Tag Archives: step-by-step

2 free days for the KDP how-to books

I should probably stretch these promotions out but…meh, let’s have some fun. 🙂

Okay, from October 23 to 24 [2 days], the ebook version of How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing and How to Print Non-Fiction with Kindle Direct Publishing will be free on Amazon:

The difference between the two books is that the How to…Novel is pitched at absolute beginners while the How to Non-Fiction is for self-publishers who have to deal with lots of graphics. Oh and the How to Non-Fiction has a new Index of Links at the very back. You can find it by looking at the bottom of the Table of Contents.

If you’re just interested in the KDP side of the equation, both books cover the same information. This includes three appendices that contain information specifically for Aussie authors.

Both how-to books are in colour and fixed layout:

Although you can pinch-and-zoom with fixed format ebooks, you can’t change the font size to suit your comfort zone. That’s why I made the font size 24. On my Kindle Fire, that size is like a normal size 12 font in a paperback. I also made the pictures as ‘visible’ as possible so you wouldn’t have to keep zooming in and out all the time. I haven’t tried either book on a phone so if anyone gives it a try I’d love to know how well [or badly] it works.

Fixed format ebooks can only be read on one of the Kindle Fires or via the free Kindle app.  You can get the app. for a variety of devices at this web address:

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/fd/kcp

The free promotion should start at midnight tomorrow for the Northern hemisphere. For us Aussies, it will begin at about 6 pm tomorrow.  I genuinely hope lots of people download the books, and I would really, really appreciate the odd review. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


How to work with images in Word 2016 (Part 1)

Strictly speaking, Word is a wordprocessor not a graphics application. Neverthelss, it does offer a small, but functional range of tools for do-it-yourselfers. So whether you’re an Indie creating a cookbook of favourite recipes, a student putting together a thesis, or simply someone with a report to write that includes a lot of graphics, this series of posts is for you.

Changing Word defaults

As mentioned in the introduction, Word is primarily a wordprocessor. More importantly, it is a wordprocessor for business applications, so it automatically reduces image quality in order to provide the best overall result for business documents. To control the quality of the images in your document, you have to change two of the Word defaults: image compression and image resolution. Both of these settings can be found in File/Options.

To begin, open your manuscript in Word and click the blue File tab on the Ribbon.

Select ‘Options’ from the navigation pane on the left:

Word now displays the Options dialog box:

  1. Click Advanced to display the Advanced options on the right hand side of the dialog box. Scroll down until you see ‘Image Size and Quality’.
  2. Tick the box next to ‘Do not compress images in file’.
  3. Next, click the small arrow next to ‘Default resolution’. This will display a drop down list.
  4. Select the option for ‘High Fidelity’ as shown in the screenshot above.
  5. Click the OK button to exit the Options dialog box.

Now, when you add an image to your document, you will be in control of the quality of the image.

Inserting an image

If you are working with images, chances are you already know how to insert an image into a Word document. Still, it doesn’t hurt to cover the basics so this is how you place an image in a document.

Click the cursor at the location where you want the image to go [roughly].

Click Insert on the Ribbon and select the ‘Picture’ option:

Note: the ‘Picture’ option is for images saved to your computer. ‘Online Pictures’ allows you to search the internet for pictures and paste them directly into your document. Quite apart from copyright issues, ‘Online Pictures’ is not a good option because you can’t control the size or quality of the image you import into your document.

Locate the required image on your computer and select it.

Word will automatically resize large images to fit the space available. It will also place the image ‘In Line with Text’. This is the default ‘Wrap Text’ setting, and it will ‘lock’ the image to the text at that location.

Wrap Text Settings

The ‘Wrap Text’ settings determine how the image will interact with the text. If you leave ‘In Line with Text’ as the setting, you will be able to change the size of the image, but you will not be able to move it.

There are two ways of changing the ‘Wrap Text’ settings of an image. The first is via the Ribbon. The second is via the small icon displayed next to the image.

Wrap Text via the Ribbon

Click an image to select it.

This will open the Picture Tools/Format menu:

The available ‘Wrap Text’ settings show ‘In Line with Text’ at the top of the list. Next to each setting is an icon that represents the function of that particular setting. The same icons are shown on the mini menu available next to each image.

The Wrap Text mini menu

When you select an image, it is displayed with ‘handles’ around the outside and a small icon to the right:

 

Click that icon to display the mini menu of ‘Wrap Text’ settings.

The mini menu displays the same icons as the ‘WrapText’ option on the Ribbon, but it does not label those icons so it’s only useful once you know what each icon represents.

