Archive for June, 2021


Searching photo metadata using Windows Explorer

June 30, 2021

You’ve meticulously added metadata to your photos, detailing when and where taken, and using keywords to tag the people in the photos (Tip: the free AnalogExif program is good for adding metadata quickly;

Now you try to search for specific photos in your collection using Explorer, but when you search for a word you know is in the keywords or is part of the title, you get nothing, and you wonder why you did all that work!

Well, you can search the metadata using Explorer but there’s a trick to it—you have to tell Explorer the metadata property to search.

So instead of typing John Smith as your search criteria in Explorer, you need to enter tag: John Smith or keyword: John Smith to find all photos tagged with his name as a keyword. If you want to find more than one person, you need to enter tag: John Smith; tag: Michelle Martin to only get photos with BOTH those people in them.

To find words in a title, enter title: Adelaide to find all photos with Adelaide in the title. Similarly, copyright: jones to find all photos with that copyright designation.

Not all photo metadata is searchable, however. I found that Camera maker: EPSON and maker weren’t searchable, but authors and subject were. I didn’t test all possible metadata properties, but those mentioned above should be sufficient for most wanting a quick way to search their photos. For more in-depth searches, you may need to use specialised software, such as photo editing software.

Note: You must enter a colon after the metadata property’s word, and a semicolon to separate others you add to the same search string. You can use two different properties in one search; for example subject: adelaide; tag: michelle would find all photos matching both criteria.

[Links last checked June 2021]


Use Calibre to get a word frequency list

June 30, 2021

A decade ago I investigated some software for getting a concordance or word frequency list ( The tools listed in that post are still available and TextSTAT is quick and easy to download and use. But you can also get a word frequency list from the free ebook publishing software, Calibre (, as noted in some of the comments on that original post. Today it was time to figure out how to do that, because it’s not easily found.

  1. Open Calibre and add your document to it.
  2. Click Edit Book (NOTE: you may get a message saying you can only edit in a particular format, such as EPUB, in which case you’ll need to convert your document to that format first—use Convert Books > Convert Individually, then select the EPUB output option and wait for it to convert, then click on the converted format in the left pane, then click Edit Book.)
  3. In the new window that opens, select Tools > Reports, then Words from the left column.
  4. You’ll get a list of all words used in the document and their frequency of use. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see how many words are in the document, how many unique words, and the languages used.
  5. Optional: Click on a column heading to sort the list in ascending or descending order by word, language (handy for finding any words using different language settings), or number of times used.
  6. Optional: If you want to save your list as a CSV file for use in Excel, then click Save.

Screen shot of the Edit Book report in Calibre for word frequency

[Links last checked June 2021]


Word has errors and won’t open

June 29, 2021

In a comment on another post, Matt asked:

I’m sure you’ve written about this but I’m too lazy to look for it. What can I do with a Word file that will not open? I guess it’s corrupted somehow. I was working for several hours on it and saving periodically, but then had some issues with Windows Explorer not working so I had to fix that and when I got it fixed and rebooted the system, the Word file will not open now. I get this error message: “Word experienced an error trying to open the file. Try these suggestions. * Check the file permissions for the document or drive. * Make sure there is sufficient free memory and disk space. * Open the file with the Text Recovery converter.” I checked and I have this: File permissions are: Full Control; Free Memory: ?; Disk Space: 745GB free; and What is the “Text Recovery Converter”?

My response:

You could try some of these (, but it looks like the doc won’t even open. I suggest you make a copy of it, then try to open the copy in Wordpad (which should be on your Windows PC by default; in Explorer, right click on the file and select Open With, then select Wordpad). Another suggestion is to upload the doc to Google Docs and try to open from there. Or download the free Open Office and try that. Your aim at the moment is to preserve the text you have in the doc — you can reapply formatting later if some of it goes wonky. If you can get it open in one of these apps, you can try saving as a new DOCX file and trying to reopen in Word. If that doesn’t work, you can try saving as an RTF file and then try opening in Word.

And at that point, I was out of suggestions. However, I did a quick search and found this article from Microsoft that offers all sorts of other options:

I also found these clear instructions for using the Text Recovery Converter:

[Link last checked June 2021]


Testing Antidote 10

June 28, 2021

A fellow editor mentioned that they use Antidote as one of their editing tools. I hadn’t heard of it, but the website looked promising ( It’s classed as a ‘writing assistance tool, and at first glance appears to have similar functions to StyleWriter (, which I have used in the past, though not recently.

A wet and rainy Sunday was the perfect time to test it out on my laptop (not my main computer, in case anything went wrong).

