Tip o’ the Week #153 – Lync 2013 shortcuts

clip_image001Happy New Year!

On the topic of Year (2013) and New, the Lync 2013 client introduced a whole load of new UI functionality compared to the previous release; for details of what’s new, check out the What’s new in Lync 2013 post on the Lync team blog.

One side effect of moving to Windows 8, however, is that the shortcut key to bring the Lync client window to the foreground has been repurposed and now has a higher calling – in Lync 2010 it was WindowsKey-Q, but that is now universally used in Win8 to invoke the Search charm.

Fortunately, Lync 2013 has moved that most useful shortcut to WindowsKey+Y. It has the benefit of not only bringing the Lync window into focus, but the default typing location is the “Find someone” search box, so you clip_image003could be IM’ing or calling them in a jiffy.

There are lots more Lync shortcut keys, detailed here.

Accessibility and communications

In other news, Microsoft UK IT’s Melissa Cordell writes to highlight a welcome addition to an instrument of communications, namely Windows Phone 8:

clip_image005Microsoft has a great accessibility story, designing our products for an incredibly broad spectrum of people around the world. Just like the zoom feature described in the last week’s Tip, which can help users with visual impairments or just make it easier to use your PC in low light, our products are packed with features to enabling people of all ages and abilities to “realise their full potential”.

The new Windows Phone we eagerly await is a testament to the ongoing evolution of accessibility in our mobile platform. To improve readability, variable font sizes can be found in the new ease of access area within your phone Settings. There is also a built-in screen magnifier which improves on the current “pinch to zoom”, enabling a whole screen magnifier for all phone content and controls.

Thanks Melissa – we can’t wait for our Windows Phone 8’s (920, or 8X920, or 8X…)

Tip o’ the Week #139 – Taskbar fun

clip_image003Windows 95 (aka “Chicago”) introduced us to the wonders of the Windows “Taskbar” as a way of managing open apps.  It was a response to people’s increased ability and need to multitask in Windows, as previous versions of the OS provided no ready visual indication of how many windows were currently open. Other than a pile of open windows on the screen, obviously.clip_image005

Windows 7 brought with it some brilliant enhancements to the taskbar that have pretty much remained unchanged in Windows 8 (even the spirit of the Start Button is there, if only you drift your mouse over to the bottom left of the screen…)  Useful functions like Jump Lists and the ability to pin Internet Explorer favourites by dragging them directly to the taskbar (see ToW #83 and #86) are all retained in Windows 8.

Like every step forward, however, there was a down side to the changes made in Windows 7 (& by the same token to Windows 8), in the way the taskbar behaves with certain apps that offer no additional functionality by situating themselves on the taskbar (other than cluttering it up). Lync and Skype are examples of ‘always on’ but not as frequently used as Outlook, which has a permanent place on just about all of our taskbars.

There are other taskbar villains out there too – the Windows Live Messenger app always wanted to stick itself there, even if you didn’t sign in – but with the groovy “Messaging” app now part of Windows 8, you could spam FB & Windows Live Messenger, all from a single, chromeless, modern, Windows UI app style UI app, so who needs separate apps to do all those things anyway?

Here’s how to banish those Skype & Lync apps to the ‘tray notification area’ (a.k.a. systray) while they are not in use. [Rumour has it that we’re going to merge Skype & Lync together at some point and call it Slync. Actually, that isn’t true but it would be amusing and certainly better than “Klype”].


Lync 2010/2013

  • Open Lync and click on Options (cog wheel) located in the top right
  • On the General tab, locate a section called Application Window and check the box next to it
  • Click OK and watch the icon disappear from the taskbar (that is if you don’t have any open Lync conversations) clip_image007


  • Open Skype and navigate to the Tools > Options menu
  • Uncheck the ‘Keep Skype in the taskbar while I’m signed in’ checkbox
  • Click Save and close the Skype window

If you’re using a widescreen monitor or laptop, try setting the taskbar to the side of the screen – it’s more efficient and allows better navigation for most people. Try it out by checking out this KB article.