 

The Wrap Text Icons

In Line with Text

This is the default option for each new image. It does not allow the image to move freely.

 

Square, Tight & Through

These three options make the text flow around the image on four sides. There are minor variations, but the image will look as if it’s ‘boxed’ in by the text.

Note: click-hold-and-drag the image to position it horizontally in the paragraph from the far left through to the far right.

Top & Bottom

This option pushes the text above and below the image, like bread in a ‘sandwich’.

Note: the image is locked to the paragraph that comes before it. If text is deleted above this paragraph, and there is not enough room for both paragraph and image to ‘move up’, neither will, resulting in a gap on the page. To fix: reduce the image size or change the text wrapping.

Behind Text

This option allows the image to become the background with the text sitting on top of it.

Note: the image can be hard to select if you need to do any editing.

In Front of Text

This option allows the image to float over the top of the text. It will also obscure any text beneath it.

To select any of the ‘Wrap Text’ options, simply click the icon that represents the setting you wish to use.

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Barcodes for Indie Authors – updated June 6, 2018

I’m assuming that any Indies reading this post will have gone through the same frustrations that I did, so I’ll jump straight into the how-to part of the post. Once that’s done, I’ll talk about barcodes in general and discuss why you might want one. Let’s do it!

There are only TWO things you need to create your own, free barcode:

  1. an ISBN for your book
  2. a free online barcode generator

In Canada you can get an ISBN for free. In the US and Australia, you can buy an ISBN from a company called Bowker. The web address for the Australian company is:

https://www.myidentifiers.com.au/

If you want to know where to buy an ISBN for your own country, go to the website of the International ISBN Agency:

https://www.isbn-international.org/agencies

You should be looking at a screen like this:

Click the small down arrow [circled in red] to display a drop down list of countries. Scroll down to your country and click it. You should now see a detailed contact screen for the ISBN agency in your country. In the example shown below, I clicked on ‘United Kingdom and Ireland’:

Once you have your ISBN, you can go to the following website to use the free, barcode generator [you do not have to register first]:

https://www.bookow.com/index.php

On the Home page, select ‘Free ISBN-13 Bookland Barcode Generator’ as shown below:

You should now be looking at a page like this:

  1. From the top of the page, type in your 13 digit ISBN, including the hyphens [or cut and paste it in].
  2. Next, type 90000 in the Price textbox. This ensures that the scanner checks the bookshop’s own database for pricing.
  3. Type your email address, twice.
  4. Click inside the ‘Consent to email’ checkbox.
  5. Leave the DPI at the default [300].
  6. Now you have a choice of getting the barcode as a PDF file or as a PNG file. I find the PNG file easier to work with but the choice is yours. Either way you’ll end up with a picture of the barcode that’s been generated from your ISBN.
  7. Save the barcode to your computer.
  8. Insert the barcode into the back page of your book cover graphic.

Done. 🙂

Now for some of the explanatory stuff. Firstly, there are basically two kinds of barcodes [gross over simplification but work with me]. The first is for ‘things’ such as soap, toothpaste, butter etc. To get barcodes for these products, you have to register with GS1. This process is quite involved, but luckily it does not apply to books. 🙂

Books are covered by a completely different barcode that requires only an ISBN and a second, smaller code that simply tells the bookshop scanner where to look for the pricing information. If you want to get technical about it, this is a Bookland EAN-13 + 5-digit add-on type barcode. The one I created for my print book of Vokhtah looks like this:

The ISBN is displayed [in writing] twice, once at the top and once at the bottom. The 90000 barcode is added to the right of the main barcode.

Now, why would you need a barcode?

If you are using Print-On-Demand [POD] via CreateSpace or Amazon KDP, you will not have to worry about a barcode at all. If you get a free ISBN from either company, they will automatically generate a barcode from that ISBN and insert it into the cover for you. If you use your own, private ISBN, CreateSpace and Amazon KDP will also generate a barcode and insert it into the cover for you. But. Not all POD printers provide free ISBNs or barcodes, so if your chosen printer says you have to provide your own barcode, you now know how to do it…for FREE! Well, except for the ISBN but you have to pay for that anyway.  🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


#KDP Cover Creator – in words and pictures

After reviewing the Amazon KDP print-on-demand process, and finding it wanting, I thought I’d better provide a guide to the Cover Creator do’s and don’ts.

To begin…

If you have already published an ebook with KDP:

  1. Log in to KDP
  2. Go to your Bookshelf
  3. Find the ebook for which you want to create a paperback version and click ‘+ Create Paperback’

If you have not published with KDP before but have an ordinary Amazon account, go to the website:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/

And sign in with your Amazon ID and Password. If you don’t have an Amazon account, click the big, yellow ‘Sign Up’ button and follow the registration instructions.

