The server drafts location you entered for offline editing is not valid

At some point in your struggle with Office 365 off-line applications (Word 365, Excel 365, PowerPoint 365 etc.), when trying to save any changes to Options dialog, you may run into following error:

The server drafts location you entered for offline editing is not valid or you do not have permission to access that location. Specify a location on your local computer.

In short, this has nothing to do with Office and most likely, you (or someone / something else) deleted your c:\Users\[username]\Documents folder. Closing Office 365, re-creating this folder should fix this problem.

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Paste not formatted text to Word

In many programs, applications and web services you can use the Ctrl+Shift+V keyboard shortcut when pasting to override source formatting and paste copied text “as is”, thus using destination document’s formatting. Google services are especially promoting this shortcut, which you can use to paste not formatted text i.e. to Gmail message.

In Word this isn’t that easy. You must:

  • bring up Paste Special window (I use another keyboard shortcut for this — Ctrl+Shift+Insert for example),
  • navigate through list of available options (using Up or Down keys) to locate Unformatted Text option,
  • confirm selection with Enter or by clicking OK.

I wanted to make it simpler and working the same way as in other services. Fortunately, it was an easy keyboard shortcut assignment in Word.

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“Unprotect” a sheet or a workbook in Excel

Microsoft developers’ ignorance has hit jackpot one more time. If you “protect” a sheet or workbook, Excel only places a special tag inside .xlsx file. Changing it and thus “unprotecting” such file is a piece of cake.

You can remove it in a matter of two minutes using software like Total Commander or 7-Zip. By doing so, you can gain access to “protected” sheet or workbook without knowing a password. Something that in theory should never happen.

In previous versions of Excel (Office) that were using old .xls file you had to work with some nasty, multi-level macro to unprotect a protected file. Now they have made even easier. Instead of using some dully macros all you need is a text editor and a file to unpack and repack archive.

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Can’t install any font. Windows claims that file is invalid

I just wanted to add my docs a little bit a feel of an old typewrite. I found some cool fonts for that, but — to my extreme surprise — I couldn’t install any of them on one of my Windows 10-based PCs (I did it successfully on two others). With Windows claiming that file is invalid whereas I was 100% sure that files are a correct.

Solutions as weird as enabling Windows firewall or installing a copy of file instead of original one didn’t work for me, so I had to figure out another one.

I managed to do so, but the answer was as weird and scary as Microsoft is — try to get yourself an administrator privileges and for all users instead of current one. Worked for me!

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Certain fields are not auto-populated in Word 2010 document

Nearly every version of Microsoft Word offers a cool feature of inserting fields into various parts of your document. These fields are auto-populated on various occasions and contains always up-to-date value with no need for you to manually update or write that particular value.

Most likely you’ve already seen that in action. Naming page numer or total pages count as first two out of a long row of examples.

You can have virtually every value in such field. The same functionality that counts pages of your document automatically can insert (and always refresh automatically) some document property, like author name, document title etc. You don’t need to write your title manually in many places. You just add a field that corresponds to this particular document property, everywhere you need, and that’s it. Anytime you hit Ctrl+A to select entire document and then F9 to manually refresh all fields (or anytime Word does this refresh for you), you always get most up-to-date value taken from your doc’s properties.

Problems starts when you try to insert some specific field, like Company Address or Company E-mail.

There’s either some bug or some weird logic in Microsoft Word 2010 which causes that you must insert this field in a very specific way. Otherwise you get a field which value is not being auto-updated.

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Remove phone from “Your Phone” in Windows 10

I just wanted to get rid of my current phone in “Your Phone” app in Windows 10. But, since this is Microsoft and 25+ years of experience in making users lives as hard as possible, you cannot expect a simple “Remove” button. And there is no easy way to do this.

I’ve went through two different guides of removing phone from “My Phone”. None of them worked. I’ve ended up uninstalling “Your Phone” app (which itself wasn’t too easy task).

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This operation has been cancelled… after clicking a link in Word 2010

I had the issue of seeing this nasty error message each time when I clicked any link in my Microsoft Word:

I was struggling with this issue in both Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Word 2013.

I have correctly identified that this problem is related to me removing Internet Explorer 11 from my Windows 10 (an optional feature in this version of Windows). However, while bringing it back resolved this problem for my office computer with Office 2013, I was forced to do a little bit more to resolve this issue on my home computer with Office 2013.

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Highlight current day or gray-out past days in Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook in each and every version is missing some obvious, yet very important functionalities and Microsoft’s dumb-asses are reluctant into hearing users voice and adding them. One of such very-missed features is greying-out passed days or highlighting current day.

Without them each and every day in Outlook Calendar looks just the same and ultra-fast distinction between today’s events and passed events is simply impossible.

Fortunately, some workarounds do exists. They may not be enough for all of us, but at least they allow you to learn a little bit about conditional formatting that you can use in Outlook Calendar or Outlook itself (for i.e. colouring events and e-mails etc.).

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New way of providing network subnet prefix in Windows 10

With Windows 10 you can have the possibility to setup most of the settings in two ways:

  • old, good Control Panel way,
  • new Settings way.

