Microsoft Office Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks - March 2017

3 Excel Quick Tips to Make Your Life Easier

Quick Tip 1- Storing the Value, Not the Formula

There are times in which you will create a formula in which the answers is housed in a different cell. For example, adding the sum of varying cells to produce the total sum. If you would prefer to store the result of the formula as opposed to the value, there is a trick for that. You must have the cell that contains the formula open and in edit mode (quickly drop into edit mode by selecting the cell and striking F2). With the cell open, press F9 to have Excel solve the formula and store the result. With a function, this trick will make it an array.

Quick Tip 2 - Stringing Text Together

Perhaps you've run into the stiuation where you have one cell containing a person's first name and another containing their last name. Now you what to put the names together, but that could be a monotonous several hours of your time spent copying and pasting, depending on how big your list is. Now, there is a quick way to add the names together into a third cell without nearly as much work. The way to combine it is surprisingly simple. You can use an ampersand, commonly seen as "&" (which you can get by pressing shift + 7 on your keyboard) to string two cells together to get what you want.

 Note the " " between the cells that contain the first and last name, without this little addition, the names would be strung together with no space between them.  

Your end result should look something like this: 

Quick Tip 3 - Autosum

While most people know autosum, a personal favorite for anyone doing accounting work of any sort, there are people who might not know the shortcut. A keyboard shortcut can save you time, and over the course of a year that little bit of time you save builds up. When you are ready to start, simply select an adjacent cell either next to or below the range you wish to sum up. Then use ALT + = and Excel will do the rest. Giving you this result: 

Made it a little faster, right?

Tips and Tricks - February 2017

Need to see the Formulas? 

A fantastic feature in Microsoft Excel is the ability to show formulas. However, Excel defaults to hiding the formulas from us, and only displays the active formula. For example, if you type “=3+4” in a cell and press “Enter” (or “Return” for our Mac users out there), the cell will displays “7”. So if you think of “=3+4” as the formula and “7” as the answer, we only see the formula in the formula when the cell is selected. 

But! If you click on “Show Formulas” it will display all of the formulas.

The “Show Formulas” feature can be found in the Formulas tab of the ribbon in the Formula Auditing group.

Or you can always use the handy shortcut (CTRL+`), making it much easier to toggle between showing and hiding the formulas.

This trick is super helpful when trying to see if the relative or absolute references made in the formulas are set up correctly. When a cell is selected that contains a formula with cell reference(s), the referenced cell(s) will be highlighted, making it visually clear for you to differentiate which cell(s) are being referenced in the formula. 

What makes it even better? You can print out your workbook in this view, which can be helpful when you are training someone, or need to show how the formulas were designed.

Tips and Tricks - January 2017

Locked Shapes in Visio Have You Stumped? Not to worry!

(by NH Instructor Barbara Benneian)

Most shapes in Visio will allow you to resize them without a hitch.  However, there are certain stencils, such as Home Plan, that come with locked shapes.  If you come across a shape that will not let you resize it, don’t worry. There is a fix for that. You just need to add the Protect Shape button to your toolbar.  You will find this under All Commands…

Now to unlock the shape, you’ll follow these steps:

1.     Click on the shape

2.     Click the Protection button

3.     Uncheck the:

You will now be able to resize the shape to your heart’s content without any other troubles!

Locked Shapes in Visio 2013

Now it’s a little different when you work in Visio 2013. What you will do in Visio 2013 to unlock a locked shape, is the following:

1.     Bring up the Shape Data from the Task Panes

2.     Choose Custom from the drop-down list

And that's how you fix that pesky problem of locked graphics when you are working in Visio!

Tips and Tricks - December 2016

7 PowerPoint Tricks to Keep Your Audience Enthralled

(by NH Instructor Diane Nelson)

In our fast paced world of instant meals, instant messages, and instant gratification, it can be difficult to hold a group's attention for very long. Audiences need more than bullet points on slides. They crave variety! The best way to keep their attention is to use an assortment of graphics as alternatives to the standard bullets.  Fortunately, PowerPoint has many built in options: 

Pictures and Clip Art: Pictures create an emotional connection. They attract attention and make your content stick. Use high quality photos – avoid generic, common images. Beware of "cheesy" or dated clip art.
PowerPoint: On the Insert tab or choose the picture icon in a slide layout. (The Office 2013 version has an option for "Online Images" which includes photos and clip art.) Once inserted, click on the photo to get enhancement options on the "Picture Tools" tab.

