How To Turn Your Address Bar Into A Customized Search Engine

When searching the web on a daily basis, you naturally expect to waste more than a few minutes. You’ll spend time going to Google, finding the site, and then clicking on the site’s link to search the site itself.

Well, here’s a tip that can speed things up: customize and change your address bar search engine.

Doing so will allow you to skip Google and the homepages. Combine it with a keyword shortcut and you can start searching a website instantly from your address bar. This is perfect if you need to go through specific databases, reference sites or tutorial resources on a regular basis.

So were doing it the hard way all this time? If so, here’s a look at how to customize 4 of the most popular browsers and their search engines.

Adding A Search Engine In Firefox

1) In Firefox, click on the dropdown arrow in the search engine box.

Accessing Firefox Search Engine

2) Go to Manage Search Engines…

3) To add other search engines, click on the Get more search engines… link in the dialog and you’ll be directed to Mozilla’s search add-ons page. 

4) Select and install the search add-on provider of your choice.

5) Once installed, select a search provider and  click on Edit Keyword.

Editing Firefox SE Keyword

Customizing a search engine’s keyword will make searching through the address bar faster. So change the keyword to something quick and easy to remember, like using a “w” for Wikipedia, for instance.

5) Click on OK.

6) Repeat these steps for every search provider you want.

7) When you’re done, click on OK in the main dialogue.

Using a keyword shortcut to call up a search engine can be faster than using the standard toolbar search box. You won’t have to keep clicking to reset the specific search engine first:

Firefox Address Bar Search

Adding A Search Engine In Opera

In Opera, the process is basically the same, but you can also manually add websites. To add extra sites or search engines to your list with Opera:

1) Go to the Opera tab (upper left hand corner)> Settings> Manage Search Engines.

2) Click on Add new search.

Managing Opera Search Engines

3) Fill in the name and keywords of the site you’d like to use.

4) For the Address field, you can get the required URL by going to the site you’d like to add and performing a test search.  Use a search term you can easily identify.

Opera SE Test URL

5) Delete your search term—in this case “TEST,” and replace it with “%s” as specified to get:

www.investintech.com/resources/blog/?s=%s

6) Paste this in the URL field, set your keyword, and click on Save.  (You can decide if you’d like to search for pages using the POST method, but we skipped that step for this tutorial).

The result:

Opera Address Bar results

Adding A Search Engine In Chrome

In Google Chrome, you can change up your keywords and search engines easily. Here’s how:

1) Go into Chrome’s Menu (upper right hand corner)> Settings> Manage search engines.

2) To edit existing search engines, click on the keyword and edit it to what you want.

3) Click on Done  (this will close the entire dialogue box).

To add new sites:

1) Scroll down to the end of the list in the dialogue box.

2) Fill in the fields using the same URL method mentioned for Opera above.

Customizing Chrome Search Engine

Great bonus tip: if you use Google Drive, you can create a custom search for it, too. Use the URL:  https://drive.google.com/#search/%s

Note that when you use the search for Google Drive, you need to be signed into the account for the drive you wish to search and be logged into it as the default user.

Adding A Search Engine In Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer, like Firefox, offers the services of search providers as an add-on. You can pick from a number of search providers and add them to your address bar. Follow these steps:

1) Go to the drop down arrow in the IE address bar.

2) Click on Add and you’ll be directed to the Internet Explorer Gallery.

IE Gallery Search Providers

3) Install the search provider you want by clicking on Add to Internet Explorer and confirming the installation.

4) To access your search provider, type up a keyword in the address bar.

Adding IE Search Engine

5) Click on the drop down arrow and select the site’s favicon.

If you can’t find a site or search provider you want in the gallery, you can add your own with EnhanceIE. This is a handy tool that allows you to add a custom search provider to IE 7 and later.

Just follow the directions in the form. Once you have all fields filled out, click on Install, which is the quickest and simplest method. You can then access your new search engine in the same manner as above.

Adding IE Search Engine

 

 

 

Investintech Launches New Microsoft Office for iPad Tutorials

When Microsoft finally came out with an iPad version of their popular document processing suite, MS Office, there were over 12 million downloads in the first week.  If you were one of them, then you’ve probably been exploring and getting oriented with the apps since then.

