Tip o’ the Week #291 – A few handy date handling tips


clip_image001Sometimes, the Tip o’ the Week is all about one topic, and sometimes it’s a theme that spans several things. Today’s is just such a smörgåsbord of stuff, spanning a number of apps that are concerned with dates.

Windows 10 dates

This is not a new topic for ToW – the swish new Alarms & Clocks app that ships with Windows 10 was covered in #280, though the UI has changed a little since then. If you hover your mouse over the date/time on your taskbar, you’ll see a clip_image003familiar preview that tells you a bit more detail. If you click on that section, you’ll see the new calendar view, with a link to Date and time settings which will take you to the system Settings > Time & language > Date & time options. In here, under Related settings, you can add clocks for an additional couple of time zones, if you need to – give them a label, then you’ll see those additional timesclip_image005 displayed atop the calendar and the larger display of the current time.

Hovering on the system tray shows a simple view clip_image007of the same thing. Handy for those of us who regularly work with people from all over the world, and want to make sure you’re not booking conference calls in the middle of the night. Outlook allows you to easily show a second time zone in your calendar – just right-click on the border to the left of the calendar itself, choose Change Time Zone and in the resulting dialogue box, tick the box to show an additional time zone and give it a label.

OneNote page dates

clip_image009If you use OneNote (the desktop version – does anyone prefer the Store app?) in a shared fashion, then you’ll see coloured blocks when other people update sections of the textclip_image011, though it’s not so easy to figure out when you last edited a page (in short, you can see the date you edited a page by looking under History tab, Recent Edits or Find by Author, but it’s not always that obvious).

If you’re using a template repeatedly (Sales Account Plans, for example, where you take a copy of a pro forma plan then complete it), or if you’re updating pages of old notes, you may want to adjust the date/time that’s displayed at the top of the OneNote page, to show yourself (and other readers, maybe) that it has updated content.

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clip_image015Click on the date under the title, and then the calendar icon which appears to its side, and you’ll be able to use a date picker to change the date – or simply click the Today button to set the current date. The same process works with the time field, too – click on it, then on the clock icon, and you can set the time – with the default being the time now.

clip_image017OneNote has a couple of other neat date tricks that have also featured before on ToW – like the ability to insert today’s date or time, on the Insert tab – if you hover over the first two, you’ll be reminded that ALT+SHIFT+D or T inserts the Date or the Time, but hovering over Date & Time doesn’t remind you that ALT+SHIFT+F, does.

Tuck that away in your sporran for future use, as it’s supremely handy when adding notes (eg from a phone call) to the end of an existing page.

Other Office apps

Excel has a similarly handy shortcut – CTRL+; adds the current date to the selected cell, and CTRL+: adds the time. Word has a different way again; you can go to the Insert tab and look under Text > Date & Time which then displays a dialogue box to ask how you’d like it formatted. The same box can be got to more quickly by holding ALT then pressing N and then D, which is basically jumping to the menu using keyboard shortcuts. That same combo works in Outlook when editing an email, too.

While on the topic of Outlook, there’s one last tip and it’s a belter. Every time Outlook gives you a date & time control – like when you’re editing an appointment, for example – you can select the current value and replace it, either by typing in the new date/time or by using the date picker or time drop down.

clip_image019But the date control also has some other smarts – you can put  additions to dates, for example, so you could type the end date to be “tomorrow” and it will automatically figure out the offset from today and set it appropriately. The duration of the meeting will also be set, so if you subsequently went back to the start date and typed “tomorrow”, the end date would be a day further out. Clever eh?

Here are some others to try – just type a number in the date field and it sets to that number of the current month, or type next month to set the date exactly one calendar month away from the current value (or 2 months, or 1 year…). The most useful ones are often things like next Monday or in 3 days (or just 3d if you don’t want to wear your keyboard out; next mo, 2mo, 1y do the same). There are lots of special dates too – Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, Halloween etc. You can even combine them, so could say 2nd Monday in January or 3 days after Christmas. Maybe Outlook will integrate with Cortana one day, and you could enter “Steve’s birthday” or “my wedding anniversary”…

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