Tip o’ the Week #137 – Peek-a-boo, Take two

clip_image001Following on from ToW #135, which introduced the “Peek” capability in the flat and shiny-shiny Outlook 2013, this week we’re looking at another couple. If you use Tasks, the ability to quickly see what’s due and to create a new one might be a useful feature.

clip_image003Hover over the Tasks option at the bottom of the main Outlook window, and you’ll see a pop up “Peek” (right click on the Tasks option and you can “Pin the Peek” – or show Tasks off to the right of the current window, regardless of which folder you’re looking at. In the pop up window, you can mark tasks complete, you can create new ones, and if you double-click on one of the list, you’ll open the task in a new window.

clip_image005The Calendar menu option also lets you Peek (as described in #135), while the remaining Peek-able option is People, the selection that was previously known as “Contacts”.

Peek on People, and you can enter someone’s name to find them – akin to searching for them in the Lync client by typing the name. You can also add people to a favourites list – although it says “anywhere in Office”, it’s not quite so straightforward… at least not yet.

clip_image007Lync 2013 has a “Favorites” list that is a different thing, but if you right-click on someone in Outlook, you can add to Favorites and then be able to stalk contact them easily in future by Peeking on the People tab to see their current Lync status, and view the Lync Contact Card easily, which will afford you all the variety of ways to contact them.

The Peeks functionality doesn’t really give you anything you couldn’t quickly do with other means – press CTRL-2 to show Calendar, CTRL-3 to show People, CTRL-4 to show Tasks for example – but it brings some common functionality that bit closer if you’re using a mouse.

Tip o’ the Week #121 – Networking with Lync

clip_image001This week, we have a semi-rehash of earlier tips (#51 and #67), based on some investigation work that’s been done inside Microsoft’s own IT group.

If you’re going to join a Lync call (especially if you’re using video or app sharing, using a Roundtable/Polycom CX5000 device etc), then best practice is to use a wired network connection. If you’ve a laptop which is on WiFi, then you need think about your connection if you want the call quality to be at its best.

Networking preference

Windows 7 and Windows 8 prefer wireless networks, on the basis that if you’re connected to a WiFi network, then there’s a reasonable chance you’re on a laptop and therefore you’re likely to move around.

Lync really wants a nice, fast, low-latency network connection. In a typical Microsoft office environment, most users have laptops and most will be connected to wireless, meaning the WiFi is going to be pretty clip_image002congested, compared to a wired network at least. And congested, slow(er) networks don’t make for great call quality (as is sometimes evidenced by the network connectivity icon).

The Lync client is network-aware, though, and will default to using the highest-performing network it can. So, if you’ve a laptop that’s on WiFi and plugged into Ethernet, then Lync will use the wired network in preference. There’s one important consideration though – Lync can’t switch an in-progress call between WiFi and wired!

So if you establish a call on Wireless, then see the dreaded red bars that tell you all is not well with your network, simply plugging in a network cable won’t do you any good. You’d have to drop the call and re-establish it to make clip_image003a difference.

To be sure which network you’re using for the call, fire up Task Manager – right-click on the Taskbar and choose Task Manager, or just press CTRL-SHIFT-ESC.

In Windows 7, select the Networking tab, and if you’re using Windows 8 Consumer Preview, look under Performance and you’ll see little graphs of how your networks are doing. This will help you see which network is being used to carry all that data.

A simple way of checking the behaviour is to use the Lync client’s test call facility and see which one spikes…

If the WiFi is taking the brunt, then make sure the wired network is connected OK, then disconnect the call and re-establish it, and you should see the wired network usage jump up.

No real need to disable WiFi, but if you have a switch on your laptop to do that, and you’re a suspicious sort (or untrusting type), then doing so may hurry the process along.