SmartArt: Diagrams which combine text and graphics. They simplify and organize your information, show relationships and processes. Many standard, built-in options which are also customizable. 

PowerPoint: Add from the Insert tab or convert your written list to Smart Art on the Home tab (paragraph group).  The SmartArt icon is also included in several slide layouts. Once inserted, use the "SmartArt Tools" to modify.

Charts: Choose from a variety of chart styles to display your data. Charts are great for showing relationships and trends. PowerPoint: Like other graphic elements, they are found on the Insert tab or as an icon in various layouts. Clicking on your inserted chart gives you several "Chart Tools" to enhance, clarify and improve your graphic.

Tables: In place of bullets, organize your information in a table. Tables work well with text or numbers.

PowerPoint: Another option on the Insert tab or an icon in different layouts. Clicking on your table gives you multiple ways to enhance the look with "Table Tools."

Symbols or icons: Combining symbols or icons with text makes your point quickly and makes the text more memorable. Consider making the icon or symbol larger than the text for a more dramatic effect.

PowerPoint: Symbols are found on the Insert tab in the Text group. Clicking symbols opens a dialog box where you can choose a font with symbols. For fun and unique symbols consider the "W's" – Webdings and Wingdings. Icons are a symbolic type of picture. Search for them as you would any other picture or clip art.

Screenshots: A screenshot is a snapshot of your computer screen. Including a screenshot on your slide is an effective way to teach and explain computer related information.

PowerPoint: The Screenshot tool was introduced in the 2010 version of PowerPoint. It is found on the Insert tab. It gives you the option to capture the whole screen (of any open window) or to select a portion of the screen.

Text Boxes: Don't just think of text boxes as a placeholder for text in PowerPoint. Consider filling the box with color. Add borders and effects such as bevels, shadows and 3D rotations for more impact. Text boxes can then become an impressive graphic element instead of plain, boring text.

PowerPoint: On the Insert Tab, Text group. Clicking on the text box gives you enhancement options on the "Drawing Tools" tab.

While you may not be able to completely eliminate bullets but next time, mix it up, make it better and keep their attention through the whole presentation.

Tips and Tricks - October 2016

So Many Signatures: An Outlook "Hack"

(by NH Instructor Ruth Romano)

In the Microsoft Outlook course, there is a lesson on “Signatures” and I always ask my students how many they have. Many students will reply that they just have one, if they have any at all. Their shock is palpable when I tell them I have about eight signatures. I’m sure you’re just as surprised but there is a reason I have so many. Though it seems like madness, it’s a real time saver and I’m going to show you how and why you’ll love this little trick of mine.

Signatures appear at the bottom of our Outlook messages and normally include our contact information. However, I find myself sending many emails that are structured very similarly to one another. I often feel like I am typing the same email over and over again, but just changing the recipient’s name or some other minor detail. To help save time (and my sanity) I created a signature out of the body of the message. For example, maybe you need to send out a weekly reminder to your department about expense reports. And every Wednesday you find yourself typing:

 “Hello Team, Please do not forget to submit last week’s expense reports by this Friday at 5 pm. Thank you.”

Instead of typing it again or copying the email, create a signature that includes the previous quoted text! I have created signatures for the multiple “forms” of emails that I send out regularly which has cut down on the amount of time I spend in my Inbox. Can’t find the specific signature you saved? There is a shortcut to get to all of your signatures. Microsoft Outlook you can right-click on the signature and a shortcut menu pops up. I’ve also created a signature that is blank so if I am not going to include a signature in a message I can right-click and select Blank rather than selecting the signature text and deleting it.

See? It’s not madness at all, just an amazing time saver.

Tips and Tricks – September 2016

4 Tips for the Microsoft Specialist Exam

(by NH Instructor Jessica Brown)

As an instructor of Microsoft programs we are able to take the Microsoft Office Specialist exams. I wanted to share with mstudents some tips and tricks I wish I knew before my first exam. When I took my first exam for Excel I started using keyboard shortcuts because I wanted to be sure I finished well before the time ran out. I learned the hard way, after failing the first exam, that keyboard shortcuts lose you points.

