Published Date
01 - Aug - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Aug - 2007

Evolution is probably the most preferred mail client in Linux, and for that reason, comes bundled with most distributions today.Other than being a feature-filled mail client, it's also a good PIM. We look at how you can make a few daily activities easier using Evolution.

Forget Passwords
There are times when there are many people using your PC-you wouldn't want them to access or download your mail by mistake (or intentionally, in the case that you have friends of the snooping type). In such cases, you can make Evolution forget the passwords it has saved. To do this, go to File > Forget Passwords and you will be asked for the password henceforth.

Set Mails As Tasks
Many times, mails can be related to a task you have to keep in mind; you can set a mail to be a task so you can be reminded easily. Right-click on any mail and select Convert to Task. If you switch to the Tasks section from the left panel you will find the mail there. You can double-click on it to set a start and end date, and add any additional summary you might want to.

Disabling Plugins
Evolution's features come from plugins, so it's pretty easy to turn on and off features when you want to. Most of us don't use all of them anyway.

Disable plugins to save on system resources

In Evolution, turn off plugins under Edit > Plug-ins. Uncheck the box against the features you don't use. This will save memory consumption and also speed up loading times a bit.

Setting Time Zones In Tasks
You might have contacts not based in India. While creating tasks or appointments for such contacts, you need to keep their time zones in mind.

Create a new task by selecting New > Task. Enter all the necessary details and click on Time Zone on the toolbar. Select the time zone of the location of the person you have the appointment with. Click OK. Evolution will automatically adjust the time to match your current time zone. This feature can also be found in other components like Meeting and Appointments.

Image Loading Preferences
Most mail clients block access to images through mails hosted on the Internet-mostly for security reasons. Evolution does this, but if you want to be able to view these images, select Edit > Preferences. Select Mail Preferences in the left pane and then the HTML Mail tab on top.

Images from sites can be blocked or unblocked

Here you have the option to either enable or disable images from sites altogether. Another useful option is to allow access to images from sites only for mails from people in your contacts list.

Importing Contacts From Gaim
Evolution has a feature that allows you to create entries in the address book from contacts in Gaim (now Pidgin), the instant messenger. This is really useful to add many known contacts, in an instant, into your mail client instead of manually entering each entry.

Gaim contacts can be quickly added and synchronised into Evolution

Go to Edit > Preferences > Mail Preferences tab > Automatic Contacts. In the Instant Messaging Contacts section, click Synchronize with Buddy List Now to add your contacts. Check the box against Periodically synchronize contact information and images from Gaim list to update Evolution with the new changes in Gaim.


Word processing software for Linux is in fair abundance; not so for spreadsheet applications. OpenOffice Calc is the heavyweight in this category, and is the preferred Linux equivalent of Microsoft's Excel.

Tracking Changes
If you changed a cell's value, and made twenty more changes to different cells before deciding that you wanted the first cell's original value, you'd have undo all twenty steps to get it back. A better option is to track all the changes made to your spreadsheet.

Detailed changes made to any cell can easily be viewed

Go to Edit > Changes > Record. From now on, all changes made to cells will be tracked. Modified cells from will be shown with a red border; move the mouse over a cell to see its previous value.

Customising The Interface For A Single Spreadsheet
Calc lets you customise its layout for a single spreadsheet only, leaving the default for other sheets.

Select Tools > Customize. Choose the toolbars you want to disable or change the order of. You can do the same for all the toolbars in OpenOffice Calc. Now to bind the customisations to only the file you are working on, click Save in the drop-down menu, and choose the file. Click OK to save.

Macros For Events
Macros in OpenOffice can be bound to events as well, so you can have a macro to run the moment you open a file, for example.

Macros can be set to be triggered by events in Calc

Click on Tools > Customize. Then click on the Events tab. Choose the even that you want to bind the macro to. Click the Macro button. From the library, select the macro you want and click OK.

Styles And Conditional Formatting
Conditional Formatting automatically formats cells matching criteria you set, as you might know.

First create some unique styles if you don't like the ones provided by OpenOffice. Select Format > Styles and Formatting. Right-click in the window and click New. Enter a name for the style and use the tabs Fonts, Font Effects, Borders, etc.-to create your own style. You can use this style on any cell from the toolbars.