Once you’ve logged in to KDP, click the ‘+ Paperback’ button as shown below:

To work…

You should now be looking at the first page of the paperback setup screen. New authors will need to fill in the required details before they click ‘Save and Continue’ at the bottom of the screen. Existing authors will find the details already filled in using the details from the ebook.

Page 2 of the setup contains more questions, and down near the bottom half of the page you’ll find the Cover Creator option:

Click the yellow, ‘Launch Cover Creator’ button if you want to use the app to create a cover for your book.

[Note: if you already have a cover, you can upload it by clicking the ‘Upload a cover you already have…’ radio button instead. Covers must be in PDF format and they must be the appropriate size for whichever trim size you have chosen – i.e. for the physical dimensions of your book, including the spine]

You should now be looking at the ‘How to Use Cover Creator’ window:

This is essentially just an overview of the process. Click the ‘Continue’ button.

Next, you will be asked to choose a background picture for your cover. You have three options – use a free, KDP image, use your own image or skip this step:

Point at the options to see a description of that option. If you want to use your own image, click ‘From My Computer’ and select the appropriate file to use in the templates. If you’re not ready to select an image yet, click ‘Skip This Step’. You will be prompted later to select an image for the cover. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be using the free images from the KDP gallery.

From Image Gallery…

The images in the KDP gallery are organised in categories. When you select one of the main categories listed on the left hand side of the window, the sub-categories will display on the right hand side. In the example shown below, the main category selected is ‘Backgrounds’:

Clicking one of the sub-categories will take you to the actual images. In the example shown below, I clicked on one of the images from the ‘Abstract’ sub-category:

Alternatively, I could have typed a keyword into the search box to narrow down my search.

Once you find the image you want, click the orange ‘Use this Image’ button.

Cover Creator inserts the chosen image into all of the available templates and displays them for you to choose the one you like the best:

Click the left and right direction arrows to see all the available templates [11]. When you find one you like, click it.

You should now be looking at the ‘Quick Tutorial’:

This is just a simple overlay that explains the purpose of the buttons, icons and guidelines. Click the ‘Dismiss’ button to get rid of the overlay.

While the overlay is helpful, it completely ignores the most basic elements of the screen – i.e. how to enter your own blurb on the back cover!

When you dismiss the tutorial overlay, this is what you will see:

The triangular orange alerts are there to tell you how to replace the nonsense text with real text. Point to an alert to see a description of what it’s about. Generally, to replace the nonsense text, simply click in the relevant paragraph. This will clear all text and allow you to type, or copy/paste, the correct text onto the cover.

Easy, right? Not quite. For reasons I can’t fathom, the default font size for the paragraphs is not the same as the text shown. For example, the font for the author bio is huge, so before you type in the blurb, you have to set the font style and size via the editing bar as shown below:

Click the small down arrow to display the list of available fonts. Click a font to select it.

Next, click the small down arrow next to ‘Auto Fit’ and select a font size because…auto fit doesn’t work and the font is still huge. As far as I could tell, selecting the size of the font is a case of trial and error. The alignment options seem to work, as do the font colour and drop shadow options, but no matter what I tried, the Bold and Italic options remained greyed out.

Once you have all the back cover text entered properly, click on the ‘Author Photo’ icon. You will see two options – ‘From My Computer’ and ‘Skip This Step’:

Down the very bottom, in tiny blue letters, you should also see a link to the ‘KDP image guidelines’. -grinds teeth- Clearly this screen has been re-used without adjusting for context. Clicking this link does provide some very important information about cover images – i.e. if you choose to use your own image – but it provides absolutely nothing about the Author Photo. Luckily, Cover Creator resizes the Author Photo to fit automatically.

But… All photos are not equal. First I tried a photo of 527 x 532 pixels, and it worked perfectly. Then I tried a much smaller one – 157 x 202 pixels. Cover Creator inserted it into the available space but came back with a problem. It thought the photo was less than 300 DPI. Actually, both photos were 300 DPI so the size had clearly triggered some glitch.

For your information, the following photo size seems to work well:

500 x 500 pixels or

1.667 x 1.667 inches or

42.33 x 42.33 millimeters

With the blurb and Author Photo taken care of, it’s time to edit the rest of the template. First up are the template colours. Click the paintbrush tab beneath your cover:

This will display an editing bar:

The options on the left allow you to select each colour individually from a pallet of colours. The options on the right are colour sets that work well together. If you are choosing your colours individually, be very careful that the background and font colour are a good contrast to each other. If they are too similar, the text will be very hard to read.

