Tagging photos

July 12, 2017

I’m slowly scanning some of my old photos to convert them into digital format — I’ve started with photos of family and friends, ignoring the scenic ones at this stage. I was very good back in the day — when I received an envelope of photos from the photo processing place, I labelled the backs of almost all my photos with dates (sometimes just month and year, but it’s a start) and names of people and places. I’m very grateful for the organised past me!

I decided to add these notes to the properties (metadata) of each scanned photo in Windows, just to preserve the information. But it’s tedious. It’s easy enough to add metadata for a few photos, but not for hundreds or potentially thousands of them. While you can select multiple photos and apply the same metadata to them, there are always individual photos where the metadata is different (a new person in a photo, for example). And because I didn’t really know what I was doing, I only added data to the title, subject, date taken, and comments fields, not realising that much of this wouldn’t be visible in photo manipulation software or online services such as Flickr, and that adding tags would have been a better strategy. It’s a lot of typing with much potential for typos.

I knew about products such as MP3 Tag for doing mass metadata changes to music files, so went hunting for something similar for photos. There’s very little out there, which surprised me. Most photo software has the ability to add tags etc., but doing so doesn’t write that info back to the file as viewed in the Windows properties, which is what I wanted; yes, I tried several software apps I have on my computer to test this out. Why do I want these tags preserved with the file? Because if I send/share the files with family etc., I want them to be able to view the metadata too, just like they would if they turned over the real photo.

I did find one piece of software that allows you to write your metadata back to the file, AND keeps a list of tags you’ve already used so you don’t have to retype them – just choose from the list as you type the first letter of a name. That’s Adobe Photoshop Elements (I’m using version 13.0). You use the Organizer functions to add the tags, then select all the files in a folder and go to File > Save Metadata to File (or Ctrl+W) to populate the Tag properties in the Windows file. Done!

It may not be the best solution, but it’s one that works for me.


Getting close…

June 9, 2017

My blog stats as at this morning (Friday 9 June 2017). I predict it’ll tip over the 10 million mark by Monday. Wow.

Sunday 11 June 2017, 11:15am. Nearly there:


Monday 12 June 2017, 9:30am. Almost…:


As predicted, the counter ticked over to 10 million sometime on Monday 12 June 2017, between 4:30pm and 8:30pm. Stats as at Tuesday 13 June 2017, 6:20am:




How long before this danger causes a problem?

May 31, 2017

In the ‘what were they thinking’ category comes this — replacing those moisture-absorbing gel packets in products with something that has a similar size, shape, and feel to the product!

I purchased a container of glucosamine tablets recently, and when I opened it, I found a blue plastic cap-like thing instead of the gel packet. Tell me it doesn’t look like one of those bullet-like tablets! How could a person with limited dexterity, compromised touch, or vision problems distinguish this blue thing from a tablet? Seniors tend to be those who take glucosamine, and they are more likely to have dexterity, touch, and vision issues as they age, so I’m just waiting for the news headline that says someone was hurt or injured or even died from ingesting one of these blue plastic cap things.

What were they thinking??? Did no-one see that you need to clearly distinguish the product from something that isn’t the product and shouldn’t be ingested? At least the gel packets were a different shape, different feel, and made from quite different materials, enabling them to be ‘not like the others’.


Word: Add padding to a character style

May 29, 2017

My client wanted the button text in the user manual I was writing to look similar to the buttons in the app. For this app, blue, green, and orange background colours were used for the buttons, with white text.

Easy enough to do — just set up three Word character styles, one for each colour, have different coloured shading for each, and bold white text for the font. Make it simple for both writing and future updating by assigning keyboard shortcuts for each style. Done.

But, while my client liked what I’d done, he was concerned that the first and last letter of the button text butted up against the edge of the coloured shading (see image below), and wanted to know if we could add some padding.

I was pretty sure I could do that to a character style using borders the same colour, but then I ran into an issue I’d never seen before. When I applied a border of any weight or colour, I lost the background shading for the text. In the example below, you can see that the area inside the blue border has white space inside it, not blue shading with white text as I expected.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to work. I explained the situation to my client. Fortunately, he’s a programmer and knows a bug when he sees one :-) He did a little bit of experimenting and came up with the solution, which was to reapply the background shading to the character style AFTER adding the border.

