Are You Using Custom Toolbars in Your Windows Office Applications?

“Where have you been all my life?”, I ask.

True, they’ve probably been around for awhile (which for computers is measured in months) but I never used them.  What I’m referring to is the custom toolbar that comes with every windows application.  Have you been using them?  If not, it’s probably worth hearing why your man-in-the-street loves them so much.

Remember when Microsoft came out with the ribbon, that thing with all the icons on it?  I’m sure you thought, as did I, that this was like putting all your kitchen pots, pans, appliances and silverware on the counters.  On the one hand everything’s there when you need it.  But on the other hand, what a mess!  Custom toolbars I have found to combine the best of both worlds.  They give you what you need…and no more.

How do they work?  Let’s say I use the following commands in my word document: copy, paste, font size, text style, review changes panel, and view page width (actually what I really use is just about that).  Without the customer toolbar I have to go to an assortment of tabs on the ribbon to find what I need.  With the custom ribbon I simply have them on ONE ribbon, appropriately named “Michael”.

How do I Create my Custom Ribbon?

  1. 1. On the ribbon, anywhere, right click Customize the Ribbon.  A funny-looking panel of thingys will open.
  2. 2. Click the button “New tab”
  3. 3. Select the tab it just added, then click the button “Rename”
  4. 4. Name your new ribbon anything you want.  I use my name.
  5. 5. With your new tab selected, click New Group
  6. 6. Rename that as well. In this example I’ll name mine Review, since I want to add the “add comment” icon to it
  7. 5. Under choose commands in the top center, choose “Main Tabs”.  Eventually, you’ll figure out what the other choices do.
  8. 6. Assuming I want to add “Add a comment”, expand the Review section, click Comments, then click “Add comment”
  9. 7. Select your custom group under your new ribbon.  Here, it’s the one I named “Review”
  10. 8. Hit the right arrow marked “Add” in the center, and it will add it to your new custom ribbon, in the section marked Review
  11. 9. Repeat this for every command you use frequently.  And if you forget one, no problem just add it later.

Once You Are Fluent

Once you start using it and adding things to it you’ll figure out how to find lessor known commands.  You’ll also figure out you can disable the ribbon tabs you never use.  As you use your custom ribbon more and more, you’ll find you won’t need most of the ribbons windows provides.  Finally, if your custom ribbon grows to be too cluttered, just add another custom ribbon.  I have one marked “Michael” and another marked “Michael Editing”

Have a Great Week,

Michael Emerald, CFA

Owner, Wall Street Analyst

Performance Business Design

Categories: Technology

Have you been using the extra desktop feature of Windows 10?


For better worse I’ve always been one to go off the deep end fiddling.  While this is HORRIBLE for productivity, it’s wonderful for finding new ways of doing things then cluing in my friends, you, on them.

To start, there are some of you who insist on clean everything: including NO open windows.  You can stop reading right now, because this is for the rest of us.  We’re the ones who keep everything open, right?  Plenty of memory and all I have to do is “click” and this morning’s Word document springs to life next to this afternoons Excel spreadsheet.  But what to do when their are too many of those little boxy things (icons) sitting at the bottom of your screen?


Here’s how. CAVEAT: I’m a consultant, not a trainer, so this is how I do it, not a step-by-step idiot-ready guide.

  1. Click the windows icon in the lower right that says “task view”.
  2. Next, drag anything you want to the second desktop to the second desktop shown at the bottom of your screen after you clicked task view.


To get to whatever you stowed there, click the task view again, then go to the second window.

So what do I put there?

Mostly all the stuff that shouldn’t be on a productive employee’s main window during the day.  My itunes, Spotify, equalizer…they’re on desktop two.

Have a Blast.

Go Crazy.


Categories: Technology

Using a Password Manager on Your Computer? Here’s What You Can Expect From RoboForm


I’m not a tech write but have programmed for years, maintained networks and still get called upon for ideas on the latest ways to do things, particularly for smaller businesses.  When I visit people’s desktops I’m surprised how few use password managers.  I’ve used RoboForm for years, and I’m here to tell you how I use it and hopefully convince you they are worth having.  I say they because RoboForm isn’t the only password manager out there.  So if I convince you of their value you can research which one is appropriate for you.  RoboForm has worked fine for me for years, so I’m here to talk about it.

What it Does For You

I use it for retail shopping, log-ins, bookmarks and passwords.  In that order!  Let’s say you go to a page to register online.  You are asked to create a username and password.  You type in your username, let’s say “Michael”, and it asks you to put in a password, one with capitals, small, characters and numbers.  We all know what it’s like to first, think of one, and second, to feel the clock ticking when it says “not strong enough” and you have to start again.  With RoboForm, you click the Generate button, and voila! Your password is there and ready to go.  And it’s strong enough! What about logins.  Well, let’s say it’s time to renew your AAA auto membership.  Once a year you do this and we all know what it’s like to dig through your books to find the log in.  RoboForm to the rescue!  At the bottom of your screen (version 7 is at the top, I use version 8) is an icon that says AAA on it.  I click on it and it enters both my username and password.  Of course, before I use any of these features I have to enter my Master password, to prove it’s me sitting at the computer.  Next, let’s say I’m ordering something online.  I get to the page that says “checkout as guest” and it asks me to enter my shipping, billing and charge cards detaiIls.  Ouch!  But with RoboForm I click Michael Emerald, and all of this information is entered automatically.

Not a whole lot to describe here.  It’s like any other windows installation.  Once you install it, though, RoboForm will ask you for a Master Password.  This is the password that unlocks everything you have stored in it.  So make it one you aren’t going to forget!  As we’ll see, password managers allow you to use strong passwords all over the place, but for your Master Password you probably don’t want uPPuam3e.  By the way, in as long as it took you to read that password, that’s how long it took RoboForm to generate it for me.  I’ll discuss this further, below.


