Straight Delete in Outlook

I learned something today that I want to pass on. In Outlook, when you delete an email it is designed to go into the Trash folder. This is useful if you might want to retrieve that email later. To delete it from there permanently though you have to select Empty Folder.

But supposing you want to delete it immediately because there’s no way you ever want to see it again (e.g. spam), which is the case for many emails I receive. It’s surprisingly easy. Hold the shift key down when you hit the Delete key. Now it’s gone for good.

This way you avoid the tedious two-step process to completely remove an email from your system.

Totalling Cells in Word Tables

There was a time when, to sum a column or row of numbers in a table, you probably did it manually or used a VBA macro. These days, Word has a nifty little function called Formula in the Layout tab.

To use the function, you need to position your cursor in the cell in which the total is to be placed and select Formula.

Sample table showing cursor placement

Here is the function with a description:

Formula function in Layout tab

For our purposes we need SUM(LEFT):

Formula text entry

Select the number format and hit OK. The total is now showing in the last column.

Total shown in final column

To get totals for the cells below, you will need to repeat the process. However, the formula offered will assume SUM(ABOVE), because it thinks you’re totalling a column, so you need to change it to SUM(LEFT).

When you’re finished, you can if needed sum all the columns, like this:

Row and columns totalled

If any of the values are changed, the totals adjust automatically.



Outlook 365 Manage Rules and Alerts not working

This morning, when I selected Manage Rules and Alerts, this popped up:

Outlook Manage Rules and Alerts error message

The problem did persist. I reinstalled Office using online repair and the problem remains.

I discovered the problem is quite new. Microsoft is aware of it and working on a solution. For those affected by this issue, we can only wait until the fix is made.

Using the Keyboard to Enter Symbols

When typing, having to remove your hands from the keyboard to insert a symbol can be avoided by using a simple trick, though it only applies to the copyright, trademark, and registered symbols by default. These are set in AutoCorrect.

Instead of pausing to use the mouse to select Insert and then Symbol from the ribbon, type the following (add space after in Excel):

“c” for ©
“tm” for ™
“r” for ®

Another approach is to hold down the Alt key and enter a value using the numeric keypad. For example:

0169 for ©
0153 for ™
0174 for ®

To add a symbol to AutoCorrect, select File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect:

The default symbols are shown:

To add a symbol, use the Alt key and numeric pad. For example, to auto-correct (l) to become the sterling symbol, press Alt-0163. Click Add.

AutoCorrect is available in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but not Outlook.

Special Characters NOT to Use in IMAP Folder Names

As I discovered when switching from a POP3 account to IMAP for Office 365, importing folder names containing certain characters will abort the process. These are:

~ ` ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ + = { } | [ ] \ : ” ; ‘ < > , . ? /

Some may get through, but I discovered two I was using certainly didn’t.

I used the tilde character (~) at the start of some folder names to indicate the contents were old and should soon be deleted. I also used the slash (/) within other folder names.

I had to clean up the PST account and re-export it before I could import it into the OST account (see PST vs OST).

Change Outlook Folder Sort Order

For many years, the sort order in Outlook was alphabetical, A to Z, and couldn’t be changed. However, after numerous calls by users for an option to allow free ordering, Microsoft finally introduced the feature in Outlook 2013.

The option is available in the Folders tab. It’s a toggle, and it retains your chosen sequencing should you temporarily revert to alphabetical.

Outlook folder sort order toggle
Outlook folder sort order toggle

Unselecting A to Z enables folders to be moved anywhere in the list, either by dragging the folder or using Move Up or Move Down when right-clicking the folder name:

Move Up/Down folder
Move Up/Down folder


I use a POP3 mail server, so I’ve always opted for a PST file when setting up a new account in Outlook. PST stands for Personal Storage Table. Outlook uses it to store all your email items, contacts, and calendar. It may be designated Outlook.pst or something like Either way, it resides in the Outlook Files folder of your Documents folder.

I recently installed Office 365 on a laptop and discovered that instead of PST I had an OST file. OST is the initialism for Offline Storage Table.

Because PST files are local, you can copy them to other PCs that have Outlook that uses a PST, provided you change the transferred file’s name to the existing one before replacing it. This isn’t possible with OST files, which are copies from the exchange server. When you disconnect from the Internet, the local copy gives you continued access to all the files. Once the Internet connection is restored, the local file is synced with the server’s file.

