Archive for November, 2022


Word: Change font colour for certain elements using find and replace

November 27, 2022

Cathy emailed me for help. She said:

I have a list of instructions, and each set of instructions is preceded by the word “Step” and a number. I want to change the font of both the word “Step” and the number without changing the number itself. I have tried using the Find & Replace function but have been unsuccessful after multiple attempts. Obviously, I’m not getting the proper syntax, so how can I accomplish this task using that function or is there another/better way other than converting all the information manually?

This can be done easily with a wildcard Find and Replace.

  1. In Word for Windows, press Ctrl+h to open the Find and Replace window at the Replace tab.
  2. Click More.
  3. Select the Use Wildcards checkbox.
  4. In the Find What field, type: (Step [0-9]{1,})
  5. In the Replace With field, type: \1
  6. With your cursor still in the Replace field, click Format, then select Font. Chose the font colour, then click OK. The font colour will be listed below the Replace With field.
  7. Click Find Next, then Replace. Only click Replace All if you are confident that you’ll only change the font of the items you want to change.


  • The \1 in the Replace field tells Word to replace whatever it found within the parentheses with itself (i.e. make no changes to the text, except the styling changes such as font colour).
  • The [0-9] tells Word to find any numeral.
  • The {1,} after the [0-9] tells Word to find any numeral that’s one digit or more (e.g. 1, 15, 235, 5467, 21678 etc.). If you wanted to find two or more numerals together (e.g. 25, 235, but not 5), you’d use {2,}, and if you wanted one to three digit numbers (i.e. 1 to 999, and NOT 1234, 123454 etc.), then you’d use {1,3} where 1 is the least number of characters to be found and 3 is the most.

Windows: List all files in a folder and its subfolders using Excel

November 26, 2022

I first wrote about the methods for doing this back in 2008 (!), but today I found another, much simpler way of getting a list of all files in a Windows folder and its subfolders using Excel (any version after 2010, I believe). (Update 28 November 2022: There are some issues with Method 1 that I found while testing it, so for an even quicker and cleaner method, skip to Method 2 below)

Method 1

It’s quick, clean, and you can specify which data to keep, delete or add before you get your final list. And any updates to the folders can be updated automatically via Excel if you save your list. Details and demo in this 3 minute YouTube video.

In case that video ever gets deleted or moved, here are the basic steps:

  1. Open a new Excel document.
  2. On the Data tab, click the drop-down arrow next to Get Data.
  3. Select From File > From Folder.
  4. Click Browse and choose the topmost folder containing the files you want to list.
  5. Click OK. Depending on how many files there are, the list could take several seconds (or more) to display.
  6. A preview of the data found is shown in a new window (NOTE: This is NOT all the data, just a sample).
  7. Check the data columns:
    • If you’re happy with what you see, click Load and go to Step 8.
    • If you want to add or delete columns, click Transform Data. In the next window, right click on the column header of any column you don’t need, then select Remove. By default the Attributes column likely displays ‘Record’—you can click the double-arrow icon to the right of that column header to show the attribute types you can select from. By default, all are selected. To clear the list and just select one or two, clear the ‘Select All’ checkbox at the top of the list, then choose the attributes you want to list. If not all attributes are shown, click the ‘Load More’ link. Don’t expect to see everything related to a file’s properties—for example, for a list of photos, the Tag, Title and Subject properties were NOT listed. Once you’ve selected your attributes, click OK to close this window.  To now load it all into Excel, click Close and Load on the Home tab.
  8. Once all the data loads, you can continue to modify columns etc. Save the file if you later want to update the list.

(NOTE: In my testing, everything worked fine initially, but in later testing, I ran into an ‘Evaluation ran out of memory…’ error message consistently, even after closing and reopening Excel. In the comments under the YouTube video some people said that they’ve been able to extract 37,000+ file listings, but mine were nowhere near that big, more like 200 to 500. I couldn’t find the cause or how to fix it. If I do, I’ll report back here.)