Let me start by saying that my initial experiences with the website and the download were NOT good, and most people would’ve given up long before I did (I used to work in the software industry, doing installations, testing, writing procedures etc., so probably have more patience than most for persevering with software). The first issue I encountered was that it didn’t seem to recognise my email address/password on the initial try and I didn’t get the account verification email. I then had to go into the account portal to download the software. However, despite installing it, it kept displaying the account login screen and then throwing me out and not sending me a reset password, and/or wanting me to enter my registration number (I didn’t have one for the 30-day trial) or to buy the software—there was no option for the trial. Finally, I uninstalled everything, created a new account with a new password and tried again—this time I was able to download the software and run it in trial mode, but I spent a frustrating couple of hours getting to that point. I’d also like to add that I HATE having to create an account with an unknown company just to download and install trial software. And the download was HUGE too—almost 1 GB, which would hurt anyone on a low-speed or limited data internet connection. However, the trial version seems to be fully functional, just limited to 30 days and a maximum of 10,000 words that it will assess. One other thing about the installation—it auto installs its Connectix software and asks you to turn off any connections with other programs you don’t want (I turned off everything except Word); however, it showed the Office 2016 suite of programs in this list, yet I’ve only got Office 365 on the laptop, so that was strange (Update: When I clicked File > Account > About Word, the version in brackets on the first line says 16.0.13…. so I’m pretty sure that’s where the ‘Word 2016’ comes from. Thanks to Amber for alerting me.)). It also asks if you want to install or extract the installation files—I’m not sure how many non-tech people would know which to chose, or why; this message could be worded better with an explanation as to what will happen with each choice.

So let’s get past that horrible initial experience and focus on what it can do to a Word document.

I loaded up one of my main client’s documents—54 pages, 13,300 words. The Antidote functions are added to their own tab on Word’s toolbar. I clicked Connector and off it went and analysed the document for all sorts of errors. It opens an interface showing the text in its own window; the Word doc is still accessible from the toolbar and if you make any direct changes in Word, those changes are auto synced when you return to the Antidote window. In my case, I wanted to test how it worked on a doc with plenty of track changes (TC) and so I made sure they remained visible and that TC remained turned on. The Antidote interface only shows the text as it would be with TC not showing (i.e. as though they were all accepted). Any change you make in the Antidote interface is immediately applied to the Word doc, and the changes are tracked if you have TC turned on in Word. However, and this was a showstopper for me, at some point the TC in the doc were ALL accepted by Antidote!!! I’m not sure when this happened—while I was making changes, everything seemed fine. It could have been after I did things with the personal dictionary, but I’m not sure. Losing all the TC is a deal breaker for me as I HAVE to preserve them (I work on regulatory docs, for the most part).

As far as I could tell, you also can’t tell Antidote to ignore certain parts of the doc, so it picked up number errors in the table of contents (TOC), for example, when these were actually page numbers in the autogenerated TOC. Likewise, I couldn’t see a way to tell Antidote to ignore front matter, glossaries, reference lists, appendices, fields, etc. or to ignore punctuation such as a hyphen in an autogenerated caption (e.g. for Figure 4-1 it suggested I add spaces around the hyphen).

You also can’t use any of Word’s autocorrect functions when making changes, or in the description of a term in the personal dictionary (I did like how they offered different categories for proper names you add to the dictionary). However, my PhraseExpress text expansion codes seemed to work fine. While on dictionaries, you can add you own dictionaries to Antidote (must be a TXT or HTML file, but you can save a DIC file as TXT and import it as a personal dictionary); however, I’m pretty sure anything you add to your personal dictionary in Antidote does NOT get added to your Word DIC file, so you may need to double up on that.

No formatting marks are shown (it’s billed as a writing assistant, after all, not a formatting checker), so it’s very hard to see things like double spaces, where tabs have been used for indenting etc. You will have to use other tools for this. ALL text is rendered as plain text (manually applied bold and italics seem to be retained), so headings (using styles), captions, table cells etc. are lines in the wall of text. Fields are also rendered as plain text, so if you change any of those from within Antidote, you will likely break the field in the Word doc.

In my couple of hours of testing, I was very impressed with the analysis done, the suggestions made, the comprehensiveness of the internal guides and dictionaries, the fact that you can add you own dictionaries to Antidote, and many other things. The interface was fairly easy to use and to understand too. However, I won’t be buying it because the unexplained and automatic acceptance of all TC is a deal breaker for me.