Tip o’ the Week #113 – Add context to your Lync status

clip_image002One of the biggest cultural impacts of using Instant Messaging and UC technology in a business context is the way that people tend to check the status of someone before contacting them. It’s a relatively rare occurrence to get an internal phone call out of the blue if both parties are online: usually, it would be set up with a quick chat on IM first – then the calling party knows that the call they make isn’t going to drop to voice mail.

To quote UC aficionado Tony Cocks, “it’s all about presents”. 
Or presence, and the value that it gives to anyone trying to contact you.

If you’re set to Do Not Disturb (DND), for example, we probably all know that means trying to send an IM won’t work. Trying to call via Lync or on the internal phone number won’t get through either – setting yourself to DND sends all calls straight to voice mail (or straight to oblivion, for many people). I heard a story the other day about someone who got an unannounced incoming cellular call – the caller saying, “yeah, I saw you were on Do Not Disturb so thought I’d call your mobile…”  Like, duuuuh…

clip_image003Did you know you can allow people you trust to interrupt you when you’re on DND..? Right-click on their name in Lync, choose “Change Privacy Relationship (right at the bottom of the menu). Set them to be part of your Workgroup, and when you set yourself to DND, they’ll see you instead as being on Urgent Interruptions Only. And they can IM you.

Anyway, we can infer a lot from someone’s automatic status – if they’re Busy, then chances are their Outlook calendar has been blocked out or they may have manually set the status to show they’re busy. That doesn’t mean they’re uncontactable – only that if they don’t respond, then you shouldn’t be surprised. If they’re In a Meeting, it means not only is the Outlook calendar blocked out, but it’s being blocked by a meeting with more than one attendee. Maybe that means you could still IM the person, but they probably wouldn’t be able to take a call. If they’re on In a Call or In a Conference Call, then they’ll definitely not be able to take a call as they’re on one already…

clip_image005If they’re Away (like Richard, here), then they’ve probably either wandered off from their PC or else they’ve locked the computer (WindowsKey + L), and you may get some extra context about how long they’ve been away for. If only a few minutes, they could be sitting at their desk talking with someone (or reading a paper etc), and sending an IM might get an immediate response … but if it’s been 30 minutes, they probably are genuinely not there and you’d better look elsewhere, or send an email.

Add further contextclip_image006

As you can see from Richard’s status above, he’s also got a line below his name that says where he is – TVP. Actually, this is just set by the free-text note field at the top of the Lync main window (which asks “What’s happening today?” if you haven’t set anything else). It’s a handy way of giving a little more context if you want people to know, or just provide a pithy one-liner akin to a Facebook status.

If you want to be a little more specific you can also provide a number of custom presence states, so rather than just being Busy you could be Busy writing reports, or instead of being Available you could be Working from home. See TechNet or previous missives on this blog.

clip_image007For place specific info, you could try setting up custom locations – in short, when your PC appears on a particular network, you can give it a name and then whenever you use the PC at that location, it will show up in your own Lync client right under your name and your status. Different locations needs to be named separately (eg Home, CP, Edinburgh, TVP).

It’s not all that obvious to everyone else, however – to see someone else’s custom location, clip_image008right click on their name and View Contact Card (or just click on their name and press ALT-ENTER). If they’ve set a location up, you’ll see it – otherwise they’re either not in a place they’ve named, or you’ll just see their time zone. If you want to make it plain to everyone else where you are, then you may want to stick to custom status and/or using the Lync “What’s happening today?” text status field.

You can see set the Lync status on the above screenshot is Off work – that tells the world that even though I’m online via Lync, I’m not online to do work… and if someone was to click on my details, they could see a whole load of information about whether I’m likely to respond to their IM. If you’ve set your status to Off work and someone IMs you about work, then it’s perfectly acceptable to just ignore the message (press Esc to get rid of the popped-up window in one fell swoop). Well, depends who it is…

Tip o’ the Week #111 – Sharing PowerPoint in Lync?

clip_image001If you’re regularly part of a Lync call which involves presenting slides, here’s some best practice that everyone should know about. In a nutshell – don’t share your whole desktopto show the PowerPoint slides; don’t even share PowerPoint  as a single program (something that Lync would allow you to do), but it’s really not the best way.