Cells can be formatted automatically according to set criteria

Now to set up conditional formatting. Select Format > Conditional Formatting. Set the values for the conditions-equal to, less than, and so on-and select the Cell Style using the drop-down menu. Your custom style will be present as well. When done, click OK. All the cells matching the criteria should then appear in the style you created.

The Function Wizard
Some of us might have knowledge of a fair number of functions for Calc, but not all. The entire list of functions can be viewed using the Function Wizard. Select Insert > Function or press [Ctrl] [F2]. Choose the Category of functions in the drop-down menu and click on a particular function. A brief description of the function is displayed.

The Function Wizard is an easy way to access and implement the huge database of functions

To implement the function, click Next. You will be asked to enter the information needed for the function. Instead of entering values, you can get Calc to pick up data from the spreadsheet by clicking on a particular cell. Click OK when all the parameters are filled in. To have the function list available at all times as a sidebar, select Insert > Function List. Click on Fx in the sidebar to use a particular function and manually enter the values needed.

Comparing Spreadsheets
When a single spreadsheet is passed around among people, there are some changes and feedback that may be added to the spreadsheet. Select Edit > Compare Document. Browse to the location of the other spreadsheet and click Open. You'll get a detailed list of differences, with the option to reject or accept changes. The necessary changes are then made to the spreadsheet you were initially working on.

Set Print Ranges
Cells not in the print range in OpenOffice Calc are regions that won't be printed or exported-this is useful if you've used a few cells to take notes or just don't want them to print. To add regions to a print range, highlight a selection of cells. Then go to Format > Print Ranges > Define. You can further add and remove cells in the same manner by clicking on Add and Remove from the same menu.

Tracking Versions
Calc lets you save multiple versions of your spreadsheet and switch to any one when you need to. To save the state of the spreadsheet, go to File > Version > Save New Version and enter a summary for the version. Multiple versions can be saved in the same manner. To access any of the versions, click on a version and click Open. A new read-only spreadsheet with the saved state will load.

Automatic Value Highlighting
While entering huge amounts of data including headings and numbers, Calc can help reduce the confusion by automatically assigning colours to numerical values. Select View > Value Highlighting or press [Ctrl] [F8]. All numerical values will automatically appear in different colours.

Adobe Photoshop CS3

The king of all image-editing software-Adobe Photoshop-has now been rejuvenated as Photoshop CS3! It's faster and more feature-packed than before! We go through the best of the newly-added features and how you can use them to make an impression through your work.

Big Toolbar... Small Toolbar! 
Almost all computer graphics creation tools-be it image editors or 3D modelling software-can have millions of toolbars and menus, which often crowd your workspace. The new Photoshop CS3 allows you to minimise the toolbars to a more compact layout.

Switching to a compact toolbar helps in saving some workshop

The toolbar on the left and the docks to the right, which contain the history, histogram, layers, etc., have this feature. Click on the title bar of the toolbar on the left and it will toggle between a wider and vertically-expanded mode. Similarly, click the title bar of the docks on the right and they will minimise to a compact bar. You can still access all the features in the docks, but they are hidden automatically whenever you move focus away from them.

Additionally, use [Tab] to hide all the palettes, and hold your mouse cursor at the edge of the screen to un-hide them. Once you're done, they'll go back into the edge of your screen, leaving you with your image.

Creating HDR Images 
HDR (High Dynamic Range) in photography is a technique to display a larger range of light intensities than can be captured in a single camera shot. Start with taking the same shot at different shutter speeds to get multiple exposures. When you have your images ready, Photoshop CS3 can put them all together and create an HDR image.

To create HDR images, go to File > Automate > Merge to HDR. Click Browse and select the files you want to make the HDR image out of. If you have a folder with the images, you can also choose that instead of separate files. Click OK, and Photoshop CS3 will process the images before displaying a window. This window lets you set the white point for the image. When you are satisfied with the results, click OK.

Creating Multiple Exposures For A Single Image  
If you haven't taken multiple photos, you can still get yourself an HDR image using the Exposure filter. This simulates multiple exposures and can be used to get somewhat decent results in creating HDR images. Go to Image > Adjustments > Exposure. Alter the levels and click on OK. Save the file and make a couple of variations. Use these images to create HDR images as explained in the previous tip.