Update from testing (27 Nov 2022): Testing results: I think the ‘Evaluation ran out of memory…’ error message MIGHT be related to the size (or type?) of the individual files. It runs perfectly well on a set of Word docs in a client’s folder and subfolders, where the biggest docs are 80 MB or so. But it chokes on a folder of videos, where most are in the several GB range. It’s almost like Excel is looking to load the actual files into the spreadsheet in the background, as versus just reporting the names of the files. This is a guess and further testing would be required, but as it ran perfectly well on a set of Word (and related docs) but not on videos, and then ran correctly on the Word docs again, I’d say file size might be the reason. I just tried it on a top-level folder of music files—it ran fine (3200+ files, with a total size of 20 GB). So I tried it again on a smaller subfolder of just 12 videos with a total file size of just over 3 GB, and it gave the error message again. So, more likely the file type than the size?

Method 2

For an even simpler option, check this 3-minute YouTube video. It’s all good, but if you’re looking for just the method to copy everything in subfolders as well as the selected folder, jump straight to the 2-minute mark:

As before, if that video ever goes missing, here are the basic steps:

  1. Open Word or Excel or another text editor where you’ll copy your results.
  2. Open Explorer to the top-level folder.
  3. In the Search box type a single period and press Enter. This will list everything in the top-level folder and all its subfolders (the default option on the Search tab showing the results).
  4. Go to the Home tab in Explorer.
  5. Select Copy Path.
  6. Paste (Ctrl+v) the results into your Word, Excel, or other document.

[Links last checked November 2022]


Some useful DOS and Windows commands

November 26, 2022

I was hunting out some old information I knew I’d written up years ago, and discovered that it wasn’t on this blog (started in late 2008) but on my old website! Fortunately, I had copies of those webpages and so here’s the information I wrote ‘way back when’ of some useful DOC and Windows commands that may help you.


  • List of all files in a directory: dir *.* /s > filelist.txt (see also this blog post:
  • Getting help with DOS commands: dir /? | more
  • Copy the contents of a CMD window: Right-click anywhere in the CMD window, select Select All, press Enter (yes, Enter!), then paste the copied content into an email, text editor, etc.


  • Force Windows File Explorer to open at a particular drive: Using some little-known commands, you can force Windows Explorer to open at a particular drive, folder, or file by default. Right-click on an Explorer shortcut, then select Properties. In the Target field, type: %windir%\explorer.exe /e, C:\ (Note: This command opens Windows Explorer at the C: drive; change C:\ to the drive or folder where you want it to open.) Hint: You can add this as a taskbar icon too, to quickly jump to a particular drive.
  • Copy a Windows error message: You can copy any text in an error message by pressing Ctrl+C then pasting the copied error message into an email, text editor, etc.

[Links last checked November 2022]


Word: Get rid of all sorts of manually applied character formatting

November 23, 2022


In an editors’ Facebook group, E asked:

In Word, is there a way to highlight every bit of text that has had additional formatting applied (i.e. formatting that’s not part of the Word style for that text)?

For example, let’s say someone working on the file has applied a custom colour to every third paragraph. The custom colour is a shade of grey that is imperceptibly lighter than the standard black text that’s part of all the styles in the document, so I may not notice it just by looking at the document. But when I click within one of those paragraphs, the style name in the Styles pane is ‘Normal + Custom Colour xyz’. This same person has also randomly applied a clear background pattern to some bits of text, and so clicking on those bits of text shows a style name of ‘Normal + Pattern: Clear.

Is there a way to easily find/highlight all bits of text that have any style variations at all (i.e. ‘+ [anything at all]’ in the style name)?


There are at least 4 possible solutions to this problem—there may be more, but these were the 4 that came to mind in a couple of minutes. The solutions go from easiest to more complex. All are for Word for Windows.

WARNING: You’ll be making global changes to your document, so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE test these techniques on a COPY of your document before making them on the original.

Method 1: Delete the created character styles from the Styles pane

First, you need to show the Styles pane and then all the formatting in the Styles pane. From the Styles pane, you can click the drop-down arrow for a character formatting (or ‘pattern’ style and select Delete, which clears the character formatting from all the text that uses it.

  1. Open the Styles pane (Alt+Ctrl+Shift+S).
  2. Click Options (at the very bottom of the Styles pane).
  3. Select the top 3 checkboxes for showing formatting.
    Style  Pane Options with first three checkboxes selected and with Alphabetical as the sort order
  4. While you’re there, sort the list alphabetically for ease of identifying the style names, then click OK.
  5. in the Styles pane, identify the added character styles—look for names like ’10pt, italic’. For background shading, look for style names like ‘Pattern: Clear (Text 2)’.
  6. To clear these character or pattern attributes from the text, click the drop-down arrow to the right of the style name in the Styles pane, then select Delete.
    Click the drop-down arrow to the right of the style name, then click Delete to remove it
  7. Click Yes to delete all instances.

