Category: Productivity

Create Hot Keys to Open Windows Programs

Did you know that you can create a keyboard shortcut to open any Windows program?

Find the program you want to open (Start menu for pre-Windows 8 users; here are instructions for Windows 8 users). Right-click on the program and select “Properties.”

Select the “Shortcut” tab, then click in the “Shortcut key” box.

Type what you want your keyboard shortcut to be. Pick something you won’t hit accidentally or that you don’t already use as a keyboard shortcut. If you do try to use something that’s already a Windows shortcut, Windows will provide you with an alternative. In this case, I pressed CTRL, SHIFT and ‘w’ simultaneously on my keyboard. Click “Ok”.

Now any time I want to open Word, I just hit CTRL + SHIFT + w, and Word will launch.

Bonus tip: ALT-F4 will close the program you currently have open. I know, there’s nothing intuitive about that. Write the keyboard shortcuts you want to learn on little sticky notes and put them on your monitor. Practice them. Before too long you’ll have them down and be ready to learn more.


Google Alerts: Keeping Tabs on What’s New

You know how to search Google. Did you know that you can have Google automatically search, and then let you know what it found out?

Go to Google Alerts. Enter your search query.

Let’s say that you’re interested in hearing anything about schizophrenia that appears in the news. Type schizophrenia in the query box, change the “Result type” from “everything” to “News.” Google will give you a preview of the search results.

Next, choose how often you want to have the results of this query delivered to you: As it happens, once a day, or once a week. Do you want just the best results or all results.

Where would you like it delivered? Google will show the email addresses they have on file for you. You can also choose to have it sent as a news feed. When you’re happy, click “Create Alert.”

This bumps me to my alerts page, where I can see this has been added at the bottom. Since I chose “news feed” instead of email I can click on “Google Reader” to add it to my news feed in Google Reader.

If you’re not using Google Reader or some other news feed reader, check out this post on what Google Reader is and how you can use it.

OneNote: The Note-Taking Program You Didn’t Know You Had

Look in your Microsoft Office folder, you know, where you go to open Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. There’s a program in there called OneNote. It’s an organization machine.


In OneNote, the notebook is the top level of organization, much like folders. In the image below you can see 6 of my notebooks on the left side of the screen: APA, Conferences, Work Notebook, STP, Technology, and Personal Notebook.

Each notebook is divided into sections. My conferences notebook has 16 sections. You can see them on the left as “subfolders” of the conferences notebook, and you can also see the first ones as tabs along the top of the screen.

Each section has pages. In this example, I have the NITOP section selected, and the pages associated with that section appear on the right side of the screen.

With the “Thursday” page selected, the center of the screen shows the notes I took on the Thursday of the conference.

Working with pages

I want you to get a sense that the power OneNote has.

When you create a new page by clicking “new page” in the top right corner, OneNote will automatically add an “untitled page” to the bottom of your list of pages in that particular section of your notebook.

OneNote will automatically time and date stamp the page, but those can be changed. Clicking on the date will highlight it and generate a calendar icon. Click on the icon to change the date. Clicking on the time will highlight it and generate a clock icon. Click on it to change the time.

In the dotted box, type in the name of your page. OneNote automatically updates the title in the page list on the right side of the screen.

To enter your content on the page, click anywhere on the page. OneNote will generate a textbox. Just type. To move it, grab the bar at the top, and drag anywhere on the page.

You can tag anything you’d like with whatever tag you’d like. Here I’ve tagged content as important (yellow star), as a question (purple question mark), as a book I want to read (book), and check boxes for things I need to do. The first item I’ve already done, so I clicked in the box to check it off.

To get to the list of tags, click the little down arrow to the right of the short list of tags at the top of the OneNote screen.

Here are some of my OneNote’s tags. OneNote gives you a bunch by default, but they are fully customizable. Just right-click on one to modify it.

Why use tags? Because OneNote makes it easy for you to see them all in one place. Click on “Find Tags.”

This calls up the “Tags Summary” pane. You can see it on the right side of the image below. You can see all of the tags I’ve used. Near the bottom of the pane, I can decide the location of the tags I’m interested in. In this case, I’ve only asked to see the tags in this section of this notebook.


One of the more powerful features of OneNote is searching. In the top right corner, type in what you’re searching for. Search all notebooks by default, but if you click the little down arrow on the far right side of the search box, you can opt to search just this section or this page, for example.