The next tab is the layout tab:

Clicking this tab displays a selection of preset layouts:

And finally, there’s the font tab:

This option is for Title, Sub-title [if you want one] and Author Name. It provides a series of font ‘sets’:

Click the left and right arrows to see all the sets, and try them out. Click one to select it.

[Note: I’m not sure if the fonts were all very similar or I’m just going blind, but they all looked the same the me. Of course, this might be a display glitch…]

If you want to insert a sub-title, you have to click around the cover until the sub-title text box suddenly appears. Kind of lame. Type in your sub-title.

Although finding the sub-title is not intuitive at all, one nice feature is that you can select any piece of text – e.g. Title, Sub-title, Blurb, Spine etc – and change its colour using the Text Colour option on the editing bar:

 

You can also change the font and font size, which makes me wonder why you’d bother with a Text tab in the first place. -shrug-

When you’ve finished tweaking the cover, click the ‘Preview’ button and sit back while the system puts the finished preview together. Depending on how big the cover files are, this can take a while.

If you’re satisfied with the appearance of the cover, click the ‘Save and Submit’ button at the bottom of the preview screen:

The cover file will be saved automatically, and you can continue with the rest of the setup for your print book.

I hope this helps,

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 


31 Self-publishing Tips 4 Absolute Beginners

  1. Print-On-Demand is new tech that allows books to be printed one at a time instead of in hundreds.
  2. Print-On-Demand means authors don’t have to buy 100’s of their own print books.
  3. 3 biggest Print-On-Demand printers are CreateSpace [Amazon], Lulu and IngramSpark. Amazon KDP is now offering print as well.
  4. Lulu & IngramSpark have print facilities in Australia. Both are more expensive than CreateSpace or KDP but you save a lot in postage [and time].
  5. Aussie authors wanting to print with IngramSpark must have an ABN and pay a $53 setup fee for each book.
  6. Aussie authors wanting to get an ABN should read this how to first: https://acflory.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/how-to-apply-for-an-abn-the-basics/
  7. Print-On-Demand works with standard trim sizes only. For table of trim sizes see : https://www.createspace.com/Special/Pop/book_trimsizes-pagecount.html
  8. Trim size = physical size of book after pages glued inside cover & trimmed.
  9. Page size templates for all trim sizes can be found on CreateSpace forums: https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1323
  10. Convert Word A4 pages to trim size pages via the Word Page Setup dialog box.
  11. ISBN = 13 digit no. that identifies your book worldwide.
  12. Buy your own ISBN or accept the free one offered by CreateSpace and KDP.
  13. Aussie authors can buy ISBNs from Thorpe-Bowker: https://www.myidentifiers.com.au/
  14. As a rule of thumb, print, ebook & audiobooks all need their own ISBN.
  15. Books printed via CreateSpace are listed on Amazon automatically.
  16. To publish Kindle ebooks go to: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
  17. Amazon supplies ebooks with ASIN identifiers so ISBN not strictly necessary.
  18. If you want to ‘go wide’ & sell with other retailers as well as Amazon, your own ISBN is a must.
  19. Most POD printers prefer PDF files but will accept Word files.
  20. Before converting from Word to PDF, ensure all Word fonts are embedded in the document. See:  https://acflory.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/how-to-make-word-16-embed-all-your-fonts/
  21. File/Export completed Word doc. to PDF. Then upload that PDF to the POD printer of your choice. 
  22. With CreateSpace, royalty = List Price – Print costs.
  23. With CreateSpace, Print costs= Sales Channel % + Fixed Charges + Per Page Charge.
  24. With CreateSpace, Standard sales channel % = 40% of List Price, Expanded sales channel % = 60%. 
  25. Spine of cover = trim size & no. of pages. See: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do 
  26. Total page no. of book = pages AFTER conversion to chosen trim size [not A4 Word pages].
  27. Amazon deducts 30% withholding tax from each sale. Aussies can claim exemption to reduce tax to 5%.
  28. Withholding tax exemption: US TIN = Australian Tax File No.
  29. Aussie authors must deposit 1 copy of each published book with the National Library of Australia: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit
  30. Aussie authors must also deposit 1 copy of each published book with their state library: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit/australia-wide
  31. Aussie authors – for Legal Deposit FAQ see:https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit-faq

 

 

 


How to Modify Styles in Word 2016

The following excerpt is from my unpublished how-to called ‘How to print your book with Createspace, a step-by-step guide for Absolute Beginners’. The specific instructions are for the layout of a book, but you can change the settings to be appropriate for any document.