It worked, and here’s the end result (it has a 1.5 pt border, just enough to add a bit of padding to both ends of the text, but not too much that the top and bottom padding adds too much gap between lines in a paragraph):


Word: Copy AutoCorrect entries to another computer

May 3, 2017

Did you know you can copy your AutoCorrect entries from one computer to another? You might want to share yours with a work colleague, or you might have a new computer and not want to set them all up again.

Beware: Copying these files to another computer WILL overwrite the AutoCorrect files in the destination computer, so if you’re copying them to a colleague’s computer, make sure they have listed their own AutoCorrect entries first (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/word-list-keyboard-shortcuts-autotext-and-autocorrect-entries/).


Your AutoCorrect entries apply to all programs in the Microsoft Office suite, and are stored in *.ACL files under your user profile on your computer. When you copy them, you’ll put them in the same place but under the other user’s profile on their computer.

  1. On your computer, go to: C:\Users\[your_user_name]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Office.
  2. You’ll see a suite of ACL files listed. The MSO numbers in each file name indicate the language/locale; e.g. MSO0127.acl = Math, MSO1033.acl = English (US), MSO2057.acl = English, (UK), MSO3081.acl = English (Australia). (For a full list of locale numbers, see: http://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/221435/list-of-supported-locale-identifiers-in-word.) Hint: Look at the date last modified — the ACL files with the most recent dates are likely the ones your installation of Office uses.
  3. Copy the ACL files you need (or copy them all if you’re not sure and they’re going to a new computer).
  4. On the destination computer, go to: C:\Users\[user_name_of_other person]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Office.
  5. Paste the copied files into this folder, saying yes to overwrite the existing files.

[Links last checked May 2017]


Word: List keyboard shortcuts, autotext, and autocorrect entries

May 3, 2017

There are many things you can do to help automate the writing and editing process. Power users of Word use keyboard shortcuts extensively — either the in-built ones that come with Word (e.g. Ctrl+s to save, Ctrl+c to copy etc.), or ones they’ve created themselves. Power users also use AutoText and AutoCorrect to speed up inserting commonly used text, tables, etc. (See the links below for some of the blog posts I’ve written on all these.)

But how do you know what you’ve got available to use? Some of the more obscure in-built keyboard commands are difficult to find listed anywhere, and how do you remember which ones you’ve created for your own use? How can you get a list of these shortcuts, and a list of your AutoText and AutoCorrect entries? Of course, once you have a list you can then save it or print it out to refer to at any time.

I used Microsoft Word 2010 for Windows when writing this blog post — the same (or very similar) information should apply to later versions of Word for Windows. Mac users — you may be able to do this too, but as I don’t own a Mac, I can’t test on a Mac or write about Mac stuff.

List all in-built Microsoft Word keyboard commands

  1. Open a blank Word document.
  2. Go to the View tab and click the large Macros icon.
  3. Click the drop-down arrow for the Macros in list, then select Word commands.
  4. Select ListCommands in the top box.
  5. Click Run.

List all custom keyboard commands

  1. Open a Word document that is based on the template where you know the custom keyboard commands are stored (if stored in Normal, just open a blank Word document).
  2. Go to the File tab and select Print.
  3. Under Settings, change from the default Print All Pages to Key Assignments.
  4. Choose your printer (e.g. PDF if you want a document to save), then click Print.

List all AutoText entries

  1. Open a blank Word document.
  2. Go to the File tab and select Print.
  3. Under Settings, change from the default Print All Pages to AutoText Entries.
  4. Choose your printer (e.g. PDF if you want a document to save), then click Print.