Most settings are accessible via both ways, but also most are configured differently in both cases.

The best example is network subnet configuration — a very key configuration parameter in a very key aspect of your PC (that is: access to network and Internet). It is expressed as “subnet mask” when configuring in Control Panel and “subnet prefix length” when using Settings. And it also accepts a way different values.

This is, of course, needed only, if you are connecting using static IP address. If you have DHCP server in your network, and it assigns dynamic IP addresses to your devices, you may safely skip this article.

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Change network name in Windows 10

In all Windows versions prior to Windows 10 changing the network name was as easy as going to Network and Sharing Center and clicking network name. In Windows 10 it is way, way more difficult (reasons, Microsoft?) and you need to be system administrator in order to perform this.

If you wish to change network name (but not connection name, as these are two different things) then follow these steps (source):

  1. Press Windows key + R, type secpol.msc and press Enter to confirm.
  2. In Local Security Policy window, find and click Network List Manager Policies in the left pane.
  3. In the right pane double click on the network name that you want to change.
  4. In the Properties windows under the Name section make sure that Name is selected.
  5. Enter the name that you wish to use for your connection to the field below.
  6. Click OK to confirm the changes.

You might have to log in again or to restart your computer before the changes are applied.

Visit source for this post to learn about an alternative way of achieving this (i.e. using Registry Editor).

Incorrect or missing icons or thumbnails in Windows 10

With the introduction of Windows 10 and significant changes in icons and thumbnails caching the issues of:

  • missing or incorrect applications or file types icons or
  • thumbnails being displayed incorrectly or also missing

is more than common.

In this article I present most often used solution for above problems. Not all of them must be run in you particular example and they will not help you for every icon- or thumbnail-related issue.

But, this is the most comprehensive solution that I found so far, since many of these attempts are spread in the Internet across many different sources. Here you have all of them in one place.

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Black screen after logging-in to Windows 10

This is just a memo on the quickest solution for above mentioned problem, in scenario, when you can run Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Delete on your keyboard + click Task Manager + click More details).

  1. Validate your shell:
    • in Task Manager: click File > Run new task + type regedit.exe + hit Enter,
    • paste HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon + hit Enter,
    • check Shell key, if it has explorer.exe value; “reset” it to this value otherwise.
  2. Restart shell: in Task Manager: locate File Explorer (explorer.exe) right-click it + select Restart.
  3. Restart computer: in Task Manager: click File > Run new task + type shutdown /s -t 01 + hit Enter.

Each run in Task Manager must be with Create this task with administrative privileges checked.

It is important to restart computer exactly this way (with executing these parameters), as described above. In my case this was an essential point into solving this issue, as shell was OK and restarting it didn’t help.

If this solution doesn’t work (shell is not restarted or no positive effect after restarting whole computer) then you must ask uncle Google for more help, because this quick memo won’t help you, sorry.

Your Phone app: You can control a mobile device from Windows 10. Really?

Newest edition of Windows 10 (tested on 1903 edition) comes with Your Phone application that should — at least by its designers’ mean — ease your day-to-day management mobile device.

Unfortunately, it is still quite new, meaning — buggy. And the list of functionality is not quite long. In fact, you may have problems finding it usable at all or counting scenarios in which using this app is plausible.

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Get rid of SkyDrive Pro from context menu

SkyDrive is a far ancestor of OneDrive. It can appear in your system with the installation of Office 2013, Office 2016 and Office 365. When it is installed, Windows 10 immediately “captures” this situation and replaces it with newer counterpart — OneDrive. Unfortunately, it is not able to purge corresponding context menu items and eventually you’re left with a disabled and not working “SkyDrive Pro” item.

This article shows you the quickest way to correct this problem. You can also use it to perform general clenaup of your context menu as it doesn’t narrow to SkyDrive Pro item only.

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Polish and other non-ASCII special characters in VBA and Excel’s macros

With introduction of the "new" Microsoft Office’s file formats (XML-based, i.e. DOCX, XLSX etc.) Microsoft has finally solved problem of Unicode support and storing and displaying special characters in documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc. The only problem is that they’ve forgotten about Visual Basic for Applications and macros which still are using dully ANSI encoding.

The fastest solution is out of Excel and is based on altering Windows 10 control panel settings to instruct Windows how it should interact with applications that do not fully support Unicode.

But, suppose you don’t want to or can’t change your system settings. Then what?

Quick Google search revealed some possible solution, including:

Since I failed on finding a correct solution, I had to dig myself own one. Here’s the deal…

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Find all e-mails sent or received in Gmail after office hours

Someone gave me a task to find all e-mail messages sent or received in Gmail:

  • in given period of day — after 16:00 given day and before 08:00 the next day and
  • in given period of week — between 00:00 and 23:59 during weekends,

so, generally speaking, outside office hours.

Gmail has a quite powerful filtering mechanism, but it:

For some internal reasons I couldn’t follow the “automatic way” suggestion (i.e. to upload messages from Gmail to Google Sheets and try to filter them there) and thus I decided into semi-automatic way.