Why not?In general, the user experience is better if you show slides by uploading them into the meeting/call. Showing slides by sharing the whole desktop is inefficient on the network too; if the network isn’t so great (eg when attendees are on slower lines), it can be practially unusable. Also, unless you’re really smooth in the way you operate the PC, you’re in danger of showing more than just the slides – email alerts, incoming IMs from other people popping up etc. A slicker way of sharing slides is to use Lync’s built-in functionality designed to do just that.

If you have slides sitting on your PC, the quickest way of adding them into your meeting is to click on the Share clip_image002button within the conversation window, and select PowerPoint Presentation, which will then give you the option to choose a PowerPoint file to be shown – the Lync software will then upload the PPT to the server, and convert it to an HTML format that can be shown in a browseror in the Lync client. This process of uploading & conversion can take a little while if you have a large or complex PPT, so it’s best to start uploading as early as you can.

The nice thing about using this mechanism to share slides is that they are now in the meeting, and other attendees could take over as presenter quickly – you clip_image003could even leave the meeting and let them continue.

If you store your slides on a SharePoint site, there’s a trick to quickly uploading the slides to your meeting. One way would be to navigate to the document library in the browser, and then Open with Explorer – another would be to simply open the SharePoint site in Windows Explorer, by using the UNC – eg instead of going to http://sharepointemea/sites/love-it/tipoweek, go to the start menu and simply type \\sharepointemea\sites\love-it\tipoweek.That way, you could browse to the document just as if it’s on your hard disk.

If you go back up to the point earlier in this tip, to where you’d add a slide deck from your PC – you could type the \\sharepointemea\sites\etc link into the file dialog and then select the appropriate PPT, or else you could prepare in advance by opening the library using explorer, then re-use the tip from ToW#101on how to copy the full path of a file name to the clipboard, and just paste that into the dialog when it comes time to upload the PPT.

Once you’ve converted to using this approach, you may freely mock anyone who still does it the (admittedly, easier, with one click) old fashioned way of just sharing out their whole desktop to show a single slide deck. Live the dream – upload the slides to the meeting  using Lync!

There’s a really good explanation of some of the other benefits to using the PowerPoint sharing method on this blog.

Tip o’ the Week #87 – Hello? Hello?? Can you hear me?


There is an all-too common refrain which echoes around the open-plan offices of many a Microsoft location, following the receipt of an incoming call… “Hello? Hello..?”

The joy of Unified Communications with Lync sometimes means that receiving a phone call isn’t always as straightforward as it could be, if you have a laptop that moves around and may have different devices plugged-in or removed (eg headsets or USB telephone handsets). Occasionally, the sound starts coming out of laptop speakers rather than headphones, or the other party might complain that they can’t hear you well / are hearing lots of background noise…

Often these symptoms are caused by Lync using the “wrong” audio device – maybe because the PC is still dealing with the fact that you plugged in your headset or similar. Plug in a Roundtable device in a meeting room and (especially if it’s your first time), it could be a minute or two before it becomes visible as an audio device to the PC, and therefore ready for Lync to use as a suitable “end point” for your call.

Never fear: if you do manage to take or even make a call and the sound is happening in the wrong place, it’s possible to switch the active call to a different audio device – so you could even take the call, plug in your headset, then transfer the call to the headset once it’s been detected.

clip_image004There is a little icon on the bottom left of the main Lync window  that will show what the current clip_image005audio device is (such as, a standard speaker, maybe a headset or even a Roundtable icon). Once you’ve received a call, the same icon is also visible in the call window – and you can switch the call between any devices that are visible to the PC, by simply selecting the right device from the drop-down list.