Bam! They’re gone!

Finally, if seeing all those character formatting names in the Styles pane annoys you in the future, go back to steps 2 and 3 above and clear those checkboxes

Method 2: Reset the formatting of each paragraph/whole document back to the underlying paragraph styles

You can reset each paragraph (or the entire doc if you’re brave!) to its underlying paragraph style (e.g. if it’s Body Text + 10pt italic, this technique will reset it to just Body Text and remove the character formatting). NOTE: This technique does not remove any coloured backgrounds.

The easiest way to reset to the underlying style is by selecting the text (one or more paragraphs, or Ctrl+A to select the entire document), then pressing Ctrl+spacebar. This gets rid of the manually applied character styles but not the coloured shading. You may have to do it twice if it doesn’t get them all first time round.

Method 3: Reset the background shading to ‘no colour’

If you used Method 2 above, then you’ll still need to get rid of the shading. The easiest way is to:

  1. Select the entire document (Ctrl+A).
  2. Go to the Home tab > Paragraph group and click the drop-down arrow immediately to the right of the borders and shading icon.
  3. Select Borders and Shading.
    Home tab > Paragraph group > click drop=down arrow next to the Borders and Shading icon, then select Borders and Shading at the bottom of the drop-down list
  4. Select the Shading tab.
  5. Change the Fill to No Color (this may already be displayed, but you’ll still need to click the drop-down arrow and select it from below the color palette to set it).
  6. Click OK.

Select the Shading tab, click the drop-down arrow for the Fill colour, select No Color, then click OK.

Method 4: Use a wildcard find and replace to reset the character formatting (this does not change the shading, however)

Note: Test this technique on a COPY of the document as it makes a global Replace All change.

  1. Press Ctrl+H to open the Find and Replace window.
  2. Click More.
  3. Select the Use Wildcards checkbox.
  4. In the Find What field, type * (* = every character).
  5. Put your cursor in the Replace With field, then click the Format button at the bottom of the window. DO NOT TYPE ANYTHING INTO THE FIND WHAT FIELD!
    On the Replace tab, click More see the option to Use Wildcards and select that checkbox, then type * into the Find What field. Put your cursor into the Replace With field and click Format and select Font. Choose your font settings and click OK. Underneath the Replace With field should be the settings you chose, and NOTHING should be in the Replace With box. Click Replace All.
  6. Select Font to open the font dialog box.
  7. Set the font colour to Automatic, font style to Regular, and the font size to what you want all the found text to be. Click OK.
  8. Below the Replace With field you should have information about the font, such as ‘font size, not bold, not italic, font colour = Auto’.
  9. Click Replace All (Note: You have to click Replace All as Replace will find EVERY. SINGLE. CHARACTER in your document, one at a time…).

Software to find duplicate photos

November 13, 2022

I’ve been going through some of my parents’ digital photos and realised there were quite a few duplicates (dupes).  I KNOW I’ve got a lot of dupes in my digital photo collections too. This was going to take a LONG time… There has to be software out there that can find the dupes…

I already had Beyond Compare software on my PC, but it really only compares photo A to photo B (it’s designed for file matches, more so than image matches), not thousands of photos to each other, no matter which folder they’re in (including your phone!). And the software had to compare the actual content of the images, not just file names, file sizes, and metadata. I researched some software yesterday, then downloaded and tested Duplicate Photo Cleaner. After my first test, I purchased it. First, I used the software to analyse my parents’ photos and in less than a minute it found about 170 dupes (I’d set it to look for 100% matches) from ~2500 photos. It took me several more minutes to check and delete the ones I didn’t want (you can delete from within the software, either permanently or to the recycle bin, but I wanted to check them and keep the best). That was enough to tell me I needed this software, so I purchased it (about $40 US, from; Note: the trial version only allows you to delete 10 photos of those found).

