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OOoSwitch: 501 Things You Wanted to Know About Switching to Open

If you have a question about the technical contents of this book, please contact the author(s). Their email address(es) can usually be found in their bios in the About the Author section at the front of the book or on the author's bio page (click on the author's name on the book's main page.

Q: I just installed and now all my Office documents have been changed to documents. How can I change them back?

A: Actually, all that's changed is the association stored in Windows for various file types. The contents of the files has not changed.

Windows determines the type of a file by looking at its extension (for example, DOC or XLS). In the Windows Registry (a database of information about your computer and the applications installed on it), extensions are associated with applications. When you double-click on a file, Windows looks up the file extension in the Registry to determine what application to run. In addition, when files are displayed (in Windows Explorer, in various dialogs, on the desktop, and so forth), the file association in the Registry determines the icon you see.

When you install, one of the dialogs asks you to select the file type that are to be opened with For each file type you check in the dialog, the association in the Registry is changed.

For example, if you check "Microsoft Word documents," the association for DOC files changes to Thus, DOC files are displayed with the OOo icon and if you double-click on a DOC file, Writer opens to edit it.

If you prefer to keep Office files associated with Office, you have a few choices. The easiest is to make sure not to check any of the file types on that installation dialog. (For a picture of the dialog, see Figure 6 in Chapter 2, "Installation and Configuration.")

If you've already installed and need to fix the problem, you have two choices. One option is to uninstall, and then reinstall it, making sure not to check those items.

The other choice is to re-associate the files with Office. To do so, open Windows Explorer and find an Office file. Right-click on it and choose Open With. (In older versions of Windows, you may need to use Shift+Right-click.) From the menu that appears, select Choose Program... A dialog titled "Open With" appears. Find the appropriate Microsoft Office program (Word for DOC, Excel for XLS, etc.) in the list, check the checkbox that says "Always use this program to open these files" and click OK. You need to repeat this process for each file type you want to change.

Q: When I save documents in Office format, I get a warning that formatting might be lost. What formatting is lost and what can I do about it?

A: There are actually two different warnings that appear on this subject. When you resave an open Office document , you get a message like "This document may contain attributes and information that cannot be saved under Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP. Do you want to save your changes using the 1.0 Text Document format?" The applications named vary based on the format of the document, so for an Excel document, the message references "Excel 97/2000/XP" and " 1.0 Spreadsheet format" and for a PowerPoint document, it mentions "PowerPoint 97/2000/XP" and " 1.0 Presentation format."

When you save a document in an Office format and then close it, you get the message "Saving in external formats may have caused information loss. Do you still want to close?"

Both of these messages are pretty scary since they don't tell you anything about what problems you might run into. The secret is that these messages have nothing to do with the actual contents of your documents; they appear every single time you perform these operations.

So, how can know whether you're in danger of losing formatting? There's no sure answer, but for most simple documents, there are no issues. If you've used only the basic capabilities of, chances are excellent that your document will look just the same in Office. If you need to be sure you don't lose any formatting, make a copy of the document in the appropriate format as well.

There are a few things you do lose when converting to Office format. For example, Impress allows you to name each slide in a presentation. That information disappears when you save in PowerPoint format.

There are also some bugs in the conversion process. For example, when you convert a table to Word, the row height of the table is increased. Bugs should get fixed over time, so check for updated versions of periodically.

For the most part, you can save your documents in the Office formats without any problems and simply ignore the warning messages. As your documents become more complex, you'll want to test carefully to be sure you're not losing anything important.

Q: Can I set up to always save my files in Office format?

A: In fact, not only can you do this, but you can choose separately for each type of file. To specify the default save format, use the Options dialog (Tools | Options from the menu). Expand the Load/Save section and click on General.

At the bottom of the dialog, there's a section titled "Standard file format." Choose a file type from the list box (for example, "Text document" or "Spreadsheet") and then, in the dropdown list, choose the file format you want to use for that type of file.

Office formats are available for text documents, spreadsheets and presentations. When you've made all the changes you want, click OK to save your changes. Warning messages will appear; see "When I save documents in Office format, I get a warning that formatting might be lost. What formatting is lost and what can I do about it?" elsewhere in this FAQ.

No matter what format you choose as default, you can always save a particular file in a different format by using File | Save As from the menu. For more on the file formats supported by, see Chapter 3, " File Storage."

