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VAs- Customise the Quick Access Toolbar to save time!

VAs- Customise the Quick Access Toolbar to save time!

Customise Quick Access Toolbar

What is the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) ?

Customise the Quick Access Toolbar to save time – it is a big statement. Read on to see why.

The Quick Access Toolbar is one of my all-time favourite things in Microsoft Office. You can build your own toolbar for quick access to those tools that you use all the time. No need to remember which Ribbon they live on as you can have them on the QAT and available to you no matter where you are!

The instructions here are for the Quick Access toolbar in Word. However, the Quick Access Toolbar is available in each of the programs, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook and you can customise it the same way.

The icons you add in each program are specific to that program so you will need to customise it in each.

Where is the Quick Access Toolbar?

The Quick Access Toolbar lives at the top left of the screen and is always visible. It has a drop-down arrow at the end of it which allows you to add more icons. It can also be shown below the Ribbon giving more space to add your favourite Icons.

By building up your favourites on the Quick Access Toolbar, you are free to collapse the Ribbon and just have the Quick Access Toolbar visible giving you more workspace on screen.

Quick Access Toolbar

  1. Quick Access Toolbar
  2. Drop-down arrow
  3. List of popular commands
  4. More Commands – click here to add even more choice to the Quick Access Toolbar
  5. Show below the Ribbon – moves the Quick Access Toolbar and displays it below the Ribbon

Show below the Ribbon

When you show the Quick Access Toolbar below the Ribbon, you can collapse the Ribbon and have just the Quick Access Toolbar visible.

When you want to expand the Ribbon again simply click on one of the Ribbon tabs. You can then pin the Ribbon if you wish.

  1. Quick Access Toolbar below the Ribbon
  2. Collapse Ribbon button
  3. Collapsed Ribbon
  4. Click one of the Tabs to re-expand the Ribbon
  5. Click the Pin icon to keep the Ribbon pinned up.

Quick Access toolbar

Right Click to Add and Remove Icons on the Quick Access Toolbar

Add your favourite Icons to the Quick Access Toolbar with a Right Click

Quick Access Toolbar

Right click to remove them too!

remove icons from Quick Access toolbar

I know that once you start to add icons to the Quick Access Toolbar you will wonder where it had been for all your Microsoft Office life

Customise the QAT in each of the Microsoft Applications to make the most of your time when using the apps.

Bonus Tip

Hit the ALT key on the keyboard and see letters and numbers appear. Letters appear on the Ribbon and Numbers on the QAT. Simply press the number on the icon on the QAT to get a super fast keyboard shortcut. If you have the print icon at position number 2 pressing ALT +2 will launch print! Go on have a go.

See it in action here on my YouTube Channel –

QAT for Windows

QAT for Mac

Tell me how this will help you! Leave a comment below!

9 Questions VAs ask about Office 365

9 Questions VAs ask about Office 365

I was recently interviewed for an online summit. It was a great Q & A session about Office 365. Here are some of the questions I was asked along with my answers.

What is Office 365 ?

Simply put, Office 365 is a way of getting access to Microsoft Office software via a subscription model. The old way of buying Office was to buy what is known as a perpetual license which would allow you to install Office on one Desktop and one Laptop. When new features appeared, a whole new version was released and had to be purchased. This would happen roughly every two years which meant that organisations were looking to upgrade versions very frequently and not necessarily budgeting for this.

By moving to a subscription model, you get access to the latest updates to Office as they are released along with a set of valuable online working and collaboration features. Updates to the Office applications are released on a monthly basis and depending on the way that your organisation has decided to update everyone, you will see new features in your applications.

This also helps with budgeting as you always know what your monthly outlay is (or annual if you choose an annual subscription) which means, no nasty surprises every couple of years.

Why should entrepreneurs be concerned with using or having Office 365?

Personally, I think that using Office 365 in a business is a smart move. Everyone has the same options and access to the same software and software version. You no longer have the issue of some team members being on an older version as they have not upgraded yet. Historically, when a new version was released not everyone would upgrade at the same time. This could lead to compatibly issues, as new features that are introduced are not present in older versions.

More reasons for using Office 365 – collaboration. Collaboration is built in. With our always on always connected way of life, our working software needs to keep up. Now that people and teams are not necessarily based in the same office, we need to be able to collaborate in new and different ways.
With the cloud and cloud storage collaboration is so much easier. Office 365 has this at its core. Store your documents in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint and share them with others. Work together in real time or separately.

