Back to the Basics: ALT

So many of you loved ALT + tab that I decided to do another Back to the Basics post.  Here is a helpful starter lesson on learning your own shortcuts.  This will be the basics for endless shortcut keystrokes!  Seriously, the possibilities seem endless!  ALT: the magic key!

Did you ever notice in older versions of Microsoft Office underlined letters in each drop-down menu option (File, Edit, etc.)?  Whether your answer is “yes”, “no”, or “Umm… what is a drop-down menu?”, let me let you in on a secret: those letters were a “secret” pathway to shortcut key strokes!  I can hear some of you thinking, “Oh great!  I missed the boat in learning more shortcuts!”

Have no fear!  They are still there but hidden (sneaky, sneaky) with the new ribbon menu design (below is the ribbon for Microsoft Word).

Okay, so let’s get started learning some new shortcuts!  Open up a new Office Word document.  See the ribbon at the top?  Watch what happens when you click ALT.  Does your ribbon look like the one below?

Ribbon

Hopefully, your answer is yes; if not, please message me!  Those are your shortcut letters… ta-da!  Each ribbon tab has an assigned letter.  File – F;  Home – H; etc.  For now, type H.  Do you now have a ribbon that looks similar to the one below?  Hooray!  You are now on your way to a more efficient you!  Each option under the home tab has its own unique letter.  So if you click ALT + H + B + B, you will add a bottom border to your current line in Word.  Now is your chance to play around with the different letter combinations; just give it a try!  Ribbon2

Fun fact, most other programs use ALT combinations as well!  Welcome to the secret ALT club!  Seriously, open a couple of different programs on your computer and hit ALT.  Sometimes nothing happens, but it feels like magic when shortcuts just appear on your screen!

What if you decide you do not want any ALT options and want to get out of the current shortcut keys?  Just hit ALT again.  Presto!

Now, you might be thinking, “Wow, this is not faster AT ALL!”  You are partly right, it takes time to learn shortcuts.  So here is how I learn shortcuts: I pick one or two that I will use on a consistent basis and write them on a sticky note (the physical, old school, sticky notes not the program).  I literally stick them to the top of my screen (so high tech, right?) and use it daily for a while.  Sometimes, I find that the shortcut wasn’t so useful and remove the sticky (this happens more often than you would think).  The biggest thing though is continuing to try and find new shortcut keystrokes and you will gain efficiency.  Good luck out there!

 

Chapter 1: Excel Overview

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Above is the link to the book I am reading and reviewing.  Although this first chapter may have been trying at times for me (as you are about to read), it is a very thorough book and is a great addition to anyone’s library wishing to build their Excel knowledge!

So let’s just dive in… this first chapter was … rough… yes, I think that is probably the word that best sums it up.  They weren’t kidding when they named the chapter an overview… It contained every little nuance of Excel.  Sounds like a good idea, right?  Well, keep reading and you will understand my frustration!

It started with all the possibilities of how you might use Excel.  News flash: if you start talking about text manipulation, graphical dashboards, etc., you are going to need to give more information or a reference page number to it look-up!  I was left thinking, “What???”

So, for me, that was not a great start.  It moved on to the new features in Excel 2016… ugh!  This really should not have been called Chapter 1, maybe just Introduction or miscellaneous Trivia facts about Excel.  Okay, so I pushed on, only now I received every definition ever conceived that might be used in Excel… thank you, but no thank you!  Seriously, I do not need to know what a draw layer is this early in my Excel knowledge!  So, yeah, this was not going well.  By now, I have had to take multiple breaks to breathe, found my son’s M&M’s stash (don’t judge me), and ranted and raved to my husband who sweetly listened to my complaints.

Continuing on, I plowed through topics such as parts of the Excel screen, navigating with both your mouse and keyboard, navigating the ribbon, every button type you might encounter, etc. … You’re welcome!  I read it and will now pass the relevant knowledge along to you in a video, shortly. I am getting a new computer (🎉🎉🎉) in a couple of weeks and will create the video then.