 So here are some tricks for taking the exams:

Tip one: Be Book Smart!

Be sure to use the books you received in class. At the end of the book you will see exactly what you should study for your Specialist Exam from the different levels.

Tip Two: Take a Deep Breath!

Take your time. You have more time that you think to complete the exam. So take your time and skip steps if you really don’t know how to do them and come back.

Tip three: Plan Your Moves!

You have time to look at the different tabs and decide what the best course of action is.

Tip Four: Don’t Cut Corners!

Do not use keyboard shortcuts or right click menus. It is best to use the ribbon for the tasks so learn how to do steps on the ribbon, even though at work the keyboard shortcuts and right click menus will make you more efficient.

With those tips in mind I am sure that you will pass with flying colors! Good luck to all test takers!

Tips and Tricks - August 2016

3 SmartArt Tricks You Probably Don't Know

(by NH Instructor Diane Nelson)

SmartArt, a handy tool on the Insert tab in Microsoft Office products, is a great way to combine text and graphics in your document. It can make your content easier to understand and remember. And, while SmartArt comes with many options on the contextual tabs which allow you to just click and go, it can easily be customized with the three following tricks.

1. Move shapes

There are a variety of layouts built-in to SmartArt but if the options don't work with your content, simply grab any shape and rearrange the look.

2. Modify shapes

Just as you can grab shapes and move them, you can also resize them by grabbing the corner handles and dragging to desired size. Or, if you want to be more precise, you can specify your size in the "size" group on the Format contextual tab (some options vary from program to program).


As shown in this example, you can replace one shape with another (Format tab – shapes group – change shape.)


And, you can easily change the color, border and effect options of any shape using the Shape Styles group on the Format tab.

3. Modify text

Change fonts, sizes, colors, alignments, etc. by selecting text and using tools on the Home tab – Font and Paragraph groups. SmartArt will automatically resize your text to fit the graphic (notice how small text got in trick #2) but you're still in control. Select the text and modify it to suit your needs.

Tips and Tricks - July 2016

Five Keyboard Shortcuts for Quick Formatting in Excel

(by NH Instructor Gabe Chapa)

Everyone loves keyboard shortcuts! Perhaps you already know these: Ctrl + C, Crtl + V, Ctrl + X. But what about this month's tricks? Here are five not very well known keyboard shortcuts that you can use to quickly format cells in Excel 2013 and 2016.

Go ahead, open up Excel and try these out! Share and try and stump your co-workers.

Tips and Tricks - June 2016


What is It?

Vlookup stands for Vertical Lookup and is part of a group of "lookup functions". It can be very helpful in finding a particular piece of information in large data spreadsheets. VLOOKUP can be used to fill a cell automatically with information from a large piece of data based on one piece of the data. Using the scenario of a phone book, to lookup a phone number and you have the company name, you can simply lookup the company name and the phone number will populate. This formula does that automatically simply by typing in the company name.

How To Use It

Entering the VLOOKUP formula requires 4 inputs. (Explanations use above phone book scenario to explain)

1. lookup_value: This is the ID. This will be the information you know that you use to search for the information you don't. The "company name" is you want to find their "phone number"

2. table_array: This is the range of your table that you want to retrieve data from. For example, data range could be A2:D300. The only requirement is that the ID or "company name of the phone number" you are looking up must be the first column.

3. col_index_num: This is the number of the column that the data you want to find lives in within the range. For example, if your data ranges from column A to D and the "phone number" or data you want to find is in column D. You enter the number "4".

4. range_lookup: This input is technically optional, but for the sake of simplicity, enter "false" in this field to make the function work.

Visual Example

In the large set of data below, the VLOOKUP formula has been placed in cell J5 to find the Rep based on any Order Number entered in cell J4. As the graphic plays, various order numbers are entered and the rep updates automatically based on the order number. 

Tips and Tricks - May 2016

Learn Outlook's Keyboard Shortcuts

(by NH Instructor Diane Nelson)

One of the least used tools in the Microsoft Office Applications Suite is hiding in plain sight. It’s on the Home tab in the Clipboard group and is called the Format Painter. 

