Using Microsoft Works

When you first turned on your new PC, you might have been surprised to see your desktop already populated with a bunch of shortcut icons for different programs. These are the programs that were preinstalled by your PC’s manufacturer.

Which particular programs were preinstalled on your PC depends on what sort of arrangements the PC manufacturer made with the software publishers. Many PC manufacturers preinstall some sort of software “suite,” which is basically a bundle of useful productivity programs.

For many users, this suite of programs will be all you need to perform basic computer tasks such as letter writing and number crunching. The most common software bundle installed on new computer systems is Microsoft Works, which includes a variety of different functions—word processor, spreadsheet, and the like.

Alternatively, some higher-priced computers have Microsoft Office installed, which is a more fully featured suite than Microsoft Works. Microsoft sells several different versions of Works. Which version you have installed on your PC depends on what the PC manufacturer chose.

Basic Works

The most basic version of Microsoft Works is a suite of five basic applications, all tied together by an interface called the Task Launcher. The key components of Works are:

  • Works Word Processor—A simple word processing program you can use to write letters, memos, and notes.
  • Works Spreadsheet—A simple spreadsheet program that lets you enter rows and columns of numbers and other data, and then performs basic calculations and analysis on those numbers.
  • Works Database—A simple database program that functions more-or-less like a giant electronic filing cabinet.
  • Works Calendar—A schedule management program.
  • Address Book—An all-purpose contact manager you can use to store names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.

Works with Word

Some versions of Works take out the Works Word Processor and substitute the more powerful Microsoft Word program. All the other applications are the same, you just have Word instead of the Works Word Processor.

Works Suite

Another popular version of Works is called Microsoft Works Suite. Works Suite takes the basic Microsoft Works program and supplements it with a variety of other software programs, all tied together by the Task Launcher. The programs that Microsoft packages in Works Suite differ from year to year, but typically include:

  • Microsoft Money Standard—A personal finance program that lets you write checks and manage your banking and investment accounts.
  • Microsoft Digital Image Standard—A graphics program that lets you edit and manage your digital photos.
  • Microsoft Streets & Trips Essentials—Used to generate maps and driving directions.
  • Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia Standard—A first-class electronic encyclopedia.

Of course, you’ll still get the basic Works applications, including Works Spreadsheet, Works Database, Works Calendar, Address Book, and the Microsoft Word word processor.

Working with Works

Microsoft’s goal with Microsoft Works is to provide an easy-to-use interface to its most-used applications. To that end, when you launch Microsoft Works, the Works Task Launcher appears onscreen.

Along the top of the Task Launcher are buttons that link to five different pages; each page represents a different way to enter a program or document. The Task Launcher’s main pages include:

  • Home—The Home page is what you see when you first launch Works Suite. The Home page includes tabs to view your Calendar and Contacts, as well as a Quick Launch bar that lets you launch any Works Suite application directly.

  • Templates—Use the Templates page to identify a particular type of document you want to create—select the template, and the Task Launcher will launch the appropriate program, with the appropriate template already loaded.
  • Programs—Use the Programs page to launch a specific Works Suite program— then select the task you want that program to perform.
  • Projects—Use the Tasks page to create large-scale projects or open preexisting projects—select the project, and the Task Launcher will launch the appropriate program along with a step-by-step wizard to get you started.
  • History—Use the History page to reload any document you’ve recently edited with any Works Suite application.

When Task Launcher is launched, select a page, select a program or task, and then you’re ready to work!

Launching a Program

You use the Programs page to launch individual Works Suite applications. Just follow these steps:

  1. From the Works Task Launcher, select the Programs page.
  2. From the Choose a Program list, select a program.
  3. From the tasks displayed for that program, click a task.

The Task Launcher now launches the program you selected with the appropriate task-based template or wizard loaded.

Creating a New Document

To create a specific type of document—and have Works load the right program for that task, automatically—you use the Templates page. Just follow these steps:

  1. From the Works Task Launcher, select the Templates page.
  2. From the Choose a Category list, select a particular type of template.
  3. From the templates displayed for that category, click a specific template.

The Task Launcher now launches the appropriate program for your selected template with that template already loaded.

Opening an Existing Document

If you’ve been working with Works for awhile, you can use the History page to reopen documents you previously created. The History page lists all your recently used files, newest files first.

For each file, the Task Launcher includes the filename, the date it was originally created, the type of template it’s based on (when known), and the program associated with that file. You can resort the list of files by any column by clicking on the column header.

For example, if you wanted to sort files by name, you would click on the Name header; click a second time to sort in the reverse order. To open a file listed in the History pane, just click its name. Task Launcher will launch the program associated with that file, and then load the selected file into the program.

Managing a Big Project

Moving? Planning a party? Getting ready for the holidays? Microsoft Works helps you with many big projects by offering a ready-made project planner, complete with suggested tasks for each project. Here’s what you do:

  1. From the Works Task Launcher, open the Projects page
  2. Click the button for the project you want to start.
  3. When the individual page appears, click an item in the To Do list to set a Due Date.
  4. Click the New To Do button to add new items to the To Do list.