# # #

Word Styles

Styles contain pre-set groups of commands that determine how headings and paragraphs appear.

The most commonly used Word styles are found on the Home tab, in the Style gallery [as shown below]:

 

Even if you did not select any of the styles in the Style Gallery while writing your book, there is one style that you would have used without even being aware of it. That style is ‘Normal’.

Note: the only time the Normal Style is not used automatically in a Word document is when the document originated in another software program and was imported into Word. For example, the Windows program ‘Notepad’ creates documents in Rich Text Format. RTF documents can be opened in Word but the Normal style must be applied manually.

Every time you create a new document in Word, it automatically sets that document to the ‘Normal’ style settings. These include:

  • the default font [Calibri],
  • the font size [11],
  • the font colour [automatic – i.e. black],
  • the text alignment [left]
  • and a host of other less immediately visible options.

As part of the design process, you can modify some of these options for your book.

Modifying the ‘Normal’ style

In Word, the easiest way to modify an existing style is to right click on its name in the style gallery. This will cause a small menu to be displayed. On that menu is an option called ‘Modify’:

To change elements of the ‘Normal’ style in your document, right click ‘Normal’ in the Style gallery and select the ‘Modify’ option from the drop down list [as shown above].

You should now see the ‘Modify Style’ dialog box:

The first thing to note is the radio button down near the bottom left corner of the dialog box. The option ‘Only in this document’ is pre-selected to ensure that any changes made to the ‘Normal’ style of this document do not become standard for all  Word documents.

Editing the style name

Up near the top of the dialog box you will see the style name. Editing the name is not necessary, but it can be useful as a reminder that the style was changed.

To change the name of the style, simply click inside the Name text box and type in a new one.

Editing the font, size, colour and alignment

You can change the font and font size just as you would on the Home tab. Remember to also select the ‘Justify’ alignment option.

To change the colour of the font, click the small arrow next to the box that says ‘Automatic’ [as shown below]:

Click the colour of your choice or leave it as Automatic, i.e. black.

Editing the paragraph options

All of the less common stylistic functions are hidden behind the ‘Format’ button which is located on the bottom left hand side of the Modify Style window.

Click ‘Format’ and select the ‘Paragraph’ option from the menu:

The paragraph dialog box is now displayed:

As you can see from the screenshot, the alignment is already shown as ‘Justified’ because we set it in the first dialog box along with the font and font size.

Indentation – leave the Left and Right settings at zero, but under ‘Special’, click the small blue arrow [as shown above]. Now select the ‘First line’ option from the drop-down menu. For By: type or select an indent width for the first line of the paragraph.

Check the preview pane to see how the first line indent appears.

Spacing – ensure that ‘Before’ and ‘After’ are both set to zero. These numbers control the blank spaces inserted before and after each paragraph.

Finally, make sure that the ‘Line spacing’ is set to ‘Single’. When you are satisfied, click the ‘OK’ button.

If you are using Word 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016, any text already using the ‘Normal’ style will be automatically updated to the new settings..

In earlier versions of Word you may have to manually update the text using the modified style.

# # #

These same techniques can be used to edit any of the Word Styles, not just ‘Normal’.

cheers

Meeks


#Windows 10 updates – #Metered Connection

This how-to is for all non-US users of Windows 10 who have capped broadband plans – i.e. only get XX gigabytes of data per month.

Pre-Step A

Go to:

  1. Start
  2. Settings
  3. Update & Security
  4. Windows Update
  5. Advanced Options

Now make sure ‘Choose How Updates are Installed’ is set to ‘Automatic (recommended)’ as shown below:

update auto is on

[Note: if this option is set to ‘Notify to reschedule restart’ at this point, Windows becomes…confused and could go into a perpetual loop. Mine did and I had to do a hard shutdown to get it to stop].

Step 1 – Finding the ‘Metered connection’ option

Click on the Start button and then select:

  1. Settings
  2. Network and Internet
  3. Wifi
  4. Advanced Options

Under ‘Metered connection’, click the slider button to show ‘on’:

metered connection

Step 2 – changing how Windows 10 updates are scheduled

Now go back to:

  1. Settings
  2. Update & security
  3. Windows update
  4. Advanced options

and under ‘Choose how updates are installed’, change ‘Automatic’ to ‘Notify to schedule restart’.