No need to take the take the call and say “Oh, you’ve come through on my speakers, can you call back..?” again…

clip_image006Check your own call quality

Of course, not being heard or being able to hear the other party might have nothing to do with whether you’re using the right device– it could simply be that your network connection isn’t affording you enough bandwidth to have a decent quality call. There are a few things you can do to optimise the network: a topic covered in ToWs passim (including festive ToW #51).

clip_image008Lync introduced a nice ”Check Call Quality” test that puts in a simple call to a dummy attendant where you record a bit of “blah bla-blah bla-blah” and have it play back your recording to simulate what you’d sound like another party. If the network is bad, you’ll see the little signal-strength style icon going yellow or red. If all is well, you can be confident that the call you’re about to make is going to be a good one.

Well, as confident as you could ever be when relying on this new-fangled technology, that is…

Tip o’ the Week #81 – I’m Late!

clip_image002We’ve all had that feeling when you just know you aren’t going to make it in time for your next meeting… You know, you’re in Building 1 and the meeting’s at the top of Building 5, or you’re stuck in traffic, or in another meeting that’s already running over and isn’t going to end any time soon..?

Obviously, it would be polite to tell people when you can’t make it to a meeting on time… but emailing everyone to say you’ll be late will just make you later still…

clip_image001I’m Late! I’m Late!!

If you use Windows Phone 7, have a look in a calendar appointment which is a meeting (ie where there are invited attendees, rather than just an appointment you’ve put in your own calendar), and you’ll see a “late option on the menu at the bottom of the screen…

…tap on that and it will create an email ready to be sent to everyone in the meeting (if you’re the organiser), and if you’re merely an attendee, you can choose if you want the whole meeting to know of your tardiness, or if you’d rather just send an email to the organiser directly.


clip_image003Everyone who uses Exchange 2010 with its Unified Messaging capability (where voice mail is handled by Exchange) can also dial in to collect voicemails, have the Exchange Server read out emails and calendar appointments etc. One of the options when in the calendar, is to say “I’ll be late” – whereupon the server will send an email on your behalf to everyone – useful if you can’t actually type at the time (maybe you’re in the car, or running along the corridor…)

From within Lync, it’s easy to get to your Voice Mail – click on the large telephone icon near the top of the main Lync window, and you can dial into or set up Voice Mail from there.

clip_image004Try calling Voice Mail and saying “Calendar for today”, and the Exchange server will read out details of your current meeting, or others in the schedule. You can then tell it you’ll be late, and by how much, or even simply say “I’ll be 10 minutes late.

To call from your mobile, try setting up a contact in Outlook to dial into your Unified Messaging mailbox – set the contact’s phone number (for Microsoft UK users) to: +44 118 909 nnnn x p12345678#, replacing “118 909 nnnn” with the phone number you’d use to dial in to your own Exchange UM, and “12345678” with the handy 8 digit (or whatever length) PIN that the Exchange server wants you to set. clip_image005

If you don’t know what your PIN is, never fear – you can reset it quickly from Outlook 2010, by going to the File menu and clicking…

Just make sure when you have to change the PIN, you remember to update the Outlook contact(s) that contain it, to reflect your new number. If you call the standard access number from another phone, you’ll need to tell it what your extension number is, but if you’ve got your mobile set up in the GAL properly, then it’s possible that Exchange can tell it’s your phone, so all you need to provide is your PIN. If you dial from Lync (as above), then you’ve already logged into the network so don’t even need a PIN. Clever, eh?

It’s worth setting up a couple of contacts to get you straight into UM – one with the number as above to take you to the spoken voice prompt, and one with the number +44 0118 909 nnnn x p12345678#001, which will automatically switch to using touch-tone numbers, and will drop you into playback of voice mail messages – handy if you know you have a new message to retrieve, especially so if you’re in a public space (where talking aloud to the server will have your tarred with the epithet “loony”) or other noisy environment, where you’d never be understood anyway.