Plus Office 365 comes with the familiar desktop applications and web based versions of them as well as a slew of extra web based applications.

How much does Office 365 cost?

Well, like anything that depends. Office 365 is a subscription and is licensed per user. So if you are a VA with just you, it will cost you for one license, if you work with a team then you may well need more licenses. However, there are different licenses to be had and you can mix and match.

  • Office 365 Business

This license is for you if you get your email via your website or a hosting service. It comes with desktop and web versions of the regular Office Apps, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook. It also comes with OneDrive for Business so that you can store documents online and share and collaborate with others.

  • Office 365 Business Premium

This license is for you if you need the Office applications and you would like to have Microsoft host your email. With this version you get all the apps that are in the Business version as well as OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Exchange and Teams – plus all the other web based applications that come with Office 365.

  • Office 365 Business Essentials

This license is Hosted Exchange along with OneDrive for Business, SharePoint and Teams. If you already have your own copy of Microsoft Office – and you need an email address at the client’s organisation then this is for you.

With this version, you get to be a member of the organisation without having to pay for the apps you already have. It means that you can collaborate on documents, access SharePoint sites and function as a member of a team.

Does everyone in the team need their own license?

Yes they do. However, not everyone needs to have the same licence as mentioned above. Imagine that you are a VA working with several clients. Each client will have their own domain and email and you already have a copy of Microsoft Office. The client need only subscribe you to the Business Essentials version. This will give you an email address at their organisation and access to the online collaboration features of OneDrive for Business, SharePoint and Teams.

So what is this collaboration you talk about?

With cloud storage in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint it is easier then ever to collaborate. With documents, spreadsheets and presentations stored in the cloud, links can be sent instead of attachments cutting down on email traffic and storage and back up costs.
Several people can work on the same document at the same time both online and offline – it’s like magic.

Are there certain tools inside Office 365 that are best for most businesses looking for collaboration options?

The regular Microsoft Office desktop apps all come with a cloud-based version allowing you to work online or offline. Files created in any of the apps can be shared for collaboration purposes. For example, if you have a dispersed team all working on a report, each can work on the same copy of the report without affecting access for others and the report can be built up collaboratively.

Similarly, PowerPoint presentations can be collaborated on in the browser or on the desktop and can even be presented from the browser.

Office 365 works on both Windows and Mac platforms and whilst there are a few differences in the desktop versions, the web apps are identical.
What are some of the key advantages Office 365 has over some of the cloud based platforms in our world today?

Firstly familiarity, most people in an office have been using Microsoft Office and Office 365 is Microsoft Office with extra bells and whistles, not as much of a learning curve when moving to a cloud system as if you were to choose one of the other options.

Microsoft is heavily invested in security and protection and is fully GDPR compliant – you can even choose which country hosts your data

Office 365 comes with 1TB of cloud storage per user license

Zoho Workplace has either 30 GB or 100GB depending on the plan

GSuite has 30 Gb on its basic and up to 1TB per user if less than 5 users

When you synchronise your OneDrive folder with your local machine, you always have your work to hand even when you don’t have an internet connection and you can choose what to synchronise. Once you do synchronise, you will find that you can work with the file explorer on your computer and the OneDrive folder just like any other folder on your machine.

What about other apps

Office 365 comes with several other applications not mentioned so far.

Sway – an online presentation software which can be used for delivering an online newsletter, a how to tutorial or a presentation.

Forms – create online forms for many purposes or quizzes which can be shared in many ways.

Bookings – Connect Bookings up with your calendar and allow people to book time with you.

Invoicing – Create pretty invoices

Stream – online storage for companywide videos

And a whole host more.

Running your VA Business with Office 365

To understand how Office 365 can help you in your business take my course – Running Your VA Business with Office 365. The course includes things you need to think about such as where you will work, what kind of tech you need and then takes you through from deciding which version or Office 365 to purchase, to buying installing and setting it up. Setting up Outlook for first use on both Windows or Mac and an introduction to saving documents to OneDrive for Business. Running Your VA Business with Office 365

Until next time

Why you might be struggling with synchronising OneDrive for Business

Why you might be struggling with synchronising OneDrive for Business

Are you struggling synchronising OneDrive for Business

Are you a busy VA or business owner who is using Office 365? You went down this route for various reasons, you love the familiar Office packages, you like that you can work both online and offline. And you really love the idea of using OneDrive for Business and having your documents stored in the cloud and on your local machine.

