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OpenOffice.org Tips and Tricks: Customization, PDFs, and Smart Image Management

Personalizing Your OOo Options

  • September 15, 2008
  • By Eric Geier

We're back again with more tips and tricks on transitioning to OpenOffice.org (OOo). We've covered a lot of ground already; we've added features, figured out how to do things in OOo that differ from MS Office, and tried to make you more comfortable during your transition. This tutorial continues by highlighting OOo Options you may want to change, discusses the PDF exporting feature, and shows how to overcome two issues you may encounter when working with images.

Just like in other office suites, OOo gives you loads of options you can configure to change the interface and features of the applications. Many settings are perfectly fine as set by default, however as discussed in this section, you may find it useful to change a few. To get started, open the Options dialog window by clicking Tools - Options.

First up is the User Data dialog window (see Figure 1), under the main OpenOffice.org section. Here you can enter your personal information, such as your name, address, and email address. Entering this info here can save time later when using related fields in documents. For instance, you could insert the Author and/or other fields containing personal or contact info into the footer of a template. Therefore, the author's pertinent information will automatically appear in the printouts. In the business, this approach would be great for a company's memo template, so the memo will automatically load in the supervisor's info.

In the dialog window below, labeled General, you'll find the spot (see Figure 2) to turn the Extended tips feature on or off. Though disabled by default, enabling this feature can really help you learn about the features in OOo. When hovering over toolbar icons, menu commands, and controls in dialogs, a short but sweet summary of the button or feature appears, as seen in Figure 3.

Tip: If you discover these extended tips are useful, but find they disappear too quickly, you can increase the default 4-second display time to something longer. This setting, labeled Help tips disappear after, is on the Accessibility dialog window.

In the Memory dialog window, you'll find where you can disable or enable OpenOffice.org Quickstarter. This application loads to the system tray during boot to give you quick access to the OOo applications, shortcuts to create blank documents or open documents, and a shortcut to the templates. If you find yourself not using these shortcuts and rather save a bit of boot power, you may want to disable the feature.

Skipping down to the General dialog window of the Load/Save section, you'll find where you can specify the AutoRecovery save interval. As you may know too well, office suites automatically save your documents at a set interval (15 minutes by default in OOo), so if the suite or your system crashes, hopefully you won't lose all your work. You'll probably find this AutoRecovery feature is even more useful when OOo auto saves more often. To increase the frequency of auto saves simply change the Minutes field of the Save AutoRecovery information every setting.

The next change you may want to make is on the Writing Aids dialog window, under the Language Settings section. In the Options list box, you may find enabling the Check uppercase words option useful. That way uppercased words will be checked for spelling as well. You probably want your uppercase words and sentences to be understandable.

The last setting we'll highlight is the default font settings for OOo Writer documents. Instead of changing the font of your documents each time you start typing, you can make your favorite show up automatically on your new documents. Get rid of the mundane Times New Roman! When you're ready to select your default font settings, move to the Basic Fonts (Western) dialog box under the OpenOffice.org Writer section.

Tip: The Options window doesn't give a visual of the actual fonts, rather a simple list of the font names. If you don't already have a favorite font in mind, you can close the Options window, pull down the font list from the toolbar in Writer, and checkout all the fonts.


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