Pasting stuff from the Internet

Here I’ve copied some content from a recent blog post. OneNote automatically added the “pasted from” and link at the end; that URL is clickable. Oh, and the blue “” in the copied text? That’s a live link. In OneNote, I can click on it to go directly to that webpage. OneNote handles images just fine, too. I included the keyword/name/direct link image when I copied the text. It appeared when I pasted.

Adding files

Drag and drop a file from your desktop or any file folder onto a OneNote page. You’ll be asked how you want to attach the file to the page.

If you choose the middle option, you’ll see the file type icon with the name of the file under it. If you don’t like where OneNote put it, click and drag it anywhere you’d like.


Outlook integration

I know that some of you don’t quite know what to do with that important email you’ve been receiving around some sort of project you’re working on, so you just keep it in your mailbox’s inbox. How about you move it to someplace more useful?

Here’s an email – complete with attachment – I just received in Outlook. I’m going to copy it to a OneNote page. In the Outlook toolbar, there’s a OneNote button.

That generates this screen where OneNote asks where I’d like to put it. At the bottom of the “recent picks” section is the OneNote page that I currently have open. If I don’t like any of those options, I can navigate through my notebooks to find the spot I want.

I clicked on the “Important Stuff” page and clicked “OK” to make this little piece of magic happen. And, yes, that Word icon is the file that was attached to my email. The file is named Join. Double-clicking on that will open the file in Word.


Mobile app

OneNote Mobile (free) uses SkyDrive (also free) to sync your OneNote notebooks across devices. You can find information on how to set up OneNote Mobile here.

Try it!

It’s already installed on your computer. Play with it. This post just scratched the surface of what OneNote can do. Use only as many features as make sense for you.

Saving a Gmail Message as a Google Calendar Event

Did you know that you can ‘import’ a gmail message into a new Google calendar event? Did you know that what most of us call appointments, Google calls events? “I have an event scheduled with my dentist.” That makes it sound way more serious than an annual checkup should sound.

I don’t really know what ProjectX is, but it certainly sounds worthy of the “event” designation, however.

Here I’ve received a message about needing to meet to discuss ProjectX in my gmail account. When I click on the “More” button, I get a dropdown menu where I can select “Create event.”

This generates a new Google calendar appointment, where the subject line of the email becomes the subject line of the new event and the body of the message becomes the event description. The time and date default to just minutes from now so I need to manually change those. Google also includes me, the person who sent me the message, and anyone who was also included in the message as guests to the event. If you don’t want them as guests, click the “x” to the right of each person’s name to delete them.

Click save. Now you have the meeting agenda in your calendar.

DropIt: Quick File Organization

I’ve seen a lot of faculty desktops – both computer desktops and actual desk tops. It seems that for many of you, your approach to organization is to just toss it all on your desktop (or desk top) and hope for the best. And you swear that you’ll get both cleaned up over the summer, the same promise you’ve made to yourself (and the fire marshal) for the last 10 years. I can’t help with your desk top – actually I can. Just put it all in the trash and call it good. Really afraid you’ll need something that’s in that mess? Put it all in a box, date it with a magic marker, and store it above your garage.

Now let’s do something about your computer’s desktop.

DropIt is a wonderful little organizational tool.

I’m working on fictional ProjectX. The first thing I’m going to do is create a folder for ProjectX in my folder; of course I could put the folder anywhere.

Here’s a ProjectX document that I’ve saved on my desktop. When I click the document icon and drag it onto the DropIt icon…

… I get this popup telling me that I haven’t set up any rules yet that work for this particular file. I click “Yes,” I want to create an “association.”

The next popup appears. The “Name” box is the name of the rule (or “association”). It defaults to the name of the file. Here I’ve just changed it to “ProjectX.” The rule is that any filename that contains the word ProjectX will be moved to the ProjectX folder in my Dropbox folder. The asterisks that bracket the word ProjectX mean that this rule will be applied to any filename that contains the word ProjectX. Maybe I just want the files that begin with the word ProjectX to be filed here, in which case I would enter ProjectX* in the “Rules” box. When this screen comes up for you, click on the “i” (for information) to learn what the different possibilities are. Click the funnel icon to add more filters. Maybe I just want this rule applied to files I haven’t opened in over 2 weeks, for example. When you’re set, click “Save.”

My file has suddenly disappeared from my desktop and is enjoying life in its cozy new folder safely tucked away out of sight.

The next file that contains the word ProjectX that I drag and drop from any folder, not just the desktop, will automatically be filed in that same ProjectX folder I created. Once the rule is created, the file will automatically be moved. You only need to go through the process of creating rules if DropIt doesn’t have any rules that apply to the file or folder dropped onto it.