Zoom With The Scroll Wheel  
If you want to zoom into your image, you could hold down [Alt] and use the scroll wheel, but this can get inconvenient, especially if you use [Space] immediately after to pan around your image-the window's [Alt] [Space] menu comes up! Photoshop CS3 does let you use the

Access to the zoom function is easy with the mouse scroll

scroll wheel for zooming, but it's not enabled by default. Go to Edit > Preferences > General and check the box against Zoom with Scroll Wheel. Click OK.

Refining selection edges  
Selections made aren't always refined and smooth as you'd want them to be. Photoshop's selection tool now has a new feature called Refine Edge. By allowing you to alter settings for selection after it is made, much better control over the edges of the selection is made available.

Make a selection like you normally would with any of the selection tools-Marquee, Quick Selection, Lasso, etc. On the Options bar on top, click the Refine Edges button. The area outside your selection will fade out, and you can make changes to parameters such as Smoothness, Feather, and Contrast to get the result you need.

Adding Plugins To Photoshop  
Plugins are usually written by third-party developers to allow programs to extend their capabilities. You can find Photoshop plugins at www.adobe.com/products/plugins/photoshop. You can add a separate folder to have Photoshop automatically pick up plugins from if you have put them there. This also helps when the time comes to uninstall a

You can access third-party plugins in a separate folder from Photoshop

plugin you don't care too much for. Go to Edit > Preferences > Plug-Ins, and check the box against Additional PlugIns Folder. Navigate to the folder you want to use and save your preferences.

Using The New Advanced Clone Tool  
Do not mistake the Clone Stamp tool in CS3 to be just like the one in the earlier versions. This new version allows you set five different clone sources so you don't have to go selecting the source over and over again.

The clone tool in CS3 allows multiple clone sources

First, click the Clone Stamp Tool from the left toolbar. Click on the Stamp Source dock to the right (its icon is similar to the Clone Stamp icon). You will find five identical clone source icons. Click on one of them and [Alt] click on the area of the image you want to use as a clone source. Perform the same steps for the other clone sources.

Another new feature is the ability to use other open images as clone sources.

The New Vanishing Point  
In drawing terms, a vanishing point helps people draw objects in the right perspective. It consists of parallel lines that eventually appear to meet up at a single point. Vanishing point in Photoshop CS3 is meant to do the same thing.

The Vanishing Point tool allows you to set up the perspective of an image

To access the Vanishing Point tool, go to Filter > Vanishing Point. A window will appear. Click the Create Plane tool if it isn't already selected, and draw four points that should denote a plane in your image; this could be a wall, a table top, a box cover, and so on. A densely-created mesh appears in its place. You can now use the draw or clone tool to work with objects in that perspective. Click OK when done. You can always go back to the Vanishing Point tool without having to recreate the entire plane.

Creating PDF Presentations   
Photoshop CS3 allows you to export images as a PDF presentation-just like PowerPoint. Go to File > Automate > PDF Presentation. Click the Presentation radio button and then click on Browse to select the images you want in your presentation. Select what details of the image you would like to have displayed, the colour of the background, and the transition effects between slides. Click Save. Enter a location and filename for the PDF and click Save.

PDFs can be created and used as a slideshow using the PDF Presentation option

You can choose from one of the presets for compression of images. Click Save PDF to finish saving the presentation.

3D Objects In Photoshop? 
Photoshop CS3 has a feature called 3D Layers, which lets you import 3D models into Photoshop. It supports some of the commonly used formats-OBJ and 3DS, to name the most popular. To add a 3D layer, go to Layers > 3D Layers > New Layer from 3D file. Select the file from its location and click Open.

Once the model has been added, you can move it around using the Move tool. To get more controls on the imported model, go to Layers > 3D Layers > Transform 3D Model. The Options bar on top changes with several controls that let you rotate, roll, and move the model around. More advanced options such as changing the lighting and moving the camera around are also available. When you've made your changes, click on the Commit 3D Transform icon on the Options toolbar.

Modifying Textures 
3D models generally need a mix of materials and textures to get their look, and most artists use Photoshop to create their textures. Now you can use Photoshop to create the texture and preview it in Photoshop itself. Once you have the model in Photoshop, you will find the textures in use present as layers. Double-click on the texture you want to edit and Photoshop will open the file in a new window. Make the necessary changes and Save it. The changes will be reflected in the 3D model.

A Layered Cake 
Creating layers out of multiple images has always been a pain-and a lengthy process. The Load Files into Stack script allows you to do this in a single step. Go to File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack. Choose files if you want to select separate files or if you have all the images in a single folder choose folder from the dropdown. Click Browse and select the files and folders from the list. Click OK and a new file will be created with all the images put in separate layers.