But working on an iPad is completely different than working on a desktop which makes it a bit difficult to adjust.  Well, you’ll be happy to know that there are resources out there to help—ours included.

We just launched our new resource page for Microsoft Office for iPad tutorials!

This resource is designed to help you keep your productivity levels up while getting the most out of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on your iPad.  From working with the edit menu and typing on the keyboard to inserting charts and transferring files, our resource page has everything you need to get started.

Take a look!

Quickly Discover Tips For A Specific App

To help you get started, we’ve categorized tips by app—Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You’ll find new ways to improve the way you work with each specific app whether for school, work, or your own personal use.

To boot, we included some extra tips you’ll find extremely handy. For example, we dug up tips on using Office for iPad for free. So even if you don’t subscribe to the apps, you can still work effectively with them.  In addition, we included a General Tips category as well. This is the perfect spot for any new users looking for basic guides on using the apps.

Office for iPad Categories

Just click on the app or category you’re interested in and you’ll find a list of available tutorial cards. Click on any one of them and you’ll be directed to the main tutorial page.

Head Straight To The Answers You’re Looking For

If you’re trying to find a specific tip, you don’t need to sift through each tutorial. Because some of these tutorial topics are general and thorough, they can cover a number of related tips.  To help you locate what you need, we broke the tutorials down into sub-sections.

Locating Specific App Tips

So when you’re in a category, like Word for example, you’ll see a little paper icon on a couple of tutorial cards. This indicates a tutorial with multiple sub-sections.  Click on the icon and a menu will appear, giving you direct links to each sub-section of the tutorial. This eliminates having to scroll through the entire tutorial page.

Discover The Most Popular Office for iPad Tips

Looking for a common tip? For convenience, we’ve pulled up the most popular tutorials on Office for iPad so you can quickly access the help you need most.

Office iPad Popular Tips

Keep checking in with us as we’ll be updating the page constantly with handy tips. And we always love getting your input. So don’t worry if you can’t find what you’re looking for. Let us know and we can look into adding it to the page.

Working on your iPad isn’t quite the same as working on your desktop. But with the help of a few of these tutorials you can start putting your iPad to work! Check them out!

 

How To Convert Your Handwriting To A Font

Writing With PenPhoto Credit: vidalia_11 via photopin cc

As the personal web grows, so does our need to customize the content we share on it. You need to add pictures to social profiles, select themes for your online accounts, and set up your preferences just right.

Your online presence is a representation of yourself, which you undoubtedly want to personalize as much as possible. This is simple enough with photos and graphics, but it’s a different story when you want to share or publish content with your own writing.

The closest you can come to digitizing your handwriting is to take a picture of a piece of paper with your message handwritten on it. While this adds a personal touch in photos, it still doesn’t really achieve the same effect for the content you create electronically from scratch.

Well, in case you didn’t know, it is indeed possible to get your handwriting on-screen with tools like MyScriptFont.com, PaintFont.com, and Font Panda, which can create a font from your writing.

Using ​MyScriptFont​ Interface

All three of these tools are similar in nature except:

  • With My Script Font, you get to select between generating a True Type Font, Open Type Font and an SVG Font.
  • Paint Font, a new improved version of My Script Font, includes special characters and character sets for different languages.
  • The template you print up with Font Panda includes international characters in their 2-page template and space for a “Fun Doodle.” As an added bonus, this service will allow you to generate revenue from your font by making it available for download.

Other than that, the process is the pretty much the same and very straightforward.

Getting Started

When you get to either one of the sites, all you need to do is print up their template and enter, by hand, each letter of the alphabet in your writing.

Scanning Handwriting Font Template

Once you’re done, scan and save the completed template into the format specified by the service (usually an image format).  Then upload the saved file directly to the site and submit it. The site will generate a font file for you which you’ll have to download and save to your computer.

Using Your Personalized Font

Installing Your Handwritten Font

To use the font simply install the file. In most cases, it’s as simple as right clicking on it and selecting “Install.”  But head over to font resource and forum DaFont.com for more details. They have everything you need to know on installing fonts on Windows, Mac and Linux computers.

Once the font file is successfully installed, you can use it in programs, like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, where you can elect to use different font sets.