Finally, if you like to update your voice mail message (saying you’re at WPC or MGX or Tech Ready, for example) then set up another contact with the number +44118909nnnn x p12345678#006212 – dialing that from your mobile phone will take you straight to the “record your message after the tone” prompt.

Tip o’ the Week #76 – Have you got the Lync effect?

If you’re lucky enough to be using the Microsoft Lync IM & communications platform, it’s worth sharing a few tips on making the Lync client software a little more useful and productive. Let’s kick off with some shortcut keys you might like to try

· WindowsKey + Q – Brings the Lync window to the foreground

· WindowsKey + A – Accepts an incoming “toast”, such as an incoming call…

· conversely, WindowsKey + Esc  – declines an incoming toast

· WindowsKey + X – declines an incoming toast, and sets your status to “Do Not Disturb” (note: Win+X brings up the Windows Mobility Center on a laptop)

From within a conversation…

· … use CTRL+SHIFT+<” and “>” to increase and decrease the size of selected text within an IM input window. So you can emphasis a specific word in larger font – something that there’s no menu option to do…

· CTRL +]” and “[“ – zooms in & out of the text in both the input window and history – useful when showing someone an IM conversation on your screen.

clip_image003· Finally, during a call or conversation, if you press CTRL-N, then a new OneNote page is created with the conversation subject & a list of the participants – perfect for taking clickity-clackety notes during the call. Just remember to mute yourself first!
[Sadly, there is no known mute shortcut key, but many headsets have a mute button or simply click on the microphone icon to mute and unmute]

There are many other keyboard shortcuts – see here – a good one being CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER when in a conversation or when selecting a user from the list; that will kick off a new call, or end any existing one.

Lync Guistic

clip_image004Here’s an addin for Lync that lets you have conversations in different languages, powered by the Bing Translator service. See more on http://lyncguistic.cloudapp.net/

As with any machine translation, your mileage may vary … but if nothing else, it’s a fun way of appearing erudite and cultured (or windswept & interesting) to your colleagues.

The Lync Adoption & Training Kit that this tool is part of, could be a really useful end-user training resource if you’re deploying Lync in your own organisation – it even includes a ready-made Lync custom Intranet site that you could use as a starting point for all your Lync specific training and user readiness materials. C’est magnifique!

Tip o’ the Week #67–Lync Conferencing Tips

clip_image002An earlier Tip o’ the Week featured “5 Golden Rules” for OCS and Lync conferencing, and those tips still stand.

If you host or participate in a Lync conference, you can dial-in to the meeting from a phone as well as joining from your PC – eg for Microsoft-hosted Lync conferences, attendees can find numbers here when joining from elsewhere. The same URL can be used to set your conferencing host PIN, so if you dial the access number, you can sign in as the meeting leader.

Enter the conference ID that’s listed in the appointment, or which can be gleaned from the Lync client in the conference itself – so the leader could potentially pass on the joining instructions to other users who are not online.

Lync has some touch-tone commands that can be used to control the phone call – as an attendee, the most important is possibly *6, which mutes/unmutes your phone. Do everyone a favour if you are dialling in to a conference call, and mute your phone when you don’t need to talk. You’ll hear confirmation that “you are now muted” or the reverse, so it should be pretty clear what your current status is. Hopefully no embarassment of you starting to talk while still on mute and wondering why no-one’s listening, or the even less desirable inadvertent heavy breathing that can distract everyone else on the call.

Other touch-tone commands can help to provide the kind of info you can see when you join a conference call using the Lync client directly. Examples:

*1 – plays a list of conferencing commands you can use
*3 – plays a list of other attendees’ names
*4 – Toggle “audience mute”
*6 – Mute yourself
*7 – Lock/unlock the conference
*8 – Admit all participants currently in the lobby
*9 – Enable/disable announcements while entering/exiting

Clearly, some of these are only applicable if you’re a conference leader: it is worth remembering that you can still dial in and control a conference, even if you aren’t able to join from a PC.