Other actions

While it’s the move function that I most appreciate, it’s not the only function DropIt has. Click the button under “Action” to see other options, such as renaming, copying, and uploading.

When rules conflict

Here I have one file where I have two rules that could apply. DropIt asks me which one I want and if I want this decision to hold for all files that meet these criteria.

Deleting/editing rules

Clicking on the DropIt icon on the desktop generates another DropIt icon that floats on top of any windows you have open. Right-click on it and select “Associations.” You’ll see all of the rules you have created. Right-click on any rule to edit, copy, or delete it.

Enough procrastination

Download DropIt. Get the files that you’re not currently working on off your desktop and into folders. Don’t wait until this summer. Or winter break. Or spring break. Now’s a good time. Really.

Gmail: Canned Responses

I use Phrase Express for all of my canned response needs (see this post, for example), but for those of you who just want canned responses in Gmail, check out this Google Labs option.

Enabling Canned Responses

In Gmail, go to settings by clicking on the cog icon on the far right, and select “Settings”.

Click on the “Labs” tab.

Scroll down to “Canned Responses” and check “Enable”.

Creating a Canned Response

Compose a new email. Type up whatever you’d like to save as a response.

Click on “Canned responses”.

Add a “New canned response…”. Selecting it generates a popup that asks you to name it. I’ll call it “rude email”

Click “OK”.

Using Canned Responses

Now when you compose a new message and want to use that canned response, click on “Canned responses” to see the menu. The headings (Insert, Save, and Delete) are light, too light, in my opinion; I thought they were disabled options. Under the “insert” heading, click “Rude email” and watch the magic as your canned response appears.

Want to change your canned response? Edit it, then click “Canned responses”, and under the “Save” heading, click “Rude email”.

Repeat the process to add more canned responses.

Create Your Own Website: Weebly

I’m often asked about the easiest way to set up a website. While the course management systems are fine for, well, managing courses, if you want students to access information before or after the course a personal website is a logical way to go. Last week I was at the National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology (NITOP), the best psychology-focused teaching conference. During a participant idea exchange on favorite tech tools, one person suggested (I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name! If you read this, please email me. I want to give you proper credit.)

Go to, and set up an account. You can log in with the Facebook credentials or create a unique username and password for the site.

Next you’re asked for a title and choose the type of site you’re setting up.

If you select education, you’re give this choice of categories to select from.

Next, choose your domain. That’s going to be your URL. Since I already have a website, I chose to just go with a Weebly subdomain: If I didn’t already own the domain, under “register a new domain,” I would enter suefrantz in the box. If you want something other than .com, use the dropdown menu to pick a different extension. Since I own, if I wanted to move from my current host, I could enter in the box under “use a domain you already own.” Weebly would walk me through everything I needed so that visitors to would be directed to Weebly instead. Whatever decision you make here is not irreversible. More on that later.

With those decisions made, you’re now taken into the editor.

Paragraph with Title

It’s a drag-and-drop interface. Want to add a paragraph with a title, click on “paragraph with title” in the toolbar, drag it to where you want to put it, and unclick.

After dropping it in (below the default image), Weebly tells you what to do. Click on the big print to edit the title; click on the small print to edit the paragraph text.

After selecting “click here to edit” (either one), you get a familiar toolbar. The buttons are, from left to right:
Bold, italics, underline, font color, increase font size, decrease font size, remove formatting, add a link, align left, align center, align right, justified, undo, and redo.

When editing a paragraph instead of a title, you get two additional buttons on the toolbar: Bulleted list and numbered list.

Quick tip: Use TAB to move between elements. For example, when you’re done with the title, use TAB to move to the body of the paragraph. Use CTRL-A to select all of the text in that element. Typing will erase what was selected. If you added a second titled paragraph under it, hitting TAB again will move your cursor to the next title.

If you change your mind about an element, you can always delete it. Mouse over it and in the top right corner of the element you’ll see a little red circle with a white x in it. Click the red circle to delete.

Paragraph with Picture

After dragging this element onto the page, I can edit the title, the paragraph text, and add an image.

Clicking on the sample image, this box pops up. If the image is on your computer, open the image’s location, and drag and drop it to add it. Or, if you prefer, click on “upload a photo from your computer” to navigate to it the old-fashioned way. Click the search button to find photos, both professional ($5 each) and free. Mouse over the photos you want to mark as “favorites” or click “select” to choose it. Click the “favorites” button to see the photos you marked as such. For most images on the internet, you can right-click on it to “copy image URL”. If you go that route, be sure that you either own the copyright or that the copyright owner is fine with you using the image.