Select Your Handwritten  Font

And that’s it! It was pretty neat to see my own writing digitized as a font. Here’s a sample (click to enlarge):

Writing ​Converted To Font

Content Ideas And Suggestions For Your Font

When would this come in handy? The ideas are endless! You can work on projects, images, and documents that are made to order. Some ideas:

  • Adding a personal touch to e-Invitations
  • Informally signing internal documents and memos
  • Using it for digital scrapbooks and journals
  • Creating one page poster pin-ups for classrooms
  • Tailoring PowerPoint presentations, Publisher material, and OneNote notebooks
  • Writing personal letters
  • Branding your content (brochures, posters, postcards)
  • Creating funky and shareable quotation memes
  • Editing images with text

….and no doubt you can think up a whole lot more! Why not put it to the test and give it a try. See how much your own writing can improve and enhance your content.

 

How to Create Your Own Customized Tab In Microsoft Word 2013

No doubt that when you create a Microsoft Word document, you have one or two tools that you always use. But if those tools span a wide range of functionality, they’ll be scattered across the ribbon, forcing you to click and toggle between tabs and bury it back into the Ribbon every time.

To solve this issue, you can customize the Quick Access Toolbar and even create a few shortcuts for your formatting functions. But why not take your productivity even further and create your own tab?

You can easily get your most commonly used functions on one single tab in Microsoft Word 2013. This way every command you need is right at your fingertips without having to go back and forth between different tabs. Here’s how.

1. Right click on any tab and select Customize the Ribbon.

Customizing the Ribbon

2. In the following dialog, click on New Tab.

Creating New Tab

To label it, right click on it and select Rename. Click on OK

3. Next, create a group to organize your commands by functionality (eg. Formatting, Editing, etc.). To do this, click on New Group. You can rename and add icons for each group by right clicking on it and selecting Rename. Do this for each group you want on your tab.

Creating New Group

Now you can start adding commands to them.

4. To add commands to a specific group, ensure that the group is selected and highlighted. Then in the Choose Commands from column, find and select your favourite command. Click on Add. Or you can drag and drop the command directly into the group. Repeat this for every command you want to include.

Adding Commands to Tab

If you’d like to change the order, simply rearrange them by moving them up or down the list.

5.  Click on OK when you’re finishedand your customized tab will be added to the main Ribbon.

New Tab in Ribbon

There are a number of ways to get Microsoft Word customized to your liking. Getting your very own tab set up is one of the easiest ways to do it. What other ways do you have MS Word 2013 tailored to your needs?

 

5 Handy Tips On Using Social Media For Research

Social Media Word CloudPhoto Credit: daniel_iversen via photopin cc

Are you using social media for research? If not, you could be missing out. Social media networks are always crawling with data: statistics, linked studies, social sentiments, background information, news reports, trends, official commentary—the list goes on.

As you can guess, however, the one real problem with using social media is filtering out all that research in order to analyze it properly.  Are you scraping information together as efficiently as you could?

Good news is that you don’t need to be a research specialist to do so. If you need an effective way to search the web and gather your data at the same time, we’ve got 5 tips to help you narrow down and convert social media posts into research you can easily sift through.

1. Track Tweets On Twitter

To start, there’s Twitter. Everyone’s used it for updates. On a monthly average, there are 255 million active users, a fact which makes the social network a rich source of real time sentiments on any given topic. Twitter is extremely helpful for getting news updates during a major conference, an event, or covering social trend.

However, instead of using Twitter’s search box to locate related mentions and tweets, use Topsy. It allows you to organize results by links, tweets, photos, videos, and influencers. You can also conduct an advanced search, specify time ranges, and select a language to narrow down your results. These features make it the most straight forward way to simplify your Twitter research.

2. Use IFTTT To Help Automate Web Page Collection

One downside to using the web for research is accumulating more web pages than you know what to do with at the moment. To help keep your bookmarking research in order, why not automate the process with a social bookmarking service like Pocket and the DIY  automated web service, IFTTT?

Pocket Google Drive Recipe

There’s an IFTTT recipe already available which you can use to record your Pocket saves to a Google Drive spreadsheet. Once your saved links are in a spreadsheet via Pocket, you can read through them later using Google Spreadsheet’s sorting functionalities. Use Pocket specifically for your research topic and you end up with a highly focused resource of links.