Add random numbers to media file names

June 28, 2021

The entertainment system in our Mazda CX-5 (purchased in 2017) doesn’t understand the meaning of ‘random play’. Too many times we’ll only get tracks from artist A and H, with the occasional track from artist P thrown in. Next time we start the car, we might get artists C, G, and W, but no-one else for ages or at all. It certainly isn’t ‘random’ when there are thousands of tracks and artists to choose from, yet you get similar patterns of not-very-random rotation.

A while back I searched for a reason why and how to get it to be properly random, but to no avail. On a recent long drive, it annoyed the hell out of me, so I mentioned it at lunch with a techie friend and he said there could be a limit to the number of files the system treats as random (in his car, it was 999). He solved the problem by writing a program that allocated random numbers to all the file names, then set up playlists of no more than 999 tracks. Because the numbers were random, his playlists were all random tracks, which is what he wanted. In his car’s entertainment system, he sets it to play playlists, not random, and he said that’s the key to getting a truly random order.

Armed with that knowledge I went searching again to find out if there was a limit in the Mazda’s system. I found several mentions on forums of limits of 199, 255, and others who said no limits to the number of files. However, this webpage ( suggests that there’s a limit of 255 files in a folder that the system will take notice of (for indexing purposes?) and will ignore the rest. And possibly a limit of 512 folders. And on one forum, someone mentioned that they used the free MediaMonkey for Windows software ( to randomise the files then saved them to playlists, as my friend has done. One added that you can also use MediaMonkey to permanently add a random number to the file names for each track. That looked promising!

I downloaded MediaMonkey and checked out some different ways you can use it to organise your music (yes, I used a laptop to test on, and a bundle of some 1560 music files, totally about 13 GB—I certainly didn’t want to test it on the USB stick of music files we use in the car, just in case something went wrong). You can use MediaMonkey for all sorts of things, including as a substitute for Windows Media Player etc., but my main purpose was to test out the randomisation and file renaming. NOTE: I only spent a couple of hours testing a specific thing, so I am NOT an expert on MediaMonkey by anyone’s stretch of the imagination.

Once you’ve told MediaMonkey where your music files are, it will load them into its library. All tracks loaded will be listed under Music > All Tracks and also under Playlists > Accessible tracks. From there you can one or many, or select them all (click on one track, then press Ctrl+A), and then re-organise them into smaller subsets, randomise them, and/or apply random numbers to each track. You can do lots lots more, but these are what I focused on and what I discuss below.

Before you start, I strongly suggest that you create new folders/subfolders for the randomly numbered tracks and/or playlists you’ll create. I couldn’t see any way of adding new folders while I was in the move/copy mode. The subfolders I created had names like Random01, Random02, etc. For playlists by genre, I created Country01, Country02, Classical01, Rock01, Rock02, 60s70s, etc. You do what suits you.

Note: You can use one or both methods below, depending on how you want to organise your music. Click on the screenshots to see them in a larger format.

Add a random number to each track

  1. Select all the tracks you want to randomise.
  2. Go to Tools > Auto-organise Files.
  3. Select either Move or Copy (Copy leaves your original files intact, so I chose that).
  4. Click Configure to open the Destination window.
  5. Click Browse and select the drive, folder, subfolder where you want to copy the files to. Click OK.
  6. In the Filenames field, type the order of the ‘masks’ you want to apply. By default, the order is <Title> – <Artist>, but I wanted a 5-digit random number added before the title, so I typed <Random:5> then a space and left the remainder. (If you wanted a 4-digit number, you’d type 4, or leave off the colon and number for a number of any size, presumably limited by the maximum number of files you have, though I can’t confirm that)
  7. Click OK to return to the Auto organise window, where the old path and new file paths are shown for each selected track, including the new random numbers; in my case, I added these before the title and artist. Check these paths are correct, that the destination is correct, and that you’ve selected either Move (the default) or Copy.
  8. If all is correct, click OK. Depending on the number of files you have, this could take seconds to minutes, perhaps hours if you have a HUGE music library. For my 13 GB of 1560 files, it took a few minutes.
  9. Go to the folder you moved or copied the newly named files to and check that you got the result you were hoping for.

Put a defined number of randomised tracks into a playlist for the car

There are two methods for doing this—one is to copy/paste the required number from the randomised numbered list of tracks in the folder (as above), as many times as you need, into other subfolders. I won’t describe how to do this.

The other uses MediaMonkey, where you can define the maximum number of tracks per playlist, set genres etc. Again, my advice is to create your folders/subfolders first.