But is it safe to have all of your passwords stored in one place, electronically?  Me, I’ve always been more worried about someone stealing my password notebook along with my laptop than taking the time to break into my computer, find, if any, a password file, etc. But RoboForm goes beyond all that.  Because your information is encrypted.  So, the only way they can get the information is to first break into your computer, second, guess you welcome screen password, and third guess my Master Password.  How likely is that?  For me, it’s a lot less likely than stealing a paper notebook that sits next to my computer and says “Passwords”!

I’ll discuss version 8 of RoboForm, which I installed today, in a later installment of these technology posts.

Take Care,

Michael Emerald, CFA

Wall Street Analyst and owner, Performance Business Design

Categories: Technology

We Don’t Use Email in Our Organization


We don’t use email in our organization.  At least not internally.  Why?  Would you agree that nowadays email is mostly mail you don’t want to see?  Would you agree that mail gets lost, is hard to retrieve, and hard to save for later processing?  We found a way around all of this.

Here’s how we avoid email

What we do is use One Note, both online and on the desktop.  If you’re new to One Note, let me explain how it works.  For those familiar with One Note, you can skip to the next paragraph.

Microsoft One Note

I’ve used One Note on and off for years, alternating it with mind mapping software, Mindjet.  When I train employees in its use, I tell them this. I tell them imagine a set of 3-ring binders, each with tabbed dividers, and each tabbed divider containing punched paper pages.  Well, that said, in One Note you have notebooks.  And in notebooks you can create tabbed dividers.  And in those tabbed dividers you can create pages.  In other words, it’s a virtual representation of notebooks.

But it’s more powerful.  Besides being able to add images, links to websites, you can add hyperlinks to other pages (more on this later).  You can also see a list of recently modified pages, so that if you use only a few pages routinely, you don’t have to search for them, they are at the top of the list and ready for you.

How We Avoid Email Using One Note

Each employee has their own notebook, which is shared to others.  Within each notebook is a section called “Notes from Others”.  And within such section are pages from colleagues.  When a colleague has something needing addressing, they enter it onto the page dedicated to them.  The original employee looks at that page periodically, and responds to it on that page.  An example would be:

Page Notes from Tom: “Can you send me the report with prospect addresses?”

Reply: “I’ll do it tomorrow afternoon when I run reports”.

If Tom needs to see the status of ALL outstanding issues with his colleague, he goes to that page and sees the commentary for each such issue.  Not only that, but One Note makes it easy to see all recently modified pages, so it is an easy matter to quickly check outstanding issues with colleagues.

So let’s say I delegate something to multiple employees and I want to see what’s outstanding for everybody?  One Note allows you to flag posts, so you can create a flag called delegated and it will pull together for you all pages with that flag.  It also allows you to see all pages sorted by modification date, so it allows you to follow up that way, as well.

If you try this, I hope you have a good experience.  Let me know what you think.

Michael Emerald, CFA

Owner, Wall Street Analyst


Categories: Technology

I’ve Been Using the Windows 10 Quick Access Menu

Have you been using it?

I have, love it, and I’ll share what I like about it.

  • While I’m not an expert on Windows 10, I’ve noticed that if there are folders I use a lot, that I can right click on them and select “Pin to Quick Access” and anytime I want that folder, just select Quick Access from File Explorer.
  • Next, when you click on the Windows icon in the lower left, there are a few alternatives for getting to your folders.  Since I recommend using the Quick Access to get to most files, the icon that I find does that CORRECTLY (more on this later) is “file folder”, the tiny icon on the left once you click on the Windows icon on desktop.
  • Quick Access not only keeps frequently used folders handy.  It also lists all the recently used files, and I mean ALL!  When you download a file from the internet, you’ll find it at the top of the Quick Access files.  When you save a file, it’s there at the top of the list.  And, of course, when you open a file, it’s at the top of the list.  So I use the list to access frequently used FILES, as well as folders.

TAKEAWAY: Use Quick Access to access almost all of your files.

Michael Emerald, CFA

Wall Street Analyst

Performance Business Design

Categories: Technology

Make sure you upgrade to Windows 10 while it’s free, plus some things to know about before you do

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BOTTOM LINE: Upgrade to Windows 10 before July 29, while it’s free.  If you’re computer can’t do the upgrade, don’t worry about not having it.

DETAILS: I’ve had Windows 10 running on my laptop since the day it came out.  Other employees have had it more recently.  Initially there were glitches, but Microsoft released a few patches and now it works fine.  My biggest glitch, now resolved, was that I couldn’t see my photos rotate as my desktop wallpaper! Hardly a big glitch.  Microsoft will be removing the free upgrade on 7/29th, after which you’ll have to pay $120 for it.


  1. Windows 10 sometimes has “issues” shutting down.  I’ve seen a few permutations, and in many cases I’ve had to press and hold (I assume you know this trick) the power button, fearing each time that my computer would be permanently messed up.  Not so.  It has issues shutting down about once every 30 or so times that I shut it down.
  2. Next, your computer may not be able to take the upgrade if the driver, or any other system hardware, doesn’t support it.  Don’t fret, since you aren’t missing that much.  It’s good enough to upgrade, but not good enough to go out of your way to get it.

If you have any questions, drop me an email.

Michael Emerald, CFA
Owner, Business Strategy Consultant
Performance Business Design


Categories: Technology

Uninstall Adobe Flash on your computer

One of our employees, Rose, attended a computer security seminar.  She came back with the surprising news, to me anyway, that the teacher recommended uninstalling Flash since it often carries viruses.  We aren’t computer experts, though we stay ahead of the curve, so take this as a “hope this helps”.

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Categories: Technology