What is Synchronisation?

When you synchronise something, you are making sure that everything matches – remember the term Synchronise Watches? Making sure everyone has the same time showing on their watch? Well synchronising files is the same. We want to make sure that we have the exact same files stored in OneDrive for Business and on our local machine.

Setting up the Synchronisation

Start from OneDrive for Business – at the top of the screen you will see a Synchronise button – click this to start the synchronisation

Your computer will check whether you want to launch the OneDrive app – you do so say yes. This is the same on both Windows and Mac. The prompt you see is slightly different, but the concept is the same.

You are then asked to sign in to your account – this is your email address and password for your Office 365 account. If you are on Windows at this point you are shown a picture of where your files are stored. If you are on Mac, you will be asked to select which folders to synchronise.

Windows 10 Defaults

One Windows 10 the default setting is to save all your documents in the cloud. You have a local link to the files, but the storage is online. This means that you save space on your local hard drive – useful in these days of portability and small laptops! You can get to any of your files easily while you have a full internet connection. Once you have accessed a file it changes its state and becomes locally available so even when you don’t have an internet connection. You can also elect to keep all your files on your local computer.

Here is what the message you get looks like on Windows.

How do you decide?

Here is what I do. I have a large 27″ Windows 10 desktop which has a wired internet connection. On this machine I synchronise everything and store it locally. I also have a Surface Pro for when I am out and about. This only has 256GB of hard drive storage so on this machine I keep all the files online. If I am going to a client or away, and I want to make sure to have certain files locally, then I select to download fully just those folders. In any event even if I don’t download them fully, once I have opened a file, I can work on it even when offline and my changes will be synchronised when I next go online.

Change from Online to Keep on this Machine

You do this on a right click. In fact, the synchronisation wizard shows you how.

Can I move files online or keep locally easily?

Yes, simply right click on the file or folder you want to change and choose from the options- Move Online or Always keep on this device.

What if I am on a Mac?

Start from the web as above then you will be prompted to launch the OneDrive app.

You will need to sign in and then you will see the OneDrive app in the Dock. At this point you will asked for your password. Once you have done that, you are shown where the OneDrive folder will be created and given the option to change the location. Then you choose what to synchronise. This can be changed at any time so you can decide to stop synchronising a folder later on.

When you are done, you get a message saying that your OneDrive is ready for you. You will see a link to it in the Favourites in Finder and on the Menu bar of the desktop.

To change the folders, click the three dots you see like the image on the right, then choose preferences. Click on Choose Folders here under Account and then uncheck the ones you no longer want to have on your local machine.

What happens to folders I no longer Sync?

When you decide not to synchronise the folder, it will be removed from your local OneDrive folder. It is still available online and you can still save documents to it or get documents from it from within the Office applications.

If you want to find out more about how to use OneDrive for Business with the rest of Office 365, hop over and see my course – Running your VA Business with Office 365. There is lots of useful information in this course to help you get up and running We also have a range of other courses on Office 365 packages and they are being added to all the time.

Let me know in the comments if you found this useful and if you have any questions.


Why I love working with Office 365 and you should too!

Why I love working with Office 365 and you should too!

office 365

I love working with Office 365. Now you would think that as my business is as an IT Trainer helping you get more done in less time that I would say that wouldn't I? Well yes you would be right but – I genuinely do love working with Office 365 and I want to tell you why.

I am based in London in the UK and we have children living in different countries – one in New York in the USA and one in Israel. One lives around the corner too! We travel extensively. We go to Israel several times a year and to the States at least once a year.

So how can I run my business with all this time away?

Office 365 enables me to effectively live the laptop lifestyle. As a person in IT I love my gadgets and will happily try out new ones to see how they work and if they will enable me to get more done in less time. So here is my setup.


Office 365

I have a large 27" desktop in my office – when recording video tutorials and editing them, I find this the easiest way to work. (also it has a nice big screen which is easy on the eyes…)

Windows Laptop

Office 365

I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 which I really love. It is very lightweight and portable. It's only drawback is the keyboard as you can't actually typ with it on your lap – you need a surface to rest it on but as it is for when I deliver training and when I am away, it is perfect.

