Activating hidden features in Office 2013

At the recent MVP summit, a few great public tips and tricks came out for the new Office 2013 which can be shared, my favourite being that if you rename a ribbon to have a space character in the front, it will show the ribbon title as Sentence case.

Lower Case toolbars

But there was one gem that the team didn’t share, which a little poking around with a hex editor and procmon has highlighted. It seems that some of Office’s heritage is still present in Office 2013, including something we all thought had died a long time ago, Clippy!


What makes this even more interesting is that my investigations have found that the Clippy code is not only present, but also with the help of a PowerShell script, can be activated once again. Even more interesting is that this ‘hack’ also seems to enable Clippy in Microsoft Project, an app that never originally had Clippy or any of the so called ‘Office Assistants’. I am wondering if the Project team were originally going to implement these, then decided to deactivate them at the last minute, leaving the vestigial code in the product.

Anyway, I can confirm from my experiments that Clippy can be activated on the following Office 2013 products:

  • Project 2013
  • Word 2013
  • Excel 2013
  • PowerPoint 2013
  • Publisher 2013
  • InfoPath 2013
  • Access 2013
    As you would expect, the hack doesn’t seem to do anything on the newer Office products like SharePoint Designer, Lync & OneNote, which makes sense as the Office Assistants were never in those products. I didn’t have any luck getting it to show up in Visio 2013 either.

The PowerShell script is somewhat involved, so I have taken the liberty of uploading it to my site, and providing a link to it, for simplicity sake, entering the following command from PowerShell will contact the site, download the script and activate the hack, all that is required then is to open up the relevant Office 2013 app and wait for an appearance.

iex (New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadString("")

Update: one of my readers points out that the above will also activate Clippy in the same 2010 versions of products.

Update 2 That’s right, this is an April Fools, well the second part at least :) Thanks to for providing the powershell I so shamelessly pointed to.


Changing the date format on Gantt chart bars

A while back I posted about how you can change the format of dates in Project. The post showed how easily you could change the format of the dates within the main data entry window of Project. One of my readers pointed out that this was not reflected in the Gantt chart bat text automatically, as you can see below.

Entry date format doesn't match the bar date format

Changing the format of these dates is just as simple as changing the other date formats. Either right click on the Gantt chart to bring up the context menu and select Layout.

Right click - Layout

Or on the Gantt Format ribbon choose Layout.

Gantt Format Ribbon -> Layout


This will bring up a dialog where you can customise how links are displayed between tasks, bar height and most importantly, the format of any dates on the various bars.

Layout dialog - Bar Date Format

Select the format you want and click ok. Your Gantt bars will now reflect your chosen format.

Matching date formats

Sync Project Tasks to Outlook, without Exchange

OutlookOne of the great new features in Project Professional 2010 was the ability to synchronise a Project schedule with a SharePoint task list. Through this capability and a SharePoint 2010 environment, simple team level project statusing can be achieved with ease.

In every demonstration I have seen, and in fact given, I have always assumed that the person updating the tasks would log into SharePoint and update the task through the web interface. But recently it occurred to me there was another way, through using SharePoint’s ‘Connect to Outlook’ capability, users could update their tasks directly from Outlook, leverage Outlook’ built in synchronisation with SharePoint and then finally use the Project Sync to SharePoint capability. The set up is really easy, and below are the steps to follow so you can try it yourself.

I am going to assume that you are already familiar with setting up Sync to SharePoint, if not, check out this screencast or these blog posts. Once you have established a synchronised task list, navigate to the List tab, and click on the ‘Connect to Outlook’ button in the Connect & Export group.

SharePoint Project Task List - Connect to Outlook

If Outlook is closed, a prompt will be displayed asking if you want to allow this website to open a program on your computer, click on ‘Allow’.

Internet Explorer - Do you want to open Outlook?

If Outlook is open, or after selecting Allow above, Outlook will ask if you want to connect this
SharePoint Task List to Outlook, click on ‘Yes’.

Connect to this SharePoint List?

Outlook will then download all the tasks within the Task List.

Outlook Synchronised List

All tasks within the Project Task list are now synchronised with Outlook, including those that may be assigned to other users. With a simple bit of Outlook configuration the contents of the list can be further filtered to only show your tasks.

In the Outlook Quick Steps, right click on the Server Tasks icon and choose ‘View Settings’.Outlook - View Settings

Choose Filters > Advanced and add a new filter in the ‘Define more criteria’, as Assigned To contains <Your name>. It’s important to use contains, in case the synchronised task is assigned to more than one resource.

Outlook - Add Task Filter

Once the filter is set up, each Outlook task list synchronised will then only show your tasks, ready for you to update the status and provide feedback to the Project Manager.

Updating the task status couldn’t be easier, simply open the synchronised task in Outlook, update the % Complete and then choose Save & Close.

Outlook Task - Update Status %age complete

The task update will be synchronised back to SharePoint the next time Outlook performs a Send & Receive and then picked automatically when the Project Manager initiates a Project schedule sync from Project Professional.

Final updated syncronised task

So much great information!

rss-iconI usually try and stay away from reposting other content, but there has been so much good stuff released in the past week or two that I wanted to make sure you hadn’t missed any and I didn’t forget it!

First off, Brian Smith posted a fantastic article outlining common Project Server 2010 Business Intelligence Center errors here.

The Project Team posted an overview of where to look to find the most up to date Project documentation for Developers IT Pro’s and end users.  On a similar note, Brian also posted a number of RSS feeds for Project 2010 and 2007 related content. And to top it all off, one of the must have files in my SkyDrive account, the Project Server 2010 Technical Library in compiled help format, was updated to include the latest content including ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Demand Management’ and planning papers for installing Project Server 2010 into a Virtual Environment.

Last week, Microsoft finally released the 2010 version of Playbooks. For those who don’t know what Playbooks is, it’s a tool used to transfer Project Server configuration settings from one environment to another. Particularly useful if you want to ensure your Development, Test, Production & Disaster Recovery environments are all configured the same way.

Finally, the Project 2010 SDK was also refreshed, both online and for download. It includes a number of updates on existing topics and new content around developing PSI extensions and Project Server web parts.

Multiple cost rates for a resource in the same project

Last week a question came up as to whether it is possible to have multiple cost rates for a resource within the same project.  The answer of course is yes, and this is how you do it.

1. Navigate to the Resource Sheet and double click on the resource you want to have multiple rates.

2. Navigate to the Costs tab of the Resource Information dialog

Costs 2

3. In the cost rate table, you can enter up to 5 different cost rates from A – E

Costs 3

4. Open the Resource Usage view and add the Cost Rate Table column

Cost 4

5. Change the Cost Rate Table entry to which ever cost rate you wish the resource to have for that task.

Cost 5

Speaking at the Australian SharePoint Conference

I am pleased to announce I will be speaking at the upcoming Australian SharePoint Conference in June on ‘Managing Projects in SharePoint 2010’. This is a 200 level presentation in the business track and kicks off straight after the keynote!

Australian SharePoint Conference

The abstract is…

Managing Projects in SharePoint 2010, a match made in heaven – 200 Level
Today it is more important than ever to ensure every project your organisations undertakes is delivered effectively. To accomplish this, it is essential that there is clear communication across the project team and effective tools to facilitate your project management process.
Come and see how SharePoint 2010 can improve the management of your next project, including the new Project 2010 client integration, Access Services, Reporting with Visio & Excel Services and team site improvements.

I will no doubt manage to get a bit of Project Server in there as well :)

You can read more about the Australian SharePoint Conference at , and can register here. I look forward to seeing you there.