This tool, which looks like a paint brush, allows you to copy formatting from one selection of text to another. Instead of having to check out and copy the text attributes (font style, size, color, etc.), you simply paint them on.

The process is simple, too. 

1. Select text which has the look you want (this is your “paint”.) 

2. Click the Format Painter tool (the paint brush.) 

3. “Paint” over the text you want to format. 

If you have multiple bits of text that you want to format, instead of just clicking on the Format Painter tool, DOUBLE click the tool. You can then paint your desired formatting throughout your document. To stop the tool from painting, either click back on the tool button or hit your Escape key. 

Use the Format Painter tool in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. to not only save yourself time but to also become part of a small group that knows it’s there.

Tips and Tricks - April 2016

Entering Today's Date in Excel.

There are two ways to enter the date (other than manually) that will produce two different results. The dates will look the same on the spreadsheet. However, clicking on the date and checking the formula bar will reveal which date will update automatically and which will remain static.

To enter today's static date: Hold down CTRL and type a ; (semicolon).


To see today's date and have it update every day: Type =today( and then pressEnter.


Tips and Tricks - March 2016

Limit desktop notifications to only the most important emails. 

It's terribly distracting to constantly be told "you've got mail!" but you still want to get notified for the most important alerts. In Outlook, set desktop notifications only for those VIP messages. Canadian legal magazine Slaw offers a detailed tutorial for how to do this, but, essentially, first you'll turn off all desktop alerts under the Mail Options, then create an Outlook rule to display alerts for messages from specific people sent only to you. 

Tips and Tricks - Feburary 2016

Learn Outlook's Keyboard Shortcuts

Like Microsoft Word, Excel, and other Office apps, Outlook has unique keyboard shortcuts so you don't have to waste time moving your mouse around or drilling down through menus. Learn the ones you use most and you'll speed through your Outlook tasks. has a handy Outlook keyboard shortcuts cheat sheet you can download or print out.


    Tips and Tricks - January 2016

    Give Your Data The Chart It Deserves

    Definitely for the arithmophobic. Thanks to the Live Charts feature in Excel, you can give them an instant makeover with colorful charts. In older versions of Excel, charting was one of the more difficult tasks. It wasn’t only about the time it took, but also about the right chart type that fit the data. Excel 2013 makes it easy as a click with Live Charts. Excel uses a special algorithms to show the chart types you can use based on the data.

    Select the data to chart and click Insert — Recommended Chart to see options such as line, bar, and pie charts that Excel feels is right for your data. Click each chart to preview what your data will look like. Pick the right chart and Excel inserts the chart with some page elements to work with styles, colors, and the chart data. Do note: Not every chart type is recommended. Specialized chart types are available from the Insert Chart button on the Ribbon..

    Tips and Tricks - December 2015

    From PDF to editable Word documents

    One of the best features of PDFs are that they are not editable as a default. It’s also an irksome feature if you want to take information out of it. A whole industry of tools exist that help you be more productive with PDF files. Don’t disregard the new PDF Reflow feature in MS Word 2013. Making it uncomplicated – open a PDF with Word 2013 and it will behave like a normal Word document. You can reuse the content without too much effort. Now, all that rich data locked in PDF files is ripe for picking.

    Word creates a copy and opens it as a normal document as you would any other from File – Open. Make any changes - the original PDF is left intact. The conversions are not always perfect, but this is a very handy feature.

    Tips and Tricks - November 2015

    Use Share Link As A Quick Presentation Tool

    Microsoft Office 2013 brings new collaborative features for Word and PowerPoint which piggyback on a Microsoft Account. With the Office Presentation Service your collaborators do not even need the Office suite at their end. A web browser does the job with the help of the Office web app. Work on your document and begin sharing from File — Share — Present Online. From here, select Office Presentation Service and click Present OnlineA share link is created. Send it via Skype, email, or any other online medium. Start your presentation and the recipients get to view it on their browsers when they click on the shared link. Share notes and your team members can follow you through the document. They can also watch the presentation independently. The presenter controls the presentation from this special menu bar.