Mac Laptop

Office 365

I have a Macbook Air – yes I have a Mac as well as a Windows PC. I teach Microsoft Office on both platforms so need one of each to make sure how everything works and what the differences are.


Office 365

I have a Macbook Air – yes I have a Mac as well as a Windows PC. I teach Microsoft Office on both platforms so need one of each to make sure how everything works and what the differences are.


I have an Android phone – I have a J7 Prime – it is a dual sim phone which means that I can have both my UK and Israeli Sim cards in the phone and no longer need to travel with two handsets!


All of my devices connect to Office 365 – this means that I have Microsoft Outlook on every device I use for my email and calendar. I have Word Excel and PowerPoint, so I can get stuff done on all my devices and I also have OneDrive for Business and SharePoint which means that I have access to all my business files wherever I am.

So how does this work in practice?

Last month I travelled to the USA to visit my daughter. I have been working on the online training for tomorrow's VA for the last few months and I had some video editing to do. I make sure to save all my work to my tomorrow's VA OneDrive for business which means the folders are ready and waiting for me to get to work.

Whilst in the USA I took advantage of the jet lag! Whilst I was up very early in the morning I was able to open my editing software (Camtasia if you are asking) and get the projects I was working on from OneDrive. This meant that while away, I was able to finish editing several videos and get them uploaded to the training portal.


Here I am writing a blog post. With Office 365 I can start writing this post on my Surface pro as I am right now, and then move over to the MacBook Air downstairs if the fancy takes me. In fact, that is something that I do fairly often. I love working at the kitchen table especially in the recent hot weather with the windows open. I can start Word on the Mac and pick up where I left off upstairs in my office.


Collaborating with others is another fantastic benefit of using Office 365. I was asked to work on a new book about Excel and decided to work with another trainer on it. I created a folder in my OneDrive for Business and shared it with Anne. We are both able to add documents to the folder and open anything that is stored there. This means that as we were working on the outline for the book we could each add in our own documents and then combine them quite easily. It also means that we can each contribute to one copy once we start writing as we are each writing different chapters. I can work on my chapters and Anne can work on hers. That way we only have one major document and avoid all those versioning issues. Although with a document stored in OneDrive or SharePoint you can get back to previous versions really easily.

Out of the Office

I am never really out of the office and you could see this as a drawback. I choose to see it as something positive. I can work wherever I want, whenever I want and on which ever device I want to use at that time. When in the office in London, then my gadget of choice is the large desktop, when travelling, usually the Surface Pro or the iPad. For entertainment we mainly use the MacBook Air, unless of course I am training clients who use Macs, in which case that is the one that goes with me.

It really does not matter which device I use. So long as my documents are all stored in OneDrive or SharePoint I can get to them at any time. I can choose to synchronise my OneDrive and SharePoint folders or I can simply connect to the internet to access my work. Either way works.

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Skype for Business 

Skype for Business is the business version of Skype. It is more stable than regular Skype and you can connect to people inside and outside your organisation. I use the instant messaging feature quite a lot with another trainer who lives in the Midlands and we often speak or even video call over Skype for Business.

Office works well across all those devices

It really does not matter which device I use. So long as my documents are all stored in OneDrive or SharePoint I can get to them at any time. I can choose to synchronise my OneDrive and SharePoint folders or I can simply connect to the internet to access my work. Either way works.

All of the above are the reasons I love using Office 365 and if you adopt it I am sure you will too.

To find out more about which version you need

And how to purchase and set it all up, hop over to my course Running your VA Business with Office 365.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

I love working with Office 365 and you should too!

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Encrypting your email? Do you? Should you? How to?

Encrypting your email? Do you? Should you? How to?

Encrypting your emailEncrypting your email? Do you? Should you? How to?

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few months and especially the last couple of weeks, you can’t possibly have escaped the juggernaut that is GDPR.

Most business people I know from Accountants to Property Companies to Trainers and VAs are getting their act together to comply with the new rules.

Although many of the rules are a tightening up of rules that were already in place and make good business sense too.

Re-subscribe to give Consent

I don’t know about you, I have had a plethora of emails asking me to re-subscribe to this mailing list or that. You know all those newsletters that you thought you would one day get around to reading and never did? What a great opportunity to ignore them and get removed from their lists.

Only re-subscribing to the ones that you really want.

