Tech Tips for Techs: Outlook Signature Creation

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I recently had a client ask me how to input photos and hyperlinks into  his Outlook signatures, to make them stand-out better. I realized this is an often-overlooked art that should be well-known.

In order to recreate the steps necessary for this blog, I am using an Exchange account with Outlook 2010. Your results might vary.

In order to edit and create signatures, in Outlook 2010 you can browse to:

File –>Options –>Mail –>Signatures. 

This opens a window that allows you to create and edit your signatures. Let’s start by creating a new signature. 

Set up the normal text you need in the signature. As you can see, the options you are given is very similar to Word. You can modify the color, font and size of all text. Input everything you need and, once done, you are ready to insert hyperlinks and really take your signature to another level.

The first step is to download all of the photos you need in your signatures. Many professional social media sites give you links that they prefer you to use. Microsoft also gives you links and a brief tutorial here as well.

Once you have the photos downloaded, you can insert them into your signature. Click on the “insert picture” link, navigate to your photo, and insert it into your signature.

Sign1Once your picture is in the signature, click on it (you will see blocks appear around the picture) and click the hyperlink button.

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This opens a new window that allows you to type the hyperlink you need to input.

sign3The middle area does not matter what it is set on. You just to have to ensure you are choosing the first option on the left “Existing file or Web Page,” and then type the address properly in the address bar. Once you do that, you will have a clickable link in your signature!

A couple of things to note about Outlook signatures: The type of signature creation I am reviewing with you is only for users who can read HTML emails. If the client to whom you are sending an email cannot read HTML for their email (i.e. if they are using Outlook Web Access), then they can only see Plain Text.

Plain Text is a type of view that does not allow for pictures, or any editable features, such as colored, specialized fonts. I would also recommend creating a signature that you can use for Plain Text, should you need it. This is just a standard signature with no color, no special fonts, no pictures or hyperlinks. You can then pick and choose what signature to use. This is convenient to ensure any formatting you create always stays current with your brand.

Also, once you input the pictures, you do not need to save them on your machine, as once you input them into Outlook, Outlook takes the pictures and saves them into their AppData. If you set up your signature and test, be aware that if you are testing with an account that cannot send the email back in HTML, it will break the links.

One example is if you set up the links, then send to your Gmail account, and respond via Gmail on a smartphone, it will send the email back and the formatting will show the name of the picture, and NOT the picture itself (hyper-links will still work, but you won’t see your photo)

See below for an idea of what this looks like when you receive a reply that is not formatted in HTML:

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Pictures can be in any format that is acceptable for pictures (.gif, .jpeg, .png), and when you add them to your signature, it really enhances the look and marketability of your brand!

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Turning Off the Technology: How a tech unplugs

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Being a tech is hard on the mind and the body.  A majority of the job keeps you connected the computer for a large portion of your day. Whether it is working issues or researching more about an industry that is ever-changing and evolving every week, being so connected is a blessing and a curse. Keeping up with technology is like trying to win a marathon on a treadmill.  You are definitely making progress on improving yourself, but it is a race that has no end.  Living in world full of social media websites, blogs from all your favorite personalities, or just finding that next cat video to share with your office, it can easily turn from a way to pass the time into a routine that you don’t even know you have.

Until you miss a few days.

I often find it beneficial to “disconnect,” a term I mean to be synonymous with turning off your gadgets, disconnecting from the internet, and looking out a window instead of a pc monitor.  Otherwise, eventually, you will get burned out.

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I enjoy hiking, camping, and just working up a sweat in the mountains.  My personal disconnect is going backpacking.  Backpacking is essentially just planning a hike that will take days, weeks, or even months to finish.  I am still very new to it, but it is quickly turning into a well-looked-forward-to event every year.

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James, standing – third from left, with fellow hikers on a 4-day/25-mile/tech-free hike in July 2014. The only electronics they bring on these trips are a gps and walkie talkie for emergencies and a flashlight.

Ironically, the guys I plan the trip with are also in tech fields. They are just as eager to wander around in the woods as I am. There is just something about staring at the stars from the tops of mountains that can really re-align you. Looking around at the world (instead of at your mobile every minute to check your emails, text, and notification) is jarring and strange at first for the tech junkie, but a few days into it you could care less.

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That is just my way of disconnecting.  Yours doesn’t have to be as drastic, by any means.  Small things count, too. Plan to take a walk or run around a lake once a week, maybe even  twice a month have a “No Power” family day where you turn off the mobiles, televisions, computer and play board games.  Reclaim your imagination!

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Remove yourself from the internet with Just Delete Me

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Social media, gaming hubs and other internet websites come and go.  Its very easy to forget to remove your accounts from websites that you don’t use anymore.  Just Delete Me is a site that provides you with direct links to doing just that.

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Just Delete Me is website that is dedicated to you.  They are providing the links and step by step processes to remove personal accounts.  Each one is color coded. Green is easy, yellow is medium, red is difficult, and black is impossible.

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Clicking on the page will take you to the sign in page, that will allow to you to remove your account so there is no searching for it.

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The Power of Social Media: What Not To Do!

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It’s probably safe to say most small business owners understand the importance of having a presence on the web. Perhaps you have a company site, Facebook, Linked In, YouTube, Twitter, or all of the above. If done right, you have an opportunity to find customers and promote your business literally at your fingertips. Great ideas or products from even a small business can quickly spread like wildfire on social media.

One family owned restaurant in Arizona recently was on Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. Essentially, the show comes in and points out flaws with the intention to give the business feedback to improve while trying to make an entertaining television show. Having an opportunity to get on TV would be a great way to get your business exposure. Unfortunately for the couple who owns this restaurant they were called out on some questionable practices and did not take criticism well. The show recently aired and naturally some people on social media criticized their business practices further.

This provoked the owners to start lashing out at everyone openly on their Facebook page. Word of this spread quickly to other social media sites and started drawing masses of people to their page to see what the commotion was about. The insults and threats only continued from the owners in multiple posts further hurting their business. While watching this drama play out may be entertaining to some, it’s important to remember how quickly things can spread: either good or bad. Forbes has created a good article on tips regarding use of social media in light of this.

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Draw on your screen in Firefox

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Have you ever had those days when your trying to explain something to someone and wished you could draw on the computer screen? Or maybe you are like me and give computer support, where being able to draw on the screen can make things clearer for the people we are trying to help. Then there are times when you would like to add comments to the screen and save the results, for reference in the future? If you use the Firefox browser, there is a free add-on that lets you draw or type on any web page and save the screen as a JPG or PNG if you wish.

It’s called Screen Draw and is available at this Mozilla link. When installed it adds a pencil icon to your Firefox toolbar. Clicking the icon opens the toolbar shown on the left.

The toolbar has the functions Clear, Save, Text, Erase, and Brush. There is also a slider to adjust the size of text or of the drawing brush. Configuring of colors and font can be done from the Firefox Add-Ons Manager with the dialog shown in the figure below.

Screen Draw may have fewer features than some commercial programs but it is free and sufficient for situations where you want a simple way to draw or to place comments on a Firefox page.