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Technology Q&A.

Transfer Outlook data to a new computer ... Identify airplane seats with computer power ports ... View wide documents without scrolling sideways ... Prepare a list of custom dates ... Display and print formulas in Excel ... Add a calendar tool to Word ... Oops! Watermark is possible in Excel ... Who says you can't easily change Excel's text case? ... Shortcuts

Key to Instructions

To help readers follow the instructions in this article, we use two different typefaces:

* Boldface type is used to identify the names of icons, agendas and URLs.

* Sans serif type shows commands and instructions users should type into the computer and the names of files.


Q. I just bought a new PC loaded with Microsoft Office. My old computer also has Office, and Outlook contains all my contact information--names, e-mail and snail mail addresses and telephone numbers. How do I transfer all that to my new computer? I hope I don't have to type it in.

A. Worry not. Outlook has a process for exporting and importing its information with just a few clicks. The problem is moving such a large chunk of data--usually measured in gigabytes--to the new computer. My suggestion is to use a portable hard disk or some other high-capacity portable device to handle the transfer.

You might ask, "Why can't I just link the two computers and transfer the files?" It's certainly technically possible to do that, but I would recommend against it because, while it looks easy, you'll probably face some thorny problems in getting the two machines to recognize each other. Even if they don't have to transfer Outlook data, I think all users should have a portable high-capacity device available. It's like a Swiss army knife: It comes in handy at unexpected times to accomplish many chores. Since it's portable, it's perfect for data backups. A typical portable 80-Gb drive costs less than $200--a wise investment. Portable disks come with a USB port for easy connection via a USB cable, to any computer.

Now, to the actual export and import process. Begin by locating Outlook's *.pst file in the old computer. The easiest way to find it is to open Explorer and click on Search, which is situated on the toolbar (see screenshot at right) and follow the screen instructions.

In the space under Search for files or folders named, type *.pst. (the asterisk is a wild card that stands for any file name). In the space under Look in, type the drive that contains Windows; it's probably C:\. The file's name likely will be Outlook.pst, but I suggest using the wild card just in case it has another name. The search screen will resemble the screenshot below.

Once you locate it, link the old computer and the portable drive with the USB cable. Your old computer should recognize the new drive immediately and give it a temporary drive letter. Using Explorer, copy Outlook.pst from the old computer and paste it in the portable drive.

Now open Outlook on the old machine, go to the toolbar and click on File and then on Import and Export to open the Import and Export Wizard (see screenshot below).

Under File to import click on Browse and locate your old Outlook.pst file on the portable drive. If you've placed some new contacts or made changes to Outlook on the new computer, click on the radio button next to Do not import duplicates. If you did not add or change any contacts it makes no difference which button you click on. Click on Next and Outlook will do the rest.


Q. I travel extensively by air and always worry about my laptop batteries running down. I know some airlines have power ports at some seats. How can I find them?

A. The Web site provides a database of all airlines and seating charts of the aircraft they fly. The database shows which seats have data ports and even which seats are most comfortable.


Q. I'm sure there's a simple solution to this problem, but it's eluded me. I often prepare wide documents--spreadsheets that I print in landscape mode. But while I'm working on them I have to scroll back and forth to see the whole document. It's very time-consuming and annoying. Is there a way I can see the entire width without scrolling?

A. Yes. The answer is to use Zoom, a function in both Word and Excel. Despite its name, Zoom lets you enlarge or shrink the text, the page width, the whole page or multiple pages. Click on View, Zoom to call up this screen:

If you want to be able to move your cursor to easily extend from one side of the screen to the other, be sure the Page width button is selected. Determine the optimum percentage of shrinkage and then click on OK. If you may want to enlarge a section of the worksheet for easy viewing, raise the percentage above 100%.


Q. Every month I have to prepare a series of activities reports listing tasks that need to be performed every day, every other day, every third day and every fifth day--four different lists. Is there a way to do it automatically?

A. it sounds like you're doing the job with a word processor. If you set up the dates in Excel, you can automatically generate those lists with AutoFill and then, if need be, copy them to the document. To generate a list of dates first format the cells the way you want to dates to appear--for example, either 2/1/05 or February 1, 2005. If you want consecutive dates, enter the first one and grab the lower right corner of that cell. As you drag it down, the subsequent dates will appear in the cell.

If you want Excel to list every second day, establish the pattern by listing the first three days and drag down the lower right corner of the last cell (see screenshot below). Ditto for every third day.


Q. Many of my spreadsheets contain very long and complex formulas I need to examine from time to time. Of course if I place my cursor over a cell I can see formulas in the formula box, but that's not enough. Is there a way to see many formulas all at once so I can make any necessary adjustments?

A. There is--and you even can print an entire worksheet that displays all the underlying formulas rather than the data. To transform the display from data to formulas (see screenshot below) press Ctrl+~(tilde). Toggle back to the data view by pressing those keys again. If you wish, you can print the worksheet, with or without the formulas, as you do to any Excel file.