The reason for the scramble is to get your Consent – you can read what the ICO ( Information Commissioner’s Office) says about Consent here.


Then there is that thorny issue of encrypting your email. Should you just encrypt everything? Only confidential things? And then How to do it? Is it built in to Outlook or whatever email client you use?

Outlook Encryption

I can only talk about encryption in Outlook and then when you are using a business package that includes an Exchange Server Plan, like the Small Business or Business versions.

To enable Encryption, you will need:

  • Office 365 Business plan
  • Exchange included
  • Azure Information Rights Protection
  • Set up Mail Flow Rules

What if I use a Mac

You will need exactly the same set up if you are a Mac user.

What is Azure Information Rights Protection?

Azure Information Protection (sometimes referred to as AIP) is a cloud-based solution that helps an organization to classify, label, and protect its documents and emails. This can be done automatically by administrators who define rules and conditions, manually by users, or a combination where users are given recommendations which have been set up by administrators.

What do I need to do?

First you will need to have an Office 365 subscription that includes an Exchange server option. Exchange is your online post office and directs your email to your Inbox and to your recipients Inboxes. It will have been set up as part of your Office 365 setup process to receive  and send email to your business email address.

Secondly – you will need to buy the Azure Information Rights Protection Add on for Office 365 it costs about $2 or £1.50 per month.

You will need to set it up and download a client to any Windows machines you are using.

Thirdly – you will need to set up Mail Flow Rules in the Exchange online Admin Centre. Mail Flow rules tell Exchange when to encrypt and when to apply do not forward.

You can set the Mail Flow Rules to look for specific words in the subject or body of your email and apply the correct template automatically.

Mac users

For email encryption of email sent on a Mac – you need to be using your Office 365 email account and the Mail Flow rules need to have been set up. The Mail Flow rules will apply automatically in the background as soon as you create an email that has one of the trigger conditions.

You will not need to download the client to the Mac , in fact it is Windows only.

For step by step instructions of how to do all of this and set it up, go and get my course:

Encrypt your email with Office 365

Encrypt your email with Office 365 Small Business Premium


What kind of Microsoft Office do I need in my business?

What kind of Microsoft Office do I need in my business?

Microsoft OfficeWhat kind of Microsoft Office do I need in my business?

I think there is some confusion about Windows and Microsoft Office.  I come across lots of people who get confused between Windows, Microsoft Ofifce , Home, Professional etc.

The question frequently arises, what do I really need?


Windows – this is an Operating System, there is a Home Version and a Business version, and the current release is 10. (big update coming very soon)

To secure your data at rest (that is anything on your machine) you need Windows 10 Pro with Bitlocker turned on. This will encrypt your DEVICE – if you have a desktop and a laptop to encrypt them both you need Windows 10 Pro on both.

Microsoft Office

Stand Alone

You bought this from a shop or downloaded it from somewhere. It is only on your machine and not linked to anything – no access to OneDrive unless you have a personal account. It does NOT get monthly updates. It is not part of an organisation.

Microsoft Office 365 Home

There are various flavours of the Home version and it is likely where you started from.


Microsoft Office Home

Office 365 Home Sales Page from Microsoft

 Office 365 Home comes with an account and you get access to a personal OneDrive.

If you have an Outlook.comaccount (used to be Hotmail) on its own,  then you may well have access to a personal Onedrive even without a Home Subscription.

This means that it is not part of an organisation – even if the organisation has only one person.

The business tools – Microsoft Azure Information Rights Management Protection, Boookings, Mileage and more, will not work with it.

Microsoft Office 365 Business

Various subscription packages (you can opt to pay annually)

These are for use in Business are licensed for Business and give you access to a whole range of Business tools.

Microsoft Office Small Business

Office 365 for Business Sales Page

To use encryption, you will need one of the Business Packages.

I recommend Small Business Premium as the one to go for – it comes with an Exchange Account included and you will need to have your email directed via Exchange in order to make use of the Mail Flow Rules that control Encryption.

What about on a Mac?

If you are working on a Mac, then you will have switched on File Vault to encrypt the Mac itself, protecting your data at rest.

With regards to Microsoft Office the same recommendations apply – Small Business Premium – including an Exchange Account and you will need to route your email via the Exchange so that the Mail Flow Rules work.

Has this helped?

Hopefully this post has answered some of the questions around the version you need to get more done in less time. If you have any questions leave a comment below.