If you made it through the first part of the chapter, you were finally rewarded with “Creating Your First Excel Workbook.”  They provided a hands-on activity to start your Excel journey.  What was pretty cool about this section was how it intermingled basic with some cool tips to expand your Excel efficiency (and I am ALL for efficiency).  It thoroughly walked the user through creating their first set of data, creating a table, creating a chart, and finally printing the product.  Now, I am finally getting more excited! As a tactile/visual learner, I needed to get my hands dirty in Excel to truly learn the information.  This book does a great job of explaining every step needed while not being too patronizing for more advanced users.

So here are a few topics that I thought were cool and helpful for anyone who ever uses Excel.

  • Auto Fill – Excel is a pretty smart program and picks up on patterns in your worksheet.  For example, if cell A1 is Jan, not only does Excel recognize this is short for January, but it also can help you finish filling in the months, Feb, Mar, etc.!  I will be working on a video to help show this, but for now, I will have to leave you in suspense!
  • Formatting – Excel has so many different ways to format each cell.  A shortcut to opening the formatting dialog box, because that is the official term for what pops up, is highlighting or selecting the cells you would like to format and using CTRL+1.  The box below should pop open. Format Dialog Box So right now, cell A1 (Jan) is selected.  If I decide to change the format, only this cell will be affected.  And look at all your different options for formatting!  When selected, each category gives you a brief description on what it looks like, as well as giving you a “Sample” view of your current selected cell.  Seriously, if you have never formatted cells, just play around with it today!  Just think about the possibilities in your own life and how you could utilize Excel…
  • Tables – Okay, it may already be obvious by now, but this is not my first Excel rodeo!  I am a daily user of Excel, BUT I know enough to know I need to know more.  Tables is one of those topics that I did not even know existed until I read this chapter (personal example of why I emphasis learning something new every day).  So below are the quick steps to creating a table.  First, select the data you would like to include in your table.  In the Home tab, find “Format as Table” and click on it.  The drop-down menu below should pop up.  Select the style you would like and click on it. Another box will pop up asking what data you would like to “Format as Table”.  If you have already selected it, click Ok.  If not, select the data now and click Ok.  Look at you, being all fancy with tables!Table Formatting Table Formatting2Table Formatting3
  • Fun fact!  Excel auto saves your work every 10 minutes by default!  Thank you, Excel!  No seriously, THANK YOU!

So the chapter did start off pretty rough, but persevere and it seriously became exciting… ok, I may be one of the only ones excited, but I am so pumped to learn more in the next chapter, which is all about “Entering and Editing Worksheet Data”!  I know you are all waiting on pins and needles 😂  Until next time, keep learning!

What if today is your day?

So this new journey has terrified me to the verge of stopping multiple times since conceiving Technically Denise. What if it fails, what if no one likes it, what if I don’t like it, what if I don’t know where to look for an answer, what if…, what if…, what if……. I obviously could go on and on with the worry and anxiety that petrifies me.

I honestly would have stopped after the first “what if” moment just a few months ago, but life has changed since then (I will definitely tell this story a different day).  I am stronger now, more determined, and 100% living my life.  As they say in The Shawshank Redemption, “get busy living or get busy dying.”  And that is exactly the approach I have taken this year, and I have to say, so far, this has been the BEST year of my life!

My “what if” moments no longer control me, but I control me.  But I am still being haunted by the “what if”s, even right now, as I explore this new terrain.  I may be a fairly technical person, but am a newbie in the world of blogging and social media and feel I am in WAY over my head.  I mean, I have never used Twitter and yet here I am learning for the sake of inspiring as many people as possible (THAT IS YOU, my friend 😉).  Every time I have a “what if” moment, I fight the urge to throw my hands in the air (where is that remote when I need it!) and instead take a deep breath and break the obstacle into smaller portions, focusing on just one aspect.  When it still is too overwhelming, I do take a break (did I finally find that remote?).  And when that still does not work, I shut it down for the day and give myself the grace to stop and pick it back up at a later time.  I mean, I started, so that is something, right?  I give myself a gold star or some chocolate, you know, whatever makes you feel rewarded, and then, pick it back up later.  This could be a day, week, month, whatever I need, and that is okay.  I work hard on focusing on my accomplishments instead of all the things still undone, because, seriously, I am one step closer to my goal just by starting.  I can do this and so can you!