  1. Go to Playlists > Accessible tracks. Select as many (or all) tracks you want to randomise and to allocate to a defined set of tracks. You can select far more than you need (I selected all 1560 to create playlists of 255 tracks).
  2. Go to Edit > New Auto Playlist.
  3. Set the parameters for your playlist:
    • By default the name is New AutoPlaylist – click in that name to change it to what you want (I changed mine to 60s 70s)
    • Limit the search, as required (I didn’t)
    • Match the specified criteria – click the + sign to add criteria. In the screenshot below, you can see I added Date as a criteria and changed the value to be before or equal to 1 Jan 1980. (Note: these criteria work on the metadata of the files, so you need to have that metadata before the criteria limits will work; I won’t address that in this post)
    • Check the box for Limit, and enter the number of tracks to limit the playlist too. You can see I’ve limited mine to 255 tracks.
    • For Selected By, I clicked the drop-down arrow and selected Random track (auto refresh).
  4. Each time you limit the criteria in the section near the top of the screen, the list automatically refreshes to match those criteria. In my case, of the 1560 tracks I had only 243 meet my criteria, so even though I had a 255 maximum limit, only those 243 tracks would go into this 60s and 70s playlist. Bonus: You get told how much space these tracks will take (handy if you have a size limit on an older USB stick), and how long the combined play time will be (in this case, nearly 17 hours)
  5. Once you have your playlist, you can right-click on the playlist title in the left panel, then select Send To and navigate to the folder where you want to store the files (locally, USB stick for the car, etc.).  NOTE: If you used the random number function detailed earlier, AND randomised this playlist, you may end up with the same playlist with double entries—some with numbers at the beginning of the file, some without. Using Windows Explorer, just delete those you don’t need from the subfolder.

[Links last checked June 2021]


List of tasks done by technical editors

June 19, 2021

One of this blog’s readers alerted me to this list of tasks that technical editors do, written in late 2020 by Yoel Strimling: Not all technical editors will do all tasks, and no doubt some could add other tasks, but I thought this list gave a concise overview of the tasks we undertake when editing a piece of technical writing, along with approximate times for each stage.

In the same vein, I have a ‘triage list’ of editing tasks that I can do for clients—I ask new clients or those who have a limited budget and/or timeframe to use this to direct me as to the highest priority things they want done to their document: As a perfectionist, my tendency is to do it all, but if you’ve only given me xx hours to edit a nnn-page technical document, then you need to be prepared to tell me what to focus on, because I’m not a superhero.

[Links last checked June 2021]


The importance of backups

June 16, 2021

I dodged a bullet last night! It was the end of the day and I wasn’t concentrating.

I wanted to delete a subfolder I no longer needed, which was on the server. Without realising it, I had the top-level folder selected on the left side of Explorer, not the subfolder on the right. I pressed Shift+Del, which PERMANENTLY deletes a file. Fortunately, I realised my error within a second or so (the 2 files in the subfolder I wanted to delete would likely never have time to display a progress bar, but this deletion did, which is why I knew something was wrong). I clicked Cancel as soon as I could, but all the individual files in the top-level folder were deleted, except for the one I had open. I stopped it before any of the other subfolders got deleted.

I called my IT people and they were able to restore those 80 files from last night’s server backup within seconds!! First time I’ve ever had to get data restored from a backup, so thank goodness I had it.


Word: What you get depends on your version

June 11, 2021

It used to be so easy—Word 2010 for Windows was a different version to Word 2013, Word 2016 etc. Microsoft version and build numbers didn’t seem to matter too much. But since the advent of Office 365 by subscription, it’s not so easy to know which version of Word 365 for Windows you’re using, because they’re all called ‘Word Microsoft 365’ on the launch screen. You have to look for this information (it’s under File > Account). The version you have dictates what functions you see on the tabs on your ribbon (yes, other things can affect the tabs displayed too, like any add-ins you might have and what tabs you’ve turned on or off [under File > Options > Customize Ribbon]).

Since the introduction of the hated Modern Comments, I’ve been very mindful that the Word 365 version I’m using might show different icons on the tabs to someone else’s version. I’ve chosen to turn off Word updates for now so that I don’t get these Modern Comments, which will affect my productivity. However, I have allowed my laptop to upgrade to the latest version of Word. I did this to test Modern Comments, but then I realised that some of the things I was seeing on the tabs on the laptop differed from those I saw on my main PC. So this blog post describes those differences, using screenshots of the various tabs.

