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The “Other” Print Command

A friend of mine found a great recipe on the internet but when she printed it, she was disappointed . . . not with the recipe (the brownies were delicious!), but with the printed page itself.

Sure, the recipe printed, but so did everything else: the website header, various ads, the site’s navigation bar, the search box, and other peripheral information.

Not only were these various items distracting, the space they took up on the page forced the recipe itself to print in tiny type, or to cut off the right edge of the directions. And the ads wasted a lot of expensive color ink. Not very friendly.

Is there a better way? Sometimes.

My friend printed the recipe the way we’ve all been taught to print anything from our computer: File > Print.

This works for printing most applications: word processing, spreadsheets, images, calendars, etc. But when printing from the internet, the File > Print sequence often prints the whole window: headers, ads, and all.

Some websites for recipes, coupons, airline confirmations, boarding passes, and forms now include a “printer-friendly” option for printing just the salient content, but you need to look for it; it’s usually within the window itself, and not up on the menu bar. It is worth looking for.

There is another way to print only what you want from your screen — it’s called taking a “screen shot” — and it is a very useful skill. You can Google it if you wish, or wait for me to address it in an upcoming ITmail.

The “Undo” Command

If you are not familiar with the “Undo” command, you are missing out on one of the joys of computer life: the chance to take back what you just did.

Here’s how it works:

You click on the “Edit” menu at the top of the window and choose the “Undo” command from the list. Whatever action you most recently performed will be reversed. No questions asked.

Some examples:

  • You select a group of pictures to drag into a folder and you think that perhaps you dropped them into the wrong folder. Rather than try to figure out which pictures you moved and into which folder you dropped them, click Edit > Undo and your pictures will be back where they used to be. You need not ever know where you dropped them by mistake.
  • You mean to highlight and delete a few words but highlight and delete the whole paragraph by mistake. Edit > Undo. Paragraph back.
  • You click something, your screen changes, and you don’t have any idea what you did. Edit > Undo. You may never know what you did, but at least you are back in business.

Some programs and systems allow you to undo only the last action you took; others will take you back to each previous action, step by step, each time you click ‘Undo.”

Some programs tell you what you did last; rather than “Undo,” the menu option will say “Undo Typing” or “Undo Paste.”

Some programs have a “Redo” command (also under the “Edit” menu) that will put back what you just undid.

For those of you who like keyboard shortcuts (using the keys rather than the mouse to initiate a command), the Edit > Undo command is “Control Z” on a PC and “Command Z” on a Mac.

Before you panic over having done something you wish you hadn’t, remember the Edit > Undo command.

Ah, wouldn’t it be nice if all of life had such a button?

It’s the “Insert” Key

Did you ever edit some text only to find that the new text you were typing was replacing the text you meant to keep, rather than pushing it to the right?

Example:

You typed “Today is a beautiful day” and then decided it should read that today is a really beautiful day. You put your cursor between the words “a” and “beautiful” and typed the word “really.” Instead of what you wanted, you got “Today is a reallyiful day.”

Hmmm.

This email is not meant to tell you why you’d ever want to use this convention (you wouldn’t). It’s meant to tell you how to stop it if it ever happens.

The answer: the Insert (INS) key.

On a Windows keyboard, the “Insert” key changes the mode of typing from what I call the “move over” mode to the “replace” mode. The default setting is “move over.” If you inadvertently hit the “Insert” key, you change the mode to “replace.” There is no light, no notice, nothing. You just keep typing and at some point you notice that your current work is replacing your previous work. Hello? Help!

Hit the “Insert” key again to get back to the regular “move over” mode.

Why would anyone ever want this runaway “replace” mode anyway? Hard to imagine. If you wish to replace text, just highlight that specific text and then start typing the new text. It will replace the text you mean to replace, but nothing more.

In fact, the Apple developers have found the key to be completely useless and have eliminated it from their keyboards altogether. (Most likely this key is left over from the old “green screen” days before mice and the ease of highlighting?)

So, if you don’t have this key, you will not be bothered with it. If you have the key and you hit it by mistake, you now know how to fix it.

Have a reallyiful day. Oops!

Do I need to be on Facebook?

Some of you love Facebook enough to make it your homepage. Some of you have heard of Facebook but are hesitant to sign up. Everyone else is somewhere in between. What can I say about Facebook that could interest everyone?

The answer in a minute.

First, do you need to be on Facebook? No, it’s not mandatory. You can live without it. It’s not air, or water, or an iphone. But, yes, it can be fun, if you manage it wisely.

Which brings me to my advice: whether you are a Facebook newbie or you are a posting veteran, be sure you understand your Account Settings and your Privacy Settings.

Account Settings

Perhaps the most important part of your Account Settings is the Notifications section. Facebook likes to send you email about everything, hoping to encourage you to spend more time on the site. This can be overwhelming, not to mention really annoying. You can control what you receive from Facebook in the Notification section.

Privacy Settings

Privacy Settings allow you to control how much of your personal information is seen by the public, your friends, and your friends’ friends. Take time to understand what these choices mean.

And of course, be smart about what you post. Everything you post on someone else’s page can be read by his/her friends; don’t be too personal. And assume that what you post on your page could be seen by anyone; best not to mention the dates that you will be away from home!

For those of you on Facebook, your page — if it hasn’t already — will soon be transformed into the new Timeline layout. Even if you have your Account and Privacy settings the way you want them, please review them in the new layout to be sure they still reflect your choices.

Facebook should not take the place of a phone call or even a visit with a close friend or relative, but it is a fun way to keep in contact with others in your life.

Friend wisely.

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