth information and instructions on getting the most from Word, order Affinity Consulting Group’s hands-on digital manual “Microsoft Word for Legal Professionals. Individual and site licenses are available for download in the Attorney at Work bookstore.

More Office 365 Training Manuals for Lawyers

Check out Affinity Consulting Group’s “Microsoft Word for Legal Professionals,” “Excel for Legal Professionals,” “Outlook for Legal Professionals” and “PowerPoint for Legal Professionals.” Each manual zeros in on your practice’s needs with in-depth instructions from Affinity experts on getting the most out of your tech.

About Affinity Consulting Group

Affinity Consulting Group inspires, enables, and empowers legal teams of all sizes to work smarter, from anywhere. The company’s holistic approach incorporates people, process, and technology. Affinity’s passionate, well-connected industry experts work hand in hand with you to help you better understand and optimize your business — from software to growth strategy, and everything in between.

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Danielle Danielle DavisRoe

Danielle DavisRoe is a senior consultant with Affinity Consulting Group (@affinitylegal). Whether it’s teaching clients a new skill through training, speaking at CLE events, or management consulting, Danielle is 100% focused on making the lives of her clients better. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business and a Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

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