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OpenOffice.org tips and tricks


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Corinne McKayOpenOffice.org tips and tricks by Dmitri Popov Subsequent to our interview, Dmitri offered to share some of his best suggestions for optimizing your OpenOffice.org user experience- here you go!

Expanding clipboard’s capabilities with Ditto
If you do a lot of cutting and pasting, you may find OpenOffice.org’s clipboard tool a bit limited. Ditto is a clever utility that turns the clipboard into a powerful archiving tool. Once installed, Ditto archives everything that you copy to the clipboard. Ditto supports virtually any type of content including formatted text, pictures, links, and HTML-snippets. To paste an item into the open document, double-click on Ditto’s system tray icon, select the item, and double-click on it.

Using Ditto you can arrange the saved items into groups, perform searches and even edit text snippets. If you’re connected to a network, you can also take advantage of Ditto’s networking features, including its ability to send a selected clip to another computer as well as synchronize Ditto’s content between different machines. Ditto even encrypts all the data sent via the network for you. By default, Ditto saves the clips indefinitely, but you can also specify an expiry date, and you can even exclude individual clips from being purged.

Keeping track of time spent on Writer documents
If you are a freelancer, keeping track of time spent on each Writer document is crucial. Although Writer doesn’t include a dedicated time tracking feature, you can view the total editing time for a particular Writer document by choosing File > General.

Encrypting documents with AxCrypt
If you work with confidential documents, you have to take care of security issues. The best and easiest way to prevent unauthorised access to confidential files is to encrypt them using AxCrypt, an encryption tool based on the AES-128 and SHA-1 cryptographic primitives. Although AxCrypt employs advanced encryption technologies, it’s easy to use. Once installed, you can access AxCrypt’s commands through the context menu. Right-click on the database file, choose the Encrypt command, and enter the desired passphrase. To open the encrypted database, double-click on it, enter the correct passphrase, and the file will be decrypted and opened in OOo Base. You can also encrypt your database as an .EXE file, so it can be decrypted on another machine without AxCrypt. Finally, to make the encrypted file even more difficult to break, you can create a key file and save it on an external storage device (for example, a USB key). This will allow you to decrypt the file only if the key file is present.

Checking grammar in Writer
As you may already know, Writer lacks an integrated grammar check. However, there is a Java-based tool called JLanguageTool that can fill the void. The software allows you to run a grammar check on the pasted text. JLanguageTool supports both English and German, and although it’s not on par with commercial grammar tools, its grammar rules can be easily improved by editing the configuration file.

Typing shortcuts with AutoCorrect
The AutoCorrect feature in OpenOffice.org serves many purposes. A common usage is to automatically correct spelling errors. For example, for English (USA), ‘acomodate’ and ‘acommodate’ are automatically corrected to be ‘accommodate’. AutoCorrect is not only a good tool for correcting mistakes, it can also save you a lot of typing. For example, instead of typing ‘deoxyribonucleic acid’ every single time, you can create a replacement rule that saves you the trouble of typing such a long word.
1.Choose AutoCorrect/AutoFormat from the Tools menu.
2.From the Replacements and exceptions for language drop-down list (at the top of the dialog), choose the desired language. To apply the rule globally, choose All.
3.Select the Replace tab.
4.Create the rule and click on the New button to add it to the existing list. The New button is disabled until a new rule is entered.
5.Press OK and test the rule.

Inserting special characters using shortcuts
Instead of inserting special characters manually, you can create a macro and assign it a keyboard shortcut.
1.Choose Tools > Macro > Record to start the recording process.
2.Click Insert > Special Character, choose the character you want, insert it, and close the Special Character dialogue window.
3.Click Stop recording in the small macro recorder dialogue window.
A dialogue window appears asking you to save the macro with a name. Be sure to save it the Standard library under My Macros, not in the tree for the currently opened document. That way you’ll be able to use the macro in any Writer document.

Now that you have recorded the macro, you’ll need to assign it to a keystroke:
1.Choose > Tools > Macro > Organize Macros > OpenOffice.org Basic.
2.Click on the Assign button.
3.Click on the Keyboard tab and in the Functions section and then locate your macro using the Category tree.
4.Select a keystroke in the Shortcut Keys list and click Modify. The key that you select will appear in the Keys window.
5.Click OK > Close.

(For more tips and other open source projects, check the book Hands on Open Source)









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