Now, Windows 10 will notify you of:

  • available updates, and
  • how much broadband they will use

but it will not download and install them automatically. This is what my laptop now shows:

new update option

My heartfelt thanks to The Opening Sentence for showing me where the ‘Metered connection’ option was hiding! I feel a lot better now. 🙂

cheers
Meeks


#howto – search for an image on the internet

My thanks to Pinky for showing me how to do this! Now for the why. The answer is the big C. No, not cancer, copyright.

If you are just downloading pictures off the internet for your own enjoyment, and no, I’m not going to go there, then copyright is not an issue. The instant you use one of those images in anything vaguely commercial, even a simple blog post, you have to be sure you’re not infringing on someone’s copyright.

But how do you do that when you have no idea where the picture originally came from?

This is where Google Images comes in. Google has long been the king of word searches, but now it also lets you search by picture [and voice], and it all starts in the familiar Google search box…sort of.

How to find Google Images

If you are using Google Chrome then it’s easy. Simply click on the ‘Images’ option in the top, right hand corner of the screen:

googleimages 1

That will lead to this:

googleimages 2If you’re using some other browser [I use Firefox], type http://images.google.com into the address box of your browser and hit Enter :

googleimages 3[Note: as soon as the page is displayed, the URL changes to ‘https‘. As I’m a purist I always type the plain ‘http’.]

You should now be looking at this:

googleimages 4[Note: in Firefox, the Google search box does not include the ability to search by voice. This is only available in Chrome.]

How to actually do an image search

Whatever route you took to get here, you should now click on the small icon of a camera as shown above. That will lead to this:

googleimages 5

The ‘Search by image’ dialogue box contains two tabs – Paste image URL, and Upload an image.

Click the tab to Upload an image. This is what you will see:

googleimages 6

Click the ‘Browse’ button as shown. This will allow you to browse your own computer in order to find the image to be searched:

googleimages 7

The next bit assumes that you know how to find your way around the Windows files and folders. If you don’t, you can find a step-by-step how-to here.

Find the folder that contains the image you’re interested in. Click on that image and then click on ‘Open’ [as shown in the screenshot above].

And now the magic happens. Google search will think for a moment or two and then it will present you with the closest match it can find on the internet. This is the result for my image:

googleimages 8

As the image I chose is from a game, I did not expect to get a perfect match, and I didn’t. That’s because game avatars, even when customised, are based on a preset image. So they’re not unique. Photos of people and/or drawings etc., are unique, so they’re easier to find.This also means that if you use a copyrighted image in your blog, it can be found. So be careful!

cheers

Meeks

 


Gmail for Beginners, Part 5 – opening an attachment & attaching a picture [Windows 7]

Part 1, Getting Started is here.
Part 2, Finding and Reading emails is here.
Part 3, Replying to an email & Saving a Contact is here.
Part 4, Composing an email & inserting a smiley is here.

Warning! Some of the screenshots and step-by-step instructions appearing in Part 5 are only applicable to Windows 7.

The screenshots and instructions pertaining to Gmail – i.e. how to open an attachment – will be the same for everyone, but the instructions for finding a picture on your PC [in order to attach it to an email] will only be relevant to Windows 7 users. This is because people using other operating systems – such as a MAC or Windows XP, Vista, or one of the 8’s – may not see the same things on their own PCs.

What are attachments?

Attachments are simply files that you send along with your email message. Most of these files cause no problems whatsoever, but some hackers will use attachments to sneak viruses onto your computer. These viruses are triggered when you ‘open’ the attachment. For this reason, ALL attachments should be treated with caution.

Internet security and staying safe

When I first started browsing the internet I thought I would be safe from viruses because, well, you know, how would a hacker even know I existed? It was not as if I was someone important.

-blushes with embarrassment-

What I did not know was that hackers do not care about me personally. In fact, they do not target me at all. Quite simply, hackers throw out huge, baited nets and wait to see what bites. And yes, my PC did get infected.

I’ve learned a lot since then, and one of the things I’ve learned is to be very, very wary of attachments. Before I click on an attachment I check a couple of things carefully:

  • do I know the sender? If the answer is ‘no’, I automatically assume the attachment is suspect and  delete the whole email,
  • does the sender [someone I do know] sound a bit odd – i.e. is the email a generic sounding one-liner such as ‘hi, thought you might like this’ or something similar? If it is, I’ll delete the email and the attachment first and apologise, if necessary, later.

This lack of certainty when it comes to attachments brings me to a bit of netiquette – if you are sending someone an attachment, it is a really good idea to tell them about it in the email message itself.  It’s a small thing but will reassure the recipient the attachment is safe to open.

