4 handy tips for Microsoft Office 2010

Not everyone has moved onto the latest version of Microsoft Office, by any means – not everybody wants the cloudy bits, and Office 2010 is still a perfectly good piece of software. So for those of you still beavering away with Office 2010, we’re going to be offering up a range of tips over the next couple of weeks.

We’re starting with four basic handy tips for the suite – some essential tricks that you can do in any program that's part of Microsoft Office 2010. From learning about keyboard shortcuts to opening up documents that were created in prior versions of Word or Excel, these four functions are the kind of things that, once you learn them, you'll find come in handy often.

Clipboard capers

This first one is a tip that applies to all the major Office apps. The standard Windows clipboard only holds one item at a time – but in Office, you can use the Office Clipboard, which holds up to 24 items at a time. Go to the Home tab, find the Clipboard panel at the far left and click on the dialog launcher (the diagonal arrow at the lower right of the panel). The Office Clipboard pane opens and anything you copy to the clipboard gets saved in the pane. You can select any item, right click on it, and select Paste or Delete.

Do everything with the keyboard

Office's Ribbon interface is designed with the mouse in mind, of course, but you can fight carpal tunnel syndrome and other wrist problems by using the keyboard instead. Tapping the Alt key causes boxed letters to appear on all the Ribbon's tabs, and boxed numbers to appear on the Quick Access.

For example, type "H" and the Home tab opens, complete with boxed letters (and a few sequences of two letters like FN and PG) that you can press to access all the features on the tab. Galleries – like the gallery of styles on the Home tab – have letters located on the scroll bar to their right. You can type "L" for Styles on the Home tab, and tap the appropriate letter to open the gallery, so you can navigate it with the arrow keys. Type Alt again to exit this mode when you're done.

Customise the ribbon

Office lets you rearrange the Ribbon the way you want by clicking the File tab to go to Backstage, selecting Options, and then Customise Ribbon. In the right-hand column, you can create a new tab or a new group on an existing tab, remove or rearrange items already on the Ribbon by selecting them in the right-hand column, or select items that you want to add from the list on the left. Note: A button to the lower right lets you export your customisations to other Office setups.

Open docs Office wants to block

It’s easy to override the blocks that Office 2010 puts on opening files that were created in older versions of Office (done so for security purposes). In Word or Excel, go to File, Options, Trust Centre, click Trust Centre Settings, then select File Block Settings, and remove the checkmarks from the older Office files that you want Office 2010 to open.