I then ran it on the top-level folder of all my photos. There were nearly 21,000 (!) photos taking up ~30 GB of space, and I set the software to find about an 80% or more match. In just a few minutes, it had found and listed about 1200 matches, of which ~250 were 100% matches. Next came the task of resolving them, and I’m only partway through that, but at least now I have a strategy and for just $40 I’ve saved hours of my time in trying to identify and delete dupes.

And no, I’m certainly not paid to recommend this software—I’m just a very happy user based on first use!

One other thing… Duplicate File Cleaner doesn’t just look for the standard image formats—it has an extensive list of file types it searches and you can customise that list to exclude some formats (e.g. *.ico or *.gif file types).

[Link last checked November 2022]


Tagging photos within Windows

November 11, 2022

Some years ago I started scanning my old photos and tagging them. I got very sick of adding tags one by one so I started using the tagging features within Adobe Photoshop Elements and later using AnalogExif (a photo tagging tool) (see this blog post for details: Well, I’ve started back on that project again (small steps!), and I’m finding some limitations with AnalogExif, so I went looking for another tool. And in the process I discovered that you can tag multiple files at once from WITHIN Windows! I only knew about the right-click Properties option, but that’s an incredibly tedious way to do it. And with the Windows tagging option, Windows remembers your previous tags used so you can select from them as you type without having to type the full tag again (as you have to do with AnalogExif) and thus potentially introducing typos.

  1. In Windows Explorer (also know as File Explorer), open the folder containing the photos you want to tag.
  2. For ease of identifying photos, switch to Large icons view.
  3. Select one or more photos that you want to add the same tag to.
  4. On the View tab, click Details pane (far left of the ribbon). This opens the details of the selected file(s). NOTE: This is NOT a full list of all properties for the file type, but it should have enough for you to work with, especially when making changes [e.g. date, description, tags] to multiple files.)
  5. In the Details pane, go to the Tag field and type the tag(s) you want to apply to the selected photos—you can use multiple words. Use a semicolon to separate individual tags. If the tag has been used previously, Windows will show you a drop-down list of similar tags and you can select the checkbox of those that match (NOTE: This doesn’t seem to work as well as I thought it would initially—I’m not sure where Windows gets its list from, but I found it flaky).
  6. Click Save.

Note: This Details Pane works for all sorts of file types, but the properties you see will vary according to the file type (e.g. MP3 files show different properties to JPG files).

Thanks to these websites where I found out how to do this:

[Links last checked November 2022]


Word: Stop border lines being created from a string of asterisks or dashes

November 8, 2022

An annoyance for many Word users is Word’s habit of creating a border-like line from a string of dashes or asterisks. You type in, say, 5 asterisks and press Enter and, bam!, there’s a line! And that line can be hard to get rid of especially if it’s the last line in the document.

The quickest way to get rid of the line is pressing Ctrl+z (undo) immediately after it’s created. If it was created earlier in the document, try selecting the paragraph mark before AND after it and then deleting those 3 paras.

You can also stop Word from creating these lines in the first place, but you’ll have to dig a little deeper and turn off a setting. These instructions are for Word for Windows.

  1. Go to File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options > AutoFormat As You Type.
  2. Turn off the Border Lines checkbox, then click OK to exit all the dialog boxes.


Synology NAS: USB drive only partially seen

November 4, 2022

I got a new 10 TB hard drive (HDD) for backing up my Synology NAS, but when I attached it, the NAS would only see just under 200 MB on the drive. After trying various things (including checking it could be seen on my PC), I did a quick reformat of the drive from my PC. But when I plugged it back into the NAS, the NAS still only saw usbshare1-1 and that 200 MB, not the full 10 TB. I did a Google search for ‘synology nas usb drive shows small amount of space’ and found an answer that worked!

  1. Plug in the external HDD.
  2. Go to Control Panel > External Devices on the NAS.
  3. Assuming the USB device is listed, double click on it to see the partitions. In my case, 2 partitions were listed—one for the 200 MB, which was formatted as vfat, and the second for the remaining 9+ TB, which was formatted as NTFS.
  4. Select the partition that needs reformatting (I selected partition 1 as vfat wasn’t listed as a recognised file format according to this:
  5. Click Format and choose the file format required—I selected FAT32 as I want this drive to be visible on my PC too.
  6. Once the formatting finished, I went to File Station again and now could see both partitions listed, so copying across my files to the backup external HDD.

This forum post also helped:

[Links last checked November 2022]