What is it that you want to accomplish today?  Maybe you won’t reach all of your goals, BUT you are still a little closer just for having started and that is worth a celebration!  Celebrate you today! And “what if” it is the best decision ever?

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Back to the Basics: ALT + tab

Have you ever watched someone who is extremely computer savvy and felt envious as they effortlessly navigated their computer before you even knew what they were doing?  Yeah, me neither…  Okay, maybe it has happened a couple of times!  These people are so efficient with technology that they are capable of navigating the computer without a mouse in absolutely no time at all.  I dream of being able to do this but am not quite there… my mouse will lives another day 🙂  The first step to going mouse-free is to learn a few shortcut key stokes; let’s start with one of my most used shortcut key strokes: ALT + tab (see below).  Mac users: Command + tab  altIf you have never used this shortcut, then prepare to have your mind blown!  This bad boy switches between programs/windows opened on your computer.  So let’s say you have Microsoft Excel and Internet Explorer open, you can quickly jump from one program to the other by holding down ALT and pressing tab.  If you quickly release ALT after hitting tab, you will be taken back to the last active program you were using, very convenient if you need to work in several programs at once.  OR another amazing way to use this shortcut is by continuing to hold the ALT button after hitting tab; a little window will appear with ALL of your current active programs on your computer.  From here, you can either use the arrows, while continuing to hold the ALT button, to select the program you would like to work in, or you can press tab over and over, while continuing to hold the ALT button, to toggle through the programs until you find the one you want.  Once you have the program you would like active, release the ALT button.  Such a simple and yet powerful shortcut for working more efficiently!  And remember, all computer geeks started somewhere, and now you are one step closer to being like them!  Please comment below or send me a message if you have any questions.  I value your feedback.

Technically, a Journey

This will be a journey…  A journey to read through technology books, starting with Excel 2016 Bible.  Exciting, right?  I guess that depends on who you ask!  I love learning technology but have HORRIBLE motivation to continue once I start.  Anyone else out there thinking, “Yep, that’s me!”?  I want to blog about my journey to help hold me accountable, to hopefully inspire others, and at the end of the day, to achieve a new skill.  Basically, I think we can all call this a win-win situation.

The goal behind this blog is to read one chapter from the same technology book per week until I complete the book.  Throughout the week, I will have several different topics I will blog about (see list below) along with a YouTube tutorial video based off the material read.  I may find that I can be my perfectionist self and do all the topics listed or I may pick only a couple.  Remember, I am human and will definitely need my grace moments!  Get pumped because here are the topics!

  • Personal Journey – These posts will be about the personal journey of reading what is essentially a textbook.  These posts will not be technical but just personal.  So if the idea of learning excel makes you sick, these are the posts for you!  These are my “grit and grace” posts.
  • Technical Journey – These posts will center around what exciting topics I am reading about this week.  Believe me, I will be pretty excited so forgive the enthusiasm if this is not your cup of tea!  I will also be including a summary/preview of my YouTube tutorial video for the week.  This is another way to make sure that I am not just reading BUT am actually learning.  Raise your hand if you know what I mean!  I want to keep myself accountable for learning the skill.
  • Did You Know? – These posts will be a quick technology-related item that maybe you knew or maybe you didn’t.  Example, did you know there is a formula in Excel called EOMONTH?  If you did, gold star to you!  If not, guess what?  I didn’t know it either until a few days ago.  EOMONTH returns the last day of the month provided in the formula.  May not seem that novel but can be pretty powerful.  These are the items I will discuss in this section.  I will also give examples and ideas of how to use the information.
  • Technically Puzzles! – Want to test your technology wit?  These will be your posts: technology puzzles!  I know, pretty fun, am I right?  All other geeky gals out there, raise your hands!
  • Inspiration Corner – These posts will be all about real people who inspire me.  I want to share other people’s journeys, especially in the technology world.  I cannot wait to see where these posts go because I would not be starting this journey without some other amazing people inspiring me along the way.

So in a nutshell, this is Technically Denise!

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Believe you can and you’re halfway there. — Theodore Roosevelt

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