Bet You Didn't Know 
Custom Workspaces 

Photoshop CS3 has workspace presets for different tasks which you can switch to quickly just like in AfterEffects. The workspace icon can be found at the top right corner of Photoshop CS3. Click on this and choose from one of the presets-Automation, Image Analysis, Painting and Retouching, etc. Any changes you make to the layout of the workspace can be saved as well by clicking on "Save Workspace".

Adding multiple images into separates layers is now effortless

Batch-Processing Images  
Photoshop's image processing function can help you batch-process multiple images in one go instead of changing parameters for every image one after another. You can find the image processor feature by going to File > Scripts > Image Processor. There are four steps that required to be set up. First, you select the images you want to process. Click the Open Images radio button and choose the folder where the images are present.

In the next step, select the location where you want the processed images to be dumped. The third step involves setting what format you wish to save the file and the quality level. You can also choose to resize it to another resolution. The final step is one of the more interesting ones. You can record actions-Photoshop's version of macros-which you can set to run all the steps you normally follow. 

When this is done, click the Run button to start the batch processing. You can also save the preset using the Save button, or load presets using the Load and Save buttons.

PowerPoint 2007

Managing presentations can be part of our professional life or just a way to quickly show funny or interesting photos to people through e-mail. We know of no better application than Microsoft's PowerPoint to do the job.
Create Photo Albums with PowerPoint
Creating photo albums can become a dilemma for some of us. PowerPoint 2007 has a feature that lets you create a photo slideshow within seconds. First click on the Insert tab in the ribbon. Click the Photo Album icon and choose New Photo Album. Click the File/Disk button to add images to the album.

Creating photo albums in PowerPoint to show your friends

Select the photos you want in the sideshow and click Insert. You can use the Up and Down arrows here to change the order of the photos. You can also alter the brightness, contrast, and orientation of the images. When you're done, click the Create button and your Photo Album is ready. You can now continue adding notes to each slide.

Recording Narrations
PowerPoint lets you record a voiceover for slides, which can be useful if you're not making your presentation to a live audience.

Record voice-overs for presentations for events you can't be present at

To record a narration, first click the Slide Show tab in the ribbon. Click the Record Narration icon. Here you have the option to change the microphone volume, quality, and where the file should be saved. Click OK once you're done with the changes. Click the Current Slide button if you want to record a voiceover starting from the current slide, or click the First Slide button if you want to start from the very beginning. The slideshow will then start and you can start speaking into the microphone. Click to switch to the next slide and continue speaking as necessary. When all the slides are done, you'll be asked whether you want to save the timings for each slide. Click Save.

Quickly Apply Transition Effects
Little visual details like transition effects can make presentations stand out. With older versions of PowerPoint, you were required to right-click on a slide, click on Slide Transition, and then choose from a list of effects from a sidebar

Transition effects for slides can be quickly accessed through the ribbon

In PowerPoint 2007, click the Animations tab in the ribbon. You will find a list of transition effects displayed as colourful icons. Click on the slide you want to change or set an effect to and choose a transition effect from the ribbon. Typically, you only see five or so effects, but the scrollbar and the drop-down will reveal a lot more.

PowerPoint 2007 also gives you other options like the ability to change or set sounds, timings, and speeds for the effect.

Accurate Placement
Placing elements and then aligning them or accurately placing them can be a little irritating, but is worth the effort. Click the object and use the direction keys to move them into place. Holding down [Ctrl] while you do this gives you pixel-accurate movement, which means you can move them even more closely and even more perfectly. Don't forget to use gridlines to align objects better-under the View tab, check the box against Gridlines.

Formatting Images
Previous Office versions would also let you do some changes to the images in your presentations but in a rather non-interactive manner. The new PowerPoint 2007 shows you live previews after every change made.

Click on an Image and click the Format tab that appears in the ribbon. Here a wide range of settings such as Picture Styles, Brightness, Contrast, and Colour parameters can be modified. Move your mouse over any of the styles and the preview will be shown on the image right in the slide.

Using SmartArt
SmartArt are designs and shapes to be used in presentations. The specialty with these is that their colours change to suit the theme you use for the presentation, so you don't have to worry about them individually.