3. Track Mentions On The Web

To cast an even wider net for better data prospects, try tracking mentions for keywords on social media. With basic tools like Social Mention, you can simplify the tracking process. Like Topsy, it pulls all mentions for the keyword you specify.

However, this tool allows you to search across more than just Twitter and the usual social networks. You can search questions, bookmarks, news, blogs, events, images, video, comments, networks, and audio. Moreover, you can even export your search results into either Excel or CSV.

4. Convert Facebook Feeds To RSS

It’s a common thing these days to use Facebook for researching people and brands. Facebook provides companies and public figures with a quick way to update their fanbase, post related news links, or issue comments and statements. Thus, by monitoring any activity happening on their page, you set yourself up with a great resource for putting your research into context.

Facebook Wall RSS​ Feed

To simplify things, you can get Facebook Wall updates delivered to you as an RSS feed. Go to FBRSS.com and connect your Facebook account. Once hooked up, FBRSS will create RSS feed links for all the pages you Like and the people you follow. So all you have to do is add the feed to your RSS aggregator of choice and you’re set.

5. Collect Data Using Google Forms And Google+

One of the most obvious ways to get raw data on a topic is to ask the right people, and using a Google Form is an easy way to do so.  All you need is a Google account to create a form in Google Docs. After you’ve created your form, choose to receive responses directly within a Google spreadsheet and get your data in one place.

Sharing Forms on GooglePlus​

Then when it’s created and all set up, click on Send Form and send it out to your Google Plus network. Sharing the form with specific Google Plus circles and niche communities will give you highly targeted data.  

Using social media as a research tool is one of the most powerful ways to collect information. Just one single network can churn out some interesting data. Combine that with a productivity hack or two and your research job gets significantly easier.

3 Great Ways To Share Large Files With Others

File Folder Case
Photo Credit: In 30 Minutes guides via photopin cc

You deal with large files on a regular basis, and it’s a given that at one point or another, sending or sharing them won’t always work out.

For example, you may find it convenient to use one cloud service to make your large files easily accessible to others without having to email them. Yet there are times when putting all your eggs in one basket can prove disastrous. If you use Google and discover Google Drive is down, it can take you by surprise—and not in a good way!

So if you’re working around large files like PDF documents, multimedia content, or files with high resolution images, always have a back up. Don’t be left hanging by third party server hiccups. Try a few of these tools when your usual solution doesn’t work.

1. Use Cloud Services That Offer Tons Of Space

You’ve heard of a lot of popular cloud storage services, but how many of those were geared towards sharing big files?  These ones are. They start at 10 GB for free.

4shared: With 15 GB storage and a 2GB file size limit, 4shared is perfect for frequent cloud users. Though you’re given 180 days to log in each time before your files are deleted, its file management features more than make up for it.

ADrive: You don’t hear a lot about ADrive, but you should. They offer 50GB with 16 GB sized uploads for free Personal Basic accounts that comes with a few handy features like document editing.

Send Files with Filemail

Filemail:  Though this service only offers permanent storage for paid accounts, we included Filemail because it provides the perfect temporary option for document emergencies. Send up to 30 GB sized files free with a 7 day storage limit and you can use it as many times as you like.

Box:  This is a popular service which needs no introduction, other than to say that you can get 10 GB and 250 MB file limit with Box.com.

SamePage.io: Here’s a great alternative for teams that use Google Drive. With SamePage you can create, upload, and edit files, or collaborate, sync, and check in on the status of your documents. It offers 50 GB with a 250 MB file limit free to start.

2. Try Browser-to-Browser File Sharing

When all you need is one instant file transfer, you can cut out the middle man and eliminate the installations by using browser-based file sharing services. No need to install third party tools or set up publicly shared folders. All you have to do is keep your browser opened.

Sharefest Interface

Sharefest.me: Using the connection established by a web browser, Sharfest.me, a P2P web client, makes sharing files as simple as dragging a file onto a tab. This service works with WebRTC browsers, Firefox and Chrome specifically. It’s still in Alpha so there’s still a bit more to expect. Read more about it here.