List all AutoCorrect entries

Use the macro described here: http://wordribbon.tips.net/T009084_Printing_a_List_of_AutoCorrect_Entries

See also:

[Links last checked May 2017]


Word: Macro to add a value at the beginning of each row of a table

May 2, 2017

I had a strange request — someone had a really long table in Microsoft Word (some 50+ pages long…) and wanted to add an asterisk (star) in front of the first character in each row, no matter how many rows and columns there were in the table or what the original first character in each row was (some first characters were numerals, but most were upper or lower case letters). Doing this manually was going to take hours, and he had several tables across various documents that he wanted to do this to.

My first thought was a find and replace with wildcards routine, but I quickly figured out that I didn’t have enough knowledge to do that, even if it was possible. My next thought was to add a new first column, populate it with asterisks, then merge the first and second columns of each row — the problem was that merging required selecting each pair of 1st and 2nd column cells for EACH row, then merging, then removing the added paragraph mark created by the merge process. That was going to take as long or even longer than adding the asterisks manually!

So I contacted my friend Dave Gash (www.davegash.com), a US-based programmer/tech writer, to see if he could help. His forte isn’t VBA, but he does know programming logic (and he knows what to search for), and by the next morning he had a solution for me. Actually he had a solution that was TOO good — his first solution (Macro 2 below) added the asterisk to the beginning of all rows in ALL tables in the document. But that’s not what my client wanted — he wanted to add asterisks to all rows in a specific table, not every table. A bit of tweaking and Dave came back a few minutes later with the solution that suited my client (Macro 1 below). When I ran it in test mode, the changes were almost instant, but they took about 5 mins on the 50+ page table! That was still many hours less than it would’ve taken manually. I owe Dave a beer or three!

Macro 1: Add an asterisk to the beginning of all rows in a specific table

Sub AddAsteriskToTableRow()
   ' From Dave Gash www.davegash.com April 2017 '
   ' Collapse the range to start so as to not have to deal with '
   ' multi-segment ranges. Then check if cursor is within a table. '

   Selection.Collapse Direction:=wdCollapseStart
   If Not Selection.Information(wdWithInTable) Then
      MsgBox "You can only run this when your cursor is within a table."
      Exit Sub
   End If

   ' Process every row in the current table. '
   Dim row As Integer
   Dim rng As Range

   For row = 1 To Selection.Tables(1).Rows.Count
      ' Get the range for the leftmost cell. '
      Set rng = Selection.Tables(1).Rows(row).Cells(1).Range

      ' For each, insert asterisk in leftmost cell.'
      ' Change value in quote marks if you want something other than an asterisk. '
      rng.InsertBefore ("*")
End Sub

Macro 2: Add an asterisk to the beginning of all rows in ALL tables in a document

Sub AddAsterisksToAllTables()
' From Dave Gash www.davegash.com April 2017
' Loop through all tables
For tbl = 1 To ActiveDocument.Tables.Count
    'Set up row and range vars
    Dim row As Integer
    Dim rng As Range
    'Loop through rows in current table
    For row = 1 To ActiveDocument.Tables(tbl).Rows.Count
        ' Get the range for the leftmost (column 1) cell
        Set rng = ActiveDocument.Tables(tbl).Rows(row).Cells(1).Range
        ' Insert the asterisk before the text in leftmost cell
        ' Change value in quote marks if you want something
        ' other than an asterisk.
        rng.InsertBefore ("*") 
    Next row 
Next tbl 
End Sub


  • The examples above use an asterisk as the added character, but you can make that character anything you want — one or more letters or numbers or standard punctuation symbols (or a combination), with or without a space. Just change the value in the double-quotation marks in the macro to what you want (e.g. you might have a list of product numbers that need to have ‘MQ’ added in front of them — change “*” to “MQ” [or “MQ-” or “MQ “]). You might want to change the name of the macro too, to reflect what you’re adding (e.g. AddMQToTableRow).
  • Don’t run this twice in the same table, otherwise you’ll end up with two asterisks!
  • Dave asked me to add this acknowledgement: ‘My source was from a StackOverflow (the coder’s friend, believe me!) member (apparently also from Western Australia!). … I modified the code I found there for your purposes.’ Source: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/7226721/how-can-you-get-the-current-table-in-ms-word-vba

[Links last checked May 2017]