Go to the Insert tab on the Ribbon and then select the SmartArt icon. A wide variety can be found here. The same goes for Shapes tool-their colours change accordingly as well.

Disable Image Compression
By default, PowerPoint 2007 compresses images put into a presentation while saving. While this saves file size, it can result in a loss of quality-which you might not always want.

To disable compression, select the Office Button > Save As. Then select Tools > Compress Pictures. Click Options. Uncheck the box against Automatically perform basic compression on Save. You can also change the density (pixels per inch) of the images saved.

Disable compressing of images to obtain better quality

Keep in mind that this option will only be set for the current presentation, which means you have to do this over again when you work on another presentation.

To enable this for all the presentations you make, you need to turn to the Registry (back up your Registry before proceeding). Start the Registry Editor. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice12.0PowerPointOptions. Create a new DWORD here. Call it AutomaticPictureCompressionDefault. The default value will be 0. This disables the automatic compression of pictures. If at anytime you want it enabled, double-click the DWORD and change its value to 1.

Save Presentations To The PowerPoint 97-2003 Format
Like the rest of the Office 2007 applications, PowerPoint 2007 saves files in the new .pptx format, so previous versions of Office are bound to have issues opening them.

Fix compatibility issues for previous Office version users by forcing saving to older formats

You can force PowerPoint 2007 to save presentations in an older PowerPoint format. Go to the Office Button and click PowerPoint Options. Go to Save in the left pane. Click on the drop-down menu for Save files in this format, and choose PowerPoint Presentation 97-2003.

The Developer Tab
The Developer tab in PowerPoint is a hidden tab in the ribbon. It allows you to create and run or edit macros. To enable it, click on the Office 

The Developer mode allows better control over macros

Button and then the PowerPoint Options button. Under the Popular section, check the box against Show Developer tab in the Ribbon. Click OK to save the changes. The Developer bar will appear in the ribbon on top and can be accessed by clicking on the tab.

Setting Up Layouts
The layout of presentation elements in a slide should be altered depending on the amount and type of information in it. Generally, the entire slide has a title, a footer, and text in between-usually numbered or bulleted items.

To modify layouts and create your own ones, go to the View tab in the ribbon and click the Insert Placeholder drop-down icon. Choose the type of media you intend to put in it. Next click and drag a box of the size you want in the slide.

Page Setup For Presentations
Depending on the type of projector or screen you use or the impact you need to deliver with a presentation, it is wise to change the resolution of the presentation accordingly. For example, presentations at standard 4:3 resolutions will look awkward on widescreens so while creating the presentation you would want it in that resolution or aspect ratio.

Page Setup allows you to create slides for different display or print setups

To change the page setup, simply go to the View tab in the ribbon and then click on Slide Master. Click on the Page setup icon and here, you can set what you want the slides sized for. A range of presets are available and you can enter your own custom size as well.

If you've chosen one of the readymade design themes or even created one by yourself, you want to be a little careful while changing the page setup-it can wreak havoc on the design.

Creating Custom Shows
If you have a really long slideshow, but don't need a lot of slides for a particular audience, the Custom Slide Show comes in handy.

Custom Shows give you the option to only show a small selection of slides

Open your presentation. To create your own custom show from this, click on the Slide Show tab in the ribbon. Next, click on the Custom Slide Show drop-down icon and click Custom Shows. Click New to create a new custom show. From the pane on the left, select the slides you want in the custom show and click Add. You can use the Up and Down arrows to change the order of the slides as well. Click OK.

To play the new show, click on the Custom Slide Show drop-down and click on the custom show you just created.

Changing Resolutions On The Fly
Large presentations with high-resolution images can be a burden on slower machines. To avoid any embarrassment during presentations, PowerPoint has a useful feature that can switch resolutions of the presentations down to more manageable levels.

PowerPoint gives you an option to switch resolutions just for playing back presentations

Click on the Slide Show tab on the ribbon. Under Monitors, click the Resolution drop-down and select a suitable resolution. The next time you run the slideshow, the resolution will be switched to the one you specified.

Pin Recent Presentations
Some presentations are visited more often than others. Instead of having to browse to the location and manually open up the presentation every time, you can choose to have the most-used presentations pinned to the Recent Files list.

Click on the Office Button and you will find the most-recently-opened presentations in the list to the right. To the right of each file, there's a pin icon that can be clicked to permanently pin the file to that list. Use the pin again to remove it.

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