Ge.tt: A browser based real-time file sharing service that lets you share your file via a pick up link. With Ge.tt, you can get 250 MB storage without an account. Files are available for 30 days and only accessible to users with the link.

Files Over Miles:  This service also offers an easy way to share files. In regards to limits, Files Over Miles is based on Adobe Flash Player which means the size limit of your uploaded file is determined by how much memory you have on your computer

PipeBytes: Like the other services, PipBytes lets you transfer files of any size. Just upload your file to PipeBytes, click on Send, and give the single-use link or code to your recipient. The file starts transferring once the link is opened or the code pasted onto the PipeBytes page pick up field.

Justbeamit: With Justbeamit, you drag your file onto the page and click on Create Link. You’re given a one-time use link which your recipient can simply drop into a browser to pick up the file.

3. Share Files Directly Between Computers

To simplify your document transfers even more, try sharing your files across shared folders and networks. Although doing so requires a bit of technical know-how, we found the simplest tutorials on how to start transferring your files from:

Mac OS X to Windows: 7Tutorials.com offers an easy to follow tutorial on how to share Mac OS X folders with Windows 7 or 8

Windows to Linux Files

Image Credit:  HowToGeek.com

Windows to Linux (Ubuntu):  To create a shared folder in Windows 8.1 and share it with Ubuntu, follow the linked tutorial from HowToGeek.com. This shows you how to access the shared folder via command line in Linux. Uncomfortable with the command line? Follow Noobslab.com’s tutorial, which teaches you how to share files from Linux to Windows using the same Samba utility, but via the interface.

Different systems on your own computer:  Using a virtual machine? HowToGeek.com can show you how to do that, as well. Their tutorial on how to share files with a virtual machine will walk you through it step by step.

So when your main cloud drive goes down and you feel like your entire day is about to go wrong, don’t panic. You can still come out on top. One or two of these methods can simplify and even improve how you work with your documents.

How to Attach A PDF File To Microsoft Word Documents

Document Attachment
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Digital documents are the number one staple behind any company or workflow.  And everyone shares them whether by email, cloud services, or URL. But do you ever wonder if there’s an even easier way to bundle your documents together? Short answer: yes, there is.

Attaching or embedding PDFs in Word documents can be an even quicker alternative than email attachments. It’s also a dead simple way to combine PDF and Word content together.

Think of PDF documents that contain file attachments. You have everything you need in that one single file and there’s no need to go back to the email for the other attachments.  Doing the same with a Word document can be just as convenient. It can be helpful in situations where you need to:

  • Attach legal PDF documents as an appendix
  • Quickly access PDF forms, reports, contract terms, or brochures
  • Provide extra working drafts or updates to colleagues in business  proposals
  • Access or provide PDF resources as reference for papers you’re writing

Embedding a PDF document within MS Word is a popular and sought-after tip. With digital documents becoming more important these days, it’s a handy and helpful method to keep in mind.

To keep highly related PDF and Word files neatly together, follow these steps:

In Microsoft Word, place your cursor where you’d like the PDF to be located. Then,

1. Go to the Insert tab > Object.

Selecting Insert Object

2. In the Object dialog, go to the Create from File tab

Embedding Object Word Document

3. Click on Browse. Search and select the PDF file you wish to embed.

4. Select Display as icon and leave Link to file unchecked. You can choose to change the icon if you wish.

5. Click on OK.

PDF Embedded Word File​

As you can see, the PDF appears right inside your Word document, and can be opened in your PDF viewer of choice. Know of any other methods for combining Word and PDF files together? Let us know!

Why You Should Become An Investintech Reseller

Here at Investintech, we love to give everyone a way in which they can interact with us. Whether  you want to check in on our social networks, convert a quick file, or make a purchase, we have the resources in place for you.

We even offer a variety of partnership options for businesses.  If you haven’t explored them as a business owner yet, you should. One option you’ll want to check out is our reseller program.

We created the program as a way to connect and to maintain a close professional relationship with businesses on a different level. Members of our program are made up of professional resellers and  companies who redistribute licenses of our products, like Able2Extract, to their customers.

So if your company is looking for new business opportunities to expand, here’s a quick look at how becoming a reseller can help you build a global presence, improve revenue streams, and benefit from great program incentives.

Enjoy The Advantages Of Becoming A Reseller

Reseller Advantages
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Deciding to become a reseller involves a lot of planning and consideration. On top of finding the right market, products, and program options, you also need to consider the benefits. What’s in it for you? How simple is the process?  What does your company gain?

At every turn, our program aims to make it worthwhile for all members.   To that end, we offer some great advantages. Here are just a few:

  • Full customer and technical support is available
  • Website listing (PR 6) along with a link back to your site
  • Quality conversion software for distribution
  • Full access to product resources
  • Online product discounts for resellers
  • On-time order fulfillment
  • Greater online visibility
  • Simple registration process

Offer Relevant Tools To Existing Customers

Software Tools For Customers
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If you’re a business that’s already providing services or software, our reseller program is an easy way to complement and expand on your existing offerings.   PDF converters, like Able2Extract, are already tools that many individuals use on a daily basis, and they can fit into any niche and workflow that involves working with PDF data. Whether it’s for an accountant who needs  financial PDF data or a college student who needs PDF text for research, PDF content will always need to be converted for reuse or editing.

Create A Unique Business Identity

Being a reseller means that you can assist customers in a new way without sacrificing your existing goals or corporate identity. In fact, with our program you get to strengthen your brand and credibility on a global scale by becoming a valuable resource to customers all over the world.

Global Reseller IdentityPhoto Credit: ToddMorris via photopin cc

For instance, when users would rather deal with a local vendor from your region due to purchasing or language reasons, they can be quickly referred over to you for assistance. In this way, they can gain access to new products from a vendor they trust no matter where they’re located.

Getting Started

Interested in joining the program? All it takes is an email to our sales team to start the process.  We’ll send out the registration form, and once the application is reviewed, your company will be notified within one business day if you’ve been approved.

A number of authoritative software distributors are currently part of our program, and we’re always looking to welcome new members.  Email us at sales@investintech.com for more information.

How To Use Google Docs And Sheets Add-ons For Writing Papers

If you’re a student, you’re probably always on the lookout for ways to cut costs wherever possible. And a free online word processor like Google Docs, is a popular alternative. It’s where you go when you need to share, edit and store documents.

But do you always have what you need when working with Google Docs?  Now that Google Drive offers Google Docs and Sheets add-ons, you do. They offer more functionality and flexibility when creating complex documents online.  If you haven’t tried these out yet, you should.

The life of a student is made up of a lot of information, and you need to be able to break down, organize, write, and carefully cite your arguments.  With Google Docs and Sheets add-ons, you can now accomplish almost everything needed to write a paper, from start to finish.

Here’s a quick guide on what we thought were the handiest add-ons for the job.

Plan Out Your Argument With Gliffy Diagrams

One of the first steps for creating any paper is the outline. For an essay of any notable length, you need to map out your arguments clearly and effectively.  In Google Docs, you can use the Gliffy diagrams add-on where you can easily create a flow chart or mind map on your topic.

Gliffy Diagram Creation ToolImage Credit: Gliffy.com

The add-on takes you to the Gliffy site where you can start creating a simple map out of your ideas and then access or insert it right into Google Docs to keep yourself on track. With a free account, you can create up to 5 diagrams.

Use Texthelp Study Skills To Sift Through Your Notes

When it comes time to sift through class notes and first drafts, it can be frustrating to have to go through them all one by one and extract what you need. But by using the Texthelp Study Skills highlighting tools add-on, you can speed up the sorting process significantly.

 Texthelp Highlighting Tools

These highlighting tools allow you to highlight important points and then collect that highlighted text into a new document. This is handy as you can then start filling out your paper around the text. No need to copy and paste or toggle back and forth. An extremely helpful add-on for integrating your research notes with the actual writing of your paper.

Get EasyBib To Create Your Bibliography

As you write and incorporate your research and quotations, use EasyBib to create a bibliography. This eliminates the tedious task of manually documenting sources, especially when they can come in every possible type of format.

You can cite sources into MLA, APA, or Chicago style directly in the side bar. Easybib makes it as easy as pasting in the title, ISBN, or URL of your source.At the end, clicking on the Generate Bibliography button will add  it neatly to the end of your paper. This way you can focus on the writing instead of the details of your citations.