As a general rule, however, I will never open an attachment if the filename ends in ‘.exe’ or ‘.zip’.

[Note: for a description of filenames, seeHow can you tell what’s a picture file and what isn’t?below].

There are exceptions to this rule of thumb, but beginners should probably delete first and ask questions later.

So what attachments are safe to open?

Picture files are generally safe to open, unless there is something else suspicious about the email – e.g. it’s from someone you’ve never heard of, or promises something unsavoury.

How can you tell what’s a picture file and what isn’t?

Like people, files have a ‘first name’ and a ‘family’ name. The ‘first name’ describes what’s in the file while the ‘last name’ describes what kind of file it is – i.e. one of the picture files, a text file, a music file, etc.

To illustrate this naming process, have a look at the following example:

picture file exampleThis is a simple picture created in Windows Paint. It was saved as a file called:

picture file example.jpg

‘picture file example’ = the first name of the file

‘.jpg’ = the family name of the file – i.e. what type of file it is. In computerspeak, this part of the file name is called the file extension. The file extension tells the computer how to handle the file – i.e. as a picture file rather than, say, a music file.

Examples of picture files

The following are examples of the most common types of picture files. Notice that only the file extension changes in each filename:

mypicture.jpg

mypicture.bmp

mypicture.png

mypicture.tiff

If you get an email from a friend, and if the attachment in that email ends in any of the above file extensions, the attachment is safe to open.

How to open an attachment in an email

Returning to our friend, Kenneth, I discover that he has sent me an email at meekasmind@gmail.com. The email has a file attached. When I read the email, this is what I see:

gmail attachment received 1

As you can see, part of the picture has been truncated in the preview. To see it all, I point the mouse at the picture. This causes an overlay to be displayed:

gmail attachment received 2This overlay shows the full filename of the attachment, including its file extension which tells me it is a picture file. Also of interest is the ’15 KB’ which tells me how big the file is.

[Note: A huge picture file would be shown in GB, an average picture file would be shown in MB, and a small picture file would be shown in KB. Thus the attachment from Kenneth is quite small and will take next to no time to load]

The overlay also contains the buttons for two options – Download and Save to Drive.

Save to Drive option

Clicking this option will save the file to Google Drive [a storage area in the Cloud]. This option is not covered in the Beginners guide.

Download option

Clicking the ‘Download’ option will copy the file from the email and save it to my own PC. Once the file is on my PC, I can do whatever I want with it. This is the option we will be exploring.

When I click the Download button [in Windows 7], the screen changes to display the last location at which I saved something. In the example below, you can see that it was in ‘Libraries, Documents, My Documents, My Games, Final Fantasy xiv – A Realm Reborn’. This is not where I want to save the attachment.

gmail attachment download 1

To make it easier to see where I’m going, I will close the Documents folder I am in. To do this I simply click on the small arrow next to ‘Documents’ in the navigation pane:

gmail attachment download location

I can now see the main folders quite clearly, including the folder I want to reach. It is called ‘Pictures’ :

gmail attachment download location 2

A single click on the ‘Pictures’ folder causes the ‘Pictures Library’ to be displayed. In the Library is a folder called ‘Sample Pictures’. This is where I want to save the attachment:

gmail attachment download location 3

The easiest way to open the folder is to click on the ‘Sample Pictures’ icon once. This will highlight the icon, and it will cause the ‘Save’ button to change to ‘Open’ [as shown above]. Now all you have to do is click the ‘Open’ button.

Once ‘Sample Pictures’ opens up, the ‘Save’ button reappears.

Click the ‘Save’ button to save the attachment to this location.

Now that I’ve saved the picture file to my PC I can edit it if I want to. I do, I did, and this is the result:

picture file example black and whiteNaturally, I want to share the new picture with Kenneth so I compose an email to him [see Part 4].

Before I click the ‘Send’ button, however, I click the small ‘Attach Files’ icon shown at the bottom of the compose form.

It looks like this:

picture file attach icon

Clicking the attach icon in Gmail causes the following screen to be displayed in Windows 7:

gmail attachment send location 3

This screenshot is almost identical to the one we saw before…except that in this one, the image peeping out of the folder is of the edited house. That’s because I saved the edited file to the same location as the attachment.

Click on the ‘Open’ button [as shown above]. The following pictures are available for you to attach to your email:

gmail attachment send location 4

Clicking on an image displays information about it, including its dimensions and size. You will also see a much larger preview of the image. When you are sure you have the correct image, click the ‘Open’ button as shown.