Some notes:

  • Tab sizes and icon arrangements differ as I took screenshots from a wide monitor on my PC and from a much smaller screen on my laptop.
  • All tabs have the same icons etc. at the far right for ‘Share’ and ‘Comments’ – I have deleted the empty space for the tabs that weren’t filled with icons, along with the Share and Comments icons, where not required.
  • My tabs will look different from yours as I use certain add-ins (e.g. PerfectIt, Acrobat, and EditTools) that add their own tab, and I’ve created my own Editing tab. I’ve also turned off some tabs and turned on others.
  • All screenshots are from Word 365 for Windows. Differences are between versions and builds of Word 365:
    • PC: Version 2008, Build 13127.21506
    • Laptop: Version 2105, Build 14026.20246 (I use this as my test machine, and so have allowed it to update to the version that was applicable on 11 June 2021)
  • When I say ‘Appears to be the same’ it means that the available icons look the same. That doesn’t mean that they work the same—I tested very little functionality.
  • Click on individual screenshots to view them larger.

File tab

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the function labels were the same)

Home tab



New icons:

  • New — Opens the Templates window
  • Editor – opens a spelling, grammar etc. pane. Green ticks = no errors found; a number indicates that there were errors of this type. Click the line to display the errors/run the check (e.g. Spelling opens the spellchecker). However, if you want the old spellchecker back, you’ll need to add it as an icon on your Quick Access Toolbar (File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar, click drop down and select All Commands, then find the one that is Spelling… (there are several – you need the one with the ellipses), then click Add to add it to your QAT, then click OK. Click the newly added icon on the QAT to check you got the right one.)
  • Reuse Files (also on the Insert tab) – Opens a list of recently used files, with a search box. I don’t see the purpose for this, at this stage. And I’m not sure what you can do with the files it lists.

Insert tab



New icons:

  • Reuse Files (also on the Home tab; see the information there)

Missing icons (compared to earlier [PC] version):

  • Add From Files – it looks like this has become Reuse Files
  • Get Add-ins
  • My Add-ins
  • Embed Flash – Flash technology is no longer supported, so it’s no surprise this icon is missing in the later version

Draw tab



New icons:

  • Select (arrow icon on the left)
  • Draw to Touch – replaces the old Draw?

Different icons:

  • Draw – now Draw to Touch?
  • Eraser – now an icon of the eraser end of a pencil
  • Lasso select – similar icon, but no text label

Missing icons:

  • Add pen (options are now included in the main tab in later version, so not actually missing)
  • Ink Editor

Design tab

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Layout tab (Page Layout in the later version)

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same). I think the renaming of this tab as Page Layout is a positive change to clearly distinguish it from the Table Layout tab when you’ve selected a table. Anyone doing support over the phone would appreciate this distinction.

References tab



New icon:

  • ABC? Acronyms on a new Insights group – I couldn’t see how this worked. I added an acronym to the document I was testing in various ways—acronym followed by the full term, full term followed by the acronym in parentheses, and in a table of definitions with the acronym in the left cell and the definition in the right cell. None of these were picked up when I clicked Acronyms.

Mailings tab

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Review tab



New icons:

  • Editor – see info under the Home tab
  • Hide Ink – hides any drawn objects; also an option to delete them

Missing icons:

  • Spelling & Grammar – replaced by Editor

View tab

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Developer tab

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Help tab



Only change is the image on the Feedback icon—they’ve replaced that very unprofessional smiley face, thank goodness.

Table Design tab

Only visible when you click inside a table. Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Table Layout tab

Only visible when you click inside a table. Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Graphics Format tab

Only visible when you click on an icon you’ve inserted (Insert > Icons). Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Picture Format tab

Only visible when you click on an inserted image. Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

[Links last checked June 2021]


Word: Switch a footnote and following punctuation

June 3, 2021

Someone in an editors’ group on Facebook asked how to change the position of footnotes and punctuation. All their footnotes were followed by a period or a comma, and they wanted to shift the punctuation so that it came before the footnote, not after it.

Word’s find and replace using wildcards to the rescue! Here’s how:

  1. Press Ctrl+h to open the Find and Replace window.
  2. Click More, then select the Use wildcards checkbox.
  3. In the Find what field, type (^2)([.,])
  4. In the Replace with field, type: \2\1
  5. Click Find Next, then Replace for each one found. If you are confident, then click Replace All.

How this works:

  • ^2 is the code for footnotes that can only be used with wildcard searching (for normal searching, you’d use ^f, but you can’t use that in wildcard searches)
  • [.,] defines the range of things to look for after the footnote—in this case, a period or a comma
  • () the parentheses enclose each element of the Find, which means we can shift elements around in the Replace
  • \2\1 in the Replace tells Word to replace by putting the second element found (the punctuation) followed by the first element (the footnote), thus switching the positions

Note: If you just wanted to find only footnotes followed by a period (not a comma), you’d modify the Find to be (^2)(.)