Microsoft Word: Quickly Access Global or Chapter Word Count

Writing in Ulysses, under macOS, it was easy not only to set a global goal for any project (the number of words or characters one wants to reach).

More importantly to me, it was dead-simple to quickly access a live word count — for the whole book, or for any specfic chapter, section or whatever (for any sheet or any group, in Ulysses’ linguo). That was very useful.

In MS Word, I don’t think one can set a goal or a target. But it’s easy to display a live word count nonetheless, be if for the whole book/file or for a single chapter.

In Word, look at that status bar at the bottom of the window. It should display a lot of useless junk and a live word count.

Total word count displayed in teh lower left of Word's status bar.

If you don’t see it, right-click anywhere in the status bar and check the Word count entry in the list.

Btw, while you’re at it, feel free to uncheck everything in this list you don’t need or don’t want to constantly see in your status bar. The ease of customizing Word’s look is one of the its most underestimated and underpromoted feature. I only use the live word count, the language tool, plus the different view modes and the Zoom cursor and even those last two I could probably get rid of.

Word count for a single chapter

For this to work, you need to:

  • Use headings Styles for your chapter headings — you know, Heading 1, 2, 3 and so on. See below for a tip to quickly apply those styles without having to waste time and focus using menus and sub-menus.
  • Have the Navigation pane open (you’ll find it in the View tab). It displays all your headings, on the left of the screen, like this:

Don’t mind my very customized Word appearance. On the left, there is the Navigation pane and, at the bottom, the status bar with the few items I want to see, including the word count.

Now, right-click on any heading in the Navigation pane and choose Select heading and Content. That will select all your chapter’s content and instantly updates the status bar’s word count to display the actual word count for the selection, next to the global word count of the entire file.



Bonus tip: quickly apply Heading and Normal Styles in MS Word

Using menus, even the contextual menu, to apply Styles is distracting and slow — once you discover there is a better xwy to do it, you realize what a waste of time it is. And what is this better way of doing it? Keyboard shortcuts, of course.

Word comes with a bunch of predefined keyboard shortcuts for some of the more essential Styles; And if you need more, you can always add your own too.

To apply any heading Style, put you cursor on the desired line and press Shift+Maj+right arrow once to apply Heading 1. Press it again to switch to Heading 2, and so on. Shift+Maj+left arrow to cycle in the opposite direction.

To remove any heading Styles, and to get back to the Normal (default) Style, press Shift+Ctrl+N.

And keep in mind you can create your own Styles and/or create your own keyboard shortcuts too.

ThinkPad: Replacing the old barrel charger port with USB-C?

Lenovo charging port Type-C PD X220 X230

This is not something I’m considering doing right now—not only because if the part itself is reasonably priced, the shipping cost to France is not, but also I don’t need USB-C—but the fact that is mod is even possible is great.

If you want to know more, here is a video where the guy explains how he created his plug, in details (25′).

Immersive Reader & Custom Page Background Color in the Retail (Non-Sub Based) Word 2019?

If, like me, you’re wondering if the retail version of Microsoft Office 2019—the single purchase one, not the subscription-based Office 365/Microsoft 365—comes with the same Immersive Reader, the answer is: yes. And that’s great, because it makes Word so much more comfortable, imo:

(Sorry, this retail version of Office is in French and I’ve not yet checked if I can switch language, like with O365.)

Also, one can use a custom page background color and therefore keep using the traditinal page layout with margisn and border:

Don’t mind the odd-looking custom tab you can see in the Ribbon: that’s one of the really neat features of newer Word versions, the ability to create your very own Ribbon/Tabs, and group whatever tools you often use. That option, plus the ability to hide the Ribbon and define keyboard shortcuts or almost any tool, is 😍

FYI, the retail version I use is ‘Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2019’, no idea what the ‘Professional Plus’ stands for but unlike what the screenshot may let you believe: OneNote is not pre-installed (I reckon because this version of Office does not come With any OneDrive Storage?)

Why bother with the retail version of Office if I already use the sub-based Microsoft 365? I needed Word on a machine that won’t connect to the Internet, and the sub-based Microsoft 365 needs to connect at least once a month to check if your sub is still active. This retail version needed to connect online only once, in order to activate the license.


A True Dark Mode for Microsoft Word

Reading PDF in inverted colors/night mode

Inverted colors, dark mode or even night mode. If the name changes from app to app, the feature is the same: changing the page light background color into something dark, and changing its black text into something light. It’s great when reading PDFs in a low light environment and t’s essential when you suffer from some sort of extreme light sensibility, or have a terrible eyesight that makes it so you can’t read dark text on a light background on a screen.

Of all the apps I have tested, those three support some sort of inverted colors, at least partially for the last one.

Here is our reference PDF, for comparison. It is a scan of an old book: a simple black-and-white image, the text in it is not editable/selectable, with some handwritten annotation in red ink.

Continue reading Reading PDF in inverted colors/night mode

(An online) Dark Mode for Antidote

Unlike its macOS cousin, Druide Antidote for Windows doesn’t come with a dark theme. A lack that makes it very hard to read, at least for me.

One thing you might not know is that, if you’re using the latest Antidote 10, you probably also have a free access to their new-but-in-beta web version: all their guides and the spellchecker, directly in a web browser.