You should now be back in Gmail, looking at the message you typed to Kenneth. Down near the bottom of the form, you should also see the name of the file you have attached to the email. This is what mine looks like:

gmail attachment send location 5

Click the ‘Send’ button and that’s it. As always, Gmail will display a yellow confirmation message telling you your message has been sent.

Before I finish, a quick word about the other way of attaching a photo to an email. And yes, there is another way. It looks like this:

gmail attachment insert photo1

The difference between ‘Insert Photo’ and ‘Attach Files’

If you click the ‘Insert Photo’ button, you will be given the choice of inserting an image as an attachment or as an inline picture.

If you select the ‘Inline’ option, the image will be embedded into the body of your email message like this:

gmail attachment insert photo3

Sometimes it’s nice to embed a photo like this because it means the recipient doesn’t have to do anything but look at the email. Unfortunately, the drawbacks are that:

  • the process is not quite as straightforward as it should be, and
  • the recipient cannot easily download the image onto his/her own PC. It can be done, but not in a straightforward way.

If I ever do an Advanced Gmail how-to [shudder], I will include the ‘Inline’ function, but given the unfinished state of Gmail at the moment, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

I did not intend to review the new version of Gmail, but after a month of working on it for this series, I can honestly say I am not impressed. I had to work around certain key functions – like Contacts – because the interface was so poorly designed and/or implemented. And even the Inbox functions leave a lot to be desired. Too much is hidden, making not-so-advanced functions hard to find, hard to use and hard to explain.

In many ways, the new Gmail reminds me of Windows 8. There too, key functions were hidden, or implemented in ways that were not at all intuitive. And people hated it, myself included.

I truly believe that function should never be subordinated to form. I don’t care what something looks like so long as it works. Sadly both the new Gmail and Windows 8 placed form well and truly over function.

To be fair, I understand that mobile devices have made it necessary to simplify all applications in order to conform to the new ways of doing things, but we have not yet reached the point where serious work is done on those devices. Imagine trying to write your magnum opus on your mobile phone! Or if that’s not your style, imagine trying to create a complex spreadsheet on your phone.

Mobile devices are simply too limited for the kind of work we currently do on desktops or laptops. Therefore it does not make sense – from a user’s point of view – to reduce everything to the common denominator of the mobile device. Yet that is exactly what Windows 8 and this new Gmail are attempting to do.

As the younger generation would say – ‘Fail’

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Gmail Advanced – How to manually add a Contact

One of the things I dislike intensely about the Gmail ‘Inbox’ interface is how it hides important functions behind layers of unintuitive forms. God forbid there should be a menu anywhere. No, instead you have to learn to look for tiny down arrows that lead to lists that may or may not lead to something you know you should be able to do….

-cough-

One of the best hidden functions is something we used to take for granted – the ability to enter Contact details in one place and edit them in the same place. It’s still there, but boy do you have to dig to find it. So here goes.

Step 1 – Go to Contacts

6 gmail contacts manual 1I know, you’ve tried this before and got nowhere, right? Well, just trust me and click ‘Contacts’ one more time.

Gmail will take you to something called ‘Contacts Preview’, but don’t expect to see that name anywhere obvious.

Instead, you will see a screen that looks as if it should be a Contacts screen …but isn’t. There is a button for creating a new Contact but all it will let you do is type in a name. There is also an icon for editing a Contact. That will let you see all the available fields…but you can’t actually do anything with most of them.

Step 2 – click ‘More’

No, if you want to really add a new Contact, you have to click on the ‘More’ option [as shown below]:

6 gmail contacts manual 2

Do you see that option near the bottom of the ‘More’ features? The one that says ‘Leave the Contacts preview’? That, my friends, is the key to sanity.

Step 3 – click ‘Leave the Contacts preview’

Clicking the ‘Leave the Contacts preview’ option takes you to, ta dah, this:

6 gmail contacts manual 3

Does this screen look more hopeful? Of course it does.

Step 4 – click the ‘New Contact’ button

Clicking ‘New Contact’ will take you to this:

6 gmail contacts manual 4If you’ve used Gmail Contacts before, the layout and format of this screen should be a snap. Things are where they are supposed to be and the labels make sense. Better still, this view is now permanent. It will not change back when you log out of Gmail. Yay!

You can change the view back to the ‘Contacts preview’ by clicking on the ‘Try Contacts preview’ option, but for my money I never want to see it again. I don’t know what it is meant to do because just playing around with it tells me nothing, i.e. it’s about as intuitive as mud.

If anyone knows what the Contacts preview is good for, I’d be interested in finding out.

cheers

Meeks


%d bloggers like this: