Stop looking for features, ask Tell Me instead

How many times have you looked for a specific feature, going from menu to menu, desperately watching at the ribbon? Honestly, it happens to me all the time. Why? For a simple reason: although each menu item has been thoroughly tested, everybody’s logic is different and what may seem logic for somebody may not be for somebody else. Let’s take two, not so simple, examples. The first in Word. You want to add some footnotes to your text. If you go the Insert menu, no footnote. Well footnotes are actually references, and therefore are in the References menu. Not my logic. So instead of losing my time trying to find the right menu item, I directly go to the Tell Me text box.

Tell Me or the magical light bulb

The Tell Me box is right next to the view menu. Look for the light bulb (or press Alt-Q). All I have to do is click the box and type what I want. In my case: insert a footnote.

As you will type, the drop down list will display the most logical item. In our case, the Footnote menu item. And if you press the Enter key, a new Footnote will automatically be created where your text pointer was.

Note: if your footnote as not been created at the right place, press Ctrl-Z to cancel it, move your pointer to the right place, and go to Tell Me again.

One of the beauty of Tell Me is it has memory. So if you come back later, want to insert a footnote and do not remember how to do it, click Tell Me and voilà, the drop down displays the recently used menu items.

Tell Me works across all Office apps

Let’s take another example in PowerPoint. Sometimes, we want to put objects in front of others, for instance a text above a picture. Doing this requires to first select the object we want to work with, then start typing “bring”, and immediately Tell Me proposes Bring to Front as the first option.

So you will say, wow, it looks so easy, there’s should be a catch! Well sometimes, Tell Me does not work the way we expect. We may need to change the words we use. For instance, in the PowerPoint example above, if we start typing “get to”, the drop down will not propose Bring to Front immediately. The option will appear only when we start typing “front”. And sometimes, it may not appear at all. For instance, type “put above” and nothing will come up. If something like this happens, try to use synonyms and there’s a big chance Tell Me will find what you’re looking for.

Tell Me is a new feature of Office 2016 (all editions). I can say it’s one of those features that when you’re used to it, it’s very difficult to go back to not having it.

Have fun with Tell Me!

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