Understanding Word 2010’s Two Compatibility Modes (Yes… Two!)


I upgraded from Word 2007 to Word 2010. Save defaults to the latest Word format, but when I create a new document, it shows as being in Compatibility mode. Why?



Most users think of pre-Word 2007 *.doc files as being in Compatibility mode, and *.docx files as being Word 2007 and Word 2010 files. But, it’s not that simple. Word 2010 introduced several new features that were not present in Word 2007, most notably improvements to the graphics capabilities. As a result. Word 2010 *.docx files do not share the identical format with Word 2007 *.docx files, despite the fact that they both use .docx as the extension.

As a result, there are two Compatibility modes—not just one: We now have doc for Word 97-2003 files, and docx for Word 2007 files. When the latter format is in effect, the docx extension is used, but you will still see [Compatibility Mode] in Word’s title bar. Hence, if you edit a docx file created in Word 2007 using Word 2010, you see Compatibility Mode in the title bar.

“Okay,” you might wonder. “But, why does it say “Compatibility Mode” even for brand new documents I create using Word 2010.”

This occurs because the underlying document template—usually Normal.dotm—is still in Word 2007 format! To resolve this issue, edit Normal.dotm itself and convert it to Word 2010 format.

To edit Normal.dotm, you need to open it as you would open an ordinary document file. If you use Windows Explorer and double-click on Normal.dotm, Word will create a new document based on it, rather than edit that file. Instead, open Normal.dotm from Word 2010 itself. In Windows 7, Normal.dotm usually is stored in a folder named:


except that your user name probably isn’t Herb. You can navigate there manually, but it’s usually easiest to use a default location shortcut that Word creates for you. Press Ctrl+O (File – Open) in Word. You should see a list of locations at the left, including one called Templates, as shown here.

This is the default location for user templates in Word 2010. Click on that location (or, if you don’t see Templates, then navigate to that location). Among the files shown at the right, you should see Normal.dotm. Click on it, and then click on Open. Or, if you want to convert a different document template file, then open it instead.

At that top of Word’s window, you will see the name of the template followed by [Compatibility Mode]. Choose File – Convert, as shown here:

Word prompts you to confirm the conversion. Tick the “Do not ask…” box if you’re so inclined. Personally, I need to know whenever this happens, so I leave it unticked. Then click OK.

At the top of Word’s window, [Compatibility Mode] will now go away. You should now close the template file, saying Yes if prompted to save it.

Finally, create a new file based on the template you just edited to confirm that the conversion worked. If you just converted Normal.dotm, then when you press Ctrl+N (the shortcut for creating a new document based on Normal.dotm), you should get a new document (Document #), but should no longer see [Compatibility Mode] in the title bar.

Posted in Word 2010 | 39 Comments

When summing columns in Word, hide cells you don’t want included

In a document I’m editing, I have a table that looks like this:

I wanted to add up only the fourth and fifth rows for the civilian population totals. Using the field:

{ =sum(above) }

unfortunately, would include all of the numbers above in each column. So, rather than breaking the table up, copying it elsewhere, doing the math in Excel, or several other more time consuming work-arounds, I decided to instead hide the cells I wanted excluded!

How do you do this? You select the cells you want to hide, and then press Ctrl+D for the full Font dialog box:


Click to tick Hidden, and then click OK. If you still see those rows, press Ctrl+Shift+8 to toggle hidden text off. If you still see those rows, then choose File > Options > Display, and remove the tick next to Hidden. Now, if I look at my table, I see only:

Now, when I enter { =sum(above) } into the 2008 and 2009 Civilian Population cells, and press F9 to update/calculate, I get:

To avoid later mis-recalculation, I select each of the two shaded cells, and press Ctrl+Shift+F9 to convert them from fields to hard text (one at a time, because Ctrl+Shift+F9 doesn’t work across multiple cell selection n a table). Finally, I select the hidden cells, press Ctrl+D and remove the hidden attribute, and my table now looks like this:

And, while all this might seem complicated, it took me about 15 seconds to do it—a bit less time than other methods I’ve used in the past.

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How to restore Windows Live Messenger’s compact contact list after upgrading to WLM2011

I got an email from my sister while I was out on my daily walk. She had just installed Windows Live Messenger 2011, and didn’t like the default view.

Sharon missed the more compact view of earlier versions, that showed just the contacts. I recalled that there was a control for selecting the compact view, and with a little bit of poking around, found it. (Having found it when I installed WLM2011 on my various computers, I then promptly forgot where the control was.)

It’s not in the menu. Instead, it’s in the last place you’ll look (mostly because, once you find, it, you’ll stop looking).

Notice the control in the upper right corner of the window:

That’s what she needed to click to restore Windows Live Messenger’s more compact view:

And yes… the names were deliberately blurred. I don’t want any of my friends to be convicted of guilt by association!