Unlike PST files, OST files cannot be backed up.

Open Word Without Blank Document

I don’t like Word presenting me with a blank document each time I open the application, as I’m far more likely to search for a recent document I’ve been working on. To avoid the new document being shown, Microsoft provides a “/n” switch.

To use the switch, create a shortcut and enter the following as the target, assuming Word 2016 is installed in its default location.

“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\WINWORD.EXE” /n

Search & Replace Across Word Files

If you have several dozen Word files which contain the same content (such as Header, Footer, some special words or number), and you need to replace the same content across those documents in Word. How would it be easier for you to get it done quickly? Certainly, you can open those files one by one to replace the same content, but it will be time-consuming and troublesome. This tutorial will show you a tricky way to replace same content within multiple documents in Word at once.

Step 1: Press “Alt-F11” to open the Microsoft Visual Basic for Application window;

Step 2: Click Module on the Insert tab, copy and paste the following VBA code into the Module window;

Step 3: Then click Run doc-remove-numeric-characters-1 button to apply the VBA.

VBA: searching and replacing same content across multiple documents at one time


Protect Word Documents

When you send out Word documents to a limited number of trusted recipients, it’s unlikely you’ll feel the need to apply protection. If you’re asking for it to be reviewed, you’ll probably have set Track Changes on. Sometimes, though, you can’t be sure in whose hands the document might fall, and then you’ll need to prevent it from being changed.

Here’s how to achieve that. Open the File menu and select the button to Protect Document.

Word document protection info
Word document protection info

There are four levels of protection that Word allows.

Mark as Final

This is the first option. Select it and a message tells you:

Word document protection confirmation
Word document protection confirmation

Click OK. Another message pops up:

“This document has been marked as final to indicate that editing is complete and that this is the final version of the document. When a document is marked as final, the status property is set to ‘Final’ and typing, editing commands, and proofing marks are turned off. You can recognize that a document is marked as final when the Mark as Final icon displays in the status bar.”

This won’t prevent you from updating your copy when you need to.

When the recipient opens the document, they’ll see this message:

 “MARKED AS FINAL. An author has marked this document as final to discourage editing.”

(Note the word “discourage”. The recipient actually sees a button saying Edit Anyway. If they go ahead and make a change, they can also set the document as final if they choose to do so.)

Encrypt with Password

Word document encryption
Word document encryption

This is a more secure option than marking as final. The process is straightforward. Enter a password, re-enter it to confirm, close the document. Now open it with the password to check that it’s worked.

Save the password in a safe place. If you use this method for a number of documents, you may find it advantageous to keep a record of each document and its password in a spreadsheet.

You can remove the password by selecting Protect Document and Encrypt with Password again and deleting whatever is in the Password field. Re-save the document.

Restrict Editing

When you choose this option, the document is shown with a panel on the right:

Word document restrict editing
Word document restrict editing

As can be seen, you can restrict either or both formatting and content.


If you elect to restrict formatting, select Settings…

Word document format constraints
Word document format constraints

By default, all styles may be changed. You can select None or allow only the Recommended Minimum. I prefer None, as style changes can have unintended consequences. It’s also a good idea not to allow theme or scheme changes or Quick Style Set switching.


If you check Allow only this type of editing in the document, additional options are shown:

Word document editing constraints
Word document editing constraints

The default is No changes (Read only). Tracked changes, Comments, Filling in forms can all prove useful if you’re looking for detailed review of the contents, but they’re mutually exclusive. If you need them all, then you don’t need to restrict editing.

The Exceptions (optional) section applies only if No changes (Read only) is chosen. Select More users… to identify the users who may make changes. Otherwise the document is read-only.

Start enforcement

Select Yes, Start Enforcement Protection to complete the protection settings. You will prompted for a password:

Word document start protection
Word document start protection

Save the document and re-open it to see the effects. To cancel Enforcement Protection, click the Stop Protection button at the bottom of the right pane, enter the password, and click OK.

Add a Digital Signature

Word document digital signature
Word document digital signature

NOTE: You need a digital signature to take advantage of this one. You can get one from a Microsoft partner.

Choose your commitment type and purpose and click Sign. You have now applied a digital signature to your document. The recipient will be informed of this when they open the document, which will be in read-only mode.

To remove a digital signature, select Info > Protect Document. Click View Signatures. In the Signatures pane, select the arrow next to the signature and click Remove Signature followed by Yes.