Mini-article – Undo & Redo

By | October 1, 2006
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October 2006 Newsletter

Hello. This month you’ll find out how undo and redo can make your life easier. You’ll also read what I didn’t mention about printing last time…

Mini-article – Undo & Redo
These are two little tricks that can make using a PC so much easier.

In most programs (including Microsoft Word, Excel, graphics programs, Open Office, Wordpad) there’s a feature called “undo”. As the name suggests, it “un-does” the last thing you did. So if you accidentally turned a whole load of text italic by mistake you can just select undo and it puts it back the way you wanted. Or if you’re editing a photo in PictureIt and you make an area out of focus when you meant to make it sepia you can select undo and it’ll put it back. Usually you can find undo on the edit menu at the top of the screen. There’s also often a button that looks like an curved arrow up and to the left. The easiest way (once you know it) is to simply hold ctrl on the keyboard and tap the Z key. Nearly every program that has undo uses that as a keyboard shortcut for it.

One other great feature of undo is that in a lot of programs it’ll remember the last umpteen things you’ve done. That means you can undo them one at a time, all the way back – not just the most recent thing. So if you change the font, make the text bold and colour it red and then decide it was better the way it was, tap undo three times and you’re back where you were!

Not so many programs have a redo function but a lot (including the ones mentioned above) do. It “undoes the undo” or “redoes what you undid”. It might not sound that useful but here’s why it is so handy:

Say you want to compare two versions of something – for example a photo with or without a border. Add the border, then undo it. Then you can redo it, then undo to switch between the two options to compare them. See each one as many times as you like before deciding. Redo also lives on the edit menu and usually has an icon of a curved arrow up and to the right – which is normally on the toolbar next to the undo arrow. It doesn’t always have a keyboard shortcut but sometimes it’s Ctrl + Shift + Z.

Download of the month:
This one isn’t quite a download as such but it’s near enough. The Royal Mail have just introduce a service on their website where you can download postage. Go to and click on “delivery services”, “paying for your mail” and “online postage”. You then tell it how heavy your package is and what size. Then you put an envelope or sticky label in the printer and it prints out the postage. You can then post it in any normal postbox. To be honest, I can’t see it’ll be very useful for ordinary letters but when you have a package to send it could save you having to queue at the post office.

Reader’s Question
I tried to print just part of an email as you showed last month but the option “print selection” was grey and I couldn’t click on it. What should I do?
A few readers have mentioned this about some Epson and Brother printers. It turns out that there are some printers that don’t give you the option to print a selection. The key is the printer “driver”, which by a strange coincidence I also wrote about last time! For some printers you can download an up to date driver that lets you print selections. Some printers just aren’t set up to do this – then you could copy the text into Wordpad and print from there.

Word to the wise – “Vista” 
Vista is the name of the new version of Microsoft Windows, coming out later this year for businesses and early next year for individuals. It has extra security features, fancier graphics and a few other changes from Windows XP. Eventually, all new PCs will come with it on but for now, Windows XP is still fine! It was previously called “Longhorn”, while it was being developed and will need a pretty powerful PC to run properly.

That’s all for now – have a good month and you’ll hear from me again next month.

Tim Wakeling

All the above © Tim Wakeling 2006

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