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Some Black Friday Math Fun

Someone in Microsoft’s Answers forum wrote that the Microsoft Math Add-in doesn’t seem able to handle equations like this one:

total BTUH=CFM*(THS1-THS2)*4.5

Indeed, when I insert that equation into an equation container in Word 2010, then choose Compute – Solve, this is what I see:

The Math add-in does not handle multi-character variable names done in that way. Instead, it treats “total BTUH” as t*o*t*a*l*B*T*U*H. What fun!

An awkward but possibly-acceptable work-around is to substitute single-letter variables,


Now, Math offers the following choices:

It will also let you graph in 3D:

But, note that the choices of letters are important, since Math has some pretty set ideas about where x, y, and z belong in a 3D graph, as well as what specific letters mean. If I arbitrarily assign different letters, it ranges from not working at all to giving entirely different graphs.

Another route is to use _ to create multi-character variable names. If we try to let the variables resemble the original names, such as choosing:


Solve now works correctly:

But, now all of the choices for Graph are grayed out:

And, as usual… YMMV (your mileage may vary).

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Errata, Page 17: MiniBar Tools DO Have Live Preview in Word 2010

Eugene Sidoroff writes:

Your books about Word are great! However, I was disappointed when I read this note on the top of page 17 of “Microsoft Word 2010 Bible” the following:

“Unlike many ribbon tools, the MiniBar tools do not produce live previews of formatting and other effects. If you need to see a live preview, use the ribbon instead.”

This is NOT true!

You’re right, Eugene! Actually, this was left over from Word 2007—the editors and I completely missed this! In Word 2007, you saw this:

In Word 2010, however, four dropdown controls in the minibar—font, point size, highlighting, and font color—now feature live preview:

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Will My Laptop Work in Ireland?

If you’re traveling abroad, you might be wondering whether your laptop will work at your destination. You’ll be happy to know that almost every laptop manufactured today has a power supply that works with anywhere from 100 to 240 volts. All that’s then needed is a simple plug adapter for it to work anywhere in the world.

To make sure that your laptop will work somewhere else, look on the laptop power supply/charger (the bit that connects between the wall socket and plugs into the side or back of your laptop) for the specifications. It should look something like this (note the area circled in red):

If it says 100-240 volts, then your laptop will work just about anywhere in the world. All you then need is a plug adapter. If you’re traveling to the UK or to Ireland, look for something like this, which you can find at Amazon for under $10:


What about Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi standards are international. If your laptop has wi-fi capability, it will connect to just about any wi-fi access point in the world. If it’s secured, then you’ll need the key, but that’s all. If you’re staying in someone’s house, ask them for their security key. If they’re not there, then look on the bottom of the modem/router that connects to the Internet. If you’re at a hotel, ask at the front desk (sometimes, they’ll charge you for wi-fi, which sucks, but what can you do?). The key can range from a pass phrase (those are the simplest to use & remember), to a 4 or 5-digit number, to a very long hexadecimal code. If it’s unsecured public wi-fi that doesn’t require a key, then take a look here for a few very real security issues, and a solution.

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Beware of Public Wi-Fi

Have you heard about Firesheep? It’s an extension for Firefox that allows anyone on the same network as you to tap into your session on non-secure (non-HTTPS) websites, instantly logging in as YOU. There are defenses, but few people know about them (yet). Firesheep isn’t the only danger, but it clearly demonstrates the vulnerability. Codebuttler has released Firesheep into the wild with the aim of forcing sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google sit up and take notice, inviting them to move to more secure sites ASAP. As a user, you should demand this security.

First, go read about Firesheep. This is not necessary. But, frankly, I wasn’t convinced of the risk until I installed it.

To add the Firesheep extension to your computer, Microsoft Security Essentials will warn you that it is a threat—you’ll have to choose to allow Firesheep to install it. You might need to jump through some additional hoops, as well. For one thing, the system refused to recognize the XPI packet that contains the extension. I had to explicitly tell Windows 7 to use Firefox to open it.

Once it’s installed and you’ve restarted Firefox, choose View – Sidebar – Firesheep, as shown here.

This then opens a new sidebar at the left. At the top, click Start Capturing.

It then starts monitoring the network stream for packets sent to non-secure sites… such as those sent to Facebook and Twitter. As entries appear, you then can log in as whoever/whatever you see on the list—gaining instant access to someone else’s session—Facebook, Twitter, etc.—anything that uses HTTP instead of HTTPS.

What Defense Do You Have?

One defense—and one that Verizon and other carriers would love you to acquire—is to use wireless broadband and never to use open access WiFi. Verizon will charge you $40 to $60 per month for the privilege. This approach has a number of advantages, not the least of which is the ability to be online pretty much everywhere you have cell service. The disadvantage—it ain’t cheap—is clear.

