Author Archives: Lisa Schmeiser

Special Edition: Get the Most Out of Outlook

Perhaps it’s because we’re in the last quarter of the year and we still haven’t gotten to Inbox Zero. Perhaps a pop-up reminded us that 2018 was going to be the year we mastered a lot of productivity tips and tricks and we only have nine weeks left to 2019. Whatever the reason, now seems like a fine time to dive into a series of how-tos that will leave you a stronger Outlook user than you started. You’ll learn: Which of the many tools in Outlook can help you get a handle on synching calendars to Google calendar, finding lost emails and fixing settings on the fly. How to spruce up your emails with different themes or stationary. How to categorize and flag certain emails so they remain on your radar. How to handle an incoming message based on certain criteria, such as the sender, recipient, or subject line. And finally, how to automate the organization of your inbox. We can still make 2018 the year we conquer email.

Special Edition: Google & Microsoft, Playing Nicely Together

The reality of personal computing in 2018 — and likely beyond — is that nobody exists in a silo’d tech ecosystem. We’re all switching between different cloud services, operating systems and software packages; what these companies want from us (our total engagement) is not a priority for users. What is a priority is being able to do what you want on your mobile and desktop devices. While Microsoft’s still a great one-stop shop if you want a set of office-work apps on an operating system, Google’s apps have made tremendous inroads. It helps that they’re tied into some really compelling tools (like a search engine …) and based in the cloud, not on a desktop. So how do you get the best of both worlds? We’ve examined this question periodically and in today’s special issue, pulled together some of our answers. How to Sync Your Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendars How to Work with Microsoft Word and Google Docs To-Do, Google Tasks, Wunderlist, and Todoist: Which One Works for You? Here’s to cross-platform productivity.

Special Edition: Excel Week, Continued

Numbers make the world go round. Excel’s become indispensable for crunching numbers – so why not make the most of the application? This is part two of our collection on mastering Microsoft’s flagship spreadsheet program. (Part one is here.) Email subscribers will have the full text of all these articles: Avoid Copy and Paste Problems in Microsoft Excel Use Templates to Enhance Your Excel Spreadsheets”}”>Use Templates to Enhance Your Excel Spreadsheets How to Use Multiple Worksheets in a Microsoft Excel Workbook How to Work with Large Spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel We’re taking a quick summer break and will be back with new content on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

The Challenges of Change

First, the big news: Due to unanticipated circumstances, this is the last LangaList Plus running in this newsletter for a while. Fred Langa will return to Windows Secrets when he’s able to — and here’s hoping that’s sooner rather than later. His writing combines two admirable and helpful traits in tech journalism: The ability to explain how something works and the ability to teach readers how to take charge of their own troubleshooting ventures. We’ll be looking for substitute writers who can field user questions about their own misbehaving systems and take a crack at answering them. When we have someone, I’ll let you all know to whom you should be directing your questions. Until I found out about Fred Langa’s unexpected leave of absence on Wednesday, my biggest news for you all was going to be the addition of Richard Hay to the Windows Secrets writers’ roster. Rich has been a Microsoft MVP since 2010, first as a Windows Operating System MVP, then for the Windows and Devices for IT category, and in July 2016, he was also named a Windows Insider MVP. He combines an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the operating system with a real love of hands-on demos … Read More »

I, For One, Welcome Our Robot Servants

If you pay attention to the tech news, it’s not hard to pick up a vague sense that the goal of every person, product and company we cover is to render human work obsolete. Some work, I’m glad to see go — scanning in receipts to email to Accounts Payable is a far sight quicker than painstakingly arranging a collage of paper scraps and putting it in the interoffice mail for a three-week turnaround. That’s why I was heartened to read Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s recent comments, where he made the distinction between artificial intelligence tools meant to replace human interaction and artificial intelligence meant to enhance human productivity. As he said during the DLD conference in Munich, “The fundamental need of every person is to be able to use their time more effectively, not to say, ‘let us replace you’.” There a few notable ideas worth unpacking in that quote. First, Nadella is advocating for people to get the most out of their time. Without falling into a debate about “productivity” and who benefits from it — though that is a topic well worth revisiting soon, especially in light of Microsoft’s multiyear focus on AI as a productivity booster … Read More »

Introduction: We’re all here because we have hope (in technology)

One of the biggest tech events of the year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), takes place in the beginning of January. As an attendee, I’ve always thought there was a certain pleasing symbolism to the scheduling: It happens on the cusp of the western new year, right as casinos are gearing up to celebrate the lunar new year at the end of the month. And as with new year celebrations, CES is all about embracing the possibilities of the very near future. It’s easy to make fun of the more ridiculous tech offerings at CES — I’m still marveling at the hairbrush that makes product recommendations — but a deeper point remains: We tend to turn to technology to make our very near future — and our present — better. As I was looking at gadgets that turn your Windows 8.1 laptop into a touchscreen device and admiring small handheld scanners, I was also thinking about this newsletter and how it embodies the idea of helping readers improve their lives by improving the experience they have using the tools in their lives. As we move into 2017, Richard Hay and I will be sticking to Windows Secrets’ core mission: to … Read More »