14 Office Problems Solved

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Microsoft Office 2004 is, in nearly every way, a great step forward for the productivity suite. But that doesn’t mean all is perfect. There are a few areas where Office doesn’t behave as you’d expect. In this article we’ll show you how to work around the worst of these annoyances.

(This article went to press before Microsoft released the Mac Service Pack 1, a collection of bux fixes and performance improvements for Office 2004. While the update fixes some stability issues—including ones outlined below—we have a closer look at some of the glitches that weren’t addressed by Service Pack 1.)

Office 2004

Some (or all) of the Office 2004 applications quit at launch with no warning message at all. What should I do?

Incorrect file permissions on some files and folders on your hard drive can cause this problem. The easy fix is to use the Repair Disk Permissions tool in Apple’s Disk Utility program. Go to Applications: Utilities, and launch Disk Utility. In the left-hand column of the main application window, select your hard drive. Under the First Aid tab, click on Repair Disk Permissions. The process can take five to ten minutes, but when it’s done, your Office 2004 applications should launch.

Word 2004

I prefer to use the Reviewing pane when making comments. But how do I edit a comment as I’m writing it?

You can edit a comment in the Reviewing pane, which you access from the Reviewing toolbar (View: Toolbars: Reviewing), by clicking on the Show pop-up menu. But you can’t do some things, such as dragging and dropping text to rearrange it or pressing delete to remove a word. Strangely, the forward delete key (F; delete on some third-party keyboards) works. If you need that kind of editing flexibility, you’ll have to enable the Track Changes balloons, which display comments and changes to the side of the main text. Open Word: Preferences, click on Track Changes in the left-hand pane, and select Use Balloons To Display Changes. You can see the balloons only in the Page Layout and Online Layout views (under View).

When viewing a document with comments, I sometimes see brackets around text, and sometimes see an empty set of brackets. When the brackets are empty, I can’t get the Com-ment contextual menu to appear, nor can I click on the comment to make it show in the Reviewing pane. How can I fix this?

You get empty brackets when you add a comment without selecting text first. If you make a selection, comment brackets surround that text. There’s no way to automatically hop to one of these “no text selected” comments in the Reviewing pane, unless you already know which one you’re looking for. Instead, enable the Track Changes balloons to see and edit these comments.

How do I disable Quartz text smoothing in Word 2004? On my slower machine, this made scrolling much faster.

Unfortunately, the ability to disable Quartz text smoothing has been removed from every Office 2004 application, with the exception of Excel. Smoothing is now handled by the system in the other applications.

How do I open a document that was created and encrypted in Office 2003 for Windows and requires a password?

Word 2004 doesn’t support Office 2003’s encryption features. To open the file, you’ll have to ask its creator to save it in a format that doesn’t use encryption. If the file’s security is important, the author could encrypt it with a cross-platform program such as PGP Personal Desktop, from PGP, after saving it.

How can I copy and paste text from Word into Apple’s iChat? When I try, the pasted text is sent as a black rectangle.

Due to an incompatibility between Office and iChat, you’ll have to make a detour through an intermediate application. Select and copy the text in Word or Excel and then paste it into another application, such as a new Apple Mail message or a blank TextEdit document. Select this newly pasted text and then copy and paste it into iChat, and it will work as expected.

Excel 2004

How do I enable an in-line spelling checker in Excel 2004?

Excel can’t check spelling as you type. Instead, use Tools: Spelling on the entire worksheet or on a range of cells after you’ve entered your text.

Why does the cursor move down a row after I press return? I’d rather have it stay in the same spot.

Go to Excel: Preferences, and click on Edit in the left-hand pane. Deselect the Move Selection After Return option, and the cursor will no longer move after you press return. You could also change the default behavior by changing the Direction pop-up menu from Down to another direction.

Entourage 2004

When I want to print my calendar, it fails to print, giving me an “Error -30876” message. What’s wrong?

You probably have a corrupted printing form. Quit Entourage and go to Users: username: Documents: Microsoft User Data. Delete the entire Printing Forms folder therein—don’t worry; it will be re-created the next time you launch Entourage.

When I’m in Month view and I want to see a particular day in detail, I double-click on it. But Entourage opens a new event on that date. I tried clicking on the Day view button, but that just takes me back to the current day.

At the lower left of the Entourage window is a miniature calendar. Double-click on any date in this calendar, and that day’s detail view will open.

How can I archive e-mails by date? The Export tool lets me export only items in a project or category, or all of my e-mails.

Start by creating a custom view for your in-box (File: New: Custom View). In the dialog box that appears, enter a name for the view and add two criteria—both using the Date Received criterion from the leftmost pop-up menu. One is for the minimum age of the messages to archive; the other is for the maximum age. Make sure Match is set to If All Criteria Are Met, and click on OK (see screenshot). Also, create a new folder in your folder list and give it a meaningful name (such as Jan-Jun 04). When the custom view has taken effect, select all the messages in your in-box and then drag them to the Jan-Jun 04 folder. Drag this folder to a location in the Finder, and wait while Entourage copies the messages. When it’s done (use the Finder to verify that it worked), delete the Jan-Jun 04 folder and the messages in your in-box.

PowerPoint 2004

Why do dragged objects seem to jump to a new, somewhat arbitrary location when I drop them?

Make sure you’ve disabled Snap To Grid on the Drawing toolbar. Open that toolbar (View: Toolbars: Drawing); then click on the toolbar’s first object and make sure there’s no check mark next to the Snap To Grid menu item. You might try disabling the rulers, too. If they’re visible, select View: Ruler to disable them. Now you should be able to drop objects exactly where you want them, but this hasn’t worked for all users.

How do I create a password-protected PowerPoint presentation that I can distribute for others to see but not change?

None of the Mac versions of PowerPoint support password-protected presentations (nor can you open protected presentations created in Windows). But there are a few workarounds. Using the built-in PDF capabilities of OS X, save your presentation as a PDF via Print: Preview. You’ll lose the animations and transitions in it. You can also use the File: Make Movie option to create a stand-alone QuickTime movie of your slides. Unlike Keynote, PowerPoint can’t create interactive movies, so your audience will have no control over the slides. You could use File: Save As to save your presentation as a series of Web pages—but you’ll need a server on which to save the pages for others to see.

The embedded QuickTime movies in my presentation played perfectly with PowerPoint X. But in PowerPoint 2004, they have very slow frame rates and choppy sound. Is there a way to fix this?

Select the troublesome clip and then choose Format: Picture. Under the Size tab, click on the Best Scale For Slide Show option, set the Resolution pop-up menu to match your output device’s resolution, and then click on OK. This will probably change the size of your QuickTime movies, but it should make them play much more smoothly.

[ Contributing Editor Rob Griffiths is the author of Mac OS X Power Hound, Panther Edition (O’Reilly, 2004) and runs the Mac OS X Hints Web site. ]

Sidebar: Low-Cost Acrobat Alternative

Pricey Adobe Acrobat 6.0 (Professional, $449; Standard, $299) isn’t your only choice if you want to do more than just look at PDF files. SmileOnMyMac’s $30 PDFpen lets you add text, images, and simple line graphics to any PDF document with a few clicks—it’s an ideal way to add a scanned signature to a form, for example (see screenshot). PDFpen used to be hampered by bugs and slow performance (   ; April 2004), but this release sports enough improvements to merit a second look.—FRANKLIN N. TESSLER

To create your own “archive by date” function in Entourage, start with a custom view. This one will find all e-mail between six months and a year old. Make sure you set the Match pop-up menu to If All Criteria Are Met.PDFpen is handy for completing and signing business forms.
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