So, you can use Antidote in Dark Mode, as long as you load it in a web browser that support some dark mode extensions.

Out of curiosity, I tried to load it as a PWA, using the beta version of Edge-Chrome.

It works fine. And since it’s a PWA, you can pin it as any app to the Start menu and to the Taskbar.Making it even faster to access. You can also change Antidote’s settings to make it use the web version by default, instead of the classic app—but be aware that, while in beta, Druide will analyze any text that you correct through their website.

The main difference is that, unlike the classic installed app, you must be connected to the Internet to use the PWA version. But, hey, at least it’s there and it has a dark mode 😉

A True Dark Mode for Microsoft Word

Some users consider dark mode a fad. Because of my deteriorating eyesight, I don’t have such a luxury: I can’t read dark text on bright/light colored background, be it on screen or on paper.

Before dark mode was a thing, I was using a high contrast accessibility theme—which is great but also way too radical for my specific needs. Dark mode has given me the best of both worlds: a more or less ‘normal’ looking setup, only with bigger fonts, less eye candy and, well, darker colors.

So, how does Microsoft Word deal with dark mode? Very well, as long as you do not limit yourself to what the majority of guides will suggest you do, that is to use Office 365 dark mode. There is more to it, as you will see.

Illustration: the left of the screen shows Word using its dark mode plus the Immersive Reader: the text is white on a black backround, with an image that is unchanged. There is no page break or margins, the document almost feels like a basic text editor save that it shows an image too. The other half of the screen shows the wallpaper: a night view of a desert scene with many stars.
Microsoft Word in all its dark glory, once fully configured.

But let’s start with the obvious: activating Office’s dark mode.

Continue reading A True Dark Mode for Microsoft Word

10 tips to reduce clutter and to get the most out of the taskbar

Clear the Notification area

A thing that strikes me is how quickly the notification area of the taskbar can become a mess, filled with apps trying to grab our attention.

Illsutrative. A view of my desktop with a wallpaper of the earth photographed from the moon, and a taskbar filled with icons in its notifcation area.

If I don’t know any quick solution to avoid apps stuffing their icons in there—some will provide an option to turn their icon off (thanks so much, guys), many won’t (booh!)—Windows itself provides an easy way to decide which icons you want to see and which must stay hidden until you decide otherwise.

Illustration. A close-up view of the tasbar with a cleaned notification area.

This is how my notification area usually looks like on my desktop, showing only the apps I want to check on a regular basis: the status of my VPN, the status of OneDrive sync and the volume button.

All other icons are kept hidden, but still quickly accessed, behind the up arrow, on the left.

Illustration. Teh same view, showing a popup window with all the hidden icons.

The selection of icons will be slightly different on my laptop, showing also the Battery status indicator, which also lets me quickly switch between the power saving or power hungry modes.

How do you change that?

Continue reading 10 tips to reduce clutter and to get the most out of the taskbar

Get Things Done with Windows 10 Timer

For years, I frowned at the idea of timing my work—“I write dude, I’m not getting paid by the hour!” I repeated myself. But I was wrong. Sure, I’m not paid by the hour, or it would be a misery if not less than that, but writing takes a lot of time and one’s time is limited. One’d better know how and where one spends it.

Timing my writing, in fact all of my work, was the best change I’ve ever made to my work routine. And it is still is, even if the way I do things, and the time I need to do them, constantly evolves.

It helps me to roughly know where I’ll be at the end of every day, no matter what. It’s also very useful to realize where I waste most of my time during any day, and to fight procrastination.

Every morning, accompanied by a big cup of coffee, I will start working around the same time (very early) for a 45’ or a 2h session, depending on what I want to do. I’ll take a short break after that first session, and have breakfast. Then I’ll start another session often, but not always, followed by another break. Rinse and repeat, until a day’s worth of work is done. After that, I’m free to do whatever I want.

During a session, I’m not allowed to go check my emails, Twitter, and so on. It’s just the work to be done, and me.

Here is another trick I use: to make sure I’m not tempted to waste my time online, I have a separated ‘work’ account on my computer, where I don’t have Twitter or email configured, no games either. Nothing but my word processor, a couple dictionaries and the notes I need in order to write (using OneDrive for storing my files, makes it really easy to share the one I need between my two accounts). During a session, I’m allowed to not write if I feel like it but the thing is that I quickly found out that looking at an empty screen, with nothing else to do but stare at it, is quite motivating to start working 😉

As you can see, beside the use of two separated accounts, there is nothing fancy in my ‘method’, that is merely a stripped-down version of the Pomodoro technique. And there is nothing complicated to it: it doesn’t require any sophisticated app, any timer should do.

To my surprise, I discovered that Windows 10 comes with its own timer. I wasn’t expecting much of it, but I thought I could give it a shot before spending money on yet another app.

You now what? It does the job.

Continue reading Get Things Done with Windows 10 Timer

Using the Traditional Save/Open Dialog Box in Microsoft Office

By default, when you hit Save or when you try to open a file, the latest versions of Word and other Microsoft Office applications will use a new kind of window called the Backstage. As Microsoft wrote, the backstage “is everything that you do to a file that you don’t do in the file.”

A view of the new Save As dialog box, aka the Backstage Continue reading Using the Traditional Save/Open Dialog Box in Microsoft Office