Word processing is by far the most universally used sort of computer application. It’s safe to say that everybody who owns a computer has a word processing program installed on it – like “Word” or “Word Perfect” or Open Office “Writer”. And that doesn’t count the places where a word processor hides in plain sight – like in your favorite e-mail program.
Everybody uses word processing, but hardly anybody – including me – uses more than a little of the marvelous help that a word processor can provide. I’m going to highlight just one of those helpful things in this article.
Don’t be put off by the name of this one. It’s not the grammar checker that irritates so many folks and it’s not the spell check either. The spell check only tells you when [in its opinion] you have a misspelled word. But AutoCorrect actually changes some things for you, automatically, on the fly as you type.
You may have noticed when you type that a common typo like “teh” will automatically get changed to “the” as you go along. That’s the AutoCorrect at work.
The cool trick is this; AutoCorrect is customizable. In all good word processors, there is an easy to use two-column list labeled “Replace” and “With”. Here, you can enter a target to “Replace” and some text “With” which to replace it.
In that list you will find all sorts of things like “teh” in the target side and the corrected “the” on the result side, or “1st” to be changed to “1st”. But you can put your own things in there too.
For example, let’s say you want to automate the phrase “Pawling, NY 12564”. You just add an entry in the AutoCorrect table with something like “pwk” on the “Replace” side and the desired text on the “With” side, then save it. Now, whenever you type “pwk”, it instantly gets changed to “Pawling, NY 12564” for you.
With all word processors, if, for example, you actually want the letters “teh” then just backspace over the replacement and retype it, and that one time, your word processor will leave it alone.
If you want the word processor to stop making that change forever, then just go into the AutoCorrect list and delete the entry for that item, and save it. All done.
Where to find AutoCorrect
The AutoCorrect feature is found on the “Tools” menu on most word processors. On versions of Microsoft Word “2007” and later, find it in “Word Options” (under the round logo, top left) in the “Proofing” section.
Generally it’s the same for Mac OS-X except for the newest “Lion” version. In that case, AutoCorrect is also built into the whole system so that every program gets the benefit. (You can turn it off if you don’t like it, but give it a chance. It’s very helpful, once you get used to it.)
While the editing part of most email programs doesn’t have all the power of a full word processor, they almost all have a feature called “Signatures”. If you don’t already use them, a “signature” is a block of text that gets inserted automatically into an email message.
A trick that not everyone realizes is that you can have more than one signature and then select the one you wish to use. AND, a signature can contain just about anything that you like – including the body of an entire email message. So, if you frequently have to use basically the same messages, you can create a “signature” with the whole note, minus a few blank spots for the stuff that changes.
There are a lot more helpful tricks that your word processor can do. Like “macros,” where you word processor will memorize actions that you have to repeat often, and then do them for you on demand.
If I can help you with these time savers, please give me a call any time. Mike Pepper ~ Computer Guy
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