Meaning that I wrote an Excel sheet which generated Gmail’s filtering queries for me for all required dates and I only have to manually copy-paste them into Gmail’s search box.

You can get similar results Epoch Converter’s batch tool, but I wanted to play a little bit with Excel instead.

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Using FreeBusy functionality to schedule meetings easily

The FreeBusy solution helps you organise and schedule meetings much easier, because you can see when invited employees or friends are already busy with other meetings and when they have free time slots.

It is a (less known) world standard, so it is supported by many mail clients and calendars (including Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird). And, in addition, it is secure, because only time frame and no other details are published and shared with other parties.

To use this solution, you need a mail client or calendar that supports FreeBusy solution either directly or through some kind of plugin. All that is needed to start using FreeBusy is around 5-10 minutes for initial configuration. Once correctly configured, you need to do nothing else. Your time slots are automatically exported to FTP server and free/busy slots for other employees are automatically read from FTP server.

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ISO image locked in Windows 10

After 25+ years of glorious development of Windows, witch-doctors at Microsoft village finally managed to discover that you can mount .iso image as fully-featured drive directly in system and you don’t need extra tools for this purpose:

The same group of maniacs smoked out too much weed and figured out that it will be so cool to not automatically unmount this image during system reset or shutdown.

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My private Windows 10 check-list [updated]

Let’s say that I don’t like Windows 10. Mostly for the fact that a lot of things there are simply unusable or hard-to-use in the default configuration. And need to be changed in order to make them more usable. Since I have quite a few PCs to manage and have to go through this procedure on regular basis, I made my personal list of things you have to disable, uninstall, tweak up or change in Windows 10.

Look for the information in the corner — half an hour of a quick reading! This is really long and detailed article!

Update! Note that this article, written in April 2018 and targeting Windows 10 1511, is year later little bit outdated. If you’re using Windows 10 1903 then you may find certain things on these lists OK or otherwise not needing any change or tweak up.

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My private Microsoft Office check-list [updated]

Whether it is Office 2010 or 2013 (haven’t tried newer and already forgot about earlier) and whether it is on Windows 7, 8.1 or 10, the set of my preferred configuration options and elements is usually the same. So I decided to write it down here to keep track of it whenever I have to fresh-install Microsoft Office anywhere.

This article covers only configuration of each Office component that I use. For other things that I usually do or change during fresh-install of Office, please, refer to this article.

Note that this is an updated version of this post that includes items in the check-list for:

  • Office 2013 under Windows 7,
  • Office 2013 under Windows 10 and
  • Office 365 under Windows 10.

All of these versions ships with sometimes completely different configuration sets (even for Office 2013 under two different versions of Windows) and thus you may find many options listed in this article missing or already set to desired values.

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Remove garbage from Windows 10

Even after years since initial publication, being mature and stable operating system right now, Windows 10 comes to your computer literally bloated with unnecessary stuff. And you need to clean it up by yourself. Certain things can be uninstalled “the normal way” (i.e. using Add/Remove programs panel). Some other requires more sophisticated moves.

Update! Note that this article, written in August 2018 and targeting Windows 10 1511 is now (October 2019) a little bit outdated. The general difference is that many things listed here as not removable the usual way in 1511 may be easily uninstalled using Add/Remove programs panel in Windows 10 1903.

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Shift+click on taskbar to quickly open program’s copy in Windows 7

So far, to quickly open a new copy of already running program or task I was doing this:

Right-click on program’s item in Windows taskbar + select name of that program from the context menu. Turns out there’s an even faster way of doing so: Click on program’s item while holding Shift button pressed.

Works in Windows 7. May work in other versions (though not tested). You may safely ignore this post, if this is absolutely obvious for you (wasn’t that obvious for me).

Quickly forward Outlook message as a file

If you wish to forward any Outlook message as a file you can use copy/paste features:

  1. Find and select (on message list) message that you want to forward as a file.
  2. Press Ctrl+C to copy selected message to clipboard.
  3. Hit Ctrl+N to start a new message (or Ctrl+R to respond to some other message).
  4. Click anywhere within main text window (or press Tab three times to get there).
  5. Press Ctrl+V to attach copied message as a file (paste it from Clipboard).

That’s all, folks! :>

Sometimes, I need to forward message no x in my message list as a file attached in response to message no x-1 (the next coming in, since I have message list ordered by date). For this reason I use an ultra fast combination of: Ctrl+C | | Ctrl+R | Tab+Tab+Tab | Ctrl+V | Ctrl+Enter.

Getting rid of forsaken “winmail.dat” sent by Microsoft Outlook

In many situations or scenarios Microsoft Outlook, instead of regular (consumable by other mail clients) meeting invitations can start sending “windmail.dat” instead. This is a proprietary format that other mail clients (like Thunderbird, Mac mail clients, web clients) ignore as not readable.

List of situations and configuration switches that may cause Outlook to behave like this is long. And so is the solution list. In my case only the most aggressive solution worked.

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