    Tips and Tricks - October 2015

    Refer Wikipedia Within Word

    The official Wikipedia app is a quick resource for general research. With the Wikipedia app inside Word. Go to Insert – Apps for Office– Wikipedia. You might have to search for it among the featured apps. The app also allows you to insert a section of a text or an image. Select the text or hover over the image. Click on the insert symbol to insert it into the body of your Word document. The source link is automatically included with the insert. The Wikipedia app can also be used to research something on the side-pane by simply selecting something in your document. Nice. 

    Tips and Tricks - September 2015

    Use Your Ears with Assistive Technologies

    With the Office suite, you can take advantage of the built-in screen reader (Narrator) to read and create Word documents, PowerPoint slides, Excel spreadsheets, OneNote notebooks, and Outlook email. Microsoft Support recommends that you become familiar with shortcut keys as well. For example, you can use voice to record your comments on PowerPoint slides or a Word document. If you are short on time, use the Narrator to have it read aloud Outlook emails or a Word doc. Microsoft Office 2013 also comes with an audio-enabled Mini Translator that can take a selected foreign phrase and read aloud its pronunciation. Select a foreign word. Click onReview – Translate – Mini Translator. Hit the Play button.

    Tips and Tricks - August 2015

    Go Easy on the Eyes with Read Mode

    If you have a touch enabled computer, Office 2013 was designed for productivity with fingers. The Ribbon menu was restyled and made more functional. I will ask you to do one thing if you are still deciding to come aboard (c’mon, it’s been a year now!). Go to View – Read Mode. That’s a bonus point for a distraction free reading experience.

    It auto-resizes the document to the full screen and is completely uncluttered. Click on View to see options for tweaking this mode. For instance, the color modes that make it easier on the eyes. You can get rid of the toolbar for a full-screen experience.

    Tips and Tricks - July 2015

    Save Time With a Copy

    Don’t go hunting for the document to copy. The shortcut for creating a copy of an Office document is not very apparent but it is a huge time saver if you want to work on a copy while keeping the original intact. Click on File – Open – Recent Documents. If the document was opened recently, the filename will be displayed. Right-click on the filename and select Open a copy. Any changes that you make are saved to the copy. You can then save it at any location. This tiny step is a time saver because you are spared from browsing to its location and manually creating a copy to work on.

    Tips and Tricks - June 2015

    Work Anywhere With Documents Online

    Save your Office documents online via the Microsoft account. Microsoft has the sister suite ofweb apps for Word, Excel, OneNote, and PowerPoint. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint save the last location where you left off work before saving– to the letter, cell, or slide. Pick up where you left off working on a different device while away from your main computer. You can also continue your work on Mobile apps for Office.

    Tips and Tricks - May 2015

    Don't Cut and Paste Anymore

    There’s this quicker way that uses lesser key presses. Using Cut-Paste (Ctrl-x Ctrl-v) to move text from one place on the page to another within a Word document is fine. But try this. Select any block of text. Press F2. You will notice that the status bar (at the bottom of your screen) says Move to where. Place the cursor at the location where you wish to move the block of text. Press Enter and the selection will be moved. 

    Tips and Tricks - April 2015

    Searching for Data  in Excel

    When you search for data, you can use ? to represent any single character or * to represent a series of characters. Example if your data has all the states, you could type “*Dakota” and it will pull up both North and South Dakota data. 

    Tips and Tricks - March 2015

    Auto Filter  in Excel

    Too much data to go through? Use AutoFilter to find values, show or hide values, in one or more columns of data. You can filter based on choices you make from a list, search to find the data that you want to see. When you filter data, entire rows are hidden if values in one or more columns don't meet the filtering criteria. Click the Data Tab- Filter to activate. 

    Tips and Tricks - February 2015

    Save and Auto Recover in Word 2013

    It will happen! A computer crash, power goes out or you just close without saving. To avoid losing all your work when this happens, make sure AutoRecover and AutoSave are turned on. Simply click on the File Tab- Options- Save and make sure the SAVE AUTORECOVER INFORMATION IS SELECTED and you can select the number of minutes from 0-120. 

    Tips and Tricks - January 2015

    Calendar Views in Outlook 2013

    Managing and Viewing multiple calendars? By default, calendar groups appear side by side. To make the calendars overlap, click the View in Overlay Mode arrow on the tab of each calendar you want to overlap. In Microsoft 2013 there is a world of cool new things to discover. However, a favorite new feature in Outlook 2013 is located below the Navigation pane where you can have mail, calendar, contacts, tasks and notes.

