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Putting Templates in Their Place

I created a group of templates and saved them along with the standard Office templates in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Templates\1033 folder. But when I choose File, New, none of my custom templates are visible.

Microsoft designed the folder that stores system templates so that users cannot add templates to it. Instead, you should save your templates to the default User Templates location. The safest way to save templates to this location is one at a time. If you choose Template from the Files of Type list in the Save As dialog box, all Office programs will save your work to the correct location. If you want to add a large number of files to this location, open Word and choose Tools, Options; then click the File Locations tab and verify the User Templates location.

No Preview in Common Dialog Boxes

I selected Preview from the drop-down menu of views in an Office common dialog box, but when I click a file in the pane on the left, Windows displays the words Preview not available instead of showing my file.

The preview pane shows a static snapshot of the document as it existed the last time you saved it. By default, this option is not selected because it tends to add roughly 60KB to every file that you create. To make this preview picture available, you must choose File, Properties and check the Save Preview Picture box on the Summary tab. You can do this at any time with a Word document or PowerPoint presentation. However, this option is effective with Excel workbooks only if you use it when you first create the file. Checking this box on an Excel workbook after you've saved it with this option off has no effect at all. To enable the preview, check the box, save the file under a new name, and use Windows Explorer to delete the old version and rename the new one with the old name.

Dealing with Short Filenames

Several co-workers in my organization use Windows 3.1 and Office 4. When they browse through shared folders for files I have created, they have a difficult time telling which is which because all the files have names like Letter~1.doc.

Saving files in the correct format is only half the battle. If you routinely share document folders with coworkers who use 16-bit Windows or DOS programs that don't recognize long filenames, you need to follow some common-sense rules. For starters, try to restrict filenames to a maximum of eight characters, not counting the extension. If you must use longer names, make sure that the first six characters in the name will provide a clue to the file's contents when viewed in a 16-bit common dialog box. As you've seen, Windows will add a two-character numeric tail to the short version of each filename, making only the first six characters significant. (Although some well-meaning Windows experts have published a tip that enables you to hack the Registry and change this behavior, we strongly recommend that you not follow this advice; as an unfortunate side effect, you might end up with duplicate Program Files folders.)

When naming files that you expect to share with users of 16-bit programs, avoid using anything except letters and numbers in the first eight characters of a filename. When creating the aliases that 16-bit programs use, Windows substitutes an underscore for special characters such as semicolons, plus signs, and brackets, and the effect is to make the filename nearly indecipherable to those users.

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