Q. Is there some way to add a calendar to a Word document? It sure would be convenient.

A. There is a tool that does just that. While it lacks the full flexibility of a dynamic calendar tool like the one in Outlook, it's a handy add-on to Word. To access it, place your insertion point where you want to locate the calendar and click on Insert, Object and select the Create New tab and Calendar Control 11.0, as shown in the following screenshot:

Click on OK and presto! A calendar of the current month appears alongside a box with multiple buttons (see screenshot below).

Click on the icon in the upper left corner (a ruler and a triangle) to change the date in that month. Or click on the inverted arrows to change the month and year. When you've settled on the calendar image, click the icon again.


Reader Ron Peterson, CPA, an accounting and systems manager with American Crystal Sugar Co. in Moorhead, Minnesota, called my attention to an error in last August's issue. I said there was no convenient way to create a watermark in Excel. In fact, there is. It's a little more obscure than in Word, but here are the steps: Click on File, Page Setup and Options. Then, depending on your Excel edition or printer setup (some printers add their own watermark function), either click on Effects or Advanced. In Excel 2003 this screen pops up with several buttons, one of which contains a watermark icon (Copy):

Click on that button to open the setup screen for the watermark, as shown in the following screenshot:

In earlier versions of Excel, clicking on Effects will produce a screen that has a watermark icon in the lower right corner.


In the November 2004 Tech Q&A column (page 85) I wrote with absolute confidence that there is no easy way to change the case of text in Excel. Within three weeks of the publication date, 435 readers--all obviously better informed than I--very politely corrected me. And each took the time to guide me through the process. Thanks to all of you for that help. So, for those who don't know how to change case in Excel, here's how it's done.

You have three conversion options: lower case, UPPER CASE and Title Case. If, for example, the lower case target text is in A1 and you want to change it to all upper case, prepare any other cell (A2), where the upper case text will eventually appear, and type =UPPER(A1).

A2 will automatically copy the text from A1 and upper case it, as shown in the screenshot below:

If you then want the changed text to appear in A1, just copy it from A2.

To change to lower case, use the formula = LOWER(A1). And to convert to proper case, use = PROPER(A1.).

If you want the changed text to remain in the original cell, click in the cell that contains the text to automatically reproduce it in the formula box. Then go to the formula box and build the following formula around that text so that it eventually looks like this: = PROPER("I can change the case of text in excel").

Make special note that the text must be enclosed in double quotes (").

One reader remembered that I recently suggested a shortcut for changing case in Word using the Insert Function (Shift+F3). With some adjustment, it turns out, that shortcut can be made to work in Excel, too. Here's how.

Starting with the text in A1, I can change the text in excel, place your cursor in a blank cell, A2, and press Shift+F3, evoking this screen:

Under Select a function, look for the command you want: UPPER (or LOWER or PROPER). If it's not there, type in the command under Search for a function and click on Go. That adds the command to the list under Select a function. Highlight UPPER and click on OK, sending the command to the formula box (fx).

Now that you have the uppercase command in A2, click in A1; that tells Insert Function where to find the text that is to be copied and changed into upper case. Then click on OK, and the final product looks like this:

There are other ways to use the Shift+F3 function that you may wish to experiment with, but I find this method the easiest and fastest.


* Excel: Ctrl+* is a quick way to select a range of contiguous data.

* Excel: To create an instant chart, highlight relevant data and press Alt+F1.

* Excel: To fill a range of cells with the same data: Highlight the range, enter the data (text, number or a formula) and press Ctrl+Enter. If a formula is involved, it will be copied with relative references.

* Windows: A quick way to get to the desktop no matter what application you're in: Press the Windows key (between Ctrl and Alt)+D.

* Windows: For an easy way to open Explorer, press the Windows key+E.

* Word: To return to the last place you were in a document, press Shift+F5. This even works if you close the document and reopen it later.

* Word: To toggle between Normal View and Print Preview press Ctrl+F2.

Do you have technology questions for this column? Or, after reading an answer, do you have a better solution? Send them to contributing editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, 201 Plaza Three, Harborside Financial Center, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881. Because of the volume of mail, we regret we cannot individually answer submitted questions. However, if a reader's question has broad interest, we will answer it in a Technology Q&A column. On occasion you may find you cannot implement a function I describe in this column. More often than not it's because not all functions work in every operating system or application. I try to test everything in the 2000 and XP editions of Windows and Office. It's virtually impossible to test them in all editions and it's equally difficult to find out which editions are incompatible with a function. I apologize for the inconvenience.

STANLEY ZAROWIN, a former JofA senior editor, is now a contributing editor to the magazine. His e-mail address is
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Article Details
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Author:Zarowin, Stanley
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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