Automatic for the People

Automatic (adj & n) 1: (of a machine, device etc, or its function) working by itself, without direct human intervention.

So says the dictionary. And from the machine you wash your clothes in to the car you drive, if that magic word automatic appears before it then the chances are it has been designed to make your life easier.

So it is with Microsoft Word; there are many ways in which you can perform tasks automatically to save you time and effort and, as in the example below, they can look pretty darn cool too.

One of the great frustrations of my life (I obviously don’t have many) is that when I switch to working from my PC to my Mac, the mouse on the latter does not have a wheel that allows scrolling up and down. This means that even the longest of documents must be scanned using the far more cumbersome scroll arrows and countless mouse clicks. Switching back to my PC and the fingertip control of the scrolling wheel is, metaphorically speaking, like stepping from a tight pair of shoes back into comfy slippers.

Yet there is a way that you can scroll through Word documents at a pace you are comfortable with, without even using the scrolling wheel at all and, if you are stuck with a mouse that has no scrolling wheel, this function is an essential addition to your toolbar. Here’s how to get it.

Go to Tools and select Customize. Click on the Commands tab – a list of commands will appear.

Scroll down the dialog box on the left side and select All Commands. This will open a new dialog box on the right – scroll down this until you find Auto Scroll.

Select Auto Scroll and drag it to your toolbar. Release it and a new button saying Auto Scroll will appear. It is as easy as that. Close your Customize dialog box and take your new addition for a test drive.

To use the Auto Scroll command open a document (the longer the better) and simply click on the new button. You will notice a change in the vertical scroll bar on the right side of your screen as a new double-headed arrow appears with a ‘home’ area in the centre of the bar. Scroll up or down by moving your cursor into the areas above or below the home area.

You can control the speed of the scrolling very easily – the further away from the home area you go, the faster the scrolling will be. This variable speed function is useful when scanning quickly through long documents to reach a certain passage and, slowing down again, it is not difficult to find a scrolling speed that allows the comfortable reading of a document. This is very much like the autocue used by newsreaders and it requires no effort whatsoever from the user.

All of which make the Auto Scroll button a worthwhile addition to your toolbar even if you have a scrolling wheel on your mouse. This is 100% hands-free scrolling, which allows such freedoms as operating office machinery, making telephone calls or polishing an apple for the boss, while not missing a word of that important document you are reading. To exit Auto Scroll mode, simply hit Esc, or click your mouse.

Happy scrolling 🙂

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About Joe Young

Supposed writer from the north-east coast of England.
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