Q: Where is AutoCorrect data stored?

A: The information that controls the various AutoCorrect features (except for word completion) is stored separately for each language you use. In addition, separate files are maintained for individual users and for the workgroup as a whole.

The individual files are named in the format ACORnnnn.DAT, where nnnn is the numeric code for the language. (For example, for US English, the file is called ACOR1033.DAT.) The user's copy of the file is located in the user\autocorr folder beneath the installation directory. The workgroup files are in the share\autocorr folder.

After installation, the user file matches the workgroup file, but as you customize the AutoCorrect features, the user file is modified.

The file itself is in the Zip format and contains separate XML files for each of the AutoCorrect features. As with each of the zip files used by OOo, there's also a Manifest.XML that identifies the other files in the zip file.

To move AutoCorrect data from one machine to another, simply copy the appropriate ACORnnnn.DAT.

For more information on OOo's AutoCorrect features, see "Why does what I type get changed?" in Chapter 4, "The Interface."

Q: How do I apply a template to an existing document?

A: You can't directly change the template on which a document is based. Instead, you have to create a new document based on the template and then move the contents of the existing document to the new document. For more information, see "How do I use a template?" in Chapter 5, "Making Life Easier with Templates and Styles."

Q: The menus and dialogs in don't look like my other Windows applications. Why?

A: Because OOo is a multi-platform application (that is, it runs under multiple operating systems, including Windows), it doesn't follow all the default rules for Windows applications. The most jarring item is that the fonts used for the menus and dialogs aren't the ones specified in Windows' Display Properties dialog.

Fortunately, you can change that. Choose Tools | Options from the menu, and then expand the section. Click on the Accessibility and check Use system font for user interface. Once you click OK, OOo will use your Windows choices.

Q: I've created a template that I expect to use for almost all the Writer documents I create. Is there a way to set things up, so I can just click the New button or choose File | New | Text Document and have it use my template?

A: In fact, you can specify a default template for each of the applications that uses templates. The first step is to create and save a template. See "How do I create a new template?" in Chapter 5, "Making Life Easier with Templates and Styles" for instructions on creating and saving templates.

Once the template you want exists, you can set it as the default for that document type. Choose File | Templates | Organize from the menu. In the left-hand list, navigate to the template you want. Then, click the Commands dropdown button and choose Set As Default Template. That item appears in the dropdown only when a template is selected.

For more on setting and removing default templates, see "How do I change the template used for new documents?" in Chapter 5.

Q: When I install, it asks for a Java Runtime Engine. I don't have one. Is that a problem? Where can I get one?

A: The Java Runtime Engine (JRE) isn't needed for most everyday OOo activities. You can create all kinds of documents, save them, print them, edit them, and so forth without a JRE.

Several of the more advanced features of OOo do depend on the JRE, however. If you want to take advantage of Ooo's accessibility features (for users with disabilities) or use the Report AutoPilot, among others, you'll need a Java Runtime Engine.

You can download a JRE from Sun at Choose the appropriate operating system and download the file, and then install it.

Unless you know you want to use one of the features that requires the JRE, your best bet is probably to wait. If you attempt to use a feature that needs the JRE, OOo will tell you.

Q: I'd like to show my company logo as a background on each page of a Writer document. How do I do that?

A: Setting up backgrounds in Writer is a piece of cake. You can set up either a colored background or put a graphic image on the background of a page.

Choose Format | Page from the menu or, in the Stylist, switch to the Page Styles page and find the page style you're using, then choose Modify from the shortcut menu. In either case, the Page Style dialog opens.

Click on the Background tab. To set up a colored background, set the As dropdown to Color and then choose the desired color.

To use a graphic image, change the As dropdown to Graphic. Click the Browse button and navigate to the image you want to use (such as your company logo). If you leave the default settings, the image is tiled to fill the background. You can also choose to stretch the image (choose Area) or to position a single copy of the image at a corner, along an edge or in the center of the page (choose Position and click whether the image should appear).

The background you choose applies only to the particular page style you modify. If your document uses multiple page styles (such as separate styles for left and right pages), be sure to set the background for each style.

If you want to set up a background to use in a number of documents, use a template. Set up the background for each page style specified in the template. See Chapter 5, "Making Life Easier with Styles and Templates," for an explanation of templates and instructions for creating them.