Another defense, although partial, is to use something like the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s HTTPS Everywhere extension for Firefox. It forces Firefox to use HTTPS (instead of HTTP) everywhere possible, which fortunately includes a number of major website. According to EFF, the plugin currently works on these popular sites, as well as many others that aren’t listed:

  • Google Search
  • Wikipedia
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • most of Amazon
  • GMX
  • WordPress.com blogs
  • The New York Times
  • The Washington Post
  • Paypal
  • EFF
  • Tor
  • Ixquick

For my own purposes, HTTPS Everywhere seems like a workable defense. I hardly ever use coffee shop Wi-Fi, but it’s not unusual for some of the hotels where we stay to use unprotected Wi-Fi. I’ll have to do some testing and experimenting before I will feel completely secure.

How Can You Tell If Your Surfing Is Vulnerable?

If you’re using a secure/encrypted network—protected by WPA, WPA2, etc., for which you need a password and user ID to gain access to the Internet—then you’re probably safe. If you’re using public WiFi, check the URL you’re using in the address bar. If it says HTTP instead of HTTPS, you’re probably at risk.

Or, install Firesheep and see if your sessions are viewable in the Firesheep sidebar. With EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere disabled, here’s what I see:

This means that someone else using Firesheep would see the same thing on an unsecured public WiFi network! By clicking on the Facebook entry, they log in as ME! And they have instant access to my account. Ditto for Amazon and Twitter!

When I enable HTTPS Everywhere, the sidebar stops seeing anything—even if I open Chrome or Internet Explorer. As long as Firefox is running with HTTPS Everywhere enabled, it appears to inoculate other browers’ sessions as well.

Fortunately, when I actually try to shop on Amazon, the session switches to HTTPS. I should note that a number of sites, such as those used by banks, already use HTTPS. The aim of Firesheep is to make all sites that use personal information switch to more secure protocols.

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Whither “Edit Links to Files”?

A Biblical student writes:

I am enjoying your Word 2007 Bible. I am currently studying for the Word MOS and I hope you have a moment to answer this Word query.

On page 305 – chapter 18 – Pictures and Smart Art , you caution readers about looking for the file name of pictures if a link is broken.

I do not have a broken link, but I see the same thing applies (or I’m not looking carefully enough). More than that, I cannot find the “Edit Links to Files” from the Office> Prepare> . I might be missing something really simple. Since I’ve started using Word 2007, I never gave it a thought to look for the picture properties.

Thanks for any light you can shed on this for me.


Thanks for writing, Steve. There are two possibilities. First, Edit Links to Files will be listed in the Prepare menu only if the pictures were inserted as links. If they were pasted in or if you click Insert in the Insert Picture dialog, instead of Link to File or Insert and Link, then Edit Links to Files will not be an option.

Also note that the Prepare menu does not have a vertical scroll bar, so it might look like you’re seeing the entire list, but you might not be. Use your mouse’s scroll wheel to see if there’s something below the last item that shows when Prepare is first clicked. Instead of a scroll bar, there’s an almost-invisible “More” triangle at the bottom of the Prepare list… you can click it instead of using you mouse’s scroll wheel, or use PageDown. One you do that, the “More” triangle moves to the top of the Prepare… list. Contrast the left and right pictures, below.

I hope this helps.

Posted in Word 2007 | 2 Comments

Fixing the Firefox Google Toolbar Settings Issue

Sometimes, small victories are the best. For the past few days, the Google Toolbar was acting up in Firefox, and not doing what it was supposed to do. I tried deleting selected registry entries. No joy. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling. No luck.

What was Firefox not doing? It wasn’t showing search terms in the toolbar. It didn’t respond to attempt to add missing tools (such as Gmail). When I tried to change options, it didn’t display the options menu. From the Add-ons menu, when I did manage to get to the options menu, it wouldn’t save any changes… ignored clicking Save or Cancel. I had to click the X to close the dialog.

Finally, what did work was renaming (then later deleting, since it was no longer relevant) the following settings folder:


In Windows 7, it’s in your user Roaming folder. Names vary, but mine is here:


Then, I restarted Firefox, and all was well.

Posted in Computing | 1 Comment

Co-Authoring Is Here!

If you’re an early adopter of Word 2010, and you’ve been sitting on the edge of your chair waiting for co-authoring to arrive, your wait is over! As of this afternoon (EDT), co-authoring is now enabled on SkyDrive accounts.

How can you tell? In this screen shot, notice that Block Authors is available and not grayed out. In this shot, the first paragraph has been set aside so that nobody else can edit it. You can tell by the icon at the left and the dotted bracket.

Also in this screen shot, the Number of Authors tool is showing in the Status Bar. Here, it shows that there are two people currently editing this file.

While editing a co-authored document, you can click the Number of authors tools to see who else is currently editing the document. Here, I’ve signed on as two different entities from two different computers so you can see what co-authoring looks like.

I’ll have more to say about Word 2010 and co-authoring in the weeks and months to come. For more on co-authoring right now, check out chapter 52 in the Word 2010 Bible.

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