    Tips and Tricks - December 2014

    Extended Clipboard in Microsoft Work 2013

    Microsoft Word has a useful "Spike" feature that allows you to cut text and images from multiple locations in a document and paste them all at once to a different location. To use this feature, select the text, images or other objects in your document that would like to move and press "CTRL +F3" to move that selection to the Spike. You can  to that same spike using the same key combo shortcut. 

    Tips and Tricks - November 2014

    Adding Video to Microsoft PowerPoint 2013

    Ask any teacher, and they'll tell you nothing captures your audience more than a movie. To add a movie to your PowerPoint Presentation, click "Insert" on the Ribbon. You will see a button for "Video" on the right side of the ribbon. Using the drop-down menu, you can insert a video from YouTube, Facebook or your OneDrive account, or any other video embedding website.

    Tips and Tricks - October 2014

    Refreshing the Same Query in Access 2013

    You may use a report or query with the help of parameters as a filter tool. With this one report of query you filter different departments or dates you need to print multiple reports for different purposes. You may only need your mouse click to click the refresh button to prompt for a new parameter window. You can work much faster by staying on the keyboard and creating a smoother workflow. After running your first query or report stay in the same view (don't switch back to design). Press "SHIFT + F9" to run the report again with a new parameter. 

    Tips and Tricks - September 2014

    Copy and Paste Tricks in Word 2013

    When you copy a passage of text from the web to Word, styles and formatting are retained. However, there's an easy way to remove thisstyling from any block fo text in Word - just select the text you copied and press "Ctrl+Space Bar". The rich text will be transformed to plain text. Additionally, you can move text in Word without the traditional "Ctrl+X, Ctrl+V" shortcut. Highlight any block of text, press "F2", and place the cursor at the spot where you wish to move that text. Press "Enter" and the selection will be moved! Test it out with this paragraph!

    Tips and Tricks - August 2014

    PowerPoint Presentation Tricks

    While you are conducting a PowerPoint presentation, if something comes up that you don't want to be seen at that point without having to stop the slideshow, hit the letter 'B' on your keyboard. This will blackout the screen without losing your place. Hit 'B' again, and you'll be back in business. Another cool trick... while in presentation mode, hold 'Ctrl+P' and you will change your pointer into a pen that can write or draw. Hit the 'Esc' key and you will change back to your pointer!

    Tips and Tricks - July 2014

    Custom Views in Outlook 2013

    In Microsoft 2013 there is a world of cool new things to discover. However, a favorite new feature in Outlook 2013 is located below the Navigation pane where you can have mail, calendar, contacts, tasks and notes.

    While working in your inbox, to view your calendar without leaving your inbox, right-click on the calendar and select open new window. You will now be able to stay in your inbox and open your calendar at the same time. You can now actively work in your calendar and read your emails. Tada!

    Tips and Tricks - June 2014

    Visually Represent Your Data in Excel

    Here is a great Excel trick for all of us out there that like visual representations of our data. You can use this trick with Excel 97-2013. Whenever you have a table of data and want to create a chart, here is what you do. Click in a cell within the table you want to chart. Press the Key on the top row of your keyboard, and say "WOW"! Now you have a new chart of your data on a new worksheet named "Chart 1". Your original table is still on the original worksheet!

    Tips and Tricks - May 2014

    Navigate Excel Workbooks Easily

    Here's a little-known trick that will allow you to quickly and easily navigate to a specific worksheet in Excel workbooks that contain more than one (Sheet1, Sheet2, etc.). You can display a pop-up list of all worksheet names in your workbook by right-clicking one of the navigation arrows to the left of the worksheet tabs that are located at the bottom of the screen. Simply select a sheet from the list, and you're there in a flash!

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    Tips and Tricks - February 2015

    Save and Auto Recover in Word 2013

    It will happen! A computer crash, power goes out or you just close without saving. To avoid losing all your work when this happens, make sure AutoRecover and AutoSave are turned on. Simply click on the File Tab- Options- Save and make sure the SAVE AUTORECOVER INFORMATION IS SELECTED and you can select the number of minutes from 0-120. 

    Tips and Tricks - January 2015

    Calendar Views in Outlook 2013

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