Have ProWriting Aid Double Check The Text

When you’re ready to edit and proof read your finished draft, make sure you catch all errors by using the ProWriting Aid add-on.

ProWritingAid Text Checker

It not only performs instant checks for grammar, but also checks consistency, plagiarism and overused words. ProWriting Aid will provide you with a full report in the side bar. And from there, you can edit and rewrite your text as needed.

Consult Thesaurus To Give Your Writing A Boost

As an added measure, the Thesaurus add-on is helpful when adding the finishing touches to your writing. Just select a word in your document and activate the add-on. A side-bar will pop up with suggestions right within Google Docs, which is more convenient than having to Google around for another word in another window.

By no means do you have to pigeon-hole yourselves to these add-ons. All the offered add-ons are general enough to help with any writing need you may have.  So check them out and let us know which ones help you the most.

PDF Usability And The Web: Is The Format Still “Unfit For Human Consumption”?

Fork Plate Crumbs

Photo Credit: steveluscher via  photopincc

There has always been a well-documented love-hate relationship between users and the PDF format. You either love it when things go right or hate it when it doesn’t co-operate.

Yet for better or worse, the PDF document is in our daily lives.We convert and create PDFs, always emailing and reading them no matter how much we may complain about the format.

But think about what it was like before. Back in 2003, authoritative web usability guru, Jakob Nielsen, criticized the usability of the PDF on the web in his article PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption, in which he catalogs what he calls  the format’s “usability crimes.”

If you were an early PDF adopter in the late 90’s or early 2000’s, then you could probably relate very strongly to the article.  But would you still agree with it after more than 10 years? Probably not. You can’t deny the format’s improvement since then.

Despite the misgivings we have about the PDF, we can’t do without it. Because of large scale adoption, ISO standardization, and third party tools, the PDF format is a heck of a lot easier to work with. But it’s also due in large part, to the Internet itself and how it’s been shaping our user habits.

The State Of Our Online Behaviour

Today we live in a highly technological world that co-exists hand in hand with the Internet. And whether we like it or not, our compulsion to stay connected online greatly influences our need to edit and work with documents on the web, including ones that weren’t meant to be edited.

We connect and communicate online.  Blogs, social media, and forums are endlessly engaged in discussion. Social networks are highly public, yet personal.  We need to access and do things online, to create an individual work space which we can control.

Connecting With The Internet
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It’s no surprise then that because of this necessity, the digital documents we use daily are following this trend.  Our files have become part of the interactive and streamlined user experience.

Developers have been giving digital documents like the PDF a lot of integrated support.  Online app services like GoogleDrive, for instance, allow us to upload PDF documents for viewing, commenting, and sharing, all with a simple URL.  Desktop tools are also extending document sharing to real time collaboration over the web.

We can log in from anywhere and check in with our files on-screen.  Whether a professional on a tablet or a student enrolled in an online class, we can always connect with PDF contracts and research papers.  And on top of this, we can read and download PDF ebooks from the web onto our mobile devices.

Using The Internet As A PDF Tool

Let’s not forget that Google has been able to index PDF files since 2001. Since then, the popularity of PDFs online has grown to such an extent that by 2013, 80% of non-html documents posted online were PDF files.

Admittedly, web browsers back in 2003 didn’t support PDF viewing very well.  However, browsers like Chrome and Firefox have begun including native PDF viewers. Add to that the ability to create a PDF for fast web viewing and your PDF documents are easier to go through than ever.

What’s interesting to note is that this online PDF viewing and sharing has gradually changed the role of the format itself.  Before, the PDF was considered only a final print format. But thanks to online services and advanced PDF creation and editing tools, it can be manipulated at any point in the workflow.

PDF In Document Workflows

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Consider how and when you’ve used online converters and web apps, or social networks and document search engines for a PDF. What did they do to help you with the file? Given the right utilities and extensions, we can interact with PDFs in our browser or annotate, highlight, and merge them instantly.

Truth is, it isn’t as hard to work with PDF files online as it used to be. In fact, presenting PDF content online is now perhaps the most basic thing you can do.

But what do you think? Is the PDF still hard for you to consume online–viewing, handling, or otherwise? It seems that with the way the Internet and the format are developing, there’s no better time to be a PDF user than now.