Custom HTML

When you drag this element on to the page, you can add any HTML content you’d like. Here’s where this comes in handy.

For most YouTube videos, you can get an embed code. Under the video, click “Share” and then “Embed”. Copy the code, and paste it your “Custom HTML” box. The video will play on the page.

You can do the same with TEDTalks. Click the “Embed” tab under any TEDTalk video. From the popup window, copy the code, and paste in your “Custom HTML” box.

Changing the default banner image

While we’re talking about images, let’s change the default image on the page.

Mousing over the image makes an “edit image” button appear. Click the down arrow to “edit image.”

Clicking the “add image” button gives you the image options discussed above. Or you can replace the image with text. Click the “add text” button multiple times to add multiple text boxes. If you decide you don’t like any of your changes even after saving them, click on “revert to original” in the top right corner to the left of the “Cancel” button.

Design Tab

Now that you have the idea of how the page elements work, let’s move on to design.

Flip through the filmstrip at the top to choose the layout you like. Click the arrow on the far right to see even more. Keep going. There are plenty to choose from!

Going social

At the very top of the page, are the social media icons. Mouse over them to add your contact information. Click the “x” to the right to delete it. To change the order, click the far left handle (the little box with the dots in it) and drag it. Click the “add more” button to add more.

Add a page

Since you may not want all of your content on one page, add a page. Click the “Pages” tab, then click the “Add page” button.

After adding a page title, click “Save” at the bottom. You’ll be redirected to the same page editor interface you started with.

Want to go back to editing your main page? Click on the “Pages” tab again, and select “Home,” and then click the “Edit Page” button at the top of the page.

Settings tab

Want to change the site address you set when you started this whole process? You can do that here.


When you’re ready to go live, click the orange “publish” button in the top right corner.

Pro version

For a reasonable sum of money, you can add a number of nifty features, such as the ability to password protect individual pages.


This is the drop-dead easiest way to create your own website.

Print Friendly: Only Print What You Need

Print Friendly lets you print what you’d like from a webpage.

For example, let’s say that you wanted to print a post from my blog. If you used the print capability of your web browser, you’d get something like this. In addition to the content that you want, you’d also get the header, menu tabs, and the right navigation bar.

Using Print Friendly, you get the name of the website, the URL, and the content of the blog post. That’s it.

Try it out yourself. At the bottom of this post, there is a Print Friendly button. Click on it to print this article.

How it works

Go to Print Friendly. On their website, enter the URL of the website you’d like to print.

Better yet, in the section labeled “Get the Bookmarklet”, click and “drag the [Print Friendly button] to your browser’s bookmark toolbar.” Any time you’re visiting a webpage you’d like to print, just click the Print Friendly button in your toolbar.

Whichever method you use, you will get a screen that looks like this. You can print, save as PDF, or email an uncluttered version of the webpage. Change the size of the font if you’d like. You can even remove the images from the page.

Don’t want to include some content? Mouse over the paragraph you want to delete and click. It’s gone.

When you save as PDF, the URL in the top right corner of the page is clickable.


If you are printing webpages or saving webpages as PDFs, this is a must-use tool.

[Note: I’ve previously recommended JoliPrint as a similar service. JoliPrint announced in mid-December 2012 that they will be closing up shop in early January, 2013.]

File Conversion: Zamzar

For some of my assignments, students are asked to write them in a word processor and email them to me as an attachment. In the most recent batch of student papers, one arrived with a .pages extension. Since I don’t have a program that can read that file format, I went to Zamzar and converted the file.

In step 1, I clicked “choose file” and navigated to the file I wanted to convert. In step 2, from the dropdown menu I selected .doc. In step 3, I entered my email address. In step 4, I clicked convert.

In less than 30 seconds, Zamzar had sent me an email informing me that the conversion was complete. I followed the link in the email message, and the converted file was downloaded by my browser.

For those concerned about privacy, if you are an unregistered user, Zamzar holds the files for one day and then deletes them.


QTT: Only quote what you want (Gmail)

Quick Tech Tip for Gmail users.

Want to quote just part of an email message in your reply instead of the entire message?

Highlight the text you want, and then click the reply button or tap the ‘r’ key on the